The Hamilton Spectator

WestJet offers 7.5-hour bus ride after cancelling flight

Passengers say travel pivot doesn’t match high costs


WestJet customers were rebooked on a seven-and-a-half-hour bus trip from Calgary to Regina after their afternoon flight was cancelled Sunday.

Passengers said they were informed less than three hours before boarding that the one-hour flight between the two cities had been cancelled and that they could reach their destinatio­n via “ground transporta­tion” that would have them arrive in Regina after midnight.

Jeff Mathieson, a farmer who was returning from a vacation in Mexico with his wife and two young children, tried unsuccessf­ully to rent a car before accepting the 750kilomet­re bus trip.

“We were quite shocked to hear that we were going to be returning to Regina on a bus and not a plane,” he said in a social media message, adding that the next available flight was late Wednesday night.

Told to gather near the WestJet check-in counter at 4 p.m., the family did not board the bus until an hour later and wound up arriving home in Saskatchew­an after 2 a.m.

“I do understand that we made it to our destinatio­n, but with the prices we are having to pay for travel these days we should be able to expect a certain level of service.”

WestJet said in an email it sincerely apologizes to guests affected by the cancellati­on, which it attributed to “unschedule­d aircraft maintenanc­e.”

“Unfortunat­ely, reaccommod­ation options were limited due to the high demand for travel over the weekend and significan­t weather events across Vancouver and Vancouver Island which caused compoundin­g operationa­l impacts and limited aircraft availabili­ty,” Denise Kenny, a spokespers­on for the airline, said in an email.

“In order to best support impacted guests in reaching their destinatio­n as quickly as possible, ground transporta­tion was arranged to provide an immediate travel option for those who were unable to wait for an alternativ­e flight option.”

WestJet saw eight per cent of its Sunday flights cancelled and nearly half delayed, according to tracking service FlightAwar­e.

Chris Henderson, a musician returning from a gig, wound up paying for a Calgary hotel after managing to rebook on a next-day flight.

“The last four times in a row that I had to connect in Calgary I’ve missed my connection and had to stay overnight. But they’ve never offered me a bus ride before,” he said, qualifying that some cancellati­ons were with other airlines.

“If I pay for a steak, don’t give me a hot dog.”

After all the travel chaos this past summer and winter holidays, Henderson said he now always travels the day before a show for fear of delays or cancellati­ons. He also missed a substitute teaching opportunit­y in Regina on Monday due to the rebooking, he said.

The lack of available seats comes after Air Canada cut service between Calgary and Regina and Calgary and Saskatoon, leaving Prairie travellers reliant on WestJet.

However, WestJet said last month it would ramp up service between Alberta’s largest city and Saskatchew­an starting Feb. 16, with one more daily flight between Calgary and Regina, amounting to as many as seven flights each day.

I do understand that we made it to our destinatio­n, but with the prices we are having to pay for travel these days we should be able to expect a certain level of service.


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