What started as a pre-Christmas winter getaway turned into a seven-day waiting game for some Saskatoon travelers.
Susan Hawryluk flew to Punta Cana with Sunwing on Dec. 14 from Saskatoon airport, intending to return home Dec. 21.
She and many other couples have been stuck in the city of the Dominican Republic waiting for answers.
“We assumed everything would have been status quo, as it has been for the past 15 years we’ve used Sunwing,” Hawryluk said.
She said they left their resort on the 21st and waited at the airport for hours, with a Sunwing representative often coming to tell them they had to wait longer and that their flight had been delayed.
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Eventually other accommodations were given to those left waiting for a flight that would never come, being told the flight was being pushed back to the following day.
“It would go on, from 7 a.m. we’re sitting in the lobby until about 4:30 p.m..”
Again, they would be checked back into a resort at the end of the day, being told the flight would depart the following day, with this situation repeating for several days.
“I’m not going to lie, there were tears. Devastating, you think you’re going home safe and sound to see your family, you’re going to spend Christmas with your family. You have a granddaughter at home who is celebrating her very first Christmas this year.
“Once we knew for sure that we weren’t going home for Christmas, it was extremely heartbreaking and devastating,” Hawryluk added.
She said the Sunwing representative was there to try to help them, but added that they didn’t know what was going on either.
She said some people worry about their jobs and wonder if they will even have one when they return.
“I’ve seen other people say, ‘I have to pay my employees, I can’t even do that.'”
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Blake Dauvin and his girlfriend left the same day with the same day scheduled to return, but said the constant delays weighed on everyone.
“After the first few days of delay, it’s not like a vacation anymore.”
“I want to go home. People have jobs, people have families, especially at Christmas, we miss those things,” Dauvin added.
He noted he was hopeful, saying a flight from Saskatoon to the Dominican Republic is on its way for Wednesday and he hopes to catch it returning to Saskatoon.
PKBNEWS contacted Sunwing and received a statement.
“A number of return flights continue to be affected by delays due to the displacement of crews and aircraft following severe weather disruptions across Canada. We are working hard to rehabilitate customers at destination by servicing aircraft and arranging alternative hotels and transfers for those with overnight delays,” the statement read.
“Our teams continue to work proactively around the clock with multiple airline partners to contract aircraft and get customers home. We have operated two recovery flights so far this week, have scheduled eight more recovery flights scheduled to depart up to and including December 30, 2022, and are currently finalizing recovery plans for our remaining passengers at destination. Additional information will be provided to customers through flight alert notifications and to their representatives at destination once rescheduled return flights are confirmed. In the meantime, customers can sign up for flight alerts on Sunwing.ca.
“Customers currently in destination who would prefer to book an earlier return flight on another carrier may do so at their own expense, if they wish, and may submit a refund request for their unused Sunwing return flight at http: //www.sunwing.ca/en/sunwing-airlines/delay-claim/ after returning home.
“Our teams continue to make every effort to bring passengers home. We deeply apologize for the delays during the holiday season and thank our customers for their understanding as we work to overcome operational challenges caused by harsh winter conditions in key regions across Canada.
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