December 26, 2018 8:22 pm
Updated: December 30, 2018 12:45 am

15-hour delay on Sunwing flight ruins Christmas Day for Edmonton couple

WATCH ABOVE: Christmas was anything but merry for an Edmonton couple who found themselves dealing with a travel nightmare. Their trip back to Edmonton was delayed by 15 hours, causing them to miss most of Christmas Day. Julia Wong reports.

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An Edmonton couple is fuming after major delays on a Sunwing flight caused them to arrive more than 12 hours later than scheduled, effectively ruining their Christmas Day.

Jasmine Salazar and Marc Gazelle booked a Sunwing vacation to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with Gazelle’s father, brother and three children. Their plane back to Edmonton was scheduled to land at 11:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve but instead it did not arrive in Edmonton until 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.

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“I was really, really frustrated,” Salazar said.

“I was hoping… to be home for Christmas Day and wake up. You have all those plans for Christmas. It took a big toll on me because I am very close to my family.

“It’s Christmas. All I wanted to do was just be with them and that didn’t happen.”

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The Sunwing flight had a scheduled 40-minute stop in Hamilton, Ont., for refueling but it soon became clear there would be a much longer delay.

“We were told by staff that the engine light came on and the plane needed a mechanic to look at it,” Salazar said.

However, passengers did not know the extent of the problem until they were told, more than an hour later, that the flight was delayed and they would be disembarking.

“They could have been better at communicating everything, especially on Christmas Eve.

“We just want answers. We want to know what’s going on. We want to know what the plan is for everyone to get home,” Salazar said.

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The Edmonton woman said the situation was exacerbated by the fact it took hours for passengers to go through customs, wait for their luggage and then be shuttled off to a hotel for the night.

“From the point that we got off the airplane, which I guess was almost, I think, 10:30 p.m. We didn’t get to our hotel until 3 a.m.,” she said.

“To be stuck in an airport on Christmas Eve and being at a hotel at three in the morning on Christmas, I was just so upset.”

The airline provided passengers with a $200 travel credit, but Salazar, who plans to file a complaint with Sunwing, said she has no plans to use it.

READ MORE: Sunwing investigated for delays, cancellations that left passengers stranded for hours

“This isn’t just any day; It’s Christmas. You have so many people just wanting to be home,” she said.

“It just didn’t feel like Christmas. They took that away from me completely. They took a whole day of being with my family away. I can’t get that back.

“I had to FaceTime my family and seeing them through the screen, it’s not the same.”

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Salazar and Gazelle managed to salvage a couple hours with Salazar’s family on Christmas Day, but Gazelle said it wasn’t quality time considering the ordeal they went through.

“I slept through it basically. I fell asleep. We’re here for Jasmine’s side of the family, whatever’s left of it, and we just fell asleep,” he said.

READ MORE: Sunwing passengers still waiting for luggage 5 days later

In a statement, Sunwing said the aircraft required “unscheduled maintenance upon landing” in Hamilton. The company said the process to deplane took an hour to complete and the airline provided accommodations and breakfast vouchers to passengers.

“Sunwing is very apologetic for the inconvenience,” the statement reads. Sunwing has not yet responded to further questions about the company’s communication with travelers or how it handled passengers missing the majority of Christmas Day.

RELATED: Couple fights for compensation, airline gives false information

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