Category: Swoop

Updated: Swoop emergency landing in Abbotsford

News provided by The Abbotsford News – link to full story and updates – with a hint from P.N.

Passenger jet makes emergency landing in Abbotsford after hitting birds

737 aircraft hit flock of birds shortly after takeoff

Patrick Penner, 10 September 2019

A 737 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Abbotsford International Airport Tuesday morning after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.

Flight number 312 departed from Abbotsford at 8:07 a.m. and was headed for Edmonton under Swoop airlines. It was carrying over 100 people.

People around the city reported hearing a loud boom in the skies and one witness said she saw flames coming out of one of the engines. One passenger reported a burning smell filling the cabin, which the pilot then reported was the result of the birds combusting.

“It’s not in my memory the last time an aircraft landed here due to an emergency tied to a bird-strike,” said the airport’s general manager, Parm Sidhu.

Police cordoned off the area as emergency crews headed to the scene prior to the plane landing.

It without further incident and passengers were escorted to the terminal to await another flight shortly after.

Swoop plane makes emergency landing at Abbotsford International after bird strike

News provided by City News 1130 – link to full story and updates


Source: Google Maps


  • A plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Abbotsford International Airport after a bird strike Tuesday morning
  • The City of Abbotsford says all passengers are safely back at the YXX terminal after an emergency landing on Tuesday
  • Witnesses reported hearing loud ‘booms’ and seeing flames from at least one engine after a plane hit some birds near YXX

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – There’s been a scare on a flight leaving Abbotsford International Airport.

“There was a bird strike at YXX,” Alex Mitchell with the City of Abbotsford confirmed on Tuesday. “The aircraft has, however, landed safely and passengers have been offloaded into the terminal safely.”

There was a birdstrike at YXX – the Aircraft has landed safely passengers have been offloaded into the terminal safely. Updates will be available in the coming hours.

— Abbotsford Airport (@yxxairport) September 10, 2019

The SWOOP flight was in the air for less than 30 minutes when it was forced to turn around.

Witnesses reported hearing several “booms”, and video from inside the plane shows flames shooting out of at least one of the engines.

A person who was on the plane posted online saying they heard four “thuds,” and then started to smell smoke. That’s apparently when passengers were told the plane hit some geese.

It’s safely landed.

— Lovella Schellenberg (@LovellaSchelle8) September 10, 2019

More to come.

-With files from Mike Lloyd

Swoop aircraft makes unscheduled stop in Regina due to reports of smoke

Provided by Global News – link to full story and updates

5 September 2019 By Jonathan Guignard Online Producer  Global News

A Swoop plane made an emergency landing at the Regina International Airport on Wednesday night after there were reports of smoke.
A Swoop plane made an emergency landing at the Regina International Airport on Wednesday night after there were reports of smoke. Provided / Swoop Airline

Swoop Airlines was forced to land one of their planes in the Queen City on Wednesday night due to reports of smoke inside the aircraft, according to the Regina airport.

Its Boeing 737 was carrying passengers from London, Ont., bound for Edmonton before making the unscheduled stop at Regina International Airport at about 11:20 p.m.

Lauren Salfi was one of the passengers on the plane. She was travelling with her husband and their two-month-old baby.

“We believe the reason for the emergency landing was someone smoking in the bathroom,” Salfi said.

“There was a report of the smell of smoke at the rear of the aircraft.”

@CBCSask @ctvregina @GlobalRegina @CTVNews Swoop 737-800 London to Edmonton diverted to Regina, declares emergency

P A X T O N (@oilerman19) September 5, 2019

The airport’s on-site fire crew along with the Regina Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and the Regina Police Service were all called to the scene.

Airport authorities said all first responders left after learning it was a “non-incident.”

Salfi said passengers waited until 6 a.m. until Swoop put them up in a hotel.

“It’s not ideal to spend the night at the airport. The most frustrating part was having to wait six hours to finally get a hotel room and be able to leave so we can get some sleep,” Salfi said.

Salfi said she had to pay for their taxies to the hotel, but would be reimbursed by Swoop. The airline is also reimbursing $30 per person for food.

