Thousands of passengers are stranded due to one of Canada’s largest holiday airlines being hit by a system-wide outage.
Sunwing Airlines said the outage is affecting check-in and boarding and passengers have been stranded trying to get home from their vacations.
Sunwing’s website shows virtually all flights scheduled for Monday — more than 40 — have been delayed, some by more than 12 hours.
BC resident Dani Monaghan was on vacation in Cancun, Mexico and was picked up at their hotel at 2:40 pm Sunday with their flight scheduled to leave at 6:30 pm, putting them into Vancouver just after 11 pm that same night.
She said when they got to the airport, however, there was a huge line-up at the Sunwing desk.
“It wasn’t until we had been standing there for probably an hour, two hours, when we realized there was a bigger problem,” Monaghan said.
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She said the main issue has been the lack of communication from Sunwing about what is happening.
Their flight was eventually delayed until Monday but after another two cancellations they have been told they could be picked up at “any time” and could be on “any flight.”
“So we don’t know when we’re going home,” Monaghan added.
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She said they were given a $15 food voucher but most of the passengers couldn’t use them because it could only be redeemed at the Starbucks, which was closed, and a restaurant that was so busy it would take a while to get food. Meanwhile, passengers were being told to be ready in 20 minutes to go on a bus to another hotel.
“That’s the universal thing, no one has consistent information,” she said.
Sunwing has not responded to Global News’ request for comment but the company did put out a statement on Twitter.
Kelowna resident Andrew Lipton is also stranded in Cancun, trying to get home.
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He told Global News in an email that customer service at the airport was appalling and they are not receiving any helpful information.
They were also eventually bussed back to a hotel for Sunday night but as of Monday morning, were left in limbo like Monaghan and her friend.
“Because I have to go back to work, and so do the grandparents babysitting our two-year-old and one-year-old, I frantically looked for a new airline to take us home,” Lipton said. “Over $2,000 Canadian on Air Canada. Three seats on the flight left. Do I book?!? Yes, I do.
“I am fortunate and lucky enough to be able to do this. But I will 100 per cent be keeping my receipts to submit to Sunwing.”
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Monaghan said she and her friend have now formed a small group of passengers so they can help each other and access information.
“We’re just communicating with each other and no one’s getting really upset,” she said. “We’re just frustrated and we just want to go home. We had a great vacation and this is kind of ending it on a bit of a sour note for a lot of people.”
She said she knows there are worse places to be stranded than Mexico but with the lack of communication from Sunwing, they can’t just go back to a hotel and relax. They are constantly being told they need to be ready to leave soon.
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She added the lack of media coverage about what was happening was also very frustrating.
“We’ve been in the lobby since 10 am, waiting,” she said.
“We don’t know and we’re not getting flight email information. The people on Twitter are telling us to check our flight status, that keeps changing or the alerts aren’t there. We’re getting contradictory information through the phone line, anybody who shows up in an orange shirt, we asked them. The people at Planet Hollywood, they’ve had a little bit more information because I think they know more behind the scenes stuff and even the guys who are on the busses.”
She said they have been spending a lot of time in Planet Hollywood but they don’t think they are even flying out Monday.
“It’s just been keeping it light because there’s a lot of people who can just go immediately to anger and there’s nothing anybody can do,” she added. “If it is a computer system, and that’s my understanding, we can’t hurry technology and it happened on Easter long weekend. There were probably three people working in Sunwing yesterday.”
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