British Columbians stuck in Mexico amidst cancelled Sunwing flights

Beatrice Sabou's family got stuck in Mexico due to flight cancellations. She said Sunwing repeatedly failed to communicate that their flights were cancelled and provided conflicting information. (Submitted by Beatrice Sabou - image credit)
Beatrice Sabou's family got stuck in Mexico due to flight cancellations. She said Sunwing repeatedly failed to communicate that their flights were cancelled and provided conflicting information. (Submitted by Beatrice Sabou - image credit)

A Vancouver family finally returned home Tuesday from a vacation-turned-nightmare in Playa del Carmen after their Dec. 22 flight home was cancelled.

Beatrice Sabou, who was traveling with her husband and 13-year-old son, said they drained their savings during the extended stay which lasted five days longer than planned and included a hospital visit on Christmas Day.

"Something that started as a really beautiful vacation transformed into a nightmare," Sabou said.

The family is among many Canadians who have been stranded in Mexico during the past week due to Sunwing flight cancellations.

In a statement to CBC, Sunwing said: "A number of return flights continue to be impacted by delays due to displaced crew and aircraft resulting from the aftermath of severe weather disruptions across Canada. We are working hard to re-accommodate customers in destination by subservicing aircraft, and arranging alternate hotels and transfers for those with overnight delays."

They said they have completed two recovery flights this week and have another eight scheduled for before Dec. 30.

However, Sabou said the airline repeatedly failed to communicate that their flights were cancelled and provided conflicting information on multiple occasions.

 

"We didn't know if we were gonna have a roof over our head, we didn't know when we are leaving, what we are doing, and there was no communication," she said.

While the airline and travel company covered the accommodation for their first two nights, the family paid out of pocket for the rest of the stay, with the promise of reimbursement.

Then on Christmas morning, Sabou had to go to the hospital after her blood pressure indicated she was on the verge of having a heart attack.

"We're not old. We're active, healthy people … I have no history of nothing," Sabou said, adding the medical personnel told her it was likely stress-induced.

The family was also running out of their son's essential medication, which they said was difficult to access in Mexico.

Submitted by Beatrice Sabou
Submitted by Beatrice Sabou

They booked a flight home with a different airline.

Sabou said in total they spent more than $11,000 on extra accommodation, hospital fees, and their return flight.

And being away for the holidays and going through a health crisis took a toll on her family.

"Christmas for a child is the most important event of the year … we were depressed, we were scared," Sabou said, adding she's still monitoring her pulse and is on standby to go to the hospital.

"Like a bad Eagles song" 

Meanwhile, Jerel Davis and his family have been stuck in Puerto Vallarta since their Dec. 23 flight was cancelled, with no return flight in sight.

Sunwing initially told them their flight back home to Vancouver was rescheduled for Dec. 24.

Davis paid a lot of money for an extra night at their rental accommodation.

When they arrived at the airport the next day, they discovered the flight — which was listed on a board — did not exist.

Submitted by Jerel Davis
Submitted by Jerel Davis

The family has stayed at a hotel Sunwing sent them to ever since.

Davis paid to send his mother-in-law, who he says has a disability, home on a different airline on Tuesday.

"This is the first time she's travelled in probably five years … she's quite overwhelmed," he said, adding his 12-year-old son and seven-year-old twin daughters are anxious to get home and celebrate the holidays.

"Is it gonna be a day, is it gonna be in a week, is it gonna be in two weeks? We have no idea at this point."

As of Tuesday afternoon, Davis had not received any information about when their flight will be rescheduled.

"You can't get a hold of everyone, you're trapped in this hotel … it's like a bad Eagles song, you can never leave."