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WestJet delay debacle: Technical outage frustrates Thursday travellers

Click to play video: 'WestJet outage causes delays for thousands of passengers'
WestJet outage causes delays for thousands of passengers
WATCH: NAV Canada, the agency that oversees air traffic in Canada, says a WestJet outage was caused when one of its telecom providers’ fiber lines was damaged by a train derailment. Michael King reports. – Jul 14, 2022

It was a frustrating Thursday morning for some travellers in Canada and beyond who took WestJet airlines.

Many took to social media to express their concern after what appeared to be a technical issue when it came to printing out boarding passes and luggage tags.

Calgarian Marina Clark was one of those people trying to find out what the holdup was on Twitter. Clark told Global News she arrived at the Calgary International Airport around 4:30 a.m. — well ahead of her planned trip to Victoria — when she noticed the lines starting to grow.

Read more: ‘Pack your patience’: Experts say travel woes expected to continue for air passengers

“Somebody came and kind of yelled to all the people waiting that the systems were down and they couldn’t check us in and couldn’t give us our baggage tag. (Luckily) I got mine printed (ahead of time),” Clark said.

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Though the wait through security was at a normal level, according to Clark, she said the second set of lines began at gates as the airlines announced the pilot couldn’t access the flight plan because of the system being down.

“There were people here waiting in the airport who had been on cancelled Air Canada flights and for such a short flight, I kind of was like, should I have driven instead of flown?”

Clark said she eventually got on the plane after the pilot was able to get connected to the flight path, and explained the flight crew had to manually check everyone in.

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“Cannot imagine (if I was) on a larger plane,” she joked.

WestJet responds

As of 10:14 a.m., the company said all check-in services had been restored across Canada. However, those using the self-serve baggage drop option would continue to experience issues in Calgary, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Halifax.

In a written statement to Global News, a spokesperson said the airline was experiencing an “infrastructure outage” around 7:53 a.m., which impacted various areas of their customers’ travel experience.

Check-in, flight planning and payment services online, and some operations were hit, the company stated ​at the time.

Just before noon, an update on the company’s website said WestJet continues to work with its network providers.

“Across our network we have seen three cancellations and more than 100 flights have been delayed as a result of the outage,” the update read. “We continue to thank all guests for their patience and will re-accommodate all impacted guests on the first available flight to ensure they get to their destination as soon as possible.”

WestJet noted the self-serve baggage drop at Calgary International Airport continues to experience issues and encourages travellers to arrive early to have their bags processed by an agent.

Click to play video: 'Air Canada and WestJet make plans for more convenient travel'
Air Canada and WestJet make plans for more convenient travel

The western Canada outage hitting WestJet and Nav Canada systems had a pair of causes, the national air navigation body told Global News.

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A train derailment near Bassano, Alta., and a separate fiber optic issue knocked the two air travel companies offline.

“A follow up assessment will occur to examine the resiliency of service,” Nav Canada spokesperson Brian Boudreau said in an email.

Boudreau said Nav Canada’s services are returning to normal and related impacts to airports are “minimal.”

–with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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