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Airline passenger spent a total of 11 hours on hold to customer service before giving up and booking new tickets for $800

11 hours ago
Swoop is a low-cost airline owned by WestJet.  Swoop
  • A passenger meant to fly home from Phoenix to Edmonton on Swoop had her flight canceled. 
  • Jody Caskey says she spent more than 11 hours on calls trying to reach a customer service agent.
  • She finally resorted to booking a new flight at a cost of $800 that will add 7 hours to her journey.

An airline passenger spent a total of 11 hours trying to get through to a customer service agent after her flight was cancelled.

Jody Caskey had flown on Swoop Airlines to Phoenix, Arizona from Edmonton in Canada but her return flight was canceled by the Canadian airline on June 28.

After being told by email that she could either obtain a refund or book new flights with Swoop's owner WestJet, she emailed to opt for rebooking. 

However, two emails went unanswered so Caskey decided to ring the airline. "I called six times – four times on hold for at least two hours. Every time the phone disconnected right over the two-hoar After spending more than 11 hours trying to get through, she gave up and booked a new flight on WestJet on July 8 for herself and her family at a cost of $800. 

The Phoenix to Edmonton flight normally takes three and a half hours, but her return journey now includes a connection in Calgary, adding seven hours to the trip.

Caskey has been forced to cut her vacation a day short as well and said her break had been "upended" by the disruption. 

She hoped Swoop will give her a refund and pay for the new flights due to the inconvenience. "I am willing to take Swoop to court – $800 is not a huge sum but the principle of it is that they are doing it on purpose."

Caskey had used Swoop three times previously but vowed never to fly with them again as it had been a "terrible experience."

It comes after an American Airlines passenger drove to Denver airport to rebook his tickets after its customer service center left him on hold for nearly four hours.

US airlines have canceled at least 35,000 flights since June 16, leaving passengers frustrated amid rising travel disruption due to lack of staff and high demand. 

Swoop was contacted for comment.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

WestJet employees in Calgary and Vancouver back strike vote if deal can't be reached

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CALGARY — The union representing more than 700 WestJet employees at airports in Calgary and Vancouver says they have voted to support a strike if they cannot reach a new contract with the airline.

© Provided by The Canadian PressWestJet employees in Calgary and Vancouver back strike vote if deal can't be reached

Unifor Local 531 represents baggage service agents, customer service agents and guest service leads, among others, in Calgary and Vancouver.

The union says wages are a key issue in the contract talks.

It says the workers voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike as early as July 27 if a deal cannot be reached.

Before taking any strike action, Unifor must serve WestJet Airlines with 72 hours notice.

The strike vote comes as airlines and airports have struggled this summer with the resurgence in travel following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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CANADIAN AVIATION NEWS

CANADIAN AIRLINE AND INDUSTRY NEWS

WestJet needs a wake-up call, as workers prepare to strike

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CALGARY, AB, July 20, 2022 /CNW/ – WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have voted overwhelmingly to support the bargaining committee and take strike action if a deal cannot be reached, as early as July 27, 2022, says Unifor.

“The union is fighting for better wages,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President.

WestJet plane. (CNW Group/Unifor) WestJet plane. (CNW Group/Unifor)

“The pay scale has not been increased for more than five years, making WestJet’s wages among the lowest in the Canadian aviation industry and no match for soaring inflation. We are looking, not only for a fair deal that’s right for our members, but for WestJet to comprehend how much of a pressure-cooker atmosphere it is for them.”

Unifor Local 531 – which represents over 700 baggage service agents, customer service agents and guest service leads, among others, in Calgary and Vancouver airports – voted to strike by 98%.

The local held strike votes July 15 and 16, 2022 in Vancouver and July 18 and 19, 2022 in Calgary.

Unifor has been bargaining for nine months, since October 2021, and spent several weeks during that time with a number of conciliators in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.

Since air travel began picking up in the spring, WestJet workers have endured verbal abuse and, at times, physical threats from travellers whose flights were delayed or cancelled, even though the workers were not responsible for the company’s decisions.

“We are burnt out,” said Sherwin Antonio, member of the Local 531’s Calgary Bargaining Committee.

“This is the perfect storm of massive worker shortages, lost baggage and flight chaos. The people who get the brunt of the anger aren’t the people in the boardroom, but us. We have been telling the company for months, we need more support. And we need it now.”

Local 531 filed for conciliation with the Canadian government on April 26, 2022, due to the slow pace and lack of process in bargaining.

The union is in a legal strike position beginning July 27, 2022. Prior to taking any strike action, Unifor must serve WestJet with 72 hours’ notice of its intention to strike.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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Strike averted after WestJet reaches tentative agreement with Unifor service workers

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Sun July 24, 2022 - Canadian Press

CALGARY - There will be no strike at WestJet this week now that the airline has reached a tentative labour deal with the union representing hundreds of workers at the Calgary and Vancouver airports.

