Sunwing vacation ends in 20-hour travel ordeal for Halifax passengers

A Sunwing flight from Cuba that was supposed to land at Halifax Stanfield International Airport became a 20-hour ordeal described by one passenger as a "gong show" that left some on board sobbing and vomiting.

Passenger says some on board sobbing and vomiting during aborted landing, then faced long delay

A passenger on board a Sunwing flight from Cuba to Halifax says it became a lengthy ordeal when the plane didn't land in Halifax owing to high winds. (iStock)

A Sunwing flight from Cuba that was supposed to land at Halifax Stanfield International Airport became a 20-hour ordeal described by one passenger as a "gong show" that left some on board sobbing and vomiting. 

Flight WG6735 was delayed leaving Cuba, and when it tried to land in Halifax during high winds Thursday afternoon, the plane felt like it was coming in sideways, according to Anne Giles, a passenger on board.

"We could see the ground," she said. "We thought we were going to land and at the last minute he pulled up and he came over and said, 'We've missed the runway.'"

Giles said many of the 136 passengers on board were stressed and scared as the plane attempted to land in Halifax. 

"The woman beside me was sobbing," she said. "Her husband was holding her hand. The man across from me, you could see how white his knuckles were. There were children throwing up."

'They were hungry and stressed'

Kayla Giles snapped a photo of the Sunwing flight attempting to land at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. (Submitted by Kayla Giles)

From there, Giles said, the trip got worse. The flight continued to Fredericton, where passengers waited on the tarmac for about four hours, before the plane took off again for Moncton, N.B. 

By the time the flight landed in Moncton, Giles said, passengers had gone nearly 10 hours without food. 

"They were hungry and stressed and people were yelling," Giles said. 

She said passengers spent three hours waiting at the Greater Moncton International Airport before the airline decided to put them on five buses and send them to Halifax for the final leg of the journey. 

"They did some things right and some things really, really wrong," Giles said.

'It was a gong show'

Anne Giles said she finally arrived in Halifax at 3 a.m. Friday, about 20 hours after she began the journey from Cuba. (CBC)

The airline said Friday that high winds were to blame and apologized to passengers.  

"We regret the inconvenience this weather-related diversion has caused; however the safety of our customers remains our paramount concern," Rachel Goldrick, corporate communications manager for Sunwing Vacations, said in an email statement. 

The airline said passengers will receive a $150 voucher for future travel with Sunwing, but Giles said she won't be using it. 

"No," said Giles. "It was a gong show."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.