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Passengers ‘in the dark’ as WestJet flight cancellations continue days after strike ends

It’s been two days since WestJet’s mechanics ended their strike, but passengers are still grappling with cancelled flights and frustration.

“We were starting to wonder, ‘Are these re-bookings even real?'” Laura Stewart told CBC News Tuesday after WestJet rebooked and re-cancelled several of her flights over the long weekend. 

“We were in the dark, really.”

WestJet had to park 72 per cent of its fleet after mechanics announced a surprise strike Saturday, which resulted in a slew of cancelled flights affecting at least 100,000 passengers. The strike ended Sunday, but the Calgary-based airline warned Monday that disruptions will continue for several days.

WestJet said it had cancelled a total 1,078 flights across Canada as of 11 a.m. ET Monday, including 292 on Monday and 27 on Tuesday. 

But by CBC News’s calculations using WestJet’s flight status tool, at least 63 flights scheduled to depart from Canadian airports on Tuesday were cancelled as of Tuesday morning.

And according to flight tracking website flightaware.com, as of Tuesday 71 WestJet flights worldwide were cancelled and 90 were delayed. 

CBC News has contacted WestJet for a full service update and will update the story when the company responds.

“We work to safely restore our operations as efficiently as possible, and we sincerely apologize to our guests impacted over July long weekend,” the airline said on X Tuesday morning.

Laura Stewart, right, and her husband Grant Gilchrist pose at the Queensland Botanical Garden in Brisbane on June 23, 2024. The couple had travelled from their home in Regina to Australia for a wedding. They experienced several flight cancellations on the way home thanks to the WestJet strike. (Grant Stewart)

Stewart, 55, had been travelling with her husband from Australia to Hawaii and was getting ready to leave the Honolulu airport Friday when she said she started hearing media reports of the WestJet strike. When they went to switch planes in Vancouver Saturday morning, their flight back home to Regina was cancelled.

WestJet rebooked them on another flight, which was also later cancelled, Stewart said, so they paid out of pocket for a hotel in Vancouver. After another cancellation the next morning, they eventually flew to Edmonton with the promise of a connecting flight to Regina. But then that flight was cancelled, too, which meant paying for another hotel stay, this time in Edmonton.

Finally, after another delay, they made it back to Regina on Monday. Stewart says all they have to show for the days of travel pains are two $15 meal vouchers.

“We were very fortunate that we’re in a position where we could handle the extra costs and we could handle the delay.”

Which flights are cancelled Tuesday?

Meanwhile, other WestJet customers have taken to social media to say they’re still stranded.

“We are stuck in Orlando with zero communication from @WestJet. The earliest we can get out is on Saturday. This is insane!” Alexandra Sell wrote on X Tuesday, where “WestJet” was trending. 

“Stuck in L.A., what are my options of getting back to Calgary? If somebody sees it, can you please advise. Stuck on hold with WestJet, they hadn’t offered a return flight,” another user named “Crypto Plate” wrote Tuesday afternoon.

Using WestJet’s flight status tool, as of Tuesday morning, CBC News counted at least 63 cancelled flights meant to depart out of Canadian airports that day. At 18, Calgary had the most cancellations, followed by 10 cancelled flights out of Toronto and six out of Vancouver.

Also in B.C., there were:

  • Three cancelled flights out of Victoria.
  • Four out of Abbotsford.
  • One out of Comox.
  • One out of  Nanaimo.
  • One in Prince George.
  • Two out of Kelowna.

On the Prairies, on top of the 18 cancellations out of Calgary, there were:

  • Five cancelled flights out of Edmonton.
  • One cancelled flight out of Fort McMurray, Alta.
  • One cancelled flight out of Grand Prairie, Alta. 
  • Three flights out of Regina were cancelled.
  • One out of Saskatoon was cancelled.
  • Three cancelled flights out of Winnipeg.

In Ontario and further East, there were also cancellations in:

  • One in Hamilton, Ont. (its only flight Tuesday).
  • One in London, Ont.
  • Two in Thunder Bay, Ont. 
  • One in Quebec City (its only flight Tuesday).
  • Two cancelled flights out of Halifax.
  • One cancelled flight out of Moncton, N.B.
WATCH | Travel disruptions continue: 

Travel disruptions continue after WestJet strike ends

A strike by WestJet mechanics has ended and staff are back to work, but travellers are still scrambling to find alternative arrangements as the airline works to get its operations back to normal.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you will be notified by email if the company has your email address on file, according to WestJet’s guest updates page.

You can also check your flight status on the company website, by flight number or by airport.

What are your options?

WestJet says if your flight is delayed or cancelled, it will make “every effort to get you to your final destination, including moving guests to other airlines where available.”

In a statement posted to its website on Friday, WestJet says there are “limited re-accommodation options available,” suggesting it would be difficult for some people to make alternate plans to get where they’re going. 

If you run into trouble with WestJet’s “re-accommodation options,” you could rebook flights yourself and pursue compensation late, Gabor Lukacs, president of the independent, non-profit advocacy group Air Passenger Rights told CBC News on Saturday.

On X Tuesday morning, the company wrote that “if online management is not possible for your booking, our Contact Centre is available 24/7 at 1-888-937-8538.”

But those who have posted their frustrations online suggest the system is far from ideal.

“Four and a half hours on hold with WestJet and the call gets dropped. WTH?” wrote Stan Won on X.

“Hey @WestJet how about showing a sense of customer service or common courtesy that when you make a flight disappear from my app because your strike cancelled it, you actually get in touch with me. Such a joke of an airline,” wrote Bruce Edwards Tuesday.

WATCH | Stuck at the Vancouver airport: 

Confused travellers remain at Vancouver airport after WestJet cancellations

Even after a strike by WestJet mechanics was called off on Sunday night, CBC News spoke to a number of frustrated travellers at YVR International Airport on Monday afternoon.

See also  WestJet cancellations continue after mechanics' strike ends, frustrating and confusing travellers

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