My wife and I have been just lately influenced by the journey chaos in Western Canada. We were being slated to fly on a direct flight from Edmonton to Comox on Monday, December 19, but wound up finding household on the night of December 21.
It was not easy or smooth, but we managed to finagle our way on a sequence of flights that sooner or later obtained us property. I considered I’d share how I approached the scenario by leveraging some journey equipment, having issues (generally) into our very own hands, and getting a few gambles.
I’d like to make it very clear that our condition wasn’t practically as dreadful as numerous some others who have been caught on airplanes for several hours on close, or who did not have equipment and other methods at their disposal. Relatively, I hope that sharing our approach to obtaining property for the duration of disrupted travel, and the classes we realized from this knowledge, could confirm practical to some others who experience equivalent conditions.
December 19: Popular Cancellations from a Winter Storm
Immediately after browsing with buddies and spouse and children in Edmonton for a weekend, we were being at first set to fly back to Comox on a immediate flight with WestJet on Monday, December 19.
We resolved to melt away a companion voucher from a WestJet RBC Globe Elite Mastercard and some WestJet Bucks on immediate flights rather than routing by means of Calgary or Vancouver, knowing that we’d be travelling in the course of one of the busiest journey periods of the calendar year.
As you know by now, an unparalleled wintertime storm that affected a vast swath of British Columbia halted people designs.
As we exited the Plaza Premium Lounge Edmonton and approached the gate to board, a personnel member introduced over the intercom that the flight was cancelled, and considering that it was because of to bad climate, anyone had to fend for by themselves for foodstuff and right away accommodation.
The team member also instructed passengers to retain an eye on their e-mail and WestJet apps, as they’d be mechanically rebooked. Our luggage was to be dispensed in the carousels shortly thereafter, and we began to contemplate our solutions, as we plainly weren’t likely wherever anytime before long.
I briefly passed by the WestJet purchaser services desk, only to discover a substantial queue and a surprisingly tiny amount of employees associates dealing with the barrage of impacted travellers.
My first reaction was to get on maintain with WestJet, as perfectly as messaging the airline by using Twitter and Fb Messenger. Neither of us felt that standing in line for hours was the very best use of our time.
Recognizing that we weren’t going wherever that night time, and also as we weren’t qualified for free resort accommodation less than the Air Passenger Safety Rules (APPR) due to the hold off getting outside of the airline’s handle, we also booked an airport resort whilst there have been continue to offered rooms.
At this stage, I opened my Air Canada application to see if alternative flights have been obtainable on the upcoming working day, December 20. Much to my shock, there have been however a handful of flights readily available from Edmonton to Vancouver for just 8,400 Aeroplan details.
I booked us on a flight departing before in the day, which would theoretically make it possible for us to go to a further flight later in the day if that a person was also cancelled and there were being any accessible seats.
Even if we could get as considerably as Vancouver, we could have then make our way back household to Vancouver Island on a collection of community transportation connections, a ferry, and a carry from mates. We could also terminate for free of charge in 24 several hours of booking, if we managed to get on a distinctive flight with WestJet.
By the time we checked in and obtained settled at the resort, my focus shifted to receiving us from Vancouver to Comox. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t any offered seats on any flights from Edmonton, Calgary, or Vancouver to Comox with WestJet, Air Canada, Harbour Air, or Pacific Coastal right up until a couple of times later on.
At this point, I logged in to my ExpertFlyer account and set “Flight Alerts” for each attainable flight that could get us back again to Comox the upcoming day. To do so, I established an notify for two out there “Y” seats on each flight.
By undertaking so, I’d receive an e-mail from ExpertFlyer as before long as two seats grew to become out there, given that “Y” fare classes are typically the to start with to reappear when a flight is offered out and seats develop into obtainable.
If I ended up to get an warn, I could then rebook us with income or Aeroplan details on Air Canada flights, money with Pacific Coastal flights, or have WestJet reroute us in the function that I was equipped to get help at the proper time.
By now, it was having late, so I resigned to ready for my Google Assistant to maintain for me and notify me if a WestJet agent picked up on the other stop.
A pair of hrs later, and a overall of five hours following commencing the hold, I was woke up by my cellphone and started the procedure of searching for offered flights with the agent. We have been ready to locate seats on a flight to Vancouver the up coming working day, but he had some troubles reissuing the ticket, and positioned me on an additional hold.
