A Calgary family headed to Cancun, Mexico for spring break said they’re out more than $3,400 after their trip was rescheduled by their airline. This comes after the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 planes.
The McCartneys had been planning their vacation for months when they got an email from Calgary-based airline WestJet a few days before departure.
The flight they were supposed to take had been changed, with their arrival set four days later than expected.
“We are stuck paying for our room at the resort. It’s non-refundable,” Jacelyn McCartney said. “So that’s $1,800 out of pocket for us.”
WestJet is one of several airlines around the world that has grounded its MAX 8 planes over safety concerns following the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people and the October 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that these planes were grounded,” McCartney said.
But she wasn’t happy with WestJet’s response, especially when she tried to change the return flight, delaying it by three days.
“WestJet wanted to charge us for changing that flight,” McCartney said. “There was quite the argument between our travel agent and WestJet to waive that fee.”
The McCartneys said they understand that travellers will be affected but they also think airlines should be more accommodating.
In the end, WestJet waived the fees, but the McCartneys said the company refused to waive the fees for another earlier flight the family was hoping to take instead.
In a statement, WestJet told Global News it is never its intention to disappoint passengers.
“As the MAX grounding is a circumstance outside of WestJet’s control, we are adhering to our uncontrollable delay policy,” said spokesperson Morgan Bell. “As part of the automated schedule change process, due to the MAX grounding, guests are moved to the next available WestJet or WestJet Encore flight.
“As a reminder, due to irregular operations and the grounding of our MAX aircraft, overbooking situations can happen. Occasionally, WestJet may have to swap a larger aircraft for a smaller one and has too many guests for the number of available seats.”
Of the more than 65,000 guests booked on MAX 8 flights until March 31, more than 85 per cent had little to no schedule changes, WestJet said.
The McCartneys have now filed a claim with their travel insurance company hoping to get back the money the resort charged: $1,800 for the missed days at the start of the vacation and $1,600 for the extra three days tacked on at the end of the vacation.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.