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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

2h ago
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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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WestJet needs a wake-up call, as workers prepare to strike


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


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


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.


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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.


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

unifor.png?w=1024 westjet-e1587425867506.png?w=1024

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


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.


“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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  • 1 month later...

WestJet unveils new inclusive uniforms for front-line staff


Tue Sep 07, 2022  - The Calgary Herald
Josh Aldrich


'As a Cree woman, she had put off getting traditional face markings for 15 years due to the policy. Now, she has seven dots and six dashes down her chin representing members of her family.'

WestJetters will have a new inclusive look as the Calgary-based airline navigates a changing work world.

The Calgary-based airline launched a genderless collection for front-line members on Wednesday in a fashion show at the Calgary Airport. The Lakes and Rocky Mountain collections allow staff to select the uniform that is most comfortable for them.

“It’s just a small step that we are taking to be inclusive with our entire workforce,” said Leah McDonald, WestJet director of training and uniforms. “We want to create a space where people feel really comfortable to be authentic and be themselves. That’s where people are able to show our guests their best side and their best service. We want them to show up as them, so that they can help our guests have a great time on WestJet.”

The airline received 50,000 pieces of feedback from staff on the new design.

The uniforms were designed by international designer Juli Grbac and include redesigned name tags with a new space for pronouns to promote greater inclusivity.

For Jodi Datamuya, who identifies by the pronouns they and them, the new uniform allows them to express themselves the way they want, and the flexibility to be comfortable in what they are doing.

“We have a lot of people who are part of the spectrum, and I think it’s very important for them to be able to present themselves as they are by wearing the uniform that they want to wear,” said Datamuya, who has been transitioning over the past two years.

This follows in a change to WestJet’s tattoo policy last year, allowing staff to display tattoos while in uniform.

This was a significant change for Lindsay, a WestJet flight attendant for 20 years who declined to provide her last name. As a Cree woman, she had put off getting traditional face markings for 15 years due to the policy. Now, she has seven dots and six dashes down her chin representing members of her family.

“I did not want to get my markings until I could wear them fully, because I didn’t get them to hide them and be ashamed,” she said. “I got them to wear them proud and show my children what it’s like to be really proud Indigenous.”

The uniform shifts back to teal and blue from the black-based uniforms staff wore previously, in a nod to the airline’s 26-year history.

WestJet will be the first airline in Canada to carry the Standard 100 OEKO-TEX certification to ensure the uniforms have been tested for harmful substances and possible skin irritants.

They have been produced by Unisync, a North American company specializing in uniform production.

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Munchie Mix Takes off as Pangea Finalizes Another Airline Partnership with WestJet


VANCOUVER, BC, Sept. 15, 2022 /CNW/ — Pangea Natural Foods Inc. (CSE: PNGA) (“Pangea” or the “Company“), a natural food company, is welcoming its newest airline partnership with WestJet. This is the Company’s third airline partnership, with Air Canada and British Airways already distributing the Pangea Munchie Mix to their passengers.

“We are very excited about the momentum we have built with a number of airline partners carrying Pangea’s Munchie Mix,” says Pangea CEO Pratap Sandhu. “The launch of this partnership is yet another way that Pangea aims for its Munchie Mix to become the snack of choice for travelers. We look forward to making Pangea’s healthy, GMO-free products readily available to customers not just in Canada and the United States, but globally.”

The Pangea Munchie Mix will be available to WestJet’s business class passengers on the global carrier’s fleet of aircrafts. The airline operates Canada’s second largest airline with a fleet of over 160 planes, serving 109 destinations in 24 countries.

Sandhu adds, “The global airline catering business is estimated to be worth US$21 billion by 2024 and Pangea is looking forward to playing a role in the industry.[1] Between British Airways, Air Canada and now WestJet, Pangea’s Munchie Mix will be available on over 650 airplanes worldwide. For us, this is just the beginning.”

About Pangea Natural Foods Inc.

Pangea Natural Foods Inc. is a food manufacturing company focused on manufacturing and distributing high quality food products that are nutritious and free of GMO ingredients, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, and bioengineered ingredients.

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WestJet suspends number of routes out of Halifax this winter

By The Staff  The Canadian Press
Posted September 16, 2022 1:49 pm

WestJet is suspending a number of routes out of Halifax this winter.70c8fc80

The Calgary-based carrier will suspend flights between Halifax and Montreal as of Oct. 28.

Flights between Halifax and Sydney, N.S. will be suspended as of Nov. 15 and service routes between Halifax and Ottawa and Halifax and St. John’s N.L. will end Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively.

Non-stop flights from Halifax to Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto will remain in service throughout the winter, the airline said.

On Nov. 15, WestJet flights between Fredericton and Toronto, Charlottetown and Toronto and Quebec City and Toronto will be also be suspended, as confirmed earlier this summer.

Earlier this summer, WestJet announced it plans to focus its future investments on Western Canada, where it has a large portion of the market share.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2022.

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WestJet today announced the return of non-stop service to Amsterdam from the airline’s global hub in Calgary on November 14, 2022.

“As one of the world’s most connected cities, Amsterdam is a destination we know our guests are eager to continue to explore,” said Chris Hedlin, WestJet Vice President, Network & Alliances. “With the return of non-stop service to Schiphol, we are bringing even more opportunity for travel between Western Canada and Europe, while strengthening WestJet’s commitment to furthering Alberta’s inbound and outbound tourism economy this winter.”

WestJet’s return of service between Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) will operate through the airline’s winter schedule, with three-times weekly service beginning, November 14, 2022. Service between Calgary and Amsterdam was last operated by WestJet on November 1, 2021.

