Relief for stranded flyers initially rebooked more than a week later
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV News Vancouver's Allison Hurst
Published Wednesday, August 28, 2019 11:02AM EDT
Dozens of passengers say they felt stranded in British Columbia when their flight to Winnipeg was cancelled and the airline initially rescheduled them on new flights more than a week later, with some as late as 11 days after.
Emily Rea and Michael Okafor are two of the passengers who were supposed to fly to Winnipeg on Monday, after they attended a friend’s wedding in Kelowna, B.C.
Rea and Okafor said they were preparing to board a Swoop flight home to Winnipeg, along with a number of other guests who attended the wedding, when they were told their trip had been cancelled.
“Half an hour before our flight was to take off we ended up basically stranded in the airport because a truck drove into the propeller,” Rea told CTV Vancouver on Tuesday.
“From there on, it was just kind of mayhem,” Okafor added.
The passengers said they heard an announcement at the airport about another chartered flight for them scheduled to depart on Wednesday. However, later that evening, they received emails and texts from Swoop informing them they had been rebooked on future flights with the carrier.
The flights were scheduled for the following week -- the first week of September.
“They are not getting out until Sept. 2, 4, and 6,” Pat Ward, the mother of the bride, said. “They all got texts for different dates.”
Rea said the new flights wouldn’t work for her schedule.
“We can’t just call our work and be like ‘We’re going to be back in 11 days,’” she said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
In a statement to CTV News Vancouver, Swoop, a low-cost carrier owned by WestJet, apologized and confirmed “there was an unscheduled maintenance to one of [the] aircraft resulting in ongoing impacts to the network until maintenance is completed.” The airline said 100 passengers were impacted.
Gabor Lukacs, the founder and co-ordinator of Air Passenger Rights, criticized the airline’s response.
“Offering people a flight many days, more than a week later, is completely unreasonable,” he said. “The airline was required and is required to rebook passengers on other airlines.”
In an updated statement, Swoop said “an aircraft has been secured for Thursday, Aug. 29, and schedules will return to normal.” The airline added that it would reimburse travellers and cover additional costs if the passengers booked themselves on flights with other airlines.
Rea said they’re happy they were able to attend their friend’s wedding, but they’re looking forward to the trip being over when they fly out with another airline Wednesday morning.
“They really screwed us over in this situation,” she said. “The situation has been traumatizing. It’s been stressful it's been anxiety driven.”