A Calgary family vacationing in Palm Springs, Cali. said they were forced to rent a vehicle and drive to Los Angeles to get back home to Calgary after Canada grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft following a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia last weekend.
Barb Marjoram said she and her party of nine had spent a week in Palm Springs, taking in a long family vacation.
On Wednesday, they were supposed to board an Air Canada flight from Palm Springs to Calgary on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane when Marjoram was told by airline staff the flight was cancelled.
Canada was one of the last countries to ground the planes after 157 people — including 18 Canadians — lost their lives on Sunday when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. No Boeing 737 Max 8 or 9 airplanes are allowed to enter Canadian airspace until further notice.
“There was mostly confusion. Huge lineups at the car rental. Everyone was trying to figure out what they were going to do,” Marjoram said Thursday. “Everyone was on their cell phone trying to get a hold of customer service.”
“They advised us there weren’t going to be a lot of flights out of Palm Springs and that we would be better off to get to L.A. where there were more options,” Marjoram said Thursday in Los Angeles.
Under the advice of the Air Canada agent in Palm Springs, Marjoram, her husband, her two daughters and their husbands, plus their grandchildren rented two vehicles to drive from Palm Springs to Los Angeles — about a two-hour drive, according to Google Maps.
According to Marjoram, the family were able to get two of the last remaining rental vehicles.
“We rushed to the car rentals and we managed to get what’s some of the last vehicles and drove to L.A. On the drive here we spent most of the time on the phone trying to get through to Air Canada customer service,” she said.
Air Canada was able to rebook all the entire party together on one flight out of Los Angeles, which Marjoram said she is thankful for.
However, she wonders if she will be fully compensated for the additional $1,000 the family spent in extra costs to get home, which include car rentals and extra hotel stays.
“They told us very vaguely at the customer service desk to save all our receipts but there’s been no guarantee,” she said. “I’ve now had to travel twice, twice to pay for our baggage, twice to reserve seats, I’m hoping it’s going to be reimbursed but nothing is clear at this point, there was mostly confusion.”
WATCH: More than a dozen flights in and out of Calgary’s airport were cancelled after Transport Canada grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes on Wednesday. Christa Dao reports.
In a statement, Air Canada said there will be no reimbursement.
“We were able to reschedule other aircraft to Palm Springs starting ,” the statement read.
“As this matter is outside of Air Canada’s control, we are unable to reimburse expenses incurred as a result of this unprecedented disruption.”
The Marjoram family, set to fly home Thursday evening, said they hope there were no further disruptions to their trip.
As of Thursday afternoon, Air Canada’s customer service line was so inundated with calls that it was unable to even place callers on hold. Callers were instead directed to it’s Air Canada website.
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