Salfi said Swoop has rescheduled their flight for 9:30 p.m. Thursday night.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

7 Swoop flights cancelled due to damaged plane

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

Airline says it will reimburse cost of tickets for passengers who re-book on other airlines

Alex Migdal · CBC News · Posted: Aug 29, 2019

A Swoop Airlines Boeing 737 at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Ont., on June 19, 2018. The destination is one of seven affected by the airline’s cancelled flights. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

The ultra-low-cost airline Swoop says it will reimburse the cost of tickets for passengers who book on other airlines after cancelling six more flights through next Wednesday due to a damaged plane.

The cancellations come after the airline cancelled a flight Monday bound for Winnipeg from Kelowna, B.C., and re-scheduled passengers for flights up to a week later.

Crews discovered damage to the plane’s body that day and grounded the plane for repair, Swoop president Steven Greenway said in a written statement.

The airline, which is owned by WestJet, cancelled seven flights in total, affecting services to and from Kelowna, Winnipeg, Abbotsford, B.C., Edmonton, Las Vegas, Hamilton, Ont., and Orlando.

The damaged plane will return to service Thursday, Greenway said.

“Safety will always be at the forefront of our decision-making and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to our impacted travellers,” Greenway wrote.

Greenway said those affected can rebook on the next available Swoop flight, or rebook on another airline. Swoop will reimburse the cost of tickets, as long as they’re in the same class of service, he said.

Any travellers delayed more than three hours have received meal, hotel and transportation vouchers, he said.

‘No clear information’

Passengers have slammed the airline on social media, saying they received little notice before the cancellations and couldn’t contact the airline’s call centre, which is only open during weekday business hours.

Anika Scheurer, 24, was forced to re-book with WestJet after Swoop re-scheduled her cancelled Monday flight from Kelowna to a flight a week later on Sept. 2.

She said the support from Swoop was meagre at best.

“The process was just really scattered. There was no clear information,” said Scheurer, who noted that staff tended to be kind once she got through to them.

The airline has had a checkered history since launching in June 2018, including the abrupt cancellation of 30 flights in July.

Gabor Lukacs, founder of the non-profit organization Air Passenger Rights, said offering alternative transportation to passengers the following week is “unreasonable and unjustifiable.”

He said the airline has a duty to find reasonable alternatives for its passengers if a flight is cancelled and it can’t be blamed on an act of God — and that includes arranging flights on other airlines if necessary.

Kelowna bachelorette party ends in ‘nightmare’ as Swoop cancels flight

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

One passenger says the airline rescheduled her flight home a week later

CBC News · Posted: Aug 27, 2019

Swoop passengers bound for Winnipeg from Kelowna on Monday were surprised to find their trip cancelled with no immediate alternate travel plans offered. (Shawn Benjamin/CBC)

A group of friends from Winnipeg who spent the weekend at a bachelorette celebration in Kelowna say a cancelled flight left them stranded — with the airline offering return flights more than a week later.

Six women, including Anika Scheurer, booked their flights from Winnipeg with Swoop, an ultra-low fare airline owned by WestJet.

“It was mainly price and the dates,” Scheurer, 24, said in explaining why she chose Swoop, adding that the round-trip ticket was about half the price offered by other airlines.

But as the group prepared to board a plane home Monday, a mechanical problem caused a delay. Hours later, the delay turned into a cancellation.

That’s when Scheurer says the airline “turned a celebratory weekend into a nightmare.”

And according to Gabor Lukacs, founder of the non-profit organization Air Passenger Rights, that’s why travellers need to know what they’re entitled to when trip plans go sideways.

“This is an egregious case. Offering someone transportation the next week is unreasonable and unjustifiable,” said Lukacs.

Anika Scheurer, left, says her cousin’s Kelowna bachelorette party soured when most of the group had their flights home to Winnipeg cancelled by Swoop airline due to a mechanical problem. (Bare Wine Tours)

Scheurer said the airline gave her and the other passengers a hotel voucher for the night and said $30 would be reimbursed for meals. They were told Swoop would find them flights or charter a plane within 48 hours.

But when she got an email from the airline late Monday night, she learned the flight home was scheduled an entire week later, Sept. 2. She said the group of six women was split up on various flights, with some scheduled to leave even later.

Distress and confusion ensued, as the women considered the costs of an unexpected few days away from home.

“We had someone who was doing pet boarding, there was child care cost, wages lost,” said Scheurer, adding that some of the women would be drawing from next year’s vacation time.

Scheurer called the number provided, and discovered Swoop’s call centre is only open from 8 a.m. to  6 p.m. MST on weekdays.

The group got in touch with WestJet and paid for flights home with that airline on Tuesday.

