I found a fair for about $60 one-way ORD to YYZ. I haven’t flown a budget airline before and I’ve never flown or heard of Flair before, so I gave it a shot. Let’s call this an experiment for the benefit for my close friends/family and anyone reading this.
The day before departure, I attempted to check-in online. I was given an error message which I later learned from the airline staff that it was down for everyone.
I start the day by getting into the Uber and not finding the airline in the list of 100+ airlines in the Uber and Lyft apps. Chicago has 5 terminals and the airport is quite large so I tried to find which terminal Flair flew out of so my rideshare could drop me off closest to my gate.
I started by searching my emails, texts and boarding pass. Everything showed no terminal and no gate. Yes, the boarding pass didn’t give any instruction as to where to go. So I ended up, choosing Air Canada on the rideshare. Once in the car, I continued to search further for flight info. Their site had a live chat thankfully, so I chatted with the agent and after 20-30 minutes I was told it would be in terminal 3. The live chat agent then corrected himself and said terminal 2. How encouraging. He also told me the flight may be operating under Freedom Airlines.
So I went to terminal 2, and looked for Flair Airlines. Nothing. Only option was to either chat with one of the big 3 (Delta, United, American) or go through security. So I went to security. Clear and TSA never heard of this airline and let me through after questioning. I admit, the Times New Roman boarding pass doesn’t look authentic.
Once through, I started looking for displays, which I couldn’t find before clearing security. The displays were specific to the brand of airline. United had their own, as did American and Delta. Flair was nowhere to be found.
So, I got on live chat again, this time I was told by a new agent that the flight would be out of terminal 3. So, off I go. When I got there, terminal 3 was entirely American Airlines flights. This doesn’t look good.
I asked live chat for the gate specifically. They delayed 10-20 minutes and came back with nothing. The best solution they had was to ask airport personnel where the gate is. Are you kidding me?
After some pacing and calm frustration, I decided to ask for some help because if I don’t figure this out in the next few minutes, I likely won’t make this flight. The only staff I could find were American Airlines staff.
The American Airlines agents never heard of Flair, but they were friendly and immediately helped by also searching the flight number on Google and other tools on their side.
Nothing. They had plenty of ideas on ways to track down where this flight was departing from, but sadly found nothing concrete. I was on the Flair site, looking for a place to check flight statuses, etc, but there wasn’t anything. The site was extremely broken (most of the client side CSS wouldn’t even load).
At this point, it was 20-30 minutes until boarding begins. That’s a nightmare in Chicago where changing terminals takes 10-20 minutes alone.
It was at that point, I got a text message from Flair. Finally some info.
Hello Flair Passenger, please be advise Flair Airlines is located in Terminal 5 in the International Terminal and our check in counters are 8 and 7A and 7B
The American Airlines attendants directed me as soon as the message came in. I exited the terminal and I hopped in the train to hop from terminal 2 to 5.
Once I got there, I found the counter and the agents were friendly. The airline staff told me they don’t have TSA Pre (Nexus) setup yet. So when I cleared security the second time, there was no way to get through quickly to make sure I make the flight. After all, I only had 15 minutes once they texted me the terminal and I arrived at it.
They printed my new boarding pass which included the gate, which was M3 out of Terminal 5.
Exhausted by this point, I clear security and get to my gate. It’s boarding time and nothing is going on. I wait until departure time, at which point they announce: “We regret to inform you that there will be a delayed departure for this flight due to unscheduled maintenance. We will inform you when we have an update along with a revised departure time.”
Flair was a 1 of 1 test. It was not worth the cost-savings that can sometimes be found with better low-cost airlines. I hope it helps someone who’s considering trying Flair.