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.
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!
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!