WestJet / worst flight experience
To whom it may concern:
I would like to share the experience my son and I had flying with WestJet;
Our flight itinerary was London On to Calgary AB, Calgary AB to Phoenix Ariz. Depart London ON February 12th, 2016 at 7:00am Eastern Standard time, arrive in Phoenix AZ February 12th, 2016 at 1:23pm Mountain Standard time.
The flight out of London was delayed for 2 reasons, the first being that the de-icing machine had “froze” due to frigid conditions, secondly there was an unruly passenger which the attendant's asked to leave. After some time he did leave, and since the airport staff needed to find and unload the passenger's luggage, we were delayed further. With the extended delay, we missed our connecting flight in Calgary. I have travelled enough to understand that these kinds of issues are uncontrollable and are for the safety of the staff and passengers. And let me state for the record, the chief flight attendant by the name of Chantelle was absolutely fantastic. My son has a food allergy and Chantelle was so understanding, respectful and accommodating. She went above and beyond our expectations in order to keep my son safe, and for that we thank her.
Calgary is where the confusion and carelessness started.
When we landed in Calgary we were directed to a WestJet counter where they would be able to accommodate us for another flight to Phoenix. The WestJet representative, Ms. Boss (I do not remember her first name) notified us that we would be redirected to Edmonton and from there we would catch a flight to Phoenix, but not until the next morning. I told her that was not acceptable. I proceeded to explain to her that this was not a vacation for me and my son, and it was imperative that we were in Phoenix that evening.
Ms. Boss then picked up the phone and made a call to “her manager”. After approximately 10 to 15 min she told us that she had booked us on an American Airlines flight from Edmonton, and would arrive in Phoenix around 6:30pm Mountain Standard Time. Perfect! She explained that because it was another airline she could not provide us with boarding passes, but would be given to us once in Edmonton, but 2 tickets were booked. I asked about our luggage and again she made a phone call to the luggage “personal” and explained what flight we were to board in Calgary and since we were boarding an American Airlines flight in Edmonton, she wanted to make sure the luggage was properly tagged. She assured us that the luggage would follow us. She told us that she had worked in the luggage department for years so she knew exactly who to talk to and what to say.
When we landed in Edmonton and proceed to the American Airlines counter to check in for our next flight. The American Airline representative said we had to go to the WestJet counter to check in. So we went to the WestJet counter to check in, where Marieann, a WestJet representative gave me the confirmation numbers, but said we have to check in with American Airlines, back to the American Airlines counter where they told us that yes there is a confirmation number, but our names are not on the manifest, the flight was sold out, so she could not even put us on the flight if she wanted. I pleaded with the American Airlines representative and she said to me that “This is a WestJet problem, not theirs and there is nothing she could do” and asked to help the next person in line. I was appalled at the treatment of American Airlines to us, but in reality, she was right, she just did not have to be so rude.
So, “the manager” in Calgary booked us on a flight that was sold out.
Back to the WestJet counter we went to get some answers. At this point I started to become very agitated, because it was apparent that we might not make it to Phoenix that night.
When I returned to speak with Marieann at the WestJet counter there was another representative behind the counter with her. After briefly explaining the situation the second WestJet employee, whose name I did not get, said “this is Calgary's problem not ours, our hands are tied”. My response to them was very clear and very stern, but I did keep my composure, “Wrong answer. I don't care if you work in Calgary, Edmonton, Hong Kong or Alaska, you are wearing a WestJet uniform, and therefore you represent the company whom we purchased tickets with. It is your job and responsibility to assist in correcting this problem!” At that point she walked away without a response and Marieann asked another co-worker, Karla to help her in assisting us to get to Phoenix. It was a very short period when they both looked at each other and realized that a glaring mistake had been made. At that point they called for their manager. Shortly after the call was made Angela G. showed up, we took 10 minutes and I explained what had transpired to this point. She took another 10 minutes or so on her computer typing away. She looked up at me and with a very sincere voice she said “I am so sorry, but Calgary has made an error and there are absolutely no flights going to Phoenix tonight from Edmonton”. Right then I realized that the “WestJet manager” in Calgary handed me some B.S about another flight, to let us think WestJet had accommodated us but once in Edmonton we would be someone else's problem, not theirs.
