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Canadian couple feels 'abandoned' after WestJet cancellations leave them stuck in Mexico

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More than 1,100 WestJet flights and counting have been cancelled since last Thursday, when a strike by the airlines mechanics union grounded travel plans for more than 100,000 customers.

The job action has since ended, but the turbulence is expected to continue for thousands of passengers this week as the company tries to get its fleet of aircrafts off the tarmac and into the sky.

In a service update, WestJet shared that the labour disruption forced the airline to park 130 of its 180 planes. The company has confirmed it will take several more days to get its schedule back in order. WestJet declined to share a firm timeline or provide comment for the tens of thousands of affected travellers.

Sitting in his hotel room in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Andre Estay says, “We just feel abandoned.”

Estay and his wife flew to Cabo two weeks ago for their 10-year anniversary. They were supposed to fly home on Sunday, but the night before their flight was scheduled, WestJet grounded their plans.

“We received the email late Saturday night around 10:30 p.m.,” Estay told CTV News. “We've been trying to get a hold of (WestJet), all the way through Sunday, Monday and a little bit this morning, and we still haven’t been able to get through.”

Andre Estay says he feel's 'abandoned' in Mexico after his return flight was grounded. (Image courtesy of Andre Estay)

Estay and his wife have been forced to book another flight home with their own money for $1,000, but it doesn't leave until this coming Saturday. They've also had to pay an additional $2,200 to cover extra hotel nights.

A loyal WestJet customer, Estay says he’s shocked by the lack of communication from Canada’s second biggest airline company.

“We are WestJet members for 10-plus years. We've been on their loyalty program. We have their Visa. We've done our bit. We've been loyal and then they just abandoned (us). They left us in a lurch,” he said.

If a passenger flight is cancelled in Canada during a strike, it’s deemed outside of an airline’s control -- meaning the airline is not required to offer compensation. However, it is required to rebook you on another flight within 48 hours, at its expense. If all WestJet flights are full, there is an expectation that the airline will buy you a ticket on another airline.

“Once things settle a little bit, I would send a letter of demand to WestJet with a copy of the receipts saying you caused this expense, pay up,” Gabor Lukcas, an air passenger rights advocate, told CTV News.  

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