Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Get It Together, WestJet

Being Canadian,  I was delighted to learn that WestJet (a Canadian Company) was joining the international flight market and, lucky me, were starting to offer flights to Scotland and England. Wanting to support a Canadian business, I happily booked up with WestJet. That was the start of a traveling nightmare.

WestJet has a lovely app that allows you to book, track flights, check in online. 24 hours before my flight, the app notified me that I could now check in. I clicked the link to learn that the flight had been cancelled. Surely they had simply moved us to a partner airline. I logged on to the website - no it was true, the flight had indeed been cancelled.

Normally I am fairly relaxed and go with the flow when it comes to travel. But this time, I came completely unglued. Missing the flight would mean losing money on the connecting flight that had already been paid for, missing the car that had been reserved and missing the hotel that had been booked and paid for.

In the end, I was on the phone for over an hour. I was repeatedly told that they were "sorry" which doesn't do anything to fix the problem. The issue, it seems was a maintenance issue. I could get re-scheduled onto an earlier flight, stop over in St Johns and then carry on from there. There was ONE seat left. I spoke with the supervisor who was a bit condescending but once that was pointed out, was quite apologetic.

I took the earlier flight and learned that everyone one the earlier flight were ALL from the original flight that had been cancelled. So, there wasn't in fact just one seat left as the notification to the passengers had not yet been issued when I called in. Similarly, the second flight was also mostly filled with passengers who had been on the cancelled flight. One poor couple had to drive from PEI to Moncton, fly from Moncton to Toronto, Spend 9 hours in the airport in Toronto and then fly back to Newfoundland, then onto Gatwick. I can only imagine how comforting WestJet's apology was to them. They were totally exhausted and their holiday hadn't even started.

Most people received no compensation beyond the apology. Then a few days later, we were all offered a 20% discount on our next flight. Really? You want me to take on that stress again?

WestJet, this is major fail. You look bad in the world market. I was so excited that you were going to be an option along with the big boys traveling to the UK (Air Canada and Air Transat). However, it appears you are too small to play in the big league. Unfortunately, those of us who supported you have suffered as a result. Time to rethink your ambition and simply continue to fly domestic flights? Certainly after my own experience from hell, I can not in all good faith and consciousness, recommend WestJet as a way for my tour participants to get to Scotland for future genealogy research trips. 


  1. Last year I lucked out and had a good flight with Westjet from Toronto to Glasgow, but my connecting flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City with Frontier ended in a cancelled flight with no recourse but a print out with instructions to go online to apply for partial refund. I surely was burned in the end and took me two more days to get home. What a nightmare. Once the seat had been paid for these airlines should have a solid alternative to maintenance issues besides "sorry" you are on your own.

  2. I agree! In the UK, by law, they need to compensate the traveler. We should adopt the same policy in North America.