Sunwing Passengers Arrive Home in Saskatchewan After Delays, Others Find Their Own Way Back

Sunwing Passengers Arrive Home in Saskatchewan After Delays, Others Find Their Own Way Back
A Sunwing Boeing 737-800 passenger plane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Aug. 2, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)
Andrew Chen

Some passengers travelling with Sunwing Airlines have finally made it home after repeated flight cancellations and delays, while other customers who were stranded found their own way back home.

The Toronto-based travel company has been struggling to bring hundreds of passengers home from destinations including Mexico after severe winter storms disrupted its operations over the Christmas holidays. Sunwing announced on Dec. 29, 2022, that it was cancelling the flights in airports in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan, due to “extenuating circumstances.” The cancellations went into immediate effect and applied to travel from both airports up until Feb. 3, 2023.
The company said in a Jan. 3 statement that its employees have been working around the clock to bring customers home, while providing hotel rooms, food and beverages, and airport transfers for other customers whose flights were delayed.

“All scheduled recovery flights are complete & those still in destination are rescheduling previously missed return flights, or on longer vacations & are scheduled to return at a later date per their original departure date,” it said on Twitter, adding that “Any further scheduling changes are unrelated to the holiday disruptions.”

One group of travellers from Quebec made their way on a plane belonging to the NFL’s New England Patriots, after having their flights cancelled by Sunwing repeatedly.

Maryse Plourde, a resident of Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, told Global News that she was travelling as part of a group of 14 family members to the Dominican Republic. The shuttle bus that would take them to their original flight home on Dec. 27 never came to pick them up, and they were told the flight was cancelled after paying their way to the airport.

Sunwing brought the group back to the airport on Dec. 29, only to have the flight cancelled again after a 12-hour wait. The group was finally repatriated aboard the aircraft belonging to the NFL team on Dec. 30, reported Global News.

Meanwhile, some domestic passengers travelling with Sunwing had to find other means to return home.

Patrick Gobeil, a resident in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, told The Canadian Press that he and nearly a dozen others he was travelling with had to drive home on New Year’s Eve after Sunwing left them stranded in Calgary, Alberta.

The group flew to Mazatlan, Mexico, on Dec. 9, 2022, and was scheduled to fly back to Saskatoon on Dec. 23, 2022. Gobeil said Sunwing kept delaying their return until Dec. 30, when they finally got a flight. But he said he didn’t know he wouldn’t be returned to Saskatoon until he noticed a Calgary tag had been attached to his luggage.

He said Sunwing staff on the plane had promised the group hotel and meal vouchers in Calgary and assured that they would get transport to Saskatchewan. However, Gobeil said they eventually booked their own rooms after waiting for hours in the city. When they returned to the airport the next day, Sunwing staff promised that a manager would come to assist them.

“All of a sudden, they left out the back and we were left there by ourselves,” Gobeil said.

On Jan. 3, Liberal MP Peter Schiefke, who is the chair of the House of Commons transport committee, said he is calling on Sunwing Airlines, along with Via Rail, to explain what caused the “unacceptable delays and cancellations’' over the holidays.
The Canadian Press contributed to this article.