British Columbia

'It's embarrassing for everybody': Saskatoon woman decries lack of feminine hygiene products at YVR

A woman from Saskatoon transiting through Vancouver International Airport says she was forced to buy pads at nearly three times their usual price because bathrooms were not equipped with boxes that dispense them.

Airport staff offered passenger a pair of disposable underwear meant for adults with incontinence

Kitzul said she purchased a packet of sanitary pads for nearly $15 after finding several bathrooms in the Vancouver International Airport without dispensers. (Kyla Kitzul)

A Saskatoon woman transiting through Vancouver International Airport says she was forced to buy pads at nearly three times their usual price because bathrooms were not equipped with feminine hygiene product dispensers.

Kyla Kitzul, 27, was passing through YVR on her way from Vietnam to Saskatoon on Tuesday night.

She said she headed to a bathroom as soon as she disembarked from her plane in search of a sanitary pad or tampon. But the first bathroom she tried did not have a sanitary napkin dispenser at all.

"That's the one that sucked the most for me. I get off the plane and I have to go talk to someone? It's embarrassing for everybody," she said, after emailing CBC News with her complaint.

In a second bathroom near the customs area, Kitzul said she was able to purchase a pad from a machine for one dollar.

A third bathroom she visited in the domestic terminal after going through security also did not have a machine.

A note that Kitzul left in the washroom, along with the rest of the pads she purchased. (Kyla Kitzul)

Was offered disposable underwear

Kitzul then headed to a customer information desk, where she said a well-meaning employee offered her a Depends — a brand of absorbent, disposable underwear meant for people with incontinence.

"I think they were confused by the situation," she said.

Another employee saw what she had been offered, and intervened apologetically.

"We kind of laughed about it. She looked at me and she said, 'That won't work right.' "

Kitzul then went to a store and bought a pack of pads that cost nearly $15. She grabbed a few for herself, then left the rest in the bathroom along with a note.

"The YVR airport doesn't care about women. There are no tampon/pad machines in this area. Please take one if you need one," it reads.

Kitzul said she was inspired to leave the rest of the package she purchased behind after hearing a similar story out of Calgary International Airport in December.

After a woman was forced to buy a $15 dollar box of tampons — sold elsewhere for just $3 — she left the box in the bathroom with a note. The photo was posted online and soon went viral.

Kitzul, 27, said airport staff were helpful, but unprepared to deal with her situation. (Kyla Kitzul)

YVR: 'We found gaps'

In a statement, YVR said that "the safety, security and comfort of our passengers is our top priority and it's at the heart of everything we do."   

It said the airport underwent a terminal-wide audit about the availability of feminine hygiene products in December.

"We found gaps in vending machines and feminine hygiene product availability within some women's washrooms and we are working with our partners to address those gaps and ensure feminine hygiene products [are] readily available, and at a fair price, in every women's washroom," the statement read in part. 

The statement also said that YVR has eight vendors where pads or tampons can be bought for prices between $2.99 and $7.99, which they say is in line with street pricing.

Kitzul said those cheaper options were not available in the stores she visited in the domestic terminal.

According to a photo of the receipt sent to CBC News, Kitzul paid $14.55 after tax for a pack. The same product is advertised for $4.99 before tax at London Drugs.

"Why should I have to pay so much money for something that so much of our population has to use so much of the time?" she said.

"I don't think they considered the sanitary issue. I was really worried about bleeding."

Kitzul said that when she landed in Saskatoon, she found that the bathrooms were stocked with tampons and pads.

"I'm checking every airport now," she said.