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'No flight for you here': St. Albert man describes Sunwing flight chaos in Cancun


It was a much-needed vacation for St. Albert's Bryan Watson and his family, but it didn't turn out as planned.

"An all-inclusive resort where we could just show up, get some sunshine and relax," he said of his expectations.

But as the end of the 7-day stay in Cancun, Mexico drew closer, Watson heard about flight delays and cancellations due to winter storms.

Sure enough, the Watsons’ flight home on Dec. 22 didn’t happen. And they weren’t alone.

"Oh yeah, the whole lobby’s packed. Everyone’s wondering, 'OK now where are we going to go.' And we’re trying to get answers," he said.

Watson spent a whole day checking the whiteboard in the resort’s Sunwing office for updates.

He squabbled with staff to clarify conflicting information about rescheduled flights and arrange a shuttle to the airport.

"The second we got off the bus they said, ‘Stop, there’s no flight for you here, turn around, go [back],'" he explained.

For five days that process repeated, he said, with Sunwing ultimately covering the cost of the unplanned accommodations.

Christmas came and went and the Watsons were moved to a cheaper hotel while guests worked together to figure out how to get home.

Meanwhile, Watson says Sunwing wasn’t answering calls or emails.

"We’re surviving, but it’s just very uncomfortable. Again, we felt more for the people that had young kids, there were people there with medical conditions, there were seniors that didn’t know what was going on," he said.

It became clear the flight information Sunwing did provide wasn’t reliable, Watson said, so the passengers did what they could to track planes arriving from Canada.

"You have apps for everything these days. They’re monitoring tail numbers on airplanes to figure out, ‘Okay this plane is coming to here’ and so forth, ‘What are the chances that it’s going to be our flight?’" Watson said.

Their efforts paid off, and the Watsons were able to board a flight back to Edmonton on Tuesday. But the confusion meant many passengers still haven't returned to Canada.

"They’re still stuck there and they’re helpless, they don’t know what’s going on," Watson said.

He is still in touch with Canadians in Mexico, providing any advice he can.

Watson feels that the government should hold Sunwing accountable to Canada's air passenger rights act. He fears pestering Sunwing for compensation will be its own ordeal.

"I mean we definitely need a vacation now," he said with a laugh. "Won’t be going with Sunwing for anything ever again, of course."

The president of the airline apologized in a statement to CTV News Edmonton Wednesday.

“We know this past week has been frustrating for many of our customers as we continue to navigate unprecedented operational challenges, resulting in a number of ongoing flight delays," Len Corrado wrote.

"We deeply apologize for the impact to our customers’ travel plans over the holiday season."

Corrado said the company has 40 recovery flights scheduled for this week, 18 of which are expected to be complete by the end of Wednesday.

"For our customers awaiting updated flight times, information on rescheduled flights will be communicated as they are confirmed, through flight alert notifications and through destination representatives," Corrado wrote.

"Please know that we continue to work around the clock to overcome operational challenges and return our remaining delayed customers home in the next few days." Top Stories

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