The phone eventually dropped, and I gave up for the evening, hoping that I’d awake to come across us confirmed on a WestJet flight to Vancouver so I could terminate our Aeroplan reserving.
December 20: ExpertFlyer for the Win
As shortly as my alarm went off the subsequent working day, I checked my mobile phone and observed that we did not have a verified reserving on WestJet, which intended that the agent probably gave up, way too. I quickly acquired back again on maintain, manufactured a cup of dreadful lodge drip coffee, and scanned by my emails.
A lot to my delight, I obtained an ExpertFlyer notification that seats had become offered to Comox that afternoon on Air Canada. I promptly scooped them up so we at least had confirmed seats, and while the inflated value in Aeroplan points designed me shudder, I decided to stress about that later on.
We experienced a swift breakfast at the resort, and then designed our way again to the airport early in the morning.
There was once more a one WestJet agent aiding a significant line of guests with cancelled reservations, so we made the decision that my wife would keep our put in that line when I searched for substitute strategies. We ended up still waiting around for some form of reaction from WestJet about our first cancellation from the working day before, as we experienced still to detect any rebooking on the WestJet application or any interaction by e-mail, social media, or phone.
I managed to obtain an additional line that was a lot shorter, and made the decision to check out my luck there. I was finally greeted by a sympathetic agent who agreed to search into my reserving given that we hadn’t been rebooked and the WestJet contact centre was no for a longer time accepting inbound phone calls, and she sooner or later managed to get us new boarding passes and a baggage tag.
We headed through protection and again into the lounge, maintaining a keen eye on our phones for any pending notifications about flight delays or cancellations.
Indeed, our Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Edmonton wound up becoming cancelled, and we were being mechanically rebooked the up coming working day (December 21). We made a decision to continue to keep that reserving energetic as it supplied us an additional solution if the WestJet flight fell through.
Our just lately booked flight from Vancouver to Comox was also cancelled, and we have been routinely rebooked on a flight… 5 times later.
By now, we experienced confirmed seats as considerably as Vancouver on a WestJet flight for nowadays, December 20, and an Air Canada flight on December 21. How we’d be obtaining home from Vancouver to Comox was nevertheless up in the air.
A several hrs afterwards, we found ourselves seated on a WestJet flight certain for Vancouver, having prepared for takeoff…
…only to deplane soon thereafter, when the flight was finally cancelled.
It was approaching the late afternoon at this stage, and the circumstance in Vancouver wasn’t looking superior, so we booked into an additional hotel.
Although we had been even now airside, we also experimented with talking to WestJet brokers at gates for flights that weren’t departing imminently. They attempted to help with rebooking, but there weren’t flights offered for a pair of times at that minute in time, so we opted to go away things as is.
Prior to calming for the night, I set up new ExpertFlyer alerts for open up seats on flights to Comox the upcoming day, hoping that we could get rebooked if two grew to become available.
December 21: Homeward Sure
The selection of flights essentially arriving in Vancouver the upcoming working day was seeking a great deal far better than the earlier two days, so we have been cautiously optimistic that it would in fact function out this time.
We had confirmed tickets as far as Vancouver with Air Canada at this issue, and very little verified with WestJet. I was also watching flight availability to Comox very intently.
As we were being about to depart to Vancouver on Air Canada, I been given two far more ExpertFlyer notifications that seats on the Pacific Coastal and Air Canada flights to Comox later that day experienced two seats readily available.
As we commenced to force back again, I was jogging out of time in advance of I experienced to established my cellphone to plane mode, and I knew all those seats would not final for extended.
If our recent flight to Vancouver were being delayed, we’d be chopping it incredibly near to request a refund for the Pacific Coastal flight, and we’d hazard dropping dollars even with a refundable fare.
And as we geared up for takeoff, it was too late to phone Aeroplan and check with for our cancelled Vancouver–Comox scheduling to be changed to afterwards that day as a substitute, and we didn’t have any access to airline employees in the terminal either.
At this place, I could have just rebooked it working with Aeroplan points, but the price had risen appreciably from our previous scheduling. I resolved to make a final-ditch hard work to e-mail Air Canada Concierge, whose guidance I take pleasure in through my Super Elite position, and asked for currently being rebooked from Vancouver to Comox on that working day.
