Abbotsford International Airport File photo

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

A plane-load of Victoria-bound passengers was left in Abbotsford late Saturday night and told to make their own way back to Vancouver Island after weather diverted their flight from Mexico.

And while the experience has left at least one passenger unhappy with the their airline’s performance, he and others have given glowing reviews to staff at Abbotsford International Airport for dealing with the incident.

Salter, his wife, daughter and 10-year-old granddaughter, were among more than 100 passengers scheduled to fly from Mexico to Victoria Saturday evening on a Viva Aerobus flight chartered by Sunwing Vacations. Instead, heavy fog diverted the passengers’ flight to Abbotsford, where the jet landed at 11:30 p.m. Forty-five minutes after that, the passengers were told to get off the plane and moved into a secure area. Several hours of uncertainty ensued, and Salter said it was past 4 a.m. by the time passengers were told they wouldn’t be flown to Abbotsford and would have to make their own way home.

While he said that was unpleasant, Salter said airport staff, and particularly operations technician Curtis Chaplin, for helping passengers. That included buying as much food as possible from a local Tim Hortons, getting quotes from a bus company, and arranging for taxis once it became clear that would be the best way for passengers to make it home.

“It was the airport that looked after us,” he said. “It wasn’t just good, it was outstanding.”

Several other YXX staffers also remained at the airport well past the end of their normal shifts to help the passengers. Airport officials say they have received several emails of thanks from passengers.

Salter said the taxis finally left Abbotsford around 6 a.m. After missing the 7 a.m. ferry, Salter and his family made it on the 9 a.m. sailing. It was 1:30 p.m. by the time the family finally made it home.

“We feel abandoned by Sunwing,” he said.

He said he has received an apology and a $150 voucher for a future Sunwing vacation, but has not been reimbursed for the cab fares or ferry expenses. And after the weekend’s experience, he’s not excited about the coupon.

In a statement to The News, Sunwing confirmed the delay and said it couldn’t comment on the diversion itself. But a spokesperson wrote:

“We were informed by Viva Aerobus that our customers experienced a delay in disembarking as Abbotsford Airport does not have a customs agent on duty 24 hours and so it was necessary to reopen customs to meet the flight. Our passenger care team then attempted to source hotel accommodation locally or secure onward ground transportation for our customers to reach Victoria. Unfortunately, given that the diversion occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, they were unsuccessful in doing so. Customers were then advised to retain their taxi receipts for their onward travel back to Victoria and submit them for a refund. We sincerely regret that extreme weather impacted our customers’ return home and have extended a future travel voucher to them to the value of $150 per person as gesture of goodwill.”


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Slocan Valley added to communities on flooding evac alert

Kootenay Lake is expected to reach flooding level in Nelson by Friday

PHOTOS: Cantering like a boss

Jacky Cooper was in Blewett this weekend to teach at the Nelson and District Riding Club

UPDATED: Hwy 3 west of Creston remains closed due to mudslide

A detour is available on the Kootenay Lake Ferry, but commuters could see wait times

COLUMN: Making a wildlife smart community

David White writes how property owners can avoid conflict with nature

Police searching for Nelson man

Brent Mickelson hasn’t been heard from since February

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

Most Read