At this point I explained the situation my son was in, and yes, I may have gotten angry, but again at no point did I yell, scream or belittle anyone. I was disappointed that this trip was falling apart.
I proceeded to explain to her and her colleagues behind the desk that this was not a vacation for me and my 18 year old son. This was a football “show case” training camp. He is to be nationally ranked, university and college scouts were to be there. This could lead to schooling and scholarships, an opportunity of a life time; he has dedicated thousands of hours of training, something he has worked extremely hard for many years.
Marieann turned away and I noticed that she had started to cry. I wasn't sure if it was because I frightened her or she was upset for my son and our situation. Karla assured me that Marieann cries at the drop of a hat. The 3 of them started working feverously trying to find something. It was about 45 minutes before the American Airline flight was to take off, the flight we were supposed to be on. So I asked Angela to contact them and see if there were any no shows for the flight. There were 4 passengers that did not check in, but American Airlines would not allow us to board, because we had not checked in and boarding had commenced. For lack of a better phrase, that added fuel to the fire.
Angela came up with an option to fly us to Las Vegas, rent a car and drive to the 4.5 to 5 hours to Phoenix, but I had to book the rental car on my credit card. She reassured me that WestJet would reimburse me 100%. I had to make a quick decision; the flight to Las Vegas would start boarding soon. What choice did I have? While Karla was booking the flight, Marieann was booking the car, I asked about our luggage, the luggage did not follow us to Edmonton. One was still in Calgary and they could not locate the other. I believe the phrase I used to Angela was “WestJet is a Joke!” Nevertheless, we had a plane to catch and we still had to go through customs. Marieann walked us to as far as she could go and from there my son and I ran through the airport, so we would not miss another flight. We were boarding the plane, Angela was there to see us off and once again she apologized on behalf of WestJet. Once in flight, Phil the flight attendant came and told us that Angela had explained to him the story and offered us complimentary food and drink, which was appreciated, it was 5:00pm and with all the running around
and confusion we hadn't had anything to eat since the 7:00am flight. While on the flight we were still wondering what we will do without my sons' football gear. We land in Las Vegas and headed to the WestJet counter to check on the status of our luggage. Dave was the gentleman working behind the counter; once again I explained the comedy of errors that had transpired to get us to Las Vegas. I called up Angela on my cell phone and handed it to him so he could speak directly with her. He had two phones going at the same time trying figure to out where the luggage was. At the same time I had asked him to see if there happened to be a flight out of Vegas to Phoenix that evening, even if it was not a WestJet flight, because I really did not want to drive for 5 hours if I did not have to. At first he was reluctant, but after speaking with Angela and me he booked us on an American Airlines flight to Phoenix. He explained to us that 1 luggage was still in Calgary and the other was in Edmonton. We made arrangements that both luggages would be flown to Phoenix the next morning. He told me that once I arrived in Phoenix to check with the lost baggage department and they would confirm how and when the luggage would get to me. And so again, we are pressed for time to board the flight from Vegas to Phoenix, hoping the shuttle arrives on time and running like lunatics again. We board, and we land in Phoenix. Now I have to deal with luggage and the cancellation of the rental car that I was supposed to rent in Las Vegas. I called up Expedia to cancel the car. They gave me a hard time because they said you must give them 24 hours advance notice of cancellation. I explained the reason the car was booked and that it was only booked 6 hours previous so I could not give them 24 hours' notice. After some time on hold they agreed to cancel the rental but I would still get billed the insurance coverage. A bill which I have submitted to WestJet for reimbursement.
On to the luggage department. Once I finally found it I spoke with a WestJet representative who would not give me her name. I was tired and wasn't going to argue about that. I explained the story again. She did her thing on the computer and she told me that one luggage would arrive in Phoenix at approximately 8:00am and the other approximately 10:00am, and once the luggage cleared customs “you can come and pick them up”. I almost lost my mind, “after all we've gone through because of a WestJet screw up, and you expect me to come back to the airport to get my luggage”. After some debating and hesitation, she said she would courier it out together. Again, not acceptable. I demanded that once the luggage cleared customs it would be immediately sent to my hotel separately. My son needed his football gear which was in the luggage, but we had no way of knowing which luggage was coming in first. She unwillingly agreed, and gave me the name and number of Raul V. the station manager. She told me to call him in the morning and verify with him that they were not to wait until they had both luggages and to send them out separately. Again, it felt like another WestJet employee passing the buck to someone else so they don't have to deal with the problem.