Now, if we had acquired the Flight Alert notification when we ended up continue to in the airport, any Air Canada employees member would have been equipped to guide us with the time-sensitive request, even without having possessing standing. While my status authorized me to access an Air Canada employees member in a well timed way, even only possessing accessibility to workers in a Maple Leaf Lounge would have yielded the similar consequence without having lining up with dozens of other stranded passengers.
Right after a easy flight into Vancouver, I was relieved to see that the Concierge group had certainly rebooked us on the flight to Comox, and also that it had been delayed by a pair of hours. This gave us a lot of time to make the relationship, so I did not intellect owning to spend a few extra hrs in an airport lounge.
Guaranteed ample, about 48 hrs soon after we had been meant to have arrived, we uncovered ourselves again at dwelling. We both of those felt quite fatigued following the rollercoaster of gatherings, but we were being very grateful to no for a longer period be in limbo, albeit with a couple a lot less Aeroplan points in our account.
Classes for Up coming Time
This was the 1st time I had been in these a chaotic journey atmosphere during the vacations, and I surely will approach it differently following time.
Fork out with the suitable credit score card
I recognized that we had billed the taxes and charges from our authentic WestJet reserving to an American Categorical card, considering that we never genuinely treatment about WestJet Pounds. In hindsight, this meant that we weren’t qualified for flight delay coverage on our WestJet RBC Earth Elite Mastercard, due to the fact we didn’t demand the entire volume of the reserving to our card.
This was a fantastic discovering lesson for me, as this oversight needed us to shell out some additional cash for a hotel on the 1st night time of our delay which would have or else been included.
On the other hand, I manufactured confident to pay out the taxes and fees for our Aeroplan bookings with an American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, as we were then protected in the likely function of much more delays, which turned out to be the situation.
Find someone who can aid by way of any channel feasible
In cases like these, exhaust all choices when you’re trying to get aid.
If you discover your self stuck airside, be certain to search all around for brokers at quieter gates, as they may possibly also be capable to aid you. If you appreciate access to a particular airline’s lounge, the employees at the check-in should be able to help you, and you’re much significantly less probably to come upon prolonged lines this way.
Should you not currently be at the airport, get on maintain with the airline as shortly as possible, and also go after speak to by social media channels. I’ve had achievement in achieving by on social media in the previous, and you also won’t be subjected to hours of hold new music that way.
When you’re competing from a multitude of other travellers who are stuck in the exact problem, possessing a priority phone amount or devoted get hold of through elite standing is particularly valuable.
Consider issues into your possess arms
I believe my most vital lesson from this knowledge was that if we experienced just waited for WestJet to rebook us, we may possibly even now be in Edmonton. The airline evidently wasn’t all set to cope with delays of this form even so, we ended up travelling throughout one of the busiest periods of the year, which also occurred to be all through a horrible storm, and there have been hundreds of passengers needing support.
Even then, given that seats on flights had been popping up and promptly currently being snagged by other travellers, it would have taken a wonder for us to get rebooked promptly on an readily available flight. A savvy travel agent could have performed this on our behalf if we experienced booked with a person, but we opted to just book it ourselves and worry about the fallout afterwards.
It was interesting to see how a great deal movement there is with seats turning into offered and then rapidly disappearing within the hrs leading up to a flight. If you come across oneself in a related situation, don’t drop hope, as seats can open up at the past moment.
I’m really uncertain that WestJet will voluntarily reimburse me for the flights that I booked to get us household. I’m not completely certain what the end result will be, but considering the fact that WestJet could not rebook us within 48 (or even 96) hours irrespective of it getting probable, I’ll have to see what alternatives we have, if any.
My initial time getting impacted by journey chaos throughout one of the busiest journey intervals of the calendar year was uncomfortable, but it was also a superior studying experience. By employing ExpertFlyer and pondering about all the diverse techniques we could get back household, we managed to navigate a tricky problem and acquired household in time to welcome loved ones for the holidays.
Nobody wants to be stuck in transit for a couple days, but in some circumstances, it’s unavoidable. In our case, there was a lousy blend of weather and entire flights that didn’t have offered seats for days.
Be absolutely sure to guide your flights with the appropriate credit card so you’re covered in the event of any delays, and then be all set to pounce on prospects to get property as quickly as they become accessible.