We Plan, Airlines Say “Ha!”

Me and Erin Davis at the top of the Palm Springs tramway, close to 10,000 feet above sea level.

It’s tempting to just let go of my recent travel blips. They’re long over and I had a wonderful time with Erin Davis in Palm Springs & Palm Desert. Plenty of people have all sorts of frustrations with air travel that are much worse. But I will pursue refunds and there are a couple of parts of the adventure that still puzzle me.

My friend Laurie was driving me to Pearson airport before sunup on Jan 13th when Westjet canceled the flight due to snow. It wasn’t a huge surprise but the rescheduled flight sure was.

WestJet expected me to fly the following day from Toronto to Abbotsford BC where I’d arrive after midnight. The next leg of my flight left from Vancouver, an hour’s drive away from Abbotsford. I’ve never heard of anything that thoughtless or presumptuous. I posted about this ridiculous schedule and several friends in BC reached out and offered to drive me. I was grateful but there was no way I’d do it. Who drops a passenger and leaves them to their own devices like that? Westjet. That’s who.

Try and Fly Again

The night of the cancellations, I was on hold for almost four hours before WestJet suddenly disconnected me. I later discovered that the option to cancel my flight online reappeared after call-centre hours ended. I cancelled the flight and rebooked with Air Canada. But I simply had to ask Westjet what they were thinking. 

My pal Anita and I were going to make this trip together. Westjet had put her on a direct flight to Vancouver with an overnight layover. I was scheduled to meet up with her in the morning after my trip from Abbotsford. The frustrations, miscommunications, and lack of responsiveness from Westjet caused her to cancel the whole trip outright. The new flights threatened to wreck important plans she had made to restart her meditation classes. It wasn’t worth the stress.

Oblivious man wears a backpack with something rolled up sticking out of it while another man looks on with disdain.
That person’s grim look at the backpack mirrored my thoughts about it.

Westjet still sent us boarding reminders for our cancelled flights all day! They came by email, text, and via app notifications. You’d think it had never snowed in Canada before.

Things had settled down the next day so I called WestJet and asked why they’d plop me in Abbotsford and expect me to find my way to Vancouver. “The weather”, was the explanation.

I had done my homework. Four other WestJet flights that day were going directly to Vancouver.

“It’s the weather”, the guy said, sternly.

Such bullshit. It wasn’t this guy’s fault or responsibility, but he also wasn’t about to admit that it was odd.

Flying on My Own

My first AC flight to Pearson from London, ON was delayed, and I had to run through YYZ like my ass was on fire. I had a layover at LAX before flying to PS. I waited at the baggage carousel in vain. My checked bag didn’t arrive.

I now know that this happens often. I called, got a tracking number and was promised a $100 refund in 3 days. It’s been 23 days and no sign of it yet.

On day three without my suitcase, we went shopping. It may not sound like a big deal to not have your stuff, but it’s normalcy and comfort. That’s why you bother packing it! Between Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s, I spent about $200 on essentials and just enough clothes to get by.  Late that night, my bag was delivered.

I’ve applied for a refund but that’s still in play. So far, they’ve offered me 10% off my next airfare. Whoopee!

A full length selfie of me, wearing a long, black sleepshirt with white piping and buttons.
With no thought to my bedhead, I took a photo of my new $20 Target sleep shirt!

Homeward Bound

My return flights were okay but I was bumped out of my preferred seats. They had to change to bigger planes to get people from cancelled flights home, too. (Heavy rain and wind in Palm Springs on Monday) On the direct flight to Toronto, I was squished between an Anglican Priest and a nice woman from Hamilton flying alone for the first time. I was elbowed on the regular from both sides and didn’t even get to use one armrest.

The Priest was chatty and amusing. He gave me book recommendations, gossip about his famous friends (Alan Eagleson, Mike Davis), and told me this joke during turbulence:

A plane full of people hit some rough air and the passengers were getting nervous. One man noticed a Priest on board and said, “Father, do something religious!” So the priest said, “Okay, I’ll take up a collection!”

My flight to London from Pearson sat on the tarmac for half an hour but honestly, as long as it wasn’t canceled, I was pleased. This is what it has come to.

And my suitcase was on the carousel as promised.

Show Me the Money

All thing being equal, I should be getting a refund for my WestJet flight and compensation for the delayed bag. The loss of preferred seats? Doubt it. They changed to bigger planes and dropped me down in priority. It happens. I was able to tightly turn my elbow in to lift my Air Canada pizza to my pie hole without hitting the Priest or the lady. I call that a victory!

The AC flight cost double the WestJet flight I had booked months before with Anita. No offense to Abbotsford, but I’m pretty sure it was worth it, bag delay and all. WestJet used to be the best of the bunch. They’ve fallen hard, in my view.

While these annoyances bookended my trip to Palm Springs, the middle part – like the best chocolate bars and cakes – was delicious! I posted a bunch of pics on Instagram and we discussed it on Gracefully and Frankly which, by the way, is now on YouTube! Click on Videos to listen to the latest episode. And please subscribe!

5 thoughts on “We Plan, Airlines Say “Ha!””

  1. It’s almost as if getting there on time (or same day), making a connection that was chosen FOR YOU, and having your bag accompany you, is akin to Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. “Area Woman Has Smooth Travels!” would be the headline. Yes, weather, missing door bolts and computer glitches are part of the picture now. But customer service and accountability are not, right across the board. WestJet used to be such a reliable and vastly human airline. Was it covid that reset everything? Who knows. But the skies are no longer friendly and we can no longer take for granted the modern luxury of Just. Getting. There. (Sidenote: glad you did and wish you’d willed me that night shirt! Not that I have anyone to cover up for any more but I don’t want to scare the wildlife – or the guy who comes to the yard at 8 00 am on Saturdays LOL) Miss you, sweet friend. xox E.

  2. Lisa, such a great read and sorry you and Anita had to go through all of those experiences. They seem like the norm now, don’t they? It’s almost like you have to plan for the worst and shout hooray if all goes as it should. I agree that Westjet has lost their friendly edge. Gone are the days when the crew played games, told jokes and created a fun experience for their travellers. The staff on the planes have been excellent but their customer service is not what it was in the past. We roll the dice with both AC and WJ now.
    I am happy that you and Erin had a spectacular time. I am sure, a well deserved rest and lots of chat. The best kind of holidays. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I so enjoy your posts Lisa! Glad to know you’re home safely now and that you and Erin had a great time together. After watching the G&F episode where you mentioned your missing baggage, my first thought was I’ll bet all the golf clubs made it though! Same happened to me in Myrtle Beach! Priorities you know ! Have a great weekend! 😁

  4. Is it a trick of my eldery brain, or did airlines used to do a better job?

    Or has it always been this bad?

    We went to Las Vegas in the fall and after sitting on the tarmac for a coupla hours, the return flight was postponed a day.

    What surprised me was the Air Canada staff had no protocol for a cancelled flight. It was as if this was the first time they had to deal with it. Chaos.

    1. That’s the whole issue right there – every time, it’s like the first time! Flying used to be a smoother experience. I remember it too!

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