Rob and Adrianne McNabb’s cruise vacation began uneventfully with a flight out of Comox on Dec.31, 2019.

Unfortunately, troubles began as they and their son were on an Air Canada plane sitting on the tarmac in Montreal preparing to depart for Fort Lauderdale.

“We’re all sitting on the plane waiting to go, we’re loaded and they cancel the flight,” said Adrianne.

They were told there was no pilot to fly the plane and waited in the airport for four hours as passengers re-booked for the next day.

Air Canada paid for hotels that night but the McNabbs had prepaid for the night in Fort Lauderdale and lost the money.

“People know this sort of thing happens all the time, you see it in the news all the time, it was very frustrating,” said Rob.

After an enjoyable cruise, their real travel problems began on the way home, again in Montreal.

“We knew the plane that was going to Vancouver was sitting at the gate, there are computer screens that tell you where the planes are,” added Adrianne.

However, they were told it wasn’t there yet and that their flight was delayed due to reasons that seemed to keep changing such as, additional flight preparation time was required, there were staffing issues, and the late arrival of the outbound aircraft due to de-icing in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Brazil is on the equator and does not experience freezing.

Ultimately their flight to Vancouver was delayed and they missed their connection to Comox so they had to pay out of pocket for a hotel in Vancouver.

They filed a complaint on the Air Canada website but were only offered a small credit so the McNabbs took the complaint to the next level, a Civil Resolution Tribunal.

“Because at this point, a credit doesn’t really mean anything, if you really want to settle, let’s settle for the cash as per the APPR,” said Rob.

The APPR is the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, a federal law that went into effect on Dec. 15, 2019, just before their trip.

It was established to protect passengers financially in certain circumstances.

The tribunal ruled in favour of the McNabbs. The penalty to Air Canada was $1,000 per person plus admin fees. It’s believed the McNabbs are the first to be awarded a penalty under the new regulations.

“It’s sad when the airline makes you fight for really what they should offer in the first place,” said Rob.

Air Canada declined to comment for this story but on Wednesday the airline emailed the McNabbs to say it will pay the penalty directly to their bank account within four days.

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