Air Canada have reimbursed the organisers of a festival in Alberta after a boatload of lobsters from Newfoundland were lost in transit, spoiling an event meant to celebrate the coveted crustaceans. Jackie Panasiuk, one of the organisers of the Northern Alberta Lobster Festival in the community of Cotillion, said that they have accepted Air Canada's offer to pay for the shipping and the cost of the seafood. The settlement came after the festival, held earlier this month, was left lobster-less following the mishap.
Instead of soaring thousands of kilometres to their final destination at the Grande Prairie airport, the lobsters were grounded in Toronto, then sidelined in Edmonton.
One hundred live lobsters were delayed.
By the time the shipment arrived, 18 hours after the end of the festival, much of the lobster had spoiled.
"We had people come from all over Alberta, and unfortunately the lobster weren't among the attendees," said Panasiuk, who helped her sister organise the event.
"It was a very disappointing event. We ate hot dogs at a lobster fest." On the day of the festival, Air Canada's cargo-tracking system indicated the lobster shipment had arrived at Grande Prairie airport at 4pm.
But when the organisers reached the customer service desk, they were told the shipment hadn't arrived.
Severe weather had grounded the flight in Toronto, and there was no guarantee the lobster would arrive in Alberta before the end of day.
Panasiuk said she spent hours on the phone, dealing with agents who refused to apologise or answer her questions.
The lost lobsters turned up at the Edmonton airport two hours later, but Panasiuk said the airline wasn't accommodating in getting them to their final destination.
Instead of letting the lobster rot, Panasiuk said Air Canada could have transferred the crates to a different flight or offered to pay for alternative transport.
"Air Canada offered to allow us to pay to taxi them up to Cotillion - and a cab ride just to get them up to Grande Prairie would have cost $750. And we were supposed to pay for it."
The seafood finally arrived in Grande Prairie at around 10am the day after the festival.
"We cooked and froze them and distributed them to community members, because nobody has enough freezer space for that many lobsters," Panasiuk said.
In a statement, Air Canada representative Isabelle Arthur said "very bad weather" was to blame for the delays.
The shipment missed the last connecting flight in Toronto and was sent the next morning on the first available flight. In addition, a "complex itinerary" had made it challenging to provide real-time tracking information.