WestJet customers were offered a 7.5-hour bus ride to their destination after the flight was cancelled

WestJet customers were rebooked on a seven-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Calgary to Regina after their afternoon flight was canceled Sunday.

Passengers said they were informed less than three hours before boarding that the one-hour flight between the two cities had been canceled and that they could reach their destination via “ground transport” that would see them arrive in Regina after midnight.

Jeff Mathieson, a farmer returning from a vacation in Mexico with his wife and two young children, tried unsuccessfully to rent a car before accepting the 750-kilometer bus ride.

“We were quite shocked to hear that we were going back to Regina by bus and not a plane,” he said in a message on social media, adding that the next available flight was late Wednesday night.

The family was asked to gather near the WestJet check-in counter at 4 p.m. The family didn’t board the bus until an hour later and ended up arriving home in Saskatchewan after 2am.

“I understand we achieved our goal but with the prices we have to pay for travel these days we should be able to expect a certain level of service.”

WestJet said in an email that it sincerely apologizes to guests affected by the cancellation, which it attributed to “unscheduled aircraft maintenance.”

“Unfortunately, accommodation options were limited due to the high demand for weekend travel and significant weather events over Vancouver and Vancouver Island that caused extensive operational impacts and limited flight availability,” Denise Kenny, a spokeswoman for the airline, said in an email. -mail.

“To best support affected guests in reaching their destination as quickly as possible, ground transport was arranged to provide an immediate travel alternative for those unable to wait for an alternative flight.”

WestJet saw eight percent of its Sunday flights canceled and nearly half delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Chris Henderson, a musician returning from a concert, ended up paying for a hotel in Calgary after managing to rebook a flight the next day.

“The last four times in a row I’ve had to connect in Calgary, I’ve missed the connection and had to spend the night. But they’ve never offered me a bus ride before,” he said, qualifying that some cancellations were with other airlines.

“If I pay for a steak, don’t give me a hot dog.”

After all the travel chaos this past summer and winter break, Henderson said he now always leaves the day before a show for fear of delays or cancellations. He also missed a substitute teaching opportunity in Regina on Monday because of the rebooking, he said.

As for the hotel, he said a guest services agent asked him to submit the receipt instead of standing in line to request a guest voucher “’cause it’s such a gong show right now.”‘

The lack of available seats comes after Air Canada cut service between Calgary and Regina and Calgary and Saskatoon, leaving Prairie travelers dependent on WestJet.

However, WestJet said last month it would increase service between Alberta’s largest city and Saskatchewan starting Feb. 16, with an additional daily flight between Calgary and Regina, making as many as seven flights each day.

It also said it would manage an additional three daily flights between Calgary and Saskatoon, totaling up to nine direct flights a day.

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