WestJet says passengers upset with Calgary airport connection travel times

WestJet unhappy with new terminal at Calgary airport
WATCH ABOVE: The new terminal at the Calgary airport is state of the art and is supposed to me more efficient. But according to WestJet, passengers are unhappy with the distance between WestJet’s international and domestic connections. Global’s Tony Tighe reports.

WestJet says passengers are unhappy with the distance between the airline’s international and domestic connections from the Calgary airport’s new international terminal.

“I got in at 9:30 last night, was supposed to be flying out at 9:30,” traveller Cam Lainchbury said. “I ran from one end of the airport to the other, made it to watch my plane fly away.”

On Wednesday, Lainchbury was still waiting to catch a flight he says he should have been on Tuesday night. He flew into Calgary on a WestJet flight, but missed his connecting flight at the other end of the airport in the international terminal.

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WestJet officials suggest it’s happening too often.

“Some of our guests connecting—say from Kelowna through Calgary—and taking off for Los Angeles, are experiencing up to a two-kilometre walk or essentially 25 minutes depending on exactly where their gates are,” WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer said.

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WestJet says the problem is where its international gates are located in the new terminal: the furthest point away from the domestic wing.

“This is our home, this is our hub and yet we have a configuration that’s not working for us,” Palmer said.

WestJet said it’s added more time to its schedules to allow for the connections, which costs more money. The company says it plans to raise the issue with YYC Calgary International Airport’s new CEO, Bob Sartor, in January.

READ MORE: A first look at the Calgary airport’s new terminal

The Calgary airport said its partners are an “important part of growth and development plans” and it looks forward to “further collaboration” in 2017.

“The new international terminal opened successfully Oct. 31, 2016 and was designed and planned in collaboration with, and with input from, our airline partners,” reads the statement to Global News.

“The design was endorsed prior to the start of construction in 2011 by all major airlines operating at YYC Calgary International Airport.”

While there is a shuttle to the new terminal, WestJet says the frequency and seating are limited and suggests it can’t handle large groups of connecting travellers.

But the airport said airlines were also consulted on the shuttle system and moving walkways.

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“The YYC LINK [shuttle] design, schedule and operations were developed in collaboration with our airline partners,” the airport statement said. “The shuttle is a first in Canada and these 20 vehicles run on a scheduled service that moves YYC passengers from end to end in six minutes.”

With files from Erika Tucker