Here in Canada we have two major airlines, Air Canada and WestJet.  If you live in the north of Alberta, unless you drive to Edmonton or Calgary, you are limited in your flight options.

We chose to fly with WestJet and had booked flights for our vacation on line.  We did not go through a travel agent as we are members of the Palace Elite Vacation Club and get incredible rates on our all inclusive resorts so why pay an agency fee!

Our flight down was awesome and I expected the same for our return trip.

On March 17th, the day before our departure home, I did our online check in to print our boarding passes and check on our flights status about mid day.

On the morning of March 18th, my husband and I, along with some friends checked out of our rooms at Isla Mujeres Palace at 7 am. We arrived 3 hours early to the airport as required. Our flight 2213 was supposed to leave Cancun at 11:40 am. Well, it got delayed, first by 2 hrs, then three, then five and then 9 and a half hours.

Apparently a storm in Halifax was the reason.
We had not known our plane was coming from Halifax or about the storm there.
We had not been watching the news at all - WE WERE ON VACATION!

Once the flight was pushed back by 9.5 hours, we called to our resort and they made arrangements for our group of 4 to spend time at their sister resort, the Moon Palace in Cancun. They even paid our taxi there and back!

All day long we checked the flight boards at the resort. 
We also checked our emails and called the airport a couple of times to ensure we were in the know.

When we called the airport at 5 pm, for the last time, we were told the flight was still leaving at 9:30 pm.

We then called guest relations to see what was going to happen in Edmonton because we would obviously be missing our connecting flight.

This is when the first disturbing thing transpired. The agent whose name I don't know because the gal at the resort who called for us, did not give me the name and I never thought to ask his name when I spoke to him, told me that our flight had been changed and the we were supposed to leave at 6:30 on a flight to Kelowna and that they had sent us all emails.

None of us got emails. In fact, I checked again today (March 20th) just to be sure and still NO EMAILS!

After being on hold for over 20 minutes, while the agent went to look into things, we decided to simply hop in a cab and head to the airport and I hung up without getting anywhere with guest relations. We checked in at the desk and there was no mention of us being re routed through Kelowna. We asked about what would happen in Edmonton and were told we'd have a room and not to worry but that we'd best head through security soon.

We headed to security and while they held us up saying we should have already been gone, they finally let us go to the boarding area when they found out our flight had been delayed.

At 9:30 pm we finally began to board the plane.

My husband and I along with our friends waited to be among the last to board as we were up front in Plus seats. As we went towards the cabin down the jetway, my husband says: "Yeah! We are finally on our way home" and this male steward made a rude comment about how his days off were screwed up because of this situation. He was very angry and had nasty tone of voice.

He had 64 passengers whose lives have been equally disrupted but he could only focus on how his life had been inconvenienced. That disturbed me greatly, but I said nothing, just shook my head.

As my husband and I turned to enter the cabin and go to our seats, we discover two other people in our seats.

They had boarding passes for the same seat numbers! OH GREAT. Now what?

The male steward puts us in two other Plus seats, but then the people those seats belonged to came aboard and we were moved to coach.

When I voiced that these were not the seats we had paid for, I was told by David, the male steward that we would still get plus services, I expressed that plus is about more than meals, it's about leg room. I got told if I didn't like it, I could always leave the plane. I was flabbergasted. The lady whose seat we had to vacate, exclaimed that she felt he was out of line and the comment totally inappropriate but when asked later, she would not step up to actually file a statement. She just didn't want to get involved. I hope she never needs someone to step up and help her right a wrong against herself!

The captain addressed all of us passengers and he told us he appreciated all of us being patient and that it had been a rough day for all concerned. He expressed he didn't really know what caused the delay but that it was probably costing WestJet between 25 and 35 thousand dollars. I took that comment as his way of saying that everyone, including the company was paying a heavy price because, I thought at this time the company was going to be putting we connecting flight passengers, up in a hotel.

After the captain's speech, I asked the female stewardess, Marylin for the steward's first and last name as I was documenting what happened a got told "we don't give out last names." She asked why I wanted to know and so I explained to her our situation.

She asked for our boarding passes and then went and talked to David who then became livid and came to our seats. He grilled me about why I wanted his name and wouldn't let me answer him, he just kept over talking me.

He went straight to jerk mode and told me that he, David, had 54 other customers whose safety he was in charge of and that if I didn't quit disturbing the other passengers with my complaints, I would be removed from the plane as a security threat. At that moment I knew I was dealing with a bully.

Not wishing to be removed from the plane I agreed to not speak of our situation again and behave like a good little girl so that David would allow me to stay on the plane.

When I found out he would be in charge of serving our part of the cabin, I talked to Marylin again and expressed I had no desire to have this man serve me after the way he had spoken to me, she told me to press the call button and she or the other female stewardess would assist me.

Well, when I needed something I did this, only to have David start coming down the aisle, I shut the light off and turned my back to him. He went back up front. I then put the light on again and Marylin served me.

For the rest of the flight, whenever David came down the aisle for any reason, I just turned my back to him and would not interact with him in any way.