‘It’s Swoop’s problem’

According to Lukacs, the airline has a duty to find reasonable alternatives for its passengers — if a flight is cancelled and it can’t be blamed on an act of God — and that includes arranging flights on other airlines if necessary.

“It’s not the passenger’s problem or concern how Swoop deals with it, it’s Swoop’s problem,” he said.

Lukacs said any costs incurred due to the delays, including meals, accommodation, lost wages, and even child care should be demanded from the company in writing. If it’s not reimbursed within about a week, he said passengers should take the airline to small claims court, even demanding $1,000 in punitive damages to send a message when appropriate.

Shortly after getting back to Winnipeg on Tuesday, Scheurer got a call from Swoop staff informing her that the WestJet flight home would be reimbursed.

But for the bachelorette party, the support from Swoop throughout the ordeal was meagre at best, she said.

“The process was just really scattered — there was no clear information,” said Scheurer, who said staff tended to be kind once she got through to them. 

‘We apologize for the inconvenience’

She said the person who followed up on Tuesday was very apologetic.

A Swoop spokesperson declined an interview request from CBC News, but sent an emailed statement.

“We apologize for the inconvenience to our impacted travellers. Swoop has all our available resources working to get our travellers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible,” it read.

Four hours later the spokesperson sent another statement adding the company would reimburse passengers for costs associated with the cancelled flight.

Passengers told to wait 11 days for next plane after Swoop cancels Kelowna to Winnipeg flight

News provided by Global News – link to full story and updates

27 August 2019 by Sam Thompson and Elisha Dacey Global News

A Swoop Airlines Boeing 737-800 on display in 2018.
A Swoop Airlines Boeing 737-800 on display in 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

Travelers who were expecting to fly from Kelowna, B.C., to Winnipeg had an unpleasant surprise when they were told their flight on the Swoop airline was cancelled – and that they wouldn’t be re-booked until, potentially, early September.

Pat Ward and Emily Rae say they were scheduled to come home to Winnipeg Monday but found out their flight had been cancelled due to mechanical issues.

They and nine other friends and family were in Kelowna for a wedding, said Ward, and they said they were promised a charter flight home by the company on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Swoop refused to give free water on a flight, but provided cup of ice: passenger

Monday night, the group started getting texts from Swoop saying their flights had instead been rescheduled – some for Sept. 2, some for Sept. 4, and some for as far away as Sept. 6.

“Ridiculous,” said Ward. “Eleven days that you’re going to stay in Kelowna and not get back to your job?”

“We were scrambling last night,” said Rae. “I was at the point … should I call my friends in Alberta? Should I try and drive home?”

After arguing with Swoop for about two hours, they have only received an apology, said Rae.

“Swoop sent us a courtesy apology, ‘oh our sincerest apologies’, that was basically a slap in the face,” she said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of passengers stranded after Swoop cancels or delays nearly 2 dozen flights

Ward said some have paid $750 to catch other flights to leave, and Swoop has told them they will not compensate them. Others have since found out that Swoop would only cover one night of hotel accommodation.

Monica Raabe, who was also on the flight, told Global News she ended up taking a WestJet flight to make it back to Manitoba.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “How could people just suddenly extend a vacation, or have money too? It’s absolutely unacceptable.

“We were fine with them cancelling a flight due to not wanting to put people in jeopardy. We were fine with having been put up in accommodations, but it’s just so insane to think that people would ever accept to stay that much longer.”

Raabe said she was given the runaround when trying to contact Swoop, and eventually just decided to take another flight.

“We had to book on WestJet, had to completely use a different carrier – although it’s not a different carrier, because I was told by many people that Swoop is owned by WestJet.”

Calgary-based Swoop was launched in 2017 by WestJet as an ultra low-cost carrier.

The airline confirmed there was unscheduled maintenance to the aircraft, and that Swoop has “all our available resources working to get travellers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.”

They did not say if passengers would be compensated for their other flights or hotel accommodations.

Rae said that wasn’t nearly good enough and warned people off the airline.

“I would say: Don’t fly Swoop,” said Rae.

“I hope they’re going to man up and come through for everyone,” Ward added.

