Travellers outraged as WestJet begins cancelling flights

May 18 2023, 7:37 pm

Travellers that have flights booked with WestJet are on edge as the airline starts cancelling flights leading up to the strike deadline.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Canada’s second-largest airline said it’s preparing for labour action by pilots with WestJet and its low-cost airline Swoop by starting to “take down its network.”

“The decision to cancel flights comes as the WestJet Group remains confronted with union’s unreasonable wage expectations that, if realized, would permanently damage its ability to offer low fares and competitive service to Canadians,” a statement reads.

WestJet said cancelling flights before the strike deadline is intended to give flyers and crew members “proactive communication … to minimize the potential of being stranded.”

However, many Canadians with flights booked with the airline are crossing their fingers, hoping their travel plans are not impacted. 

Twitter user, Dara Fontei, admitted, “Personally and selfishly, I need this Westjet thing to sort itself out.”

She explained her flight options to rebook last minute are over “$1,200+ for a one-way 2-hour flight.”

Another person commented, “I’m so torn because I want the pilots to get everything they’re asking for, but I also REALLY need this vacation.”

WestJet remains in a stalemate with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) — the union representing the airline’s pilots — regarding months-long negotiations over wages, scheduling, working conditions, and job security.

Earlier in the week, the airline said guests affected by possible flight delays or cancellations would be refunded or re-accommodated.

However, Claire Newell, president of Travel Best Bets, warned travellers that cancel and search for a new flight might be paying more than initially expected if they are rebooking to fly this long weekend.

Additionally, depending on the route, it may be especially hard to find a flight out.

Alyssa Smith, the communications manager at Vancouver International Airport, told Daily Hive it was already expecting a busy long weekend, “So our operation was already planning to be prepared for that increase of travellers.”

However, the possible WestJet strike “adds an extra layer of importance.”

“Here at YVR, we’ll do our best to provide information, but we’re really not able to support passengers with WestJet beyond just sharing information,” she warned. 

While some travellers in Canada are trying to support the reason for the strike, others say, “There is not a chance in hell I will ever fly WestJet again.”

Folks like Fontei shared online that they are waiting in anticipation of updates from the airline. 

Another Twitter user even compared flying with WestJet to a game of “Russian roulette.”

Passengers can find updates on flight status, travel changes, and more on WestJet’s Guest Updates page or Swoop’s information hub.

With files from Isabelle Docto

Nikitha MartinsNikitha Martins

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