Toronto

Some Sunwing customers face 'ridiculous' delays thanks partly to collision at Pearson

A collision between two aircraft at Toronto's Pearson airport Friday is having ripple effects for Sunwing customers flying back from Cuba and Mexico, resulting in hours-long delays with many customers criticizing the airline for not communicating with them sooner.

Approximately 20 per cent of flights impacted, with at least one passenger waiting 14 hours

Sunwing confirms weather along with Friday's collision on the apron at Pearson were to blame for the impact on their operations, saying no flights had been cancelled and none were expected to be. (Courtesy of bernews.com)

A collision between two planes at Toronto's Pearson airport Friday is having ripple effects for Sunwing customers flying back from Cuba and Mexico, resulting in hours-long delays with many customers criticizing the airline for not communicating with them sooner.

On Friday evening a Sunwing aircraft, under tow by its ground-handling service provider Swissport, collided with a WestJet flight arriving from Cancun, which was waiting to proceed to the gate.

That incident, combined with "extreme weather" has left customers on at least three flights from Varadero to Toronto and three flights out of Cancun facing delays, with at least one customer delayed by 14 hours.

'A 14-hour delay is ridiculous'

Michelle Hickman is a teacher who was supposed to be heading back to the classroom Monday. Instead, she and 24 others waited Sunday for a bus they say never arrived. Unbeknownst to them at the time, their flight had been delayed.

"This is Monday, first day of school, first day of the work week, after our two weeks off and we're very stressed. I have a four year old and a six year old," Hickman told CBC News.

Hickman was originally scheduled to fly home Sunday at 2:20 p.m. That flight, she says was delayed to 2:20 a.m., and has since been further pushed to 4:50 a.m.

"A 14 hour delay is ridiculous," she said.

Hickman was since given a $150 travel credit, but says she would have liked the airline to be more timely with its communication. 

'Why did we sit in an airport for eight hours?'

She's not alone. 

Oren Nutik spent eight hours holed up in the Cancun airport with his wife and children after their flight home to Montreal, originally scheduled for 3:40 p.m. Saturday, was delayed.

In his case, he says, Sunwing informed customers their flight would be pushed to 6 p.m.

"They said it was delayed a couple of hours so we all went to the airport," said Nutik, adding that his hotel was two hours away in Tulum. 
Two airliners collided on the ground at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, causing a small fire on one and an emergency evacuation of the other. (Megan Fill)

By midnight, their plane still hadn't arrived.

Nutik says it wasn't until 1 a.m. that they were told the pilots would be too exhausted to make the flight that night and they'd have to wait until the next day. So he, his wife and two children went back to their hotel, another two-hour trip, only to have to make the trip back to the airport again Sunday.

"We're in Cancun, why did we sit in an airport for eight hours?They should have told us before it left Montreal and said, 'Enjoy your 24 hours in the sun," he told CBC News. "If they knew about it, they could have just been transparent about it."

Nutik too received a voucher, for $75, but says the airline should have been more forthcoming with passengers. 

Airline 'sincerely' regrets inconvenience

In a statement to CBC News, Sunwing spokesperson Jacqueline Grossman confirmed weather along with Friday's collision on the apron at Pearson were to blame for the impact on their operations, saying no flights had been cancelled and none were expected to be. Approximately 20 per cent of its flights were affected, she said. 
Oren Nutik noticed several Sunwing flights were delayed while at the the airport in Cancun. (Submitted by Oren Nutik)

"We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused and appreciate our customers patience as we endeavour to resume normal operations," she said. 

Where possible, she said, arrangements were made for late checkouts at passengers' hotels, and transfers to airports were delayed so customers could wait in comfort. 

In accordance with its Passenger Care Commitment, Grossman says all customers affected by the delays were offered meal vouchers during their wait and future travel vouchers "as a gesture of goodwill."

With files from Lucas Powers

now