With cancelled flights and stranded passengers, Sunwing has been all over the news during the holidays for all the wrong reasons.
One story of how a group of Quebecers got back to Canada, however, will make you do a double take.
After being stranded for days in the Dominican Republic, they were able to get home thanks to the New England Patriots football team.
“I am very happy to be home,” said Maryse Plourde, a resident of Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Plourde was part of a group of 14 members of her family who escaped the cold on an all-inclusive Sunwing trip to a Dominican resort.
It was when they tried to get home that the trouble began.
READ MORE: Sunwing travel chaos not due to staffing, union says: ‘Pilots are available to fly’
Plourde explained to Global News that the airport shuttle never came to get them on Dec. 27, the day they were supposed to fly back to Quebec at 4 p.m.
After paying their own way to the airport, she says the group found out their flight was delayed.
“We spent 12 hours at the airport,” she said, painting a picture of an unpleasant situation in 30-degree heat with a bunch of crying, exhausted children sleeping on the floor.
She says at 1 a.m., the group was told by Sunwing reps that they were being transferred to busses to go to a hotel, and that they might not be able to leave the country until Jan. 2.
On Dec. 29, Sunwing sent them back to the airport in the afternoon, but that flight was delayed too, leading to another 12 hours of waiting.
They nearly got on a flight, but were told the pilot was too exhausted to fly and had failed a cognitive test.
“We left for the hotel at 4:30 a.m, and we had to be back at the airport for noon,” she said, expressing gratitude for the Sunwing-paid hotels, but colossal disappointment for the lack of communication and staff members who had little information.
READ MORE: Sunwing sending recovery flights to bring home passengers stranded in Mexico
After a few hours of sleep, on Dec. 30, they finally came face to face with the aircraft Sunwing sent to bring dozens of Quebec families home.
It was a plane belonging to the NFL’s New England Patriots.
“It was incredible,” Plourde said with a smile. The group was in disbelief.
Plourde quickly noticed the roomy seats intended for hulking football players, and was impressed with the legroom.
“It was very comfortable,” she said.
There was some disappointment among the Quebecois passengers that the crew couldn’t speak French, but no major complaints.
Sunwing did not respond to Global News’ request for comment on Sunday.
Plourde doesn’t think she’ll ever travel with the company again after a voyage that gave re-patriation a whole new meaning.