Both the airline and Unifor Local 531 announced the deal on Sunday evening, days before nearly 800 baggage and customer service staff could have walked off the job.

Unifor announced last week that workers had voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike as early as this Wednesday if a deal could not be reached.

Neither side disclosed specific terms of the tentative deal, which is still subject to ratification.

The union issued a release saying the agreement “brings long overdue wage increases and improvements to working conditions.”

The deal, touted as the first between the two sides, will be presented to union members later this week.

Unifor has said wages were a key issue, with current salaries starting at $15.55 an hour and topping out at $23.87 an hour after seven years.

Spokesman Scott Doherty said last week the pay scale has not increased for more than five years, making WestJet’s wages among the lowest in the Canadian aviation industry as inflation soars.

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30 minutes ago, Kargokings said:

My wife (who is legally blind)travelled to Vancouver Island last Saturday on WestJet.  The aircraft (737) was full, lots of children and thus quite a handful for preboarding etc.

From the time we checked in upon arrival at YYC, I was impressed with the professionalism of the agents. I was given a gate pass so I would accompany my wife to the gate. We got there quite early and took a seat. When the agent came  on duty, she spotted my wife (white cane) , came over, introduced herself and  verified who my wife was. The agent then explained  the boarding process asked if my wife needed a wheelchair or if she was comfortable with walking.  She then told us that she or the other gate agent would come over and take my wife to the aircraft. Just prior to the first boarding announcement, she came over to us took my wife to the aircraft. 

Well done WestJet...................... Thanks.    

That is pretty good service. 👍

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WestJet Deploys MedAire In-Flight App Connecting Flight Crew With Doctors For Emergency Life-Saving Assistance

Airline to fully deploy the app by mid-July across their fleet of 737 aircraft

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July 26, 2022 | Source: MedAire

Phoenix, Arizona, July 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WestJet announced an extension of its partnership with MedAire, an International SOS company that provides emergency medical assistance to cabin personnel during in-flight medical events. As the first airline in North America to fully leverage the MedAire In-Flight App, WestJet cabin personnel now have multiple ways to connect with MedLink doctors during a medical emergency.

“The first fifteen minutes of a medical incident are the most critical to administer care, and through our efforts to prioritize safety above all, we are committed to providing our cabin crew with the best tools possible to assist our guests in the event of an emergency situation,” said Dr Tammy McKnight, WestJet Chief Medical Officer. “Through the efforts of our operational teams, the deployment of the MedAire In-Flight App will reduce the amount of time it takes to connect with a first responder and greatly improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.”

By combining technology, decades of expertise, AI assistance and text-based communication tools, WestJet cabin personnel will have frictionless access to the world’s leading emergency medical physicians to ensure unwell passengers receive timely, accurate medical support.

“Crew members are the first responders during in-flight medical events,” said Dr Paulo Alves, Global Medical Director of Aviation Health at MedAire. “Their role is critical in ensuring guests’ medical concerns are accurately assessed and communicated to the flight deck and the ground-based medical team. However, limitations in communication equipment throughout the cabin can make this challenging. Having the app guide a first responder through the most common and life-threatening events onboard helps them deliver on that responsibility.”

MedAire assists most of the world’s airlines with more than 200 in-flight medical issues daily and has managed hundreds of thousands of in-flight medical events over the last 35+ years. The MedAire In-Flight App leverages the extensive knowledge of medical events that occur onboard and complements existing MedLink medical advisory services by:

  • Improving communication tools for flight crew to reach MedAire’s MedLink doctors.
  • Providing intuitive, guided patient assessment instructions for a crewmember to capture vital information that expedites care based on the type of medical emergency.
  • Offering efficient and easy access for the flight crew to quickly engage MedAire’s MedLink doctors for assistance during medical events.
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2 hours ago, GDR said:

Air Canada has had a similar service in place for about 25 years.


And your point is? This does not diminish WestJet's great service.    Who also provided this type of service for the same length of time as AirCanada. Both airlines are / were governed by the rules of carriage set by CRTC 

Canada Gazette, Part 2, Volume 153, Number 14: Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations

Also of course there is "required to" vs great service. My comments were about WestJet's GREAT service.  

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2 hours ago, Kargokings said:


And your point is? This does not diminish WestJet's great service.    Who also provided this type of service for the same length of time as AirCanada. Both airlines are / were governed by the rules of carriage set by CRTC 

 

Also of course there is "required to" vs great service. My comments were about WestJet's GREAT service.  

Maybe just a tad sensitive and you're reading something into it that wasn't intended. I agree, Westjet is a great  airline as is AC. I have flown on WJ several times and it was always a good experience.

My post was not meant in any way to diminish Westjet.

Greg

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5 hours ago, GDR said:

Maybe just a tad sensitive and you're reading something into it that wasn't intended. I agree, Westjet is a great  airline as is AC. I have flown on WJ several times and it was always a good experience.