WATCH: Flair Air passengers returning to Winnipeg from Orlando faced 20-hour delay

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

‘We’re very disappointed’: Swoop flight from Hamilton to B.C. cancelled

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

The airline cancelled 30 flights during the first 10 days of July alone

CBC News · Posted: Aug 15, 2019

Yet another Swoop flight out of Hamilton has been cancelled, stranding passengers planning to travel to British Columbia. (Chris Squires)

Yet another Swoop flight out of Hamilton has been cancelled, this time stranding a plane-full of people destined for British Columbia.

Flight 109 scheduled to take off at 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday and land in Abbotsford, B.C. at 8:39 p.m. was cancelled, according to the airline’s website. It does not provide an explanation of why.

News of this latest cancellation follows frustration and confusion sparked by a rash of 30 cancellations the airline made during the first 10 days in July that left some customers paying out-of-pocket to salvage travel plans. 

Chris Squires says it meant a rocky start to vacation for him and his family, who were supposed to take their first trip back to B.C. in four years on Wednesday.

They live in Kingston, but booked a flight out of Hamilton way back in March.

Squires, along with his wife and two kids, was dropped off by friends at the John C. Munro International Airport. They had made it through customs when he says they received an email saying the flight had been cancelled due to a “mechanical” issue.

Chris Squires says the cancellation left his family very disappointed. (Chris Squires)

After months of planning and a three-hour drive from Kingston, Squires says notice of the cancellation came just two hours before their plane was supposed to take off, leaving little time to come up with a contingency plan.

“We’re going back because my mother-in-law had surgery,” he explained. “We chose Swoop because it seemed to be a great deal. We’re very disappointed.”

The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Squires says he was initially told he and his family were being moved to another flight that wasn’t scheduled to take off for another three days.

That left his kids feeling “pretty torn apart.”

But, following some negotiation with Swoop staff at the airport, he says the airline agreed to put his family in a hotel overnight and get them on a flight out Thursday.

Still, he says others weren’t as lucky and he’s left unimpressed by the whole experience.

“In a customer service business you take care of your customers,” he said. “They should have concessions [and] policies in place for when things go wrong.”

CBC News with files from Sophia Harris

WestJet CEO says Boeing 737 Max grounding a ‘substantial loss’ ahead of buyout

News provided by The Toronto Star/The Canadian Press – link to full story

By The Canadian Press Mon., July 29, 2019

CALGARY – WestJet chief executive Ed Sims says the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max is having a “substantial negative impact” on the airline, even as the company reported robust earnings in its first full quarter without the fuel-efficient jetliner and on the cusp of its acquisition by Onex Corp.

In a phone interview, Sims said the grounding — now expected to continue at least through November — has forced WestJet to increase spending on fuel and cut its routes.

Sims declined to quantify the financial hit, saying he is in discussions with Boeing about the “substantial loss” of WestJet’s 13 Max 8s, which comprise about 10 per cent of the carrier’s seat capacity.

WestJet nonetheless beat analysts’ expectations with a 380 per cent profit increase year over year to $44.3 million last quarter, as a boost in passengers bumped up revenue 11 per cent to $1.21 billion.

Analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank of Canada says in an investor note the grounding will hinder capacity growth and raise expenses for Canadian airlines, but that lower jet fuel costs and a stronger Canadian dollar may help offset those headwinds.

On Friday, Alberta’s superior court approved the $3.5-billion deal between WestJet and Onex Corp., which expects to complete the buyout following further regulatory green lights later this year.

Authorities across the globe banned the Boeing aircraft from their skies last spring after two crashes — in Indonesia in October and Ethiopia in March — killed all 346 passengers aboard, including 18 Canadians.

WestJet says it found replacement aircraft for about 700 of the 1,000-plus 737 Max departures scheduled in June, the final month of the second quarter.

Sims said a sale of regional carrier Encore or budget offshoot Swoop are not on WestJet’s agenda at the moment, and that no layoffs of its 14,000 employees will stem from the buyout.

WestJet, founded as a no-frills regional upstart in 1996, has set its sights on Air Canada in recent years, challenging the carrier’s dominance on international routes by adding transatlantic flights, wide-body planes and premium fares.

The airline has also grappled with unionization and higher costs, which have offset some of its revenue growth. The company is expected to earn a per-share profit of $1.24 this year compared to $2.92 in 2015, according to analysts polled by financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Is flying with Canada’s low-cost airlines worth the hassle?

News provided by Global News – link to full story

By Erica Alini National Online Journalist, Money/Consumer  Global News

For years, consumers lamented the cost of air travel in Canada. But now that Canadian no-frill airlines are a thing, their takeoff is proving rougher than many expected.

