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Regina passenger recounts ‘scary’ diversion on transatlantic flight from Calgary

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Regina passenger recounts ‘scary’ diversion on transatlantic flight from Calgary
A Regina woman is breathing a sigh of relief after a scary moment in the skies last week. Her flight to the U.K. turned around shortly after takeoff and flight attendants told passengers to prepare for a crash landing. Connor O'Donovan has the story – Sep 2, 2022

A Regina woman is breathing a sigh of relief after a scary moment in the skies last week.

Dana Parisien recounted to Global News how she and a friend were about two hours into a transatlantic WestJet flight from Calgary to London, England when she felt the Boeing 787 make a turn.

“We just got over Saskatchewan and noticed the flight path turn around. The flight attendants were backing up their service carts and everything,” Parisien said.

“Then a flight attendant came on the speaker and the way she was speaking, she was really scared. You could hear her voice shaking. She said ‘we want everyone to review where the exits are and review your safety cards.'”

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Parisien said the return trip to Calgary felt about half as long and that lights were flashing over the plane’s emergency exits, but that the plane was able to land safely in Calgary and that the passengers were deplaned immediately.

She said the only thing she and other passengers were told was that there was a “mechanical issue.”

“People on the plane, they were crying, they were swearing and some were standing when they should have been sitting down,” she said.

“It was one of the most scary things. We were scared. We were practicing our crash positions because we thought we might crash for sure.”

Parisien said WestJet paid for overnight accommodations for her and her travel partner and provided a $15 meal voucher. After hours spent waiting for a callback, they were able to book her on a different flight to the U.K. the next day.

“It took them seven hours to call us back but the WestJet rep that we had, her name was Stephanie, she worked hard and got us to Glasgow and we got a train,” she said, noting she did lose out on a paid night’s accommodation at an Airbnb in London.

While frightening, she said the incident didn’t shake her enough to miss out on her trip. Still, she shudders to think about what would have happened if the plane was already over the Atlantic when something went wrong.

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“At least if you’re going to crash on the ground there’s some thing in your mind that says ‘maybe I can survive this?’ But crashing into the Atlantic? I don’t know,” she said.

“But I thought to myself ‘could this happen twice in a row?’ That’s why we went on because we thought ‘odds are this won’t happen again?’ But sure, you know, after that happened you sort of (think) ‘should I really be going across the ocean in these planes?'”

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In a statement, WestJet Media and Public Relations Strategist Denise Kenny said: “I can confirm on August 25, due to a mechanical issue, WestJet flight 1 from Calgary to London Gatwick made the decision to conduct an air turn back shortly after departure.

“The aircraft landed safely at 11:50pm MST and was subsequently removed from service for required safety inspections,” Kenny continued.

“The aircraft has since then been returned to service. All guests were provided with re-accommodation options, and we sincerely apologize to our guests for the inconvenience and disruption to their travel plans.”

In a later statement, Kenny said “the mechanical issue was a result of an error indication light and as outlined, the decision was made out of an abundance of caution to conduct the air turn back.”

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