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

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

BC Budget’s Top 10 promises the North Coast will care about

BC Ferry fare reductions, Indigenous language investments, rent support for seniors

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Crowns asks for more time in Victoria double murder of young sisters

Andrew Berry’s next court appearance will be in three weeks to set a date for trial to begin

B.C. MP invites convicted terrorist to Trudeau reception in India

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Women’s ice hockey team loses first Olympic game in 20 years

Team Canada added two silvers and a bronze to their total

Canadian support split on Trans Mountain pipeline debate: Poll

Angus Reid poll surveying Canadians on pipeline stance finds no clear winner

Tired of ‘big city life’? One-stoplight town hosts contest to lure in city slickers

Contest by BC Rural Centre hopes to attract city folks to a small town in the Kootenays

Student protest outside White House a snapshot of American gun debate

Demonstrators take part in a student protest for gun control legislation in front of the White House

Feds can’t do much to fight fake news in Canada

Federal government can’t do much to fight fake news: Canadian Heritage documents

Most Read