I pointed out our tv's weren't working and Marylin said she'd have them looked at but at no point did anyone offer to move us to any of the other vacant seats and I did not dare ask to be moved for fear of reprisals from David.

I cried pretty much the whole way to Edmonton I was that insulted, frustrated and tired.
I truly felt violated as a customer and so did my husband.

Now the reason we booked plus seats, in spite of what I feel is an outrageous price, is that my husband has MS and the little bit of extra room that Plus seating offers is something his body well and truly appreciates.

While we were still at the terminal in Cancun, there had been a problem with the manifest. There were 64 passengers on board but only paperwork on 54. Well, after about a further half hour delay, David chewed on the poor gate agent, he had spoken to her like she was a dog. I felt so bad for her and many commented on it but again, no one wanted to step up to report his behaviour.

The bully had spoken vocally and notice was taken by most passengers who had no desire to get tossed off the plane.

At the end of the flight, we waited until pretty much everyone was of the plane and my husband went to talk to David and with his Frenchman's hands going he told David he would not tolerate the way he had spoken to his

Immediately David went on the offensive and I grabbed my husband and told him we weren't going to get anywhere this way and let's wait for the captain. We spoke with Captain Eric Grossman and he told us to ensure his name was registered in the complaint that he recommended we file.

When we got through customs, we could not get anyone to truly help us or give us the hotel room we were promised would be waiting for us by the agent in Cancun. We were told that because the delay was weather related there would be no hotel help from WestJet and that Cancun had no right to tell us otherwise.  We were told that although we bought trip cancellation and interruption insurance with our flight, it is third party run and they - the WestJet staff refused to help us. We had no idea what the process was supposed to be as we'd never used this insurance before. It is something I intend to fully investigate and learn about for future trips. I am totally disappointed however that WestJet personnel do not know anything about a product that WestJet sells through their site while booking online.

Although we did not want to fly home from Edmonton to Grande Prairie with WestJet, we could not find a car rental agency that would do a one way rental. Our only options were fly with WestJet or Air Canada. That meant either waiting at the airport until 1:30pm to go out with WestJet, this was now 6 am, OR spending more money with the other carrier and being left out of pocket. 

Neither option was terribly appealing.

After speaking to a customer care agent named Suzette on the phone, she helped me lodge my complaint and she got us on an earlier flight than the 1:30 pm one that had been presented to us as our only option to fly home, by the WestJet agents who met our flight earlier in the morning.

The rest of our trip was pleasant from that point.

At around 3pm a gal from the WestJet Customer care team who called to discuss the situation said we wouldn't get an apology from the steward and we'd never know the discipline if any that would take place.

She offered a company letter of apology, but that does not hold the flight attendant responsible and I expressed that that was not satisfactory to me in any way shape or form.

She told me their standard policy is to offer customers $100 WestJet dollars for each of us but felt that that was to low given the situation.  I was asking for a refund from the difference between coach and Plus for the leg of the trip we had been short changed on..

So she then offered me 250 dollar per person flight credit and I told her that was an insult after all we had gone through. I again told her I wanted a refund to my husbands credit card. She said the don't generally do that but she'd see what she could do and so I waited for her to find out.

She came back with an offer of $215 per person refund or a four hundred dollar per person flight credit (WestJet dollars) either $430 refund or $800 in flight credits....I am not sure yet how I feel about that considering we paid $2,942 for the round trip flights and were told that we had paid for the middle of the road Plus fare!  

I told her I was too tired to think anymore and I would consider my option after a good nights sleep.  At this point I was working on 40 hours with no sleep.

Shortly after that conversation, I got a call from the Executive Vice-President, Sales, Marketing and Guest Experience, Bob Cummings. He called me because of an email that I had sent to the company VP Clive Beddoe. Hope Lexa on Facebook had reached out to me and gave me his email address and told me to contact Clive and that I would get results for sure.

After speaking with Mr. Cummings, who promised me he would call back next week after having this situation investigated, I feel much better about WestJet, but am still skeptical about what the refund/compensation/resolution will finally look like.  The current standard company policies make a customer feel like they really have to fight to get appropriate compensation/resolution but I feel like Mr. Cummings truly heard my concerns.

At the end of the day if I can get a letter of apology from an RCMP officer over his conduct and the way he spoke to me. Why should I not be able to get one from the employee at WestJet?

If I can be told what discipline an RCMP officer is going to receive then why can't I be told of the same regarding a WestJet employee, especially in a situation that is as over the top as this one is?

I am advocating for all passengers that might find themselves experiencing this kind of deplorable treatment - the standard rules need to change! There needs to be personal accountability! Apology letters and certain disciplinary information should be deliverable and it is absolutely wrong that it is not!

This saga is not over, and I intend to keep you informed of my experience and how this turns out, so that if you ever find yourself in the position of having to advocate to get what you paid for and and ever feel you are owed an apology from an employee, you will know what your chances of any kind of real resolution are!

I look forward to sharing with you a bit about my Mexican vacation tomorrow!

Have a great day and is you are fortunate to live where you can be riding, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you.

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

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