(Montreal) Travelers are asking airlines to do more to help passengers stuck due to the latest wave of cancellations stemming from the WestJet computer outage.
A global company system outage on Saturday led to the cancellation of more than 200 WestJet, Swoop and Sunwing flights over the weekend. The airline later said the problem was caused by a “cooling issue” in its main data center.
WestJet said it had scheduled 10 more flights for waiting passengers on Monday, but for some the damage had already been done.
WestJet customer Gemini Clarke was stuck in Calgary on Monday, exhausted and searching for answers, and she still didn’t know if she would be placed on a flight back to Kelowna during the day.
At midday, M.me Clarke had not received a response and could not reach a WestJet representative by phone or email, as the phone lines remained jammed with other customers in the same situation as her.
WestJet has asked passengers to refrain from contacting its customer service department until 72 hours before their flight to ensure staff are able to prioritize calls.
According to air passenger rights lawyer Gabor Lukacs, many affected passengers will be entitled to compensation.
“We hear about chaos, but I think what we really should be talking about is the rights of passengers in this situation,” he said.
Mr. Lukacs reminded that cancellations due to a breakdown are the responsibility of WestJet and that the company is obliged to place the affected passengers on new flights, even if they are offered by another carrier.
Additionally, he noted that WestJet will have to pay affected passengers compensation of up to $1,000, depending on the length of the delay, under the federal Air Passenger Protection Regulations.
Another passenger, Bradley Martens, said WestJet hadn’t given him information about options available with other airlines or refunds passengers are entitled to.
“There really are no options,” Mr. Martens said. We’re told to wait to see what’s available, but we’re just waiting. »
In a statement on Sunday, WestJet’s chief operating officer warned that the disruptions would continue this week.
“Unfortunately, due to the scale of the impact on the network, we continue to see disruptions. Further delays and cancellations will be required in the coming days as we work to resume operations,” Diederik Pen said.
The Calgary-based company also announced that 31 other flights were canceled Monday due to the effects of the outage, combined with winter conditions affecting Alberta and parts of Western Canada.