Sunwing promises improvements, apologizes after passenger publicly blames airline for 'ruining' her wedding
A B.C. woman is going public with how her destination wedding turned into what she describes as a complete nightmare and why she’s blaming Sunwing Vacations Airlines.
Jesse Zahacy, her husband, and 27 of their closest relatives and friends, were scheduled to depart for Cancun, Mexico from Calgary on Flight WG595 on Tuesday, April 17.
Zahacy says she was notified by a friend, who had arrived at the airport early, that the 8 a.m. flight had been delayed until 10 p.m.
“How is that even possible? It’s an over 14-hour delay,” Zahacy said in a phone interview with Global News.
“Sunwing was giving us the runaround, the morning of the 17 we were told it was a mechanical issue. Later in the morning when we called Sunwing, it was weather-related. Then during a phone call later in the day, it was staffing issues.”
This is just after a weekend plagued with problems for the airline and its passengers, many of whom contacted Global News to share their negative experience.
Zahacy said she was given no apology for the delay and was handed a $15 food voucher from a Sunwing representative. This after having to cancel a prepaid shuttle and paying an extra $185 for pay and park, Zahacy said.
Still optimistic, the Revelstoke resident hoped for the best. The group banded together to find an alternative: a WestJet flight, where half of the guests managed to get tickets.
Zahacy said for her and her husband it was an extra $400 each for the WestJet tickets and an $50 extra for their checked baggage.
“Only half of us got onto the flight. I had to leave my mother crying as we had to make security to catch our WestJet flight all within 40 minutes,” Zahacy said in a public Facebook post about the situation.
“Once we landed in Mexico, we found out there was no shuttle service. Sunwing didn’t let the shuttle service know the flight was delayed and there may be others waiting. We sat out in the sun waiting in the parking lot for over an hour waiting for someone.”
They reached the resort, only to find out the flight for the rest of the guests, still waiting at the airport, had now been delayed until 3 a.m., an over 20-hour delay from the original scheduled departure, Zahacy said.
“They arrived the next day absolutely exhausted… realistically all of us lost a complete day in Mexico, my parents lost two days and slept the other two days,” Zahacy said.
Zahacy said she’s grateful everyone made it there safe but the ordeal cast a dark shadow on her wedding day.
“Everyone was miserable, everyone was so tired, when the wedding day finally came, everyone was just starting to wind down from the craziness of our Sunwing flight, the wedding day was the first day that we actually got to relax,” she said.
“My wedding day was ruined because of this airline.”
Zahacy said she didn’t hear back from Sunwing for more than two weeks, and when she did get a phone call, on Wednesday, May 10, there was no apology and she was emailed a link to the airline’s website to see if she’s eligible for a refund.
“This has been the most frustrating email,” Zahacy said.
“They have offered a $300 per piece refund to each person effected by the delay. However that doesn’t even begin to cover the additional charges we faced.”
Zahacy said she’s telling her story in hopes of getting an apology from the airline and a refund for the additional $615 in unexpected costs.
In a statement sent to Global News, Sunwing confirmed it received the breakdown of additional costs Zahacy sent to the airline.
“We are reviewing this information as a matter of urgency and look forward to providing our customer with a satisfactory resolution to her complaint,” the statement said.
“We recognize we fell short in providing our usual level of customer service and we are working to improve our contingency planning to ensure that short-staffing on the part of a service provider could never put us in this situation again.”
Sunwing airlines apologized, adding its “deeply disappointed by the customer service failures that occurred” following the unprecedented ice storm that hit Ontario April 14 and 15.
“During this period, we suffered significant disruption to our services at Toronto Pearson airport; something that was chiefly caused by a critical staffing shortage on the part of our ground handling service provider, Sissport,” Sunwing said in the statement.
“This in turn caused a domino effect of delays, which considerably impacted our operations and necessitated several adjustments to our flight schedule, including flight WG595 scheduled to depart from Calgary to Cancun.”
The Canadian Transportation Agency launched an inquiry into Sunwing Vacation flights to or from Toronto Pearson International Airport between April 14 to 18, 2018.