“WestJet’s expansion of their international network from YYC is another exciting announcement demonstrating the strength of our partnership,” said Rob Palmer, Vice President Commercial, Strategy and CFO, The Calgary Airport Authority. “With more flights available between Calgary and Amsterdam, we look forward to showing guests all that our airport and our region has to offer.”

Details of WestJet’s service between Calgary and Amsterdam:

Route Frequency Start Date Departure Time
 (local time)
Arrival Time
(local time)
Calgary – Amsterdam 3x Weekly November 14, 2022 20:10 12:40
Amsterdam – Calgary 3x Weekly November 15, 2022 14:40 15:39
Airlines, Airports, Calgary YYC, Canadian Aviation News, WestJet Airlines
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Frustration in eastern Canada in wake of WestJet’s planned route suspensions 

Date: Sep 16 2022


By: Kathryn Folliottre 


HALIFAX — WestJet is making further suspensions to its network in Eastern Canada, as it makes good on previously stated plans to focus more of its service in Western Canada.

According to a report by CBC, WestJet will suspend flights between Halifax and Montreal effective Oct. 28, 2022, and from Halifax to Ottawa and St. John’s starting in early January 2023.

“We understand that this is disappointing news and we apologize for any disruption this caused our guests and communities,” said WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer, John Weatherill.

WestJet’s flights out of Halifax for the coming months still include nonstops to Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary, as well as service to Orlando and Cancun.


Travelweek reached out to Gary Gaudry, President, Maritime Travel, to get his take on the latest route suspensions.

“Ever since WestJet announced that they are ‘reducing capacity in the east over the next year’ and concentrating on the west, we have absolutely seen a drop in bookings,” Gaudry tells Travelweek, adding that St. John’s has seen the biggest drop, followed by Halifax.

“Why would customers book WestJet when there is a good chance the flight may be cancelled? And who can blame the customers? I think the customers have had enough cancellations and schedule changes over the past two years that they are not willing to risk another,” says Gaudry.

And patience for travel vouchers is wearing thin. “Now that the ability to refund lower fare tickets is no longer available, the customer would be left with another credit to use,” he adds.

Says Gaudry: “I personally believe that once WestJet finalizes their eastern schedule, more customers will start to book with them again.”

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WestJet offers to help Calgary couple bring Ukrainians to Canada, but only for this month

WestJet says charity can't use 'buddy passes' but offered 50% off flights until Sept. 30

Tue Sep 20, 2022 - CBC News
by Lucie Edwardson


Michael Garnett and Rebecca Rider spent nearly two months in Poland and Ukraine working on the ground with refugees before launching their buddy pass program and starting their charity, Help From Canada

WestJet is offering a Calgary couple's charity some temporary support after initially shutting them down late last week.

Michael Garnett and wife Rebecca Rider — a pilot for the airline — have been using donated employee "buddy passes" to get hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to Canada over the course of the past four months.

Buddy passes are standby tickets an airline gives to employees as a perk to share with family and friends. The passes are free but users still have to pay the taxes.

On Thursday, the Calgary-based airline asked them to stop using employee buddy passes in that way, saying they have other established programs to support charitable causes and refugees.

50% off until the end of September

But Monday, after CBC News published a story about it, WestJet offered the couple's charity 50 per cent off codes until Sept. 30. Garnett says that while it's something, it's a very short-term compromise.

"They're offering us tickets at about three to four times the price we were paying for nine days, so we're not incredibly happy with that offer. It's something, it's a starting point, but that's not going to bring a lot of people here," he said.

"We've looked around and scoured the internet for the best prices to get people over in the most efficient way, and we know that that's through our buddy pass program."

Others offer assistance

Garnett says there have been positives in the past week as well for their charity, called Help From Canada.

Monetary donations have come in, and he has also heard from a Montreal-based airline, Air Transat, who he says offered to work with the charity on discounted flights for Ukrainian refugees.

"They've reached out and been incredibly helpful," he said.

"They've been working with an organization called 4Ukraine.ca, and they've been doing a fantastic job … and they're going to do everything they can for us to get discount codes for the short term, but also to build a partnership with us in the long term." 

In a statement, WestJet said that following an application made on Sept. 18 through its Airport Community Giving Program, the airline's community investment team provided the charity with details the following day on how it could work together, which included an offer to provide promo codes. 

"This process has not changed and it's an important clarification that the offer of discount codes was not facilitated in any kind of exceptional manner, it was based on a long-standing formalized process already in place," said spokeswoman Morgan Bell. 

"Support has been available since May 2022, and WestJet originally provided this charity [or its] affiliates with support through an internal request in May 2022 with identical flight discount codes."

In an earlier statement provided to CBC on Sunday, the airline said buddy passes are to be used "solely for personal leisure travel."

"They are not a guaranteed mechanism for travel as they are offered on a standby basis only and can result in situations where users are not able to complete their travel journey," said spokeswoman Morgan Bell. 

'We can give them reassurance'

Garnett said Help From Canada has always been aware these passes are for standby travel only, and have still succeeded at bringing nearly 200 Ukrainians to Canada.

"This is the conversation we've been trying to have with WestJet since last Thursday. They said they had some concerns and instead of talking through those concerns with us, they just said shut it down," he said.

"Of course we have a convincing plan. We've been doing this for about four months now and we have host families in Dublin, in Paris, in Barcelona and in Rome. We have a group of nuns that take in people when they don't get on their first flight.

"So in my mind, if they had concerns about these things, all they had to do was ask. We can give them reassurance."

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