36-hour flight delay riles passengers

A group of 200 travellers are angry after a delay left them stranded at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport for 36 hours.

Sunwing responds

Sunwing spokesperson Daryl McWilliams said problems acquiring a part led to the long delay in departing Paris. He said a mechanical problem was discovered prior to departure and a three-hour delay was announced.

A mechanic then determined that the part needed to make the fix was in London.

At that point, McWilliams said passengers were booked into a hotel, issued meal vouchers and told they could make two short overseas phone calls to inform friends and relatives about the delay.

McWilliams said a Sunwing employee flew from London to Paris with the part aboard another airline, but the part was lost in transit. 

"Just as sometimes checked baggage goes missing, this part went missing," said McWilliams. "I think it took us about seven hours to find the darn part."

Passengers were taken from the hotel to the airport when the part was en route to Paris from London, then returned to the hotel after it was discovered the part was missing, McWilliams said.

"We were keeping them as updated as we could," said McWilliams. "We recognize how frustrating this is for the passengers involved. I understand the level of frustration. But if there's any insinuation that we had the information and didn't pass it on, that is completely inaccurate. Our No. 1 priority is passenger safety." 

McWilliams said passengers will be offered a Sunwing travel voucher for all segments of their trip, or a cash refund for the Paris-to-Toronto flight that was delayed.

200 travellers are angry after a delay left them stranded at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport for 36 hours.

The Sunwing flight's departure was repeatedly delayed due to problems acquiring a part to fix a hydraulic problem. Originally scheduled to depart Paris at 11:55 local time on Monday, the flight did not arrive in Toronto until 2:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Frustrated passengers told CBC News the airline gave them conflicting information throughout the delay. An airline spokesperson told CBC News (see sidebar) that problems acquiring a part for the plane led to the delay.

Passengers, however, said they were not kept updated as the delay grew longer and longer.

"We couldn't get any information," said passenger Evan Weinberg. "They kept telling us different times it would be leaving."

"Eventually they just put us up in a hotel. And then they kept telling us, you know, we were leaving at 11 at night, we'd come down. No. Then we'd be leaving at two in the morning. We'd come down. No. Seven in the morning, no. And this kept going on and on."

"There was nobody to speak to; there was no way of getting information."

Another passenger said the temperature inside the airport become unbearably hot.

"It was heating up, there was no ventilation, there was a little kid overheating, people passed out. And then we were arguing … then they got overwhelmed and called the police."

Another passenger said the delay made for a "bittersweet" ending to her honeymoon.