Saskatchewan travel agents not getting commission from Sunwing cancelled flights
The Sunwing flight cancellations have been hitting Saskatchewan hard, with many holiday seekers grounded or left stranded.
But more than just customers are feeling the Sunwing effect, as some travel agents are saying they aren’t receiving their commission from the airline, which make up a large chunk of their earnings.
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“Every single advisor in my organization worked all through Christmas, all through New Year’s, putting in 18-hour days, missing time with their own families to help our clients, and the Sunwing clients to get to their destination, or needed to get home,” Jamie Milton, president of Uniglobe Carefree Travel said.
Many Canadians were left stranded, some missing Christmas with their families as they waited for Sunwing to fly them back home.
“That was a very stressful time. And just when you think things are going to start to get better, in the beginning part of January we learned that Sunwing cancelled the entire operation out of Saskatchewan for the month of January.”
Milton said those long days continued as they worked to get thousands of clients rebooked, refunded, or find the best options for them.
“We had to call brides and let them know their wedding wasn’t going to happen that week.”
She claimed Sunwing told them they wouldn’t be paid for all the extra work they put in.
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“We’re taking away your commissions, we’re not honouring them. The passengers aren’t traveling as planned so you’re not getting paid for all that work that you’ve done.”
She said that news made many travel agents feel like they weren’t valued at all.
Milton explained that travel agents get paid around the time of travel when the final client payments have been made.
She said sudden cancellations before travel, and in some cases where final payments haven’t been made, are resulting in agents not receiving their commission, which Sunwing told her was a common practice.
“This is not common practice, cancelling an entire season last minute after all the work has been done is not a common practice.”
Milton said the normal rules should not apply in this instance.
She noted that when the pandemic caused flight cancellations the government stepped in and protected commissions, but added that was a situation that was not in anyone’s control, whereas the Sunwing cancellations were preventable.
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Sunwing announced further cancellations out of Regina’s airport on Tuesday, claiming that the cancellations were “necessary due to operational and business constraints that would prevent us from delivering the standards of service our customers in Regina both expect and deserve when travelling with Sunwing.”
“It’s a whole other round of the same scenario, and at the same time they’re still not paying us from two times ago,” Milton said.
“We’re a huge piece of the workforce for the airlines and for the tour operators, we should be fairly paid for the work that’s done.”
Milton said in some cases some agents will be missing one-third to one-half of their yearly income from this.
“Up to $25,000 is being taken away from some agents.”
Milton said some agents have been working on these bookings for large groups for a year to a year and a half.
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“For all that work, they’re getting nothing.”
“Sunwing needs to do their part,” Milton added.
She said they had well over 1,000 clients that needed rebooking over the holidays.
“Especially with these new cancellations, you know, maybe even $2,000. It’s a lot, it’s a lot.”
Milton said once the Saskatoon travel schedule gets finalized she suspects this to be the end of the cancellations, but noted that it will be hard to win back people’s trust.
Global News reached out to Sunwing for a response but did not receive a response by deadline.
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