Sun Country apologizes to passengers for series of cancellations of brand new flight to Canada

Minnesota’s hometown airline that just announced a new route to Canada last week is now apologizing to its passengers who have been faced with repeated delays and cancellations for the inaugural return flight home.

“This return flight has just been a nightmare,” said Annie Bender, who has been stranded with her husband and three kids in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Bender’s family was planning to return on Saturday to the Twin Cities on the airline’s very first return flight from Vancouver.

Not only was that flight canceled but so was the next one. They are now hoping to fly home Monday night.

“We’ve spent probably $3,000 in the last two days to make sure we have safe accommodations for our kids and can feed them,” Bender said.

The flight was part of Sun Country’s new destination that the airline celebrated in front of news cameras last week.

“We’re so thrilled to be adding Vancouver as a non-stop destination in the Pacific Northwest,” Brian Davis, Sun Country’s chief marketing officer, told reporters at the event.

The timing of the airline’s expansion is exactly what 5 INVESTIGATES pressed an executive about earlier this year as Sun Country struggles with staffing shortages and an already rocky history of cancellations.

RELATED: As Sun Country prepares to expand, employees raise concerns about staffing and fatigue

“I realize, anytime we make a cancellation, certainly a close-in cancellation, it’s very, very challenging for us to do,” Greg Mays, Sun County’s chief operating officer, said in the interview with 5 INVESTIGATES. “I hope we can win those customers back. I honestly do.”

In a statement late Monday, the airline blamed the problem on what many airlines are currently facing: short staffing.

A spokesperson said the airline was “short on crews for several flights over the weekend.”

Then Sunday’s rescheduled flight from Vancouver had a mechanical issue and had to be rescheduled again.

“We sincerely apologize to our passengers,” the statement said.

Sun Country said it did offer to pay for a hotel for stranded passengers; However, Bender said the hotel they offered was 45 minutes away and the passengers had to pay for their own transportation.

The airline says it sent information to passengers about how to be reimbursed for certain expenses.

“Don’t expand if you don’t have the manpower,” Bender said. “If you don’t have the manpower, don’t do it. We’re really suffering as a result of those decisions.”