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WestJet cancels more than 500 flights over 5 days leaving customers demanding compensation

WestJet Airlines continues to see cancellations and backlogs following several days of extreme weather conditions.

The Calgary-based airline reported upwards of 530 cancellations from Jan. 11 to 2 p.m. on Jan. 15, saying the five days of “extreme cold temperatures having a compounding impact on our operations and crews.”

Debbie Kramer is just one flier impacted by the cancellations. The Edmontonian was trying to come home from Phoenix through Calgary when she faced several issues.

“The night before the flight, (WestJet) started changing, rebooking and rebooking,” she told Global News.

Kramer finally got a flight to Calgary only to find out her flight to Edmonton had been canceled. With nowhere to go and no one to help her, she said she was forced to spend the night on a chair at the airport.

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To add insult to injury, her luggage also didn’t make it.

“It’s lost,” she said. “They don’t know if it got lost in Phoenix, or it’s going to be in Calgary, or if it’s in Edmonton.”

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Kristy Van Delden is also supposed to be headed to Edmonton, but instead, she was sent to a cancellation line to wait with dozens of other fliers. She has two children aged two and under.

“We don’t know anything,” she said. “I’m hoping, I’m staying positive that at the end of this line, I get some good news.”

“If worse comes to worse, I’ll rent a car. I can’t stay in a hotel with two kids under two. Not going to happen.”

Several WestJet flights have been departing and arriving, however. Ashlee Taylor finally arrived from Vancouver. Taylor was in Abbotsford, B.C. for a trade show for her non-profit One Broken Biker.

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“I’m exhausted,” she said upon arrival. “It’s been 24 hours of multiple flight changes and yeah, it’s been crazy.”

Taylor said not only had their flight been revised, but it was also changed to depart from another airport resulting in the group having to rent a vehicle to get there.

“It ended up costing us over $1500 more. So hopefully they reimburse us.”

WestJet told Global News it “complies with all standards of treatment,” adding impacted fliers can go to its website for further information. Above all, the airline said it “sincerely apologized to all of its guests who have been impacted by cancellations and extended delays.”

Passenger Rights

The head of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights Gábor Lukács told Global News consumers shouldn’t just accept the “weather excuse” as a viable one. Lukács pointed out fliers are often entitled to many rights under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) including:

  • ● Rebooking on a competitor airline;
    ● Assistance (e.g., meals and accommodation); and
    ● A lump sum compensation of up to $1,000 per passenger

Other regulations are available online.

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