My post was not meant in any way to diminish Westjet.

Greg

Sorry I misunderstood.  By the by, I travel mostly on AirCanada. Choices when my wife is up to travelling alone are limited to nonstop flights.  When there are connections required I travel with her as her attendant so as to be able to guide her through the ever changing airport mazes. 

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We have had the service for years. What has changed is that it's all done on an app on the EFB. The FA has the ability to call the doctor through their EFB or it can be used by an onboard doctor to talk directly to the doctor on the ground. If the wifi doesn't work the report can be airdropped to the pilots so we can call on the sat phone with all the info. 

I'm sure we're not the first to have such a device/service, but it's huge step up from what we had. Very happy about it.

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Some Details of the recent contract at YVR and YYC

WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver ratify historic first contract

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CALGARY, AB, July 29, 2022 /CNW/ – Newly unionized WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have ratified a first contract that gives members at least a 13% wage increase, their first increase in five years.

“After nine months of challenging bargaining, the Local 531 bargaining committee achieved long overdue and significant wage increases, improved benefits and better working conditions,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President and lead on the airline sector.

Newly unionized WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have ratified a first contract.

Unifor Local 531 Bargaining Committee lead by Scott Doherty (CNW Group/Unifor) Unifor Local 531 Bargaining Committee lead by Scott Doherty (CNW Group/Unifor)

“Members starting out in the wage grid will see their wages rise as much as 40% and members at the top of the scale will see increases between 13% and 17% over the life of the agreement.”

Unifor Local 531 represents nearly 800 baggage service agents,(BSA’s) customer service agents (CSA.s) and priority service agents (PSA’s) in Calgary and Vancouver airports after being certified in May of 2021.

Steps have merged, condensing the time workers progress, ensuring faster wage increases. A 5% premium over CSA/PSA wage scale replaces the $1 per hour premium previously in place. An extra step at the top of the grid giving members an additional increase after 8 years of service.

Other gains include a $100.00 yearly uniform allowance, paid breaks, 100 hour stat holiday credit, continuation of the WestJet Savings Plan, seniority rights, 12 sick days for full time and 10 for part time workers, minimum rest periods, and improved scheduling.

The employer has also agreed that casual employees will not exceed 10% of the workforce.

Bargaining began in October 2021, and Unifor Local 531 filed for conciliation with the Canadian government on April 26, 2022.

“Together we have proven there is power in a union and we strongly encourage WestJetters in Edmonton to join Unifor Local 531. Our bargaining committee worked hard for these important gains and we appreciate the unwavering solidarity from the members,” said Sherwin Antonio, member of Local 531’s Calgary Bargaining Committee. 

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A sure sign that things have changed and continue to change at WestJet when it comes to Labour.

Major victory for WestJet workers at Toronto Pearson International Airport

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TORONTO, Aug. 3, 2022 /CNW/ – WestJet workers at Pearson International Airport have won a major victory in their right to representation as the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) certifies Unifor as their sole bargaining agent.

“WestJet workers in Toronto have gained a voice in their workplace, joining with workers in Vancouver and Calgary as members of Unifor. These employees have tremendous experience to offer their employer as airlines face an increase in travel demand from pre-pandemic travel demand,” said Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne.

Unifor_Major_victory_for_WestJet_workers

“It is imperative that workers have a strong voice in future decisions at WestJet to ensure fairness and job protection with the airline.”

Unifor applied with the Canada Industrial Relations Board on July 11, 2022, to certify Unifor as the union for 374 WestJet workers at Toronto Pearson International Airport. On July 29, 2022, the CIRB certified Unifor as the sole bargaining agent after declaring that a majority of the workers signed membership cards.

“This is an important step in creating more stability, predictability and protection. I’m happy that collectively we have found our voice as we move toward fairness with fair treatment for ourselves, our co-workers and our families,” said Michelle Lindo-Collins, WestJet Customer Service Agent.

As airline travel rebounded post-pandemic, workers in Toronto have often faced increased pressures as frontline representatives with the public when plans did not go as expected due to flight delays, cancellations and long wait times at the airport.

“Our collective efforts to sustain the day-to-day operation and hold onto what WestJet represents have weighed on us all through these difficult times. Along with Unifor, we hope to build on the momentum to see change here in Toronto. We look forward to growing WestJet and positively impacting our guests throughout their travel plans,” said Keaton Cole, WestJet Customer Service Agent.

“I’m happy to join my co-workers in Calgary and Vancouver as members of Unifor. United together, we look forward to growing WestJet while providing good jobs and benefits to employees who provide exceptional daily service,” shared Wesley Watson a Customer Service Agent in the baggage department.

Unifor represents 7,500 airport agents at other airlines, including Air Canada, Jazz, Porter, First Air, Calm Air and more. In all, Unifor represents more than 16,000 workers across the airline industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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