Carolina Ayala was one of the hundreds of Swoop passengers affected by the low-cost carrier’s decision to cancel 23 flights between July 5 and July 10 due to unscheduled maintenance on one of its aircraft. Ayala, who was supposed to fly back to Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 8, said the airline told her the night before her flight — a Sunday evening — that she’d been re-booked on a flight leaving a whopping four days later, on July 12.

“That’s just ridiculous,” Ayala said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of passengers stranded after Swoop cancels or delays nearly 2 dozen flights

Waiting that long wasn’t an option for Ayala, who was due to start a new job in Toronto. But when she tried to contact the airline’s customer service, she couldn’t reach anyone over the phone on the weekend, she said.

In the end, Ayala had to pay $731 out-of-pocket for an Air Canada flight to Toronto that was nearly four times more expensive than the $191 she’d paid for her original return ticket on Swoop.

The company was quick to refund Ayala for her unused part of the booking, but it wasn’t until July 15, after she had spoken with Global News, that the airline also extended an offer to reimburse the cost difference for the Air Canada ticket.

Swoop said in a statement it is completing a “full review” of the cancellations and is committed to “improving [its] process to regain the confidence of [its] travellers.”

“We have already identified the need for additional traveller support in our contact centre and acknowledge the volume of correspondence required during this event has had a significant impact to our response time,” Swoop said. “Affected travellers were re-booked on the next available Swoop flight and we worked on a case-by-case basis thereafter on alternate arrangements if the new flight time provided was not suitable,” the company said.

WATCH: Passengers stranded after Swoop due to technical issues with one aircraft

Last-minute changes at Flair Airlines have also left some passengers scrambling. In February, for example, the ultra-low-cost carrier announced it was suspending seasonal flights to Florida and California earlier than expected.

The Edmonton-based airline attributed the decision to the unravelling of an agreement with a third-party airline as well as disappointing passenger booking volume.

“We are in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or, for those who have already started their journey, alternative travel arrangements on other airlines,” the airline told Global News in February.

READ MORE: Flair Airlines suspending flights to Florida, Palm Springs: ‘Expect the unexpected’

But some Flair travellers have also complained about the airline’s customer service. Last year, for example, it took Colleen Shickluna, of Port Aux Basques, N.L., more than two months to obtain a refund for the $130 cab ride she had to take to Hamilton from Toronto after her Flair flight was rerouted away from its original destination.

Shickluna said she received the reimbursement after Global News published an article telling her story and that of other disgruntled Flair passengers.

At the time, Flair provided the following statement: “We apologize to any person that has not received reimbursement or a refund to what was promised or owed to them, after acknowledgment of a receipt. In May of this year, we made significant improvements to our systems and processes; enabling us to optimize our customer experience. We deeply regret if individuals are awaiting resolution, and will prioritize and address their concerns on an individual basis.”

READ MORE: No-frills ‘nightmares’: Passengers describe missing refunds and bookings with Canada’s Flair Air

Challenges are typical of start-up airlines — not of low-cost airlines

When Ayala took to Twitter to reach out to Swoop about her return flight being re-booked four days later, she was told by another user that, “you get what you paid for.”

You get what you paid for. In any case, safety comes first.

Daniele Rossi (@danielerossi) July 8, 2019

Other disgruntled Swoop customers got a similar reaction:

WAKE UP. Don’t fly on a discount if you can’t handle the risk !

Reid McBeth (@rmcbeth123) July 14, 2019

But aviation expert John Korenic rejects the notion that flying with a no-frill airline inherently comes with a higher risk of aggravation. The issue isn’t that Swoop and Flair are low-cost carriers but that they have few planes to fly.

Swoop currently has seven aircraft in its fleet, while Flair has five and is expecting two more to join its fleet in the next couple of months. That’s a fraction of the fleet size of other well-established, ultra-low-cost carriers. In Europe, for example, Ryanair and EasyJet operate more than 450 and 300 aircraft respectively.

And a tiny fleet means a higher chance of flight disruptions, Korenic said in reference to Swoop’s recent spree of flight cancellations.

“If you lose one aircraft, that’s one seventh of your fleet gone.”

The risk is especially high during the peak travel season, which tends to be between mid-June and the beginning of September in Canada, he added.