By the time I got my rental car that I had rented originally for this trip it was midnight, and we still had to find a store that was open to buy some of the necessary items needed since we did not have our luggage. Wal-Mart was closed, so we found a Wall-Green and purchase some toiletries. We finally got to our hotel at 2:00 in the morning. We are up at 6:00 to eat some breakfast, go back to Wal-Mart to buy some undergarments, shorts and any exercise apparatus my son would have normally used prior to a practice to prepare. Again, I have submitted to WestJet for reimbursement. We have to be at the field earlier to register which was supposed to be done the night before.
We did end up getting the luggage delivered to us and luck would have it that the first luggage was the one with all my sons' football gear in it.
What should have been a one stop, 9 hour non eventful day, turned into a nerve-racking, 5 city, 3 time zones, lost luggage, 2 different airlines, 19 hour day and remember the purpose of this trip. My son is an athlete; we were there for a football show case, in 26 hours he had 4 hours sleep, without eating properly. He did not have any of his equipment that he uses to stretch, due to lost luggage. All of this stress and he is trying to perform at an extremely high level to impress. A hard thing to do as an adult, let alone an 18 year old.
I will say this; Chantelle on the flight from London to Calgary was outstanding. Ms. Boss in Calgary made me believe she had everything under control. Angela G., Karla and Maireann in Edmonton worked so hard in trying to get us to our final destination. Marieann, sorry for making you cry. The 3 of you were remarkable. Unfortunately, one of the WestJet representatives I spoke to in Edmonton, that I did not get her name was rude and shouldn't be working with customers. Phil on the flight from Edmonton to Vegas was amazing. Dave in Las Vegas handled the situation like a professional. He was focused on the tasks at hand, getting us a flight and finding our luggage. The representative working at the luggage center, that would not give me her name, not the friendliest person, and gave off a vibe that she really did not care if my luggage was lost or how it was going to be returned to me. Raul on the other hand, when speaking on the phone with him, he was reassuring and apologetic on behalf of WestJet.
Needless to say, our overall experience flying with WestJet was atrocious, if it wasn't for a select few WestJet employees understanding the severity of the issue and trying to correct the problem, it would have been a lot uglier. Thinking back now, out of all the WestJet representatives I encountered on this outrageous journey, no one, not one person gave me any information on who or how to contact WestJet to submit my receipts for the car rental or any incidentals' that may have occurred, or compensation for a trip that went extremely sideways, or simply just to hear the story and gather feedback so this sort of mishap could be avoided in the future.
I did find on line (not easily) a site to submit my receipts, it states that a WestJet Baggage agent will respond within 24 hours and if attaching receipts a Central Baggage Services Specialist would contact me within 3-5 business days. Other than an automated email stating that my incident summary has been sent successfully, nothing, no contact what so ever.
I contacted Angela Goertzen, the WestJet guest service manager that we dealt with in Edmonton to ask if she could provide me with the information on who to contact. This was her response;
What I will do is send your information to our corporate Guest Relations team. This will help expedite the process and it will go straight to the people that can help you the most. They are usually quick to reach out to our guests in escalated situation.
Again, please accept my sincere apologies.
Take care, ”
It has almost been 4 weeks since that fiasco and I have yet to be contacted by anyone from WestJet. I do believe that Angela has done what she said she would do in her email, so it seems that “corporate” doesn't care. Maybe “corporate” thinks by ignoring the matter it will go away.
I am sickened at the whole experience and now corporate is even making it worse.
Usually the longer it takes to resolve a problem, the worse it gets.
I believe the reimbursement for my out of pocket expenses that never should of occurred are due, but also a significant compensation is owed for what has transpired all because of WestJet's incompetence.
In my line of work, I travel a significant amount and this whole experience makes me wonder if I will travel WestJet again, and ultimately how I will convey this story to all my colleagues when WestJet is mentioned.
My expectation is that this letter comes to the attention of someone who cares.
It is not too much to ask for an immediate response.
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