Flair sold seats for Florida flights that he couldn’t guarantee

From 6Park News – link to source story – Thanks PN

October 20, 2021 by 6Park NewsDesk

WATERLOO REGION – Flair Airlines sold seats back to Florida despite knowing that it cannot take those passengers back to the regional airport.

This shocks passenger Ken Cameron, who had to struggle when Flair canceled his flight.

“Being told that they were selling tickets to the public when they didn’t have the federal regulations to be able to do it, it’s kind of weird,” said Cameron.

Cameron was pleased to spend $ 580 on a ticket back to Florida for a golf vacation later this month.

“We all live in Kitchener, and we thought, wow, we couldn’t believe our luck that they could actually drop us off at the airport or leave a car there,” he said.

Shortly after purchasing the ticket, Flair canceled it due to restrictions that the discount airline was aware of when it sold the seat.

Passengers arriving in Ontario from another country can only land at three airports in Toronto and Ottawa by order of the federal government. The temporary restriction is in effect until further notice to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Our expectation was that the (restriction) would be lifted,” said Eric Tanner, the airline’s director of network planning and scheduling.

When this didn’t happen, the airline canceled the Florida flights it sold for October and November, with the goal of giving passengers plenty of time to make alternative plans.

“It’s bad planning,” said aviation expert John Gradek, director of the aviation management program at McGill University. Gradek said it is unfair for passengers to sell them tickets on the speculation that their flight might be allowed.

Cameron said Flair provided good customer service to help him save his trip. He will take a Flair seat in Florida from Toronto. You will return to Toronto on WestJet.

He will have to spend more, but he still wants Flair to be successful at the regional airport despite the disruption he has faced.

“I’m sure there are growing pains,” he said. “I hope they have a really incredible streak of success here.”

When asked if Flair has been fair to passengers, the airline singled out the federal government for not reopening smaller airports to international flights.

“It’s hard to blame ourselves for a rule that is not ours, that we feel is somewhat arbitrary, that frankly puts secondary airports like Kitchener at a disadvantage, which we have really hooked on,” Tanner said.

Tanner did not say how many passengers bought tickets for canceled Florida flights. Flair continues to sell seats to Florida as of mid-December, although the regional airport still lacks approval for international arrivals.

“Based on what we have been hearing from various sources, we are confident that we will be fine,” Tanner said.

Gradek also expects the government to ease airport restrictions by December, but says it would not put money into it.

Tanner said airline economics prevents Flair from delaying ticket sales until COVID rules change.

“The planning process for an airline is so long and the reservation curve is so long,” he said. “It’s really hard to wait until a government agency lifts a temporary (restriction) as a result of a kind of unprecedented situation that none of us have ever experienced before.”

Gradek disagrees. He estimates that when the government lifts airport restrictions, Flair will have time to sell tickets quickly to Canadians who are eager to resume travel and do not need a lot of reservation time.

While current restrictions do not prevent Flair from carrying passengers to Florida, not being able to return those passengers to the regional airport “would certainly create some difficulties with the aircraft,” Tanner said.