A woman returning to Toronto from a Caribbean vacation says she had her flight diverted and then delayed for more than two days earlier this week, had to stay in a plane on the tarmac for three hours and eventually had to pay out of pocket for an additional ticket back home.
Nicole Clark and two friends left for a four-day vacation to the Bahamas last Saturday, Feb. 9, but didn’t end up returning until Thursday evening.
“It wasn’t a good experience,” Clark said.
“I think I may second guess a vacation like this again for such a short time frame.”
Clark and her friends booked their flights with WestJet and were set to fly home from Nassau to Toronto on Tuesday shortly after noon.
But southern Ontario was in the midst of a huge winter storm, and on the approach to Toronto, the delays began.
Clark said the flight circled around Toronto for an hour and a half before making the decision to divert to Quebec City.
Upon landing in Quebec, no gates were available for the plane.
“We were on the tarmac for nearly three hours I believe,” she said.
“It was pretty bad. People were really upset. The morale was kept up by the flight attendants. They were really great about it.”
Eventually, airport staff brought a staircase and school buses to the plane and the passengers were brought to the terminal in the buses.
Clark and her friends arrived at a hotel in Quebec City around 1 a.m. — 12 hours after their flight left Nassau.
“It was freezing because nobody had any winter clothing,” Clark said.
“I had to go and buy winter clothing because I had a carry-on bag full of summer clothes for the Bahamas.”
The next day, WestJet scheduled them on a 4 p.m. flight to Toronto, but the delays were not done yet as the same storm that hit southern Ontario moved into Quebec.
“All day long, we could see that the flights in front of us were being delayed,” she said.
Their flight was then delayed for a number of hours before eventually being cancelled altogether after midnight.
They spent another night in Quebec City and were booked on a charter flight the next day to Montreal, where they would then have a connection to Toronto.
But that flight was then delayed which meant they would miss their connection.
“There were some people who were super angry,” Clark said.
“There were families with babies and multiple children on these flights and nobody was getting out.”
Clark said she had enough and then went to the Porter Airlines desk where she purchased three tickets back to Toronto at a price of $1100.
To top it all off, after they got on that flight and it took off for Toronto, a removable panel fell off the plane door and the flight was diverted back to Quebec City.
After additional delays, the flight eventually took off again and more than two days after they were scheduled to return, they landed in Toronto.
Clark said she is planning on contacting WestJet for compensation and is in the process of organizing receipts to total her expenses.
She said other than some cab chits, no compensation has been offered by WestJet as of yet.
“We are going to have to write some emails … No one has contacted us about this at all,” she said.
Global News reached out to WestJet Saturday afternoon for comment.
“We recognize the diversion and subsequent delays and cancellations were frustrating for guests and for that we sincerely apologize,” a spokesperson said in an email.
“While this week was weather-challenged, we make every effort to provide our guests with alternate options as soon as safely possible and did end up rebooking all guests on a connecting flight once weather allowed for this to be safely operated. Unfortunately in this instance we recognize that this was a lengthy delay and the rebooking option did not meet our guests’ needs.”
The spokesperson said flights in and out of Toronto were “severely” impacted this week due to weather and said any compensation options must be dealt with through WestJet’s guest relations department.
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