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WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints and compensation

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WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints and compensation

Old 11th Jul 2016, 16:14
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WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints and compensation

Good Afternoon All:

This article was in today's CBC Business section. This whole issue must make for very challenging encounters with the front line staff at Team Teal which I can only have empathy for.

I wonder why they bought/leased such old aircraft which are prone to maintenance issues? Where was the back up for them?

WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints and compensation - Business - CBC News

Delays and cancellations are plaguing the airline's routes to London, England
By Tracy Johnson, CBC News Posted: Jul 11, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 11, 2016 9:56 AM ET
On June 23, Kellie Power flew from Seattle to London, England, to get married. She booked a flight with WestJet; first leg from Seattle to Calgary, the next leg onto London's Gatwick airport
It did not go well.
Power's flight from Seattle to Calgary had its departure time changed to earlier in the day. Calgary-based WestJet called to notify her, but she didn't answer. When she arrived at the airport, the flight had already taken off and Powers had to spend the night at a hotel in Seattle.
'If they're compensating people at the rate I got, basically, they've been flying people across the Atlantic for free'- Darryl Wilson, WestJet passenger
She arrived in London a day later than planned, but the worst wasn't behind her. When Kellie and her new husband Oscar Power flew out of Gatwick back to Seattle last Monday, the flight was delayed by more than four hours, which caused them to miss their connection.
"We got to the airport and waited six hours for our flight," said Power. "They scheduled us for a new connection, but the already delayed flight was delayed further. We sat on the tarmac for an hour, so missed our new connection as well.
"That was the last flight out of Edmonton, which was where our layover was, so we ended up having to spend the night in Edmonton. We ended up getting into Seattle 18 hours later than we initially planned."
Aviation forums heavy on complaints
To sum up, a day-long delay going out and a nearly day-long delay coming home. A particularly rough experience, especially for a wedding trip. But the Power's story is emblematic of a problem with WestJet's London route, which has been in operation for just over two months.
Airline forums are heavy on complaints. One forum, on airliner.net, has a thread dedicated to WestJet's Gatwick route. Many angry passengers have taken to Twitter, with one theme: delays, schedule changes, and cancellations.
WestJet announced its service to London a little more than a year ago, its first overseas destination for the four wide-bodied Boeing 767 jets that it bought from Qantas. Those jets have an average age of 24 years, which is the core of the problem. They began to have mechanical problems.

In a video posted to WestJet's internal YouTube channel on June 16, 2016, chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky explains the problem, calling the route a "hobbled operation."
"The 767s have been giving us lots of grief, lots of mechanical problems," said Saretsky in the video.
"We're finding that when things break, because some of the parts are so old, we don't have them in store. And then we're doing a global search through the AOG desk to find them and then it's taking two or three days to get these things. We don't want to keep them in stock because they break once every 20 years."
'The 767s have been giving us lots of grief, lots of mechanical problems'- Gregg Saretsky, CEO, WestJet
Saretsky went on to thank front line and other employees who have taken the brunt of passenger dismay and wrangled the booking of hotels and rescheduling of flights.
To ease the situation, WestJet contracted an Omni Air jet to stand in when one of the Boeing 767s needs repairs.
Ian Procter was on one of those flights, an experience that he describes as a bait-and-switch, since he had made plans to use WestJet's in-flight entertainment system for the nine-hour flight from Calgary to London.
Instead the Omni Jet had no personal entertainment system and no WestJet Connect, which is the service that allows passengers to play content on their iPads. The screens were in the middle aisle, there were no power outlets and less leg room than expected.
"We were not even provided with the basic WestJet plane services and leg room,etc," said Procter in an email. "But yet they are allowed to unilaterally change the conditions of the flight we purchased, departure and arrival times, with no notice or compensation?"
In the WestJet video, Saretsky said that the Omni jet would be flying the route, so that the airline would be able to take the four Boeing 767s out of rotation one at a time to check the aircraft. The Omni contract ended July 1.
Compensation required for delayed flights
WestJet's social media team has been active on Twitter responding to complaints. The company said that it's responding to each customer who makes contact.
But its liability is quite a bit bigger.
Darryl Wilson is a travel blogger and aviation buff who booked his flight from Vancouver to London for the very first flight in May. He wanted to take the inaugural flight and did so, documenting the experience on his blog.
Wilson is pleased that WestJet has brought competition to the Canada/Europe routes, but said that the service was lacking. On his way home, his flight was cancelled. He was given the option to wait a day or fly back through Toronto, getting him home late, but at least the same day. The flight was further delayed and he barely made his connection in Toronto, but was at least compensated.

