A Calgary family who flew to Toronto only to turn around and fly back home due to WestJet delays said their $4,000 vacation went “down the drain.”
“We came back in the house 23 hours later, $4,000 down the drain and a vacation gone,” April Kendell told CTV News Toronto.
Last Thursday, Kendell set out on a trip to Deer Lake, Newfoundland with her partner and two kids, a 12 and 14 year old, to visit her family out east who she hadn’t seen in three years.
Their flight from Calgary to Toronto, where they planned to make the connection to Deer Lake, was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. local time, but it didn’t depart until 10:45 a.m.
“We didn’t want to be stuck in Toronto because the next flight [to Deer Lake] doesn’t leave until Saturday,” Kendell said.
But she said the flight attendants encouraged her that WestJet would hold the connecting flight for her family.
However, after paying for Wi-Fi once they were in the air, Kendell learned that the flight from Toronto to Deer Lake had left. When they deplaned, they were pointed to a customer service desk along with the other passengers who had missed their flights.
There, she said they waited for 5.5 hours and learned via Twitter that there was an IT outage that delayed 100 WestJet flights that day.
WestJet confirmed to CTV News Toronto that several of their flights experienced “significant uncontrollable delays” on Thursday due to an external third-party infrastructure outage that impacted WestJet’s airport check-in, flight planning and payment services.
“We apologize to our impacted guests for the unexpected disruption to their travel and understand the frustration involved when travel does not go as planned,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
WestJet said they accommodate guests on the next available flight when an “uncontrollable” event takes place.
However, in Kendell’s case, the next flight to Deer Lake was still days away.
“We get to the counter finally,” Kendell said. “They say, ‘Oh no, this wasn’t our fault.’ They wouldn’t give us a single hotel or food voucher.”
“You want us to spend three nights in Toronto, last second, out of pocket?”
In an effort to salvage their vacation, they asked if it would be possible to travel to Ottawa instead, where they also have family. But Kendell said the airline was going to charge them a change fee.
“Finally, the only way we could get anything without paying is by going back to Calgary,” she said. “I have never felt so much like a number to a company.”
For three days after their travels, Kendell said she cried.
“I would have rather someone come at me on the street and steal my money, at least I wouldn’t have had a day of torture.”