Weather strands Sask. high school group after 10-day Europe trip

The wild spring weather is causing travel delays in Western Canada.

A travel club from Herbert, Sask., which is about 180 kilometres west of Regina, was stranded in Calgary last night after travelling for 24 hours.

Eight high school students from the community flew to Toronto yesterday from Paris. Their flight from Toronto to Calgary was delayed six hours, meaning they missed their plane to Regina.

Blizzard conditions hit Alberta over the weekend. Environment Canada data said about 13 centimetres of snow fell in Calgary Saturday.

Calgary International Airport said both departures and arrivals were affected by the snow. Multiple flights were cancelled or delayed.

Rhonda Gerl, a chaperone for the students from Herbert, said Air Canada was unclear about when the group could get home. She said they were initially told it could be two or three days.

“We live two and a half hours away from the airport,” said Gerl. “So you have parents heading out to pick their children up at the airport and then having to turn around and go home because you know the flight’s been canceled or you’ve missed your flight. It’s a lot of stress.”

Air Canada does not offer reimbursement for hotels or food for flight delays “outside of their control,” including those caused by weather.

Gerl said their tour company EF Education Tours agreed to cover the costs and worked to find them a replacement flight. She said she also looked into renting a van or multiple cars, but none were available in Calgary.

Members of the travel club in front of the Tower Bridge in London. (Submitted by Rhonda Gerl)

The group wanted to return as soon as possible, as the high school students would have to miss school and the seven chaperones would have to miss work.

A representative for Air Canada said Monday its operations teams’ focus is getting flights back on track and customers on their way as quickly as possible. The airline added a flight from Calgary to Regina Monday afternoon and the group of students were scheduled to depart on it.

“I just wish that they would have made that suggestion last night or implied that it was a possibility for us instead of making us feel that we were being left high and dry,” said Gerl.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to like our trip had to end that way you know because you it was a wonderful trip.”

Saskatchewan highway conditions

Travel is still not recommended on some Saskatchewan roads southwest of Moose Jaw, between Swift Current, Chaplin, Assiniboia, Rockglen and Cadillac. Winter conditions exist on most roadways in the southern part of the province. 

The TransCanada Highway and Highway 11 between Regina and Saskatoon were experiencing winter driving conditions Monday morning, such as slippery and icy sections, but conditions are were downgraded to seasonal by the Highway Hotline later in the day.

The Willow Creek border crossing, about 130 kilometres southwest of Maple Creek, is expected to be re-open Monday after closing on Sunday.



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