“That’s when you have your highest demand. You want to maximize your fleet as much as possible, so there’s little opportunity to add aircraft or capacity into a market place,” he said.

Likely adding to that challenge this summer are widespread capacity shortages caused by the issues surrounding Boeing’s 737 MAX planes, Korenic said. The jets have been grounded worldwide since March after two crashes involving the new-generation aircraft killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians.

Still, even for start-up airlines with a tight cash-flow, getting customer support right is of the utmost importance, Korenic said.

Re-booking a passenger several days later, “wouldn’t work for any of us,” he said.

WATCH: Flair Airlines passenger outraged after waiting months for compensation cheque for lost luggage

Will new air passenger rights make things better?

On July 15, new federal consumer protection rules for air passengers came into effect establishing new standards for treatment and compensation in case of overbooking, tarmac delays and lost or damaged luggage, among other things. Another batch of regulations is expected to roll out on Dec. 15, covering issues including flight delays and cancellations.

But will the new regime make a difference for passengers choosing low-cost carriers?

For cancellations that are “within the carrier’s control but required for safety purposes,” as in the recent Swoop cancellation, under the regulations coming into effect in December, “large airlines would have to re-book the passenger on another (competing) airline, if their own next available flight (or their partner’s) departs nine or more hours after the passenger’s original departure time,” the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) told Global News via email.

For small airlines, the requirement to re-book using competing airlines doesn’t exist, the agency also said. However, “the routing of the alternate travel arrangements must be reasonable and, to the extent possible, provide services that are comparable to those of the original ticket,” according to the CTA.

If the alternate travel arrangements don’t work for the passenger, all airlines must refund the unused portion of the ticket.

Also, “if the disruption has caused the passenger’s travel to no longer serve a purpose and the passenger is no longer at the point of origin on their itinerary, the airline must provide the passenger with a confirmed reservation back to the point of origin on the ticket and refund the full amount of the ticket,” the CTA said.

WATCH: A new passenger bill of rights takes flight on July 15

Still, the regulations do not specify a time limit for small carriers re-booking passengers, which renders the provision “less than useful,” according to Ian Jack of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

“It is another reason why we need the regulator — the CTA — to be vigilant,” Jack added via email. “They have the ability to examine cases if someone complains, and can rule on the reasonableness of airline actions. The overarching goal of the regime is to get people to where they were going with the shortest delay.”

Still, Jack added it might be “challenging” for the CTA to effectively oversee the new regime without additional resources.

On the other hand, passengers dropped off somewhere other than their original destination, as was the case with Shickluna, would have a right to alternate arrangements ensuring they can reach their final destination, Jack said.

But air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs said the new rules aren’t likely to be systematically enforced.

“In the past, the problem has been that fines were not being issued in practice,” he said, an issue he believes will continue under the new regime.

Lukacs and disability rights advocate Bob Brown have filed a lawsuit against the CTA concerning the new air travel regulations.

The rules also face a legal challenge from Air Canada and Porter Airlines, along with 17 other applicants including the International Air Transport Association — which boasts 290 member airlines — which claims the regulations violate international standards.

For her part, Ayala has already made up her mind about Canada’s low-cost carriers.

“I’m done with these cheaper things,” she said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

30 cancelled Swoop flights leave customers bitter. Will passenger rights coming Monday help?

News provided by CBC News – link to full article

New regulations aim to make compensation claims easier — but they’re also being challenged in court

By Sophia Harris · CBC News · Posted: Jul 14, 2019 4:00 AM ET

Swoop, the ultra-low cost carrier launched by WestJet, said it cancelled 30 flights between July 1 and 10 due to unscheduled maintenance. (WestJet)

The abrupt cancellation of 30 Swoop flights over the first 10 days in July sparked anger and confusion, with some customers paying out-of-pocket to salvage travel plans. 

New federal air passenger protection regulations, which roll out Monday, aim to cut down on customer confusion by laying out clear compensation amounts and treatment standards for mishaps involving all airlines. But rules covering cancelled and delayed flights won’t take effect until December. The regulations also face two legal battles, including one from airlines trying to quash them in court. 

In the meantime, upset Swoop passengers haved launched their own battles. So far this month, the Canadian Transportation Agency has received 19 complaints concerning cancelled Swoop flights.

The ultra-low-cost-carrier, which is owned by WestJet, said the cancellations were caused by unscheduled aircraft maintenance. 

