'It's a waiting game': Travellers still stranded at Pearson as Sunwing grapples with flight delays

·3 min read
Passengers wait in line on Tuesday at Toronto's Pearson International Airport as Sunwing Airlines Inc. says the company that operates its check-in systems  continues to experience an outage, causing ongoing flight delays. (CBC - image credit)
Passengers wait in line on Tuesday at Toronto's Pearson International Airport as Sunwing Airlines Inc. says the company that operates its check-in systems continues to experience an outage, causing ongoing flight delays. (CBC - image credit)

Anegret Cucuz thought she would be on a beach lying on the sand in Aruba by now — but that expectation quickly fizzled after she arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Cucuz's flight was supposed to take off at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, but due to unexpected delays that have stranded thousands of Sunwing Airlines passengers, she's just one of many left without answers. The Toronto-based airline says a system outage continues to plague the company that operates its check-in systems.

"We were here pretty much all day yesterday with just poor communication skills and complete chaos," Cucuz said Tuesday.

"Nobody had any answers. Information was very sparse. People were very frustrated."

Cucuz says she herself is frustrated with the ongoing delays that have pushed her flight back several times, but adds the airline has been "very generous" in accommodating passengers with hotel and food vouchers.

"It's a waiting game and you just have to be patient," she told CBC News.

"This is a first world problem, right? ... So, okay, we're going on vacation; it's not the end of the world."

CBC
CBC

Sunwing says it's trying to come up with a solution to the delays.

In an interview on Tuesday night with Toronto's CP24, Sunwing CEO Mark Williams said the delays are due to a "cyberbreach" of a third-party service provider that the airline uses.

"Our team has been working day and night to find alternate ways to get customers to their destination or on return flights home," the airline said in a statement.

As of Tuesday, Sunwing says about 15 out of the more than 40 scheduled flights have been processed since the technical issue first surfaced.

"While our systems provider continues to work on resolving the system outage, we continue to manually process as many flights as possible but expect further delays," the airline said in a tweet Tuesday.

Sunwing says it will compensate all passengers experiencing flight delays over three hours. But some customers say they would rather have their trip cancelled.

CBC
CBC

Frank Galati arrived at the airport at 6:15 a.m. on Monday. Like Cucuz, he was waiting to board the flight from Toronto to Aruba.

"If it keeps going on that they're going to be delaying, delaying, then cancel the trip and give us back our money or give us a credit, or whatever," Galati said.

Jason White has also been waiting at Pearson for two days after his flight to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic was delayed. He's been back and forth several times now between the airport and the hotel Sunwing provided.

"[We] still don't know if we're going to go today or not," White said Tuesday.

"The whole thing kind of sucks. We're going to be losing out on two or three days by the time we get there."

'We don't know what's going on'

While many passengers wait in Canada to board, others are stuck abroad and don't know when they will be able to get home.

James Smythe's family is waiting to fly back to Canada after their Sunwing flight on Tuesday was pushed back twice — leaving them stuck at a resort in Punta Cana.

Smythe, his wife and two daughters, who live in Acton, Ont., have been at the resort for seven days, but they had to push back their flight home set for Saturday due to medical issues.

They didn't anticipate they would have to wait even longer.

Submitted by James Smythe
Submitted by James Smythe

"Now we seem to be stuck in purgatory," Smythe told CBC Toronto Tuesday in an interview via Zoom.

"It's concerning because we don't know if we should be booking alternate flights, whether we should be just staying put.. We don't really know 100 per cent what's going on and so it's hard to tell what to do."

Smythe says he's concerned about running out of the medication he takes daily.

"There is no communication so ... we don't know what's going on and when we're getting out."

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