This is now two Christmas trips in a row that WestJet has ruined my holidays. All WestJet employees have shares in the company, and as such are owners. They claim that #ownerscare but with my experiences, #ownerswantprofitandcouldcareless. I’ve flown with dirt cheap, budget airlines and received better treatment when paying less than $100 CAD for a return flight than paying $600 CAD. Yes, Air Canada might be more expensive but I’ve never received abhorrent treatment from the company or their employees.
I was supposed to fly out at 6:00am on Boxing Day, connecting in Calgary and getting to Seattle by 2pm. Well, Winnipeg had a winter storm come. I get that it’s “an act of God” and out of their control. But everything that follows is in their control and is their fault.
I received an automated message on Christmas Eve at 11:02 PM telling me that one of my flights was cancelled. My itinerary wouldn’t show which flight was cancelled so I called up their phone line. The employee cheerfully told me that my flight out of Winnipeg was cancelled and that their alternative was that I fly out on the same flight on Christmas Day. Meaning I would have to be at the airport in less than 5 hours… And that I would miss the entirety of Christmas with my family… Not an acceptable alternative, WestJet. When I asked the employee how she would feel about being offered that, she said nothing, not a word. When a customer service representative says nothing, it speaks volumes. She had nothing else to offer me, I would have to call back in the morning. Thank you, WestJet, for ruining Christmas Eve.
Fast forward through little and fruitless sleep to my next call. After waiting over an hour and a half to speak to another employee, I was offered a flight that would mean I would have to overnight in the Vancouver airport. It was long enough that I would have to collect my checked bag but not so long that it was worthwhile to book a hotel and pay $150+ to be there for a few hours. When I asked the employee how they would be paying for it, she said “it was my concern”. That’s a) gibberish, and b) horrendous customer service. When I asked why I wasn’t on the next flight rather than a day later, she just put me hold. She didn’t say a word, didn’t say that she was leaving or give an indication that she was going to ask someone something, she just cut me off. My tone might not have been cheerful but I was not swearing, I was not yelling, I was not accusing her of anything, and she just put me on hold. Twenty seven minutes later Dan comes on the line and is very confused as to how the call got sent to him. He did book me on the flight leaving at 9pm on the 26th and overnighting in Vancouver. So, after wasting three hours of my family’s Christmas morning, I was booked.
I was speaking to M on the phone and looking at the Boxing Day departures on the Winnipeg Airport site when I saw that my rebooked, 9pm flight out of Winnipeg was cancelled. Considering I had no phone call or email, I was very confused. I tweeted at WestJet, received a reply in about 12 minutes simply saying the flight was cancelled (and nothing else….). I tweeted back within 15 seconds and heard back 8 hours later. After waiting on hold (because a call back was no longer an option) for another hour and forty nine minutes, I finally got through to Helene.
To Helene: you are a kind and thoughtful woman who should really find a better company to work for. I’m sorry that I broke down in tears talking to you, because you probably found it hella awkward and uncomfortable. The first thing she did was find out why my new flight was cancelled- plane maintenance. Sooooooo, West Jet rescheduled a flight for all of us with a plane that wasn’t ever going to be flying out because of maintenance. So, you didn’t actually reschedule it…. As Helene was looking for new flights for me, seat after seat was disappearing. She said that the rebooking department was taking them for other passengers. It was at this point that I started crying. I asked why the previous West Jet employees didn’t try to book one of those seats for me. She did feel awful and admitted that it was entirely human error. She checked my phone numbers and said she would call back with news so I wasn’t spending the whole day waiting.
In the meantime, M and his family were looking for alternative ways for me to get there! United had a perfect flight on Tuesday the 27th, but sold out while they were booking. They called United and immediately snatched up a flight on the 28th. I don’t know what I would have done without them- probably would have never been able to leave Winnipeg… Helene did call back and I told her that they had booked a United flight but that I still needed my return flight through West Jet. She took down the flight info and added it to my itinerary. She called back one final time to tell me that WestJet had bought a ticket for me on the exact same United flights and sent me a new confirmation number. I don’t actually know that I had two seats on that plane like I should have, though…
I very much appreciate Helene’s hard work and willingness to adapt, but the company limits their representatives greatly. She had to get permission from another department, and it was only done once I was already moving to another airline. She did everything in her power but the three WestJet employees did far too much damage for me to fly with them ever again. As I told Helene, the three employees clearly “told” me through their (lack of actions) that they do not care about me as a customer, that I am worthless to them. I was told by the first woman in the morning on Christmas Day that most WestJet staff members were enjoying their Christmas with their family. I’m in no way saying that they should not enjoy Christmas as well, but they took mine from me and my family and nothing will change that.
I would love to say that I’m surprised by any of this, but I am not. Not one of my interactions with West Jet has proven that as a customer I’m important to them. From here on out, West Jet doesn’t exist for me. And for anyone else looking at flying with them, my only recommendation can be to run in the opposite direction.
What is your worst airline/flight experience?