'Where's my stuff?': Sunwing passengers waiting up to 10 days for luggage from direct flights

Some Sunwing passengers still haven’t received their luggage from flights taken the weekend of April 14. They say the long wait plus lack of information about their missing baggage is unacceptable.

Sunwing 'deeply disappointed by 'customer service failures'

Joe Petix and his nine-year-old son, Michael wait for their luggage at Toronto's Pearson airport after arriving from Jamaica on April 15. It still has not reached him. (Submitted by Joe Petix)

Mario Stojanac and his family are still waiting for their luggage — 10 days after flying home on a direct Sunwing flight from the Dominican Republic to Toronto.

"Right now, it's in an abyss," he said. "Where's my stuff and will I ever see it again, and why won't anyone tell me what's going on?"

The family landed in Toronto around 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, during an ice storm that lasted through the weekend. During that time, several Sunwing flights were delayed and many passengers went home without their luggage.

Some travellers still haven't received their bags. They say the long wait and lack of information about their missing luggage is unacceptable.

"I feel like they don't care," said Stojanac. "Absolute apathy."

Mario Stojanac, Mary Luz Mejia and 6-year-old daughter, Nathalie are still waiting for their luggage from their Sunwing flight on April 14. (Mary Luz Mejia)

Sunwing says its troubles that weekend were caused by a large number of absentee workers at Swissport, the company that runs the airline's baggage handling and gate operations.

Sunwing told CBC News it's "deeply disappointed" by the "customer service failures" that ensued. Both the airline and Swissport said they're now working on contingency plans to prevent this from happening again. Sunwing says it has also sent apology letters plus compensation to affected passengers.

Stojanac received his apology and compensation — a $100 travel voucher per person — hours after the publication of this article. But he's still waiting for his luggage.

"They can keep their voucher," said a frustrated Stojanac. "This situation should not be a springboard for me to spend more money with them."

Swissport told CBC News this afternoon that 86 per cent cent of the missing bags have been or are in the process of being delivered to passengers. It expects the remaining ones will arrive within the next few days. 

Stojanac's saga began when he, his wife and daughter landed in Toronto and no baggage arrived from their flight.

After waiting more than three hours, they learned from a fellow passenger that they needed to fill out a missing luggage claim form in order to get through Canadian customs without their bags.

"Why no one from Sunwing could have announced that is beyond my comprehension," said Mary Luz Mejia, Stojanac's wife. "It was like a game of broken telephone."

Around midnight, the family finally gave up on their missing luggage, handed in their form, and headed home — four hours after their arrival.

'Not acceptable'

Stojanac said he's contacted Sunwing multiple times a day for updates. On Tuesday, he says he received a call that the airline had found his bags, but it turned out they belonged to his brother's family; they had been on the same flight.

On Friday, Stojanac said Sunwing gave him the name of a courier company it said had his luggage. He called the company and says it denied having them.

"I was pretty pissed off," he said. "Nobody can tell me where the stuff is."

Meanwhile, the family has had to purchase necessities packed in their missing bags including makeup, undergarments and workout clothes. 

"It's not acceptable," said Mejia.

Joe Petix with his two children, on vacation in Jamaica. (Submitted by Joe Petix)

Joe Petix in Vaughan, Ont. has been waiting nine days for his luggage after taking a Sunwing flight from Jamaica to Toronto on April 15.

He says a courier did arrive with luggage on April 22 — but delivered only one of his family's three missing bags.

"When is this comedy act going to end?" he said. "This is a disaster."

Petix has also received an apology plus $100 in Sunwing travel vouchers in compensation for each family member. However, he says he has no desire to travel on the airline again.

"How they handled the situation was very bad."

'It was complete hell'

Sunwing passenger Lyndsay Burke-Sholer got her luggage back on April 22, but she said it was no thanks to Sunwing.

She was supposed to fly from Jamaica to Hamilton on April 15, but, due to a crew issue, her flight was redirected to Toronto and landed around 11:30 p.m. She says the plane sat on the tarmac for more than five hours before passenger were allowed to disembark.

Lyndsay Burke-Sholer (left) and sister, Lisa Burke on vacation in Jamaica. (Lyndsay Burke-Sholer)

"It was complete hell," she said. "I saw people hyperventilating, kids were crying. I think it was about 3 a.m. when they finally offered us a drink of water or juice."

Burke-Sholer says when she finally entered the airport, there was no sign of her luggage and no indication when it would arrive. She left empty-handed and made the hour-long journey to her home in Hagersville, Ont.

Fortunately, she says a friend travelling in her party who works at the Hamilton airport located her luggage at the airport this past weekend. Burke-Sholer was able to pick it up.

"It's ridiculous," she said. "It should have had that sent to my door immediately."

Sunwing sent her an apology plus a $300 refund for her troubles. She said it's not enough.

"It doesn't cover the way people were treated."

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto. Contact: sophia.harris@cbc.ca

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