Passengers aboard a Flair Airlines flight from Toronto to Saskatoon on July 17 had a harrowing experience when the flight, identified as F8-673, took an unexpected turn. As the aircraft approached its destination, it was announced that it would divert to Winnipeg. Subsequently, upon landing at the diversion airport, it was decided that the aircraft would return to Toronto due to runway conditions at the intended destination.
Flair Airlines flight a ‘giant nightmare’: 10 hours of confusion
The incident left many customers furious, prompting police intervention. The reasons behind the 10-hour giant nightmare remain unclear, with passengers reporting various unidentified causes. According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the scheduled flight duration for Flair Airlines’ F8-673 is typically three hours and 35 minutes, consistent with other flights on this route.
Departing from Toronto Pearson at 21:05 local time, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 experienced a delay of four-and-a-half hours. As the aircraft neared Saskatoon, the crew informed passengers of the diversion to Winnipeg. After a three-and-a-half-hour wait, the aircraft eventually touched down in Winnipeg.
A passenger interviewed by CBC News, Carmen Szabo, recounted the conflicting explanations provided by the airline during the journey: “At first, they said, ‘there’s a storm; we can’t land.’ Then they said, ‘The runway’s wet; we can’t land.’ Then they said, ‘The runway is actually under construction; we can’t land.'”
Szabo further described how the decision to return to Toronto was conveyed to passengers while the aircraft was on the apron in Winnipeg. Frustration escalated, leading to some passengers using offensive language and prompting the intervention of law enforcement officers.
The situation worsened and turned into a giant nightmare as Flair Airlines failed to provide food or drinks to passengers during the extended ordeal. According to reports, only one bottle of water was shared among passengers, causing limited access to hydration. Flight attendants resorted to serving water from the aircraft bathrooms, although it is advised against consuming tap water from lavatories.
Upon landing in Winnipeg, some passengers deplaned, while others, including Szabo, chose to return to Toronto. Per FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft departed Winnipeg at 02:06 local time, arriving in Toronto approximately two hours later at 04:58. Overall, passengers spent nearly 10 hours on the plane, including boarding and deplaning time.
Uncertain cause behind a 10-hour nightmare flight
Additional reports indicate that no precipitation was recorded in Saskatoon on July 17th and 18th, according to historical weather data. However, on May 18, NAV Canada announced an ongoing runway, taxiway, and apron rehabilitation project at the airport between June 1, 2023, and September 30, 2023. This may provide some insight into the reasons behind the nightmare experience, explicitly affecting the airport’s main runway, 09/27, and not its secondary runway, 15/33.
While initially attributing the ordeal to weather-related issues and stating that compensation would not be provided, Flair Airlines later indicated that they were working towards adequate compensation for affected travellers.
What should the airline do in this situation? Would you have handled the situation differently if you had been an airline? We’d like to hear your thoughts.