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Sunwing investigated after receiving 89 complaints involving 23 flights


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Canadian Transportation Agency investigating Sunwing after receiving 89 complaints involving 23 flights

Airline says it shares the concerns expressed by its customers

Thu Apr 26, 2018- CBC News
by Sophia Harris

After receiving 89 complaints involving 23 recent Sunwing flights, the Canadian Transportation Agency has launched a formal inquiry into the airline's treatment of passengers.

The complaints cover a period from April 14 to 18, during which Toronto was hit with an ice storm and Swissport, the company that handles Sunwing's baggage and gate operations, was significantly short-staffed.

The staffing problems led to a barrage of problems for Sunwing passengers, including harrowing waits of up to six hours on planes sitting on the tarmac in Toronto, baggage missing for more than a week and flight delays and cancellations.

The CTA recently hit Air Transat, a competitor airline, with a big fine after passenger complaints about long tarmac delays in July.

Sunwing told CBC News in an email that it recognizes it "fell short" and looks forward to working with the CTA during the inquiry so that "corrective actions can be implemented."

Sunwing passenger Mary Martino filed a complaint with the CTA last week after flying home from Aruba on April 15. She says her plane was delayed on the tarmac in Toronto for six hours.

"I'm traumatized and haven't gotten over it," she said. "After four hours everyone was starting to get crazy."

She says one passenger became sick, adding to the chaos. "She started at first gagging, and then she started flat-out vomiting."

Martino says passengers were only allowed to leave after someone called 911, and the person who fell ill was taken away in an ambulance.

"Imagine we had to call 911 to get off a Sunwing plane."

Air Transat fined $295,000

In July, Air Transat passengers endured a similar experience when two of the airline's planes were stranded on the tarmac at Ottawa's airport for up to six hours.

In November, the CTA fined Air Transat $295,000, determining that it broke its agreement with passengers by not offering them food and drink or the chance to disembark.

Rules to protect air travellers during onboard delays will be included in a national passenger bill of rights set to take effect this year.

According to Sunwing's own rules, when delayed on the tarmac, the airline will offer drinks and snacks, and let passengers disembark after 90 minutes if it is safe and practical to do so.

Martino says the crew offered no food, just water — after passengers had already been sitting on the plane for about three hours.

"Give us a cracker, give us something. They would not budge."

She also says she informed the crew about the 90-minute rule about two hours into the delay. "They just completely ignored me," she said. "They did nothing for our comfort or anything."

Sunwing passenger Lyndsay Burke-Sholer says she had a similar experience after flying from Jamaica to Toronto on April 15. She says her plane sat on the tarmac in Toronto for more than five hours.

"It was complete hell. I saw people hyperventilating, kids were crying."

She says the crew offered no food and only provided drinks more than three hours into their delay.

"I felt like a hostage,"

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Canadian Transportation Agency extends its inquiry into Sunwing flight incidents to include Montreal flights Français


NEWS PROVIDED BY

Canadian Transportation Agency

14:58 ET

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GATINEAU, QC, May 2, 2018 /CNW/ - The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is extending an inquiry initiated last week to include all Sunwing international flights scheduled to fly to or from the Toronto Pearson International Airport or the Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport between April 14 and 18, 2018 for which complaints have been filed with the CTA.

 

This inquiry's focus is on whether Sunwing treated its passengers in a manner consistent with its terms and conditions of carriage for international flights (tariff) and whether those terms and conditions are reasonable.

An Inquiry Officer has been appointed to gather and summarize evidence from affected passengers, the airline, and any other relevant parties. Individuals or organizations directly involved in, or affected by, the incidents should contact the Inquiry Officer at enquete-inquiry@otc-cta.gc.ca on or before May 31, 2018, in order that he may take their statements.

Complaints filed with the CTA regarding the flights covered by the inquiry will be addressed through the inquiry. Complaints regarding flights outside the scope of the inquiry will be handled through the CTA's usual dispute resolution processes.

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