A Calgary woman says she has been stranded in Sydney for four days and will miss several days of work because her flight back to Alberta was overbooked.

“As soon as we got to check-in they said they cancelled a flight in the morning and overbooked the flight we were on, so our chances were 50/50 we may or may not get on the flight,” says Amanda Bollinger.

A few hours later, Bollinger says she was offered a seat on the next flight out, but there was no room for her five-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son.

“It was crazy. What was I supposed to do? Leave my kids in Sydney and get on the airplane? It’s ridiculous,” says Bollinger. “I don’t understand how they can split up a mother and children. I don’t understand how that happens.”

Bollinger says she was told the earliest flight out would be Wednesday, which means she will have to miss three full days of work. Her children will also be missing a summer camp, for which Bollinger paid more than $450.

Although the trio’s airplane tickets have been refunded, and they will be travelling for free come Wednesday, Bollinger says it will be three weeks before she sees the money. Plus, she won’t be compensated for other expenses as a result of being bumped for several days.

“Luckily I have family. For anyone else that didn’t have that opportunity, I think it’s really sad. How would they get by? Paying for every meal … and lodging?”

CTV News contacted Air Canada on Monday, but the airline said it would need more time to gather more information before being able to comment on the matter.

Air Canada contacted CTV News on Tuesday and issued the following statement:

“Unfortunately we were unable to board Mrs. Bollinger on her flight and offered to rebook her and her two children on the next flight to Halifax where we would put her up in a hotel as she was unable to make her connection until the next morning. She preferred travel arrangements that did not require an overnight. An earlier flight that day was cancelled so unfortunately we needed to also accommodate other customers who had booked earlier. Our flights being full, the first available travel itinerary with no overnight on the way is on Wednesday August 17. We have already informed her that she would be receiving compensation.  We understand how difficult this has been for Mrs. Bollinger and her family and we will be contacting her to apologize.”

Air Canada says there are two main reasons why flights may not be able to accommodate all booked customers – operational constraints, such as weather or a maintenance issue, or substituting a flight with a smaller aircraft, resulting in more booked passengers than seats available.

The airline says, on rare occasions, it is the result of overbooking.

Bollinger is happy with how Air Canada agents handled the situation at the airport, but says getting hold of an Air Canada representative has been nearly impossible.

“I talked to somebody and they said I had the wrong department and I would have to place a formal email and that was it,” she says. “They wouldn’t let me speak to anybody.”

Bollinger says she will be happy to get home, but admits the whole ordeal has left a sour taste in her mouth.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore