July 20th, 2024

Letter: WestJet has lost its passion for customers, and it shows

By Letter to the Editor on June 20, 2024.

Dear editor,

I remember when WestJet was an upstart company challenging established carriers with a new vision. All employees were stockholders, and their pride in their airline made travel fun and earned my loyalty.

But those days appear to be gone.

WestJet now seems to have complete disregard for Medicine Hat customers. Last month a friend and I had booked return flights from the Hat via Calgary to Fort St. John, departing at 10:35 a.m. May 16.

On our way to the airport I received a text that our flight was changed due to “crew availability.” As we got to the airport a second text said the flight was cancelled.

A new flight would have had us leave for Calgary at 9:40 p.m., depart for Vancouver at 11:35 p.m. (spend the night in the airport there?) then leave for Fort St. John the next morning at 9:55 a.m., arriving at 12:55 p.m. the next day. This was unacceptable as were being picked up in Fort St. John. Since our original connection from Calgary to Ft. St. John was still available and we had time to drive to Calgary, we made a change with WestJet staff in Medicine Hat. We asked about compensation and were told how to apply on their app. We drove to Calgary and parked for eight days at our expense. We made it in time and then completed our trip as originally booked.

After returning home I submitted a compensation request along with receipts for a tank of gas and the parking. On June 4 I got an email from WestJet apologizing for the interruption, stating I was eligible for $400. Three minutes later I received a second email that my fellow traveller was also eligible for $400.

I was thrilled, but it was a short celebration.

Not 10 minutes later I received another email stating, “Upon review of your reservation, we have confirmed that you arrived at your final destination earlier than your original scheduled time of arrival. As such your claim cannot be approved.” Needless to say, I was stunned.

I contacted WestJet again asking for someone to explain how I could arrive early as I’d only made the original arrival by my own considerable effort and expense.

A day later I received an email stating, “We have reviewed your claim again and confirm our previous decision that you arrived at your final destination earlier than your original schedule time of arrival. Compensation is not owing as a result of this matter. As such your claim has been closed…”

I have heard from other local travellers with similar experience, and starting this fall WestJet has announced plans to reduce to one daily morning flight to Calgary and one to Medicine Hat in the evening.

We used to have two competing airlines and multiple flight-time options. Unfortunately now, the only option we have is WestJet, and I don’t think they care.

William Patterson

Medicine Hat

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