Teen says Calgary taxi driver refused to drive her to hotel after flight cancelled
Published Monday, April 29, 2019 6:25PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, April 29, 2019 7:01PM MDT
A 17-year-old Ontario girl says a cancelled flight and an inconsiderate cab driver made for a stressful, unexpected layover in Calgary during Saturday night’s snowstorm.
Ava Ludlow was travelling alone on Saturday after visiting a friend in Medicine Hat. The first leg of her trip, a flight from Medicine Hat to the Calgary International Airport, went off without a hitch but Saturday’s blast of wintry conditions interrupted her departure from Calgary.
“It kept getting delayed because of the weather, which is really good actually because it wasn’t safe,” said Ava in a video chat with CTV. “They eventually started boarding us. We got on the plane and the pilot kept making the announcements that we still couldn’t go. It was about two hours waiting on the plane when they finally decided to cancel the flight.”
It was nearly 1 a.m., and six hours after her original scheduled departure time, when Ludlow stepped off the aircraft. “I was flying alone so I had nowhere to go and I had no idea what to do.”
The teen says she approached the front counter and was asked to wait to the side until the agents had dealt with the rest of the line. Ludlow says an Air Canada employee informed her that, given all the rebooking requests for impacted passengers, she would not be able to fly home until Monday and they would not be able to arrange a hotel room for her as the only available rooms were downtown and she was too young to be sent there.
“She told me that I would have to sleep in the airport. I called my mom and said this is what’s happening.”
Ludlow’s friend in Medicine Hat was able to find a hotel with availability near the Calgary International Airport and a room was booked for the teen. A second visit to the Air Canada counter was productive and Ludlow was booked to fly back to Ontario Sunday afternoon. “I think the airline did put in the effort to try and find me a hotel and they did get me on a flight, and I appreciate that, but I still don’t feel fully supported. I did feel very isolated and alone.”
With her room booked and her flight details confirmed, the teen stepped outside the departure doors and began waiting for a shuttle to the hotel.
After encountering crowded shuttles without room for her over the next ‘couple of hours’ in the freezing cold, Ludlow took another approach. “I eventually gave up on the shuttle and I went over to the taxi line and I waited about an hour-and-a-half there. Once I got in the taxi, the man asked me where I was going and I told him the Sandman Hotel. He asked which location.”
Ludlow says the fact the hotel was near to the airport infuriated the driver. “He told me I had to get out of his cab because he couldn’t take me because other people were waiting and a shuttle could take me there. I explained to him that I had already waited a couple hours and the shuttle’s kept filling up.”
The teen returned to the shuttle line and a woman on a shuttle offered to share her seat to help the girl get to the hotel.
Ludlow made her Sunday flight and has returned to her home in the greater Kingston area. She hopes the taxi driver learns of her predicament and that is serves as a wake-up call for him.
“I think it was a poor choice on his part to not let me take the ride but I don’t want him to be fired, I just want it to be a lesson learned and for other people not to have the same experience,” said Ludlow. “I just thing some compassion would help.”
Ludlow’s mother says she would appreciate an apology from the airline and taxi company but what’s truly important is that her daughter has returned. “Bottom line, I’m glad she made it home safely,” Pamela Ludlow told CTV. “It’s not the experience I wanted her to have but it’s a good learning lesson.”
The general manager of Associated Taxi says he apologizes for the unfortunate encounter Ludlow had with one of his drivers. He confirms that drivers are not permitted to refuse a fare over the short distance of the trip and such an offence could result in termination. The driver who refused Ludlow’s fare has not been identified as the teen failed to gather the driver’s name of taxi number.
Angela Mah, an Air Canada spokesperson, says the airline will be in contact with the Ludlows in the near future and confirmed the organization’s policy regarding unaccompanied minors.
“Our policy is to support and assist youth between the ages of 12 and 17 travelling alone,” said Mah. “This support includes providing accommodations and meals when there are events that impact flights, including weather. We are currently looking further into what happened.”
With files from CTV’s Shaun Frenette