Travellers who were expecting to fly from Kelowna, B.C., to Winnipeg had an unpleasant surprise when they were told their flight on the Swoop airline was cancelled — and that they wouldn’t be rebooked until, potentially, early September.
Pat Ward and Emily Rae say they were scheduled to come home to Winnipeg on Monday but found out their flight had been cancelled due to mechanical issues.
They and nine other friends and family were in Kelowna for a wedding, said Ward, and they said they were promised a charter flight home by the company on Wednesday.
On Monday night, the group started getting texts from Swoop saying their flights had instead been rescheduled — some for Sept. 2, some for Sept. 4, and some for as far away as Sept. 6.
“Ridiculous,” said Ward. “Eleven days that you’re going to stay in Kelowna and not get back to your job?”
“We were scrambling last night,” said Rae. “I was at the point … should I call my friends in Alberta? Should I try and drive home?”
After arguing with Swoop for about two hours, they have only received an apology, said Rae.
“Swoop sent us a courtesy apology — ‘oh, our sincerest apologies’ — that was basically a slap in the face,” she said.
Some passengers paid $750 to catch other flights to leave, and Swoop told them at the time they would not be compensated, said Ward. Others have since found out that Swoop would only cover one night of hotel accommodation.
Monica Raabe, who was also on the flight, told Global News she ended up taking a WestJet flight to make it back to Manitoba.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “How could people just suddenly extend a vacation or have money to? It’s absolutely unacceptable.
“We were fine with them cancelling a flight due to not wanting to put people in jeopardy. We were fine with having been put up in accommodations, but it’s just so insane to think that people would ever accept to stay that much longer.”
Raabe said she was given the runaround when trying to contact Swoop and eventually just decided to take another flight.
“We had to book on WestJet, had to completely use a different carrier — although it’s not a different carrier because I was told by many people that Swoop is owned by WestJet.”
Calgary-based Swoop was launched in 2017 by WestJet as an ultra-low-cost carrier.
The airline confirmed there was unscheduled maintenance to the aircraft and that Swoop has “all our available resources working to get travellers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.”
WATCH: Flair Air passengers returning to Winnipeg from Orlando faced 20-hour delay
The company estimated that about 1,000 passengers in its network were impacted by the cancelled flight.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority and will always be at the forefront of our decision making. We apologize for the inconvenience to our impacted travellers,” Swoop said in an email.
The company promised to reimburse impacted travellers if they purchased tickets from other airlines and to cover additional travel costs.
“Any travellers delayed more than three hours have received meal, hotel and transportation vouchers,” Swoop said.
Rae warned people off the airline.
“I would say: Don’t fly Swoop,” said Rae.
“I hope they’re going to man up and come through for everyone,” Ward added.