The Canadian Transportation Agency is looking into Sunwing Vacation’s flights, which have been subject to lengthy delays, cancellations, and lost or damaged baggage.
The inquiry will focus on flights to or from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport between April 14-18, 2018, — the weekend of the ice storm in Southern Ontario. Some passengers say they still haven’t received their luggage after 10 days of waiting.
“This inquiry’s focus will be on whether Sunwing treated its passengers in a manner consistent with its terms and conditions of carriage for international flights,” a release from the CTA reads.
The agency will also look into whether Sunwing’s terms and conditions are reasonable.
Sunwing customers previously told Global News about how they had waited at least five days for their luggage from a Sunwing flight from Jamaica on the affected weekend. Sunwing has cited weather for the delays.
Sophia Howie travelled to Toronto from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic during the weekend — which was over 10 days ago — and still hasn’t received her baggage, which contains toiletries and clothes that are necessities.
She said the inquiry is a welcome development.
“I just want my stuff back. Is that too much to ask?” she told Global News on Wednesday.
Howie says her flight was initially delayed around seven hours, but she had to pay for an extra 12 hours at the resort out of her own pocket.
Once she landed in Toronto, she and the other passengers were held on the plane for over two hours, without access to washrooms. They then waited another two hours in the airport before they were told their luggage wouldn’t be coming, and to fill out paperwork.
Howie said she was promised her luggage would be delivered within 48 hours, but hasn’t yet received it.
Severe weather, including an ice storm, in Toronto on the weekend in question caused delays for Sunwing and other airlines. However, only Sunwing passengers have experienced multi-day baggage delays.
Other customers said they were held on an airplane for six hours at the airport on Sunday, April 15, when trying to fly to Aruba from Toronto.
“We were held hostage for six hours, in my opinion,” Costantino Masellis told Global News at the time.
The passengers were only let off the airplane at 3:40 a.m. after a passenger called 911. Sunwing officials said “a long queue for de-icing” and an inability to find a gate to deplane passengers were some of the reasons for the delay. They also said over 80 staff members were absent from work on that day.
Sunwing officials say they welcome the investigation and agree they “fell short” in customer service.
“We share the concerns expressed by our customers and are looking forward to working with the CTA on this inquiry so that all the issues surrounding the flight and baggage delays can be made public and corrective actions can be implemented,” a spokesperson told Global News in an email.
“We recognize that 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 can never put us in this situation again. We are also tightening up our internal operations, scheduling and communications around extreme weather events. We would like to reiterate our sincere apology to all customers affected.”
The CTA says that while “Canada’s weather realities mean that air travel will sometimes be disrupted,” passengers still have rights that must be respected.
*with files from Sean O’Shea