Stranded travellers from Sask. are slowly making it back home, with a pit stop in Winnipeg

Roice Anne Fox and her family are relieved to be back on Canadian soil after spending six days waiting in hotel lobbies in Varadero, Cuba, for a flight to take her home to Saskatchewan. She is not alone as hundreds of Saskatchewan residents wait to be back on Saskatchewan soil.

Sunwing says most if not all delayed customers should return home by Jan. 2

A man with a blue toque, a girl wearing glasses, a woman wearing a black toque and a young girl wearing a backpack pose together with luggage at the airport.
A family of four from Weyburn, Sask., is relieved to be back on Canadian soil after being stranded in Cuba for six days. (Jenn Allen/CBC)

For the sixth night in a row, Roice Anne Fox didn't know where her husband and two young daughters were going to be sleeping — but at least on Sunday, it was back on Canadian soil.

"I could kiss the airport. I would do that," Fox said after landing in Winnipeg last night.

She and her family were supposed to fly into Regina from their Cuban vacation on Dec. 27, but their flight with Sunwing kept getting delayed.

On Friday, the airline announced that it would be suspending operations in Saskatchewan's two major cities — effective immediately — until Feb. 3.

Fox said she fell to her knees with relief when they were told they'd finally be travelling back to Canada, but still wondered if it would actually happen.

"It always changes. We're kinda used to that by now," she said.

The family of four arrived in Winnipeg just before 8 p.m. Sunday and were told that Sunwing would be putting them up in a hotel overnight, and would fly them to Regina on Monday via WestJet.

The 31-year-old mom said that stranded travellers are receiving minimal information from the airlines and have to depend on one another to seek the latest information.

When they landed in Winnipeg, it was up to them to find someone that could help them figure out where they'd be staying overnight. 

"Do not do this again, and please compensate us properly with all the stress you put us into," Fox said.

During the endless wait, her youngest daughter fell sick to a respiratory illness, which was an added stress. 

A man and woman and their two daughters stand at the beach with waves behind them.
Fox says stranded travellers are receiving minimal information from the airlines and have to depend on one another to seek the latest information. (Submitted by Roice Anne Fox)

Still in good spirits, her oldest daughter Zion is looking forward to opening Christmas gifts that Santa Claus left while they were away, and reuniting with her pet fish named Steve.

Billie Deschene, who was stranded there with her 15-year-old son, said she is tired of people on social media saying they should enjoy their extended vacation. 

A woman and her son in orange life safety vests.
Billie Deschene says the Sunwing ordeal has made her 15-year-old son not want to travel ever again. (Submitted by Billie Deschene)

"This is brutal. The trip was my son's Christmas present as it was his first time travelling. After all this, he says he doesn't want to travel ever again and I'm not sure I want to either," the Regina resident said.

Another source of stress for some stranded travellers whom CBC spoke to is the need to return to Canada so they can get back to work.

In an email statement on Saturday, Sunwing told CBC that they are continuing to work through the backlogged flights to serve the remaining customers as soon as possible.

"We anticipate that most if not all delayed customers should return home by Jan. 2. We have now planned 43 recovery flights, 34 of which were completed as of end of day yesterday, Dec. 30, [2022]," the statement read.

Wedding plan in jeopardy

The cancellation of Sunwing flights out of Saskatchewan isn't just affecting travellers with present-day plans.

Jilleen Kaal, 31, and Chris Morgan, 35, had booked 78 tickets through Sunwing for their wedding in Punta Mita, Mexico, on Jan. 29.

Kaal said Sunwing did not inform them about the recent decision — they learned about it from news outlets.

A man and woman stand next to a staircase with a decorated christmas tree behind them.
Jilleen Kaal and Chris Morgan had booked 78 tickets through Sunwing for their wedding in Punta Mita, Mexico, on Jan. 29. But after the airline cancelled all flights out of Saskatoon and Regina until at least Feb. 3, the couple says their wedding is in jeopardy. (Submitted by Jilleen Kaal)

"Since most of our guests are from Yorkton and were flying out of Regina or Saskatoon, in the past three days we have been informing all of them of these cancellations," she said.

Now their guest list has trimmed itself down, as only 47 of the guests booked flights out of Calgary. She said many will have to spend their own money to get there first. 

"Our guests are upset. Saskatoon guests are now looking to book flights to Calgary and it is like $1,600 for two people. They will have to spend hotel stays, on the way there and back, and gas money," Morgan said.

The couple are also worried about ripple effects on other regions.

"If Sunwing cancels our Calgary flights, we'll be completely out of luck. Our wedding would be completely ruined," Kaal said.

"Even with the current situation, we feel we will have to have another wedding in Saskatoon for the guests who couldn't come."

Kaal said her $9,000 USD wedding service fee will go to waste if other guests drop too. 

"It has been a horrible week and we all were looking forward to it. Sunwing should be responsible for the extra costs our guests have to now bear," she said.

"They cannot understand the amount of stress. We are worried and weddings shouldn't be like that."


Pratyush Dayal covers climate change, immigration and race and gender issues among general news for CBC News in Saskatchewan. He has previously written for the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and the Tyee. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UBC and can be reached at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?