Abbotsford International Airport                                File photo

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke’s homeless outreach coordinator Carly Shipmaker and practicum student Sarena Bryden take a turn on Thursday, May 6 on the stationary bike. They were cycling under the blue sun canopy outside the CMHA thrift shop to promote Mental Health Week and to prepare for this year’s Ride Don’t Hide event in June. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Getting the wheels turning for Salmon Arm’s Ride Don’t Hide event

Canadian Mental Health Association awareness and fundraising campaign to run throughout June

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Interior Health provided updated data breaking down the vaccine administration totals in communities throughout the region on Monday, May 3, 2021. (File photo)
Nearly 40% of Shuswap adults vaccinated

More than 12,000 people in the Salmon Arm health area received their first COVID-19 vaccine

Ian Syme gets ready to swing the bat during skills training and picture day for Salmon Arm Minor Baseball 6U players at the Hillcrest Elementary field on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Young Salmon Arm ballplayers in training

Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association seeking sponsorships for batting cage

The monthly totals from Jan.1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 show COVID-19 cases for most Local Health Areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, other than Vernon’s with the largest population, staying well below 400. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
16 months in, COVID cases in North Okanagan-Shuswap areas stay under 1,000

Vernon, with the largest population, hovers under 900 cases since January 2020

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin checking drivers on BC highways

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
New temporary outdoor shelter in Kelowna opens

The new area on Richter Street and Weddell Place replaces the Baillie Avenue site

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read