A woman in Saskatoon is planning to sue Air Canada, alleging her teenage daughter was told to stay with strangers in a hotel after her flight in Budapest was delayed, and that noone knew where she was.
Csilla Vajda says her 14 year old daughter, Timea, was returning home by herself after visiting her grandparents in Romania, and took a bus to Hungary for her August 20th flight from Budapest to Toronto, then to Saskatoon. The check-in went smoothly, but Timea messaged Csilla that the 12:50 p.m. flight had been delayed two hours. After the two hour delay, there was another four hour delay before the flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues. Csilla says that Timea was then given 4300 Hugarian Forints, equivalent to 21 Canadian dollars, to pay for dinner and breakfast the following morning, but that only was enough for a sandwich. Then, after asking, Timea received accommodation to a hotel that was an hour-long drive from the airport, and Csilla says Air Canada did not provide any ground transportation. She was also required to stay with other passengers because the hotel had been booked full. Csilla says her daughter did not have any Hungarian cash on her because she had a step-by-step plan that would not require her to make any payments, and her cellular services were turned off so she wouldn't accumulate any roaming data charges. Csilla says she had been frantically calling Air Canada, who said they didn't know where she was at the time and told her to call the airport. However, because August 20th was a holiday in Budapest, the airport told her that they were unaware of where Timea was. Csilla says, "as a parent, when you can't reach your child and the people who are supposed to be responsible for your child don't know where she is at...you think about everything that's bad".
Fortunately, Timea was able to receive help from a couple of Canadian passengers who paid for the cab to and from the airport and bought her food. Still, Csilla says her daughter was crying when she eventually arrived in Saskatoon at 4:25 p.m. the next day, and told her mother she never wants to fly outside the country again. Csilla is seeking an apology from the airline and reimbursement for the ordeal her daughter went through, along with the costs for the taxi and for the food the other passengers bought Timea. She says she bought Air Canada tickets, and they are responsible to take care of their passengers, especially if they are a minor. She also says the ticket she purchased was for an unattended child and it was written on the bottom of the ticket.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Air Canada says Timea, "was not enrolled in Air Canada's Unaccompanied Minor program, which would have allowed us to better supervise her journey". The spokesperson adds, "our agents in Budapest made efforts to accommodate the child and we are still investigating the full sequence of events that occurred after the child arrived alone at the airport on a bus from Romania. We remain in touch with the girl’s mother since she first contacted us Sept. 4 to address this issue". Csilla says she's happy that her daughter is safe, but hopes the airline learns a lesson, adding that in the worst case scenario, "she could have been killed somewhere in Hungary. She was left alone".