“Safety is our number one priority,” said Swoop spokesperson Karen McIsaac in an email. “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment we have caused and continue to direct our efforts to assisting those travellers that have been affected.”

Radek Romanowski got his cancellation notice the evening before his July 8 return flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Hamilton. A second email that night informed him that he was rebooked to fly on July 15 — one week later. 

That didn’t work for the small business owner who needed to return home to Komoka, Ont., for work. But he couldn’t call Swoop to complain — because it was Sunday and the call centre was closed. He did send an email, but received no reply. 

“It’s very, very bad business practice,” said Romanowski. “No communication, no conversation, no answering, nothing.”

In desperation, his wife, Hanna, used up more than 22,000 Aeroplan rewards miles to rebook him on an Air Canada flight the next day.

“It should be better back-up or better service to get people back to where they are going,” she said. 

When Radek Romanowki’s Swoop flight was cancelled, his wife, Hanna, spent more than 22,000 Aeroplan rewards miles to get him back home quickly to Komoka, Ont. (Submitted by Hanna Romanowki)

Kevin Blenkhorn found out his Swoop flight was cancelled when he and his wife showed up at the Hamilton airport on July 7 to take their return flight to Edmonton.

“I was not happy,” said Blenkhorn who lives in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Swoop had rebooked him on a flight that departed six days later, but Blenkhorn needed to get home immediately to return to his mining job. 

He found a flight leaving the next morning on WestJet  — Swoop’s owner — totalling $1,462 for two last-minute tickets. He was surprised that WestJet wouldn’t waive the cost. 

“I called WestJet and they said, ‘Well, we really don’t have anything to do with [Swoop].'”

Kevin and Brenda Blenkhorn of Fort Sasktachewan, Alta., flew on Swoop to attend a golf tournament in Ontario. They found out at the airport that their return flight was cancelled. (Submitted by Kevin Blenkhorn)

Blenkhorn’s new booking cost him close to triple the price of his yet-to-be refunded Swoop tickets. Following the advice of a Swoop employee at the airport, he filed a claim with the airline, requesting reimbursement. 

“Til the money’s in the bank, I’m not counting on anything,” he said. 

What does Swoop owe passengers?

CBC News interviewed a total of four affected Swoop customers who each said they were unhappy with what was offered: a refund or a rebooking on a Swoop flight on a later date. Those are also the only options the airline publicly listed in tweets to complaining passengers.

However, for flight cancellations within its control, the airline’s current rule book — or tariffs — also lists another alternative: rebooking passengers on a different airline “in situations where other options have been deemed unacceptable.”

CBC asked Swoop why many passengers weren’t also offered a rebooking on another airline. 

“We are following what is stated in our tariffs,” said spokesperson McIsaac on Tuesday. “After rebooking on the next available Swoop flight, we are working on a case-by-case basis with travellers on alternate arrangements if the new flight time provided is not suitable.”

Consumer advocate John Lawford said — based on Swoop’s written rules — it could be left open to interpretation when precisely it had to offer affected passengers seats on another airline.

He believes Canada’s new air passenger regulations will help cut through the ambiguity. 

“This whole thing is set up to be consumer friendly, easy to understand, consistent, transparent,” said Lawford, executive director of the Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre. 

However, some critics say the regulations aren’t tough enough because, among other complaints, passengers on “small” airlines have fewer rights

For example, the rules allow small carriers — such as Swoop — to pay out lower compensation and offer fewer travel options when flights are cancelled. 

But Lawford said at least passengers will be able to easily access all the rules before they choose an airline, and make their decision accordingly. 

Court battle takes flight

The air passenger protection regulations also face a couple of legal challenges.

On June  2, 17 applicants — including Air Canada, Porter Airlines and the International Air Transport Association — argued in a Federal Court of Appeal filing that the regulations are “invalid” because they contravene international standards. 

Lawford said the new rules will still roll out Monday. But he fears some airlines may refuse to comply while the case is before the courts. 

“They’ll hide behind their lawsuit.”

All of Canada’s major airlines, including Air Canada and Porter told CBC News they will comply with the current rules.

Disability rights advocate Bob Brown and passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs have also filed an application with Federal Court of Appeal, challenging the regulations.

They claim rules allowing tarmac delays of close to four hours violate the charter rights as some people with disabilities may not be able to tolerate such a long delay.  They also argue the regulations take away some existing protections for “bumped” passengers.