Frustrations rise as travelers see more flight cancellations and delays

Jocelyn Mercer did not expect to spend a vacation between airports and hotels.

On Thursday, she and her family flew from Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Calgary for a connection – thinking they would be in Manzanillo, Mexico, in time for her brother-in-law’s wedding.

Instead, they found themselves, like thousands of other travelers, in limbo at a Canadian airport.

« We were supposed to take a flight [from Calgary] but it was delayed, then delayed again, then delayed a third time, » Mercer said.

« It was just canceled…they said it was a lack of crew. The plane was already there. »

On Thursday, WestJet announced it was canceling flights from British Columbia and Ontario due to winter storms ahead of the busy holiday weekend. The cancellations affected 126 flights at five airports in British Columbia and 140 flights at five airports in Ontario and Quebec.

Between December 18 and 23, WestJet canceled more than 1,200 flights across the country due to extreme weather conditions.

In a statement sent Saturday, WestJet said it had « appropriate staff » for holiday travel.

Jocelyn Mercer says she and her family will likely spend Christmas in a hotel instead of attending a family wedding as they had planned. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

“The prolonged and extreme weather events that have affected many parts of Canada are unlike anything we have experienced. With recent storms in British Columbia, Southern Ontario and Quebec, we have taken a proactive and measured approach to protecting our operations and prioritizing recovery flights. « said Diederik Pen, WestJet’s chief operating officer.

« Our ground, air and behind-the-scenes teams are working tirelessly to resume our operations, while trying to limit any further disruption to important holiday travel plans. »

Since it was unlikely they could make it in time for the wedding, Mercer said they might as well go home and spend Christmas with his side of the family.

But even that doesn’t seem to happen now.

« We had a couple of hours on hold with WestJet again last night, and we were like, ‘Okay, we can’t get off at Manzanillo, what are our chances of getting home,' » Mercer said. « The first flight they have for us I think is around 11pm on Christmas Day… so we’ll be spending Christmas in a hotel. »

A passenger plane is de-iced at an airport.
An de-icing station sprays a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 prior to departure from Calgary International Airport, Alberta, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)

As of 7:30 a.m. MT on Saturday, 60 out of 500 flights had been canceled for the day, and one flight was already canceled on Sunday. The airline said additional cancellations over the next few days may be required.

WestJet said all travelers who proactively cancel their flight will receive a full refund to the original method of payment, adding that bookings made before Dec. 28 can be changed and canceled free of charge up to two hours before. departure for a trip between today and January 8, 2023.


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