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Lynx Air is stopping all flights. Here is what B.C. residents need to know

Know your rights.
Lynx Air is shutting down flights and passengers booked from YVR in Vancouver, B.C. will need to make alternative arrangements.

Lynx Air is shutting down operations only a couple of years after it took off the ground, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the 11th hour.

The ultra-low-cost carrier announced Thursday (Feb. 22) night that it was ceasing operations due to fierce market competition, surging fuel costs, rising operating costs, exchange rates, and increasing airport charges. 

In an emailed statement to V.I.A., a spokesperson said Lynx recognized this was an "exceptionally difficult day for our loyal customers" but mounting financial strain has made it impossible for operations to continue. 

"Right now, we are focused on working with passengers currently in transit to find alternative arrangements to reach their destination. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Lynx team for their incredible efforts in helping to grow this airline from the ground up," they said. 

The company has filed for protection from its creditors under the Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA).

Lynx Air will cease flight operations as of 11:01 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 25). However, the airline says it will be "unable to facilitate many of the flights scheduled over the weekend as we work to bring aircraft, crews, and as many passengers as possible home."

What should I do if I have a ticket booked with Lynx Air?

Travellers who have tickets booked with Lynx have a few options. 

Lynx Air flights scheduled before the carrier goes offline late Sunday night should move forward as planned. Passengers whose flights are cancelled will be notified via email.

You can also check the status of your flight online.

If they booked with a credit card, customers should contact their credit card company to secure refunds for pre-booked travel. Lynx will "not be able to assist with refunds or accommodations" for customers affected by a cancellation this weekend, Lynx says on its departure information page.

Flights booked after Monday (Feb. 26) should contact their credit card company for a refund. Lynx Air's contact centre will not be available to assist with refunds.

Travel vouchers and flight vouchers will no longer be accepted once Lynx ceases operations.

What if I have to re-book a flight and the new one is expensive? 

Gabor Lukacs, president and founder of the Air Passenger Rights group, emphasizes that customers shouldn't merely accept the refund terms at face value. 

Since Lynx is considered a small carrier under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), it isn't under an obligation to re-book customers with a competitor. But they aren't off the hook for international departures. 

Under the Montreal Convention, airlines must re-book customers on international flights with a competitor if they don't have a flight departing with one of their airline partners — regardless of the size of the airline.

"However, in this case, it is not clear how much money is left against which to enforce the liability," Lukacs noted. 

Instead, the advocate recommends that passengers incur expenses and then look at the CCAA process to find a "way to enforce their claims as (unsecured) creditors."

Affected passengers may wish to pursue Statutory Chargeback. Most Canadian provinces require credit card issuers to reverse or cancel charges for services they did not receive. Unlike an internal chargeback, which is based on a "card issuer or bank’s internal chargeback process," a statutory one is governed by law. 

"The most important advice I can give people is read and read and read," Lukacs said.

The Air Passenger Rights group offers guides for each province's process on its website.

When should I book with another airline?

Customers hoping to secure a flight home or re-book a holiday should act quickly. Many other passengers will be in the same predicament and availability will be lower and prices higher.  

Travellers hoping to save costs on a flight can try flying into or out of different airports than their original one to save money. For example, a flight booked out of YVR may be cheaper out of Abbotsford International Airport (YYX), or a flight originally scheduled to Orlando International Airport (MCO) may be cheaper to Miami International Airport (MIA). 

WestJet has also reduced some ticket prices on Lynx routes and offered repatriation for travellers on transborder and sun flights that are capped at a lower price.

The hidden costs of low-cost carriers

Travellers who book with low-cost airlines should be cautious about the "hidden fees" in their ticket prices. 

At first glance, Lynx offered strikingly low fares on all of its routes. But the low-cost options aren't all-inclusive. The ticket price only included one personal item for the flight. A personal item is different from carry-on luggage, which generally only fits in the overhead compartment in the cabin. Personal items are generally purses, small backpacks, briefcases, laptop bags, camera bags, and other small pieces. 

There wasn't a flat fee for baggage, either. Lynx offered a sliding scale of costs depending on the length of the flight. The prices are divided into three categories: short flights (under 1,000 km), medium flights (1,000 km to 3,000 km), and long flights (over 3,000 km). These fees apply to both your carry-on luggage and any additional checked luggage.

When did Lynx launch and where did it fly from Vancouver?

The Calgary-based airline launched its first flight to Vancouver on April 7, 2022, with prices starting at a jaw-dropping $49. It increased its network to include several cities across Canada, with service connecting Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to places like Kelowna, Edmonton and Montreal. 

Vancouverites also enjoyed direct flights to Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, starting at just $143.