WestJet passenger speaks out after alleged racial comments from check-in attendant

Jan 27 2020, 5:28 pm

A woman is speaking out after a troubling encounter she reportedly had with a WestJet attendant.

Iyolo La’es says that she was flying out from Victoria (YYJ) to Vancouver (YVR), en route to New York during the snowstorm earlier this month. She was on her way to a campaign for fair trade and environmentally sustainable fashion.

After her flight was delayed several times, La’es says she approached a WestJet attendant to see if there was any possibility of finding another connecting flight to Vancouver.

“After five weather delays, I went back through security to speak to the WestJet attendant at check-in,” she writes on a Facebook post. “She took one look at me, did not ask for my name or flight number, and instead she asked if I had been drinking.”

La’es claims that the attendant allegedly told her that she “[smelled] like booze” and said, ‘I know you guys can’t handle your alcohol.'” She then told the attendant that she was “not at all inebriated” and only had two drinks over a five-hour period.

“I then asked her to at least help me find an alternative flight to get to YVR so I would not miss my connection to NYC,” La’es writes. “Her response was that I was a liability to any airline, including WestJet. She refused to help me at all, nor did she make any mention of how I could retrieve my luggage which had already been sent through to YVR.”

When La’es reportedly told an Air Canada representative what happened, she says that the representative was “appalled” and that she was put on the next flight to Vancouver, although it was too late for her to make her connecting flight.

Upon speaking to customer complaints at WestJet, La’es says that she was offered “sincere apologies” but nothing else in way of compensation.

“I have spoken to lawyers and media and I also spent a few days having anxiety attacks,” La’es adds. “WestJet needs to know what a serious matter this is and commit to anti-oppression training for all staff.”

Morgan Bell, a Media & Public Relations Advisor at WestJet, says that they’ve been unable to contact La’es and addressed the allegations in a statement to Daily Hive.

“Firstly, we apologize for the interruption to all our guests’ travel plans that were affected by a weather event in Victoria,” Bell writes via email. “This event, unfortunately, resulted in multiple flight delays and we understand these circumstances led to this guest failing to present themselves at a WestJet gate for boarding and subsequently missing their flight.”

“WestJet has a zero-tolerance policy for racism and discrimination. Due to the sensitivity of this matter, we immediately launched a comprehensive investigation into this file after being tagged on Instagram,” Bell continues. “While the investigation remains ongoing, we have evidence that significantly contradicts the version of events that has been reported by the guest.”

“For the past 24 hours, our teams have been trying to connect with this guest to directly address their concerns along with the findings of our internal investigation. Unfortunately, at this time, all requests have been unanswered and we remain unable to connect.”