WestJet strike: BC woman says senior family members stranded in Calgary

WestJet strike: BC woman says senior family members stranded in Calgary
WestJet strike: BC woman says senior family members stranded in Calgary

A resident of Maple Ridge, B.C., says her mother and mother-in-law’s first trip to Canada ended in frustration after their flight home was suddenly canceled due to a WestJet strike.

Jessica Arroyo told CTV News she left for Vancouver International Airport at 2 a.m. Saturday for her family members’ early morning flight to Varadero, Cuba.

Aida and Adela’s first flight to Calgary arrived without any problem. But after the pair had already boarded the plane bound for Cuba, the pilot informed the passengers they would not be taking off, Arroyo said.

“They feel frustrated right now, you know, they just want to get back home,” she said.

The flight was one of more than 200 flights WestJet canceled on Saturday after the airline mechanics union went on strike on Friday night.

Read more: Dozens of BC flights canceled due to WestJet mechanics strike

Arroyo said her mother and mother-in-law spent more than 10 hours at the Calgary International Airport trying to figure out their next steps.

She is especially concerned because Aida and Adela are seniors, 69 and 70 years old, and do not speak English. Their travel insurance also expired on Saturday.

“This is the first time they came here to Canada, hopefully to spend a happy stay, but now they have to deal with this. This amount of stress is terrible,” Arroyo said.

She said she had been unable to reach WestJet by phone due to the overwhelming volume of calls, and showed CTV News an email from the airline informing travelers there were no alternate flights for them in the next 48 hours. Arroyo said WestJet offered each of her family members a $50 food voucher.

“They say they have no options for us,” she said. Friends and family are currently trying to find accommodations for Aida and Adela until they can come home, and are desperately looking for flights to Cuba on other airlines.

Every traveler who spoke to CTV News on Saturday said they had difficulty getting help from WestJet customer service.

Read more: 235 flights canceled as WestJet awaits word from Labor Secretary on next steps in mechanics’ strike

“They are lost. They don’t speak the language. What should we do if a company completely ignores us?” Arroyo said. “I feel tied.”

She said she wants WestJet to review each case and prioritize supporting those with more complex travel requirements.

“We will probably choose a different company next time because we don’t want to have to deal with this again,” she said.