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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Charlottetown resident Mike Bradley and his girlfriend were supposed to be relaxing at a resort in Cuba this week.
He is instead stuck in snowy P.E.I. and looking at a dent in his wallet after what he described as terrible service from an airline and its travel agent affiliate resulted in the trip’s cancellation.
“I’m still tallying up the receipts,” said Bradley, who estimates at least $800 in associated costs and $900 in non-refundable Air Miles travel vouchers were invested into the ultimately cancelled trip made through WestJet Vacations.
“WestJet still refuses to do anything. They say they’re not affiliated with WestJet Vacations.”
A Facebook post shared by Bradley Sunday detailed his experience, which also occurred just before the federal government unveiled proposed new rules on Monday that could eventually form the bill of rights for air passengers.
Bradley and his girlfriend were scheduled to fly from Moncton to Toronto Saturday at 5:45 a.m., however a mechanical issue resulted in an eight-hour delay which caused them to miss the connecting flight to Cuba.
Bradley said the two were told by WestJet agents in Moncton they could not help due to the trip being booked through WestJet Vacations. They were told to get in contact with WestJet Vacations’ Guest Solutions once they arrived in Toronto.
Bradley added they also contacted their travel agent who “basically left us in the dust”.
After arriving in Toronto around 4:30 p.m., Bradley said he was on the phone with WestJet Vacations for about three hours and received no help.
“We spoke to a few agents (at the Toronto airport) who were all very sympathetic and appalled with how WestJet Vacations was handling our situation. Sadly, just like the staff at the Moncton airport, they were unable to help us, and passed us around to the next agent,” Bradley wrote in the post.
The two were then given three options. Two of those involved being flown back to Moncton for a night and having to rent a hotel themselves before being flown back to Toronto, where WestJet Vacations would pay for a second evening in a hotel. From there, the couple could go to a different resort for a five-day trip or they could pay more than $1,000 and go to the same resort with their original seven-day booking.
The third and final option, which the couple ultimately took, was to fly back to Moncton and receive a refund for the vacation package in three to five days.
Bradley said it wasn’t fair for WestJet to expect the couple to front hotel bills and pay more than $1,000 for an error on their part.
“We argued that we paid for a seven-day trip and that the issue preventing us from that trip was on their end,” said Bradley, who also argued with the airline that they should be put up in a hotel in Moncton because they had been awake for 24 hours.
Eventually, he said, WestJet offered them a $150 rebate for the hotel, although noted that didn’t even fully cover the cost of the hotel.
The Guardian attempted to reach WestJet for comment on the incident as well as for clarification on the relation between WestJet and WestJet Vacations but did not receive a reply before deadline.
As of late Monday afternoon, Bradley had yet to hear anything official from WestJet or WestJet Vacations.
He said his hope is WestJet Vacations will hold their word and refund the trip and $150 rebate. He is still unsure of the other $800 in associated costs for the bridge fare, gas, hotel, vaccines and other preparation, as well as about $900 worth of non-refundable Air Miles vouchers.
However, one thing Bradley said he is sure of, after speaking with air passenger rights advocates, was WestJet breached their contract.
“I definitely feel like this situation will be remedied. At what point, I’m not sure, but I know it’s going to take a lot on my part,” said Bradley, adding that seeing public support behind his Facebook post made him feel a little uplifted.
The negative experience was also the first time Bradley has flown in a plane. He said he doesn’t plan on flying WestJet, or using a travel agent or vacation package, in the future.