Under the European Denied Boarding and Delayed Flight legislation, Wilson and anyone else with a delayed flight of more than three hours out of Europe is entitled to compensation. Wilson received 600 Euros, more than $800, effectively paying for his flight. If his cancelled flight was full, that's approximately $225,000 in compensation for that one flight.
Kellie and Oscar Power, with a flight delayed more than four hours would also each be entitled to 600 Euros under this law.
"It's got to be a big blow to WestJet," said Wilson. "I was not the only one, so if they're compensating people at the rate I got, basically, they've been flying people across the Atlantic for free."
Wilson said that he didn't apply for the compensation and that WestJet contacted him with the information.
WestJet's response
In a statement to CBC News, WestJet said that the non-stop service to London Gatwick represents the longest flights WestJet has operated in its 20-year history.
"As is the case with any new aircraft type, including the Q400 when we started operating it, we have experienced a number of delays as we gain experience on the new aircraft type," spokesperson Lauren Stewart said in the statement.
WestJet also said that fewer than five per cent of the flights to London have been cancelled and "In every case we either chartered an aircraft or provided guests with travel on other airlines to ensure the issues with their travel plans were mitigated as quickly as possible."
"This is a temporary situation and we fully anticipate to be operating at our normal performance levels in the near future."
The ramifications may last longer though. Neither Kellie nor Oscar Power have ever flown WestJet before. When asked if she would again, she said no.
"This was my first time with them and my last time."
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 17:02
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Welcome to the "Big Boys Club" West Jet, sometimes it pays to stay in ones own back yard, newer aircraft are expensive, but buying old Qantas airframes given the "new reality" of Qantas is not very smart. {For those who haven't noticed, Qantas is no longer the fine airline it once was, but like many others is now run by the "Bean Counters", which we all know cuts on everything from food to maintenance! }
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 18:07
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When they started the UK service with 24+ year old aircraft, I did wonder if they were testing the water and taking a leaf out of Icelandair's book of leaving a/c on the ground longer or overnight to get best slot times and revenues, rather than fly intensive operations with quick turnaround times...

It seems they fell into the double-trap of high-intensity usage of old airframes. What could possibly go wrong there???

I guess the maxim is: "If you're going to do it, do it properly!" A few years ago I wondered aloud if they'd start same European services with half a dozen shiny new 777s.

Painful (and entirely avoidable) lesson learned.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 19:01
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To add, i bet AC/AC Rouge has upped their 767 part prices significantly when WJ needs a part from stores. I guess WJ should've done more research regarding upcoming unexpected maintenance even if a part is changed once every 20 years. AC will always have an upper hand in the international market, new 787's and 777 incoming regularly, old 767's going to Rouge. WJ should consider the 787, might have to wait a bit due to backlog now.

Kinda unfair AC can go to Bombardier, get CSeries at a peanut price, and here Wesjet's gotta save up for decades to expand their fleet because their a private firm. The government should be ashamed, the logistics of Canadian travel both domestic and international is very poor, and expensive, even if you're flying YYZ-YOW!

Hopefully WJ can look long term.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 20:26
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Striker, do you live under a rock? Air Canada has been private company since Pontius was a pilot, but the Government has handicapped them with conditions such as "the headquarters must be in Quebec" Its WJ who can operate in a true free market, not AC . I'm always amazed that so many of our fellow Canadians just know SO little about our nation, but then they did put "Junior" into the PMs seat which tells you how bloody dumb they are, lets not even talk about Ontario and their choice! PS, "Pool parts "come with standard prices, normally through specialised companies and most airlines are members of "parts pools", so no, there is little if any price gouging, but you can carry on seeing bogy men out to get West Jet if you wish.

Last edited by clunckdriver; 11th Jul 2016 at 23:03.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 23:54
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Remember Jetsgo a few years back?

Last edited by rotornut; 12th Jul 2016 at 00:17.
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 03:49
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Striker, clearly you haven't a clue.

Air Canada is never going to sell westjet a part to save their asses. Ever.

And it hasn't been a crown corp since Mulroney.

westjet is in the deep end... they'll figure out how to swim eventually, but will swallow more water than they were expecting along the way no doubt.

Meanwhile the joke is on the muppets that still think westjet is some kind of people's airline while they choke on their cheap fare and go hungry in the back of an omni 767, days late, through another city... while westjet can't even support their own operation properly... cue the circus tune...
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 12:36
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Good Morning All:

I have been reading some interesting postings on the Airline Employee Forum which has some very thought-provoking comments. One poster by the name of "Dagger" who I have always found an erudite writer said this

"These planes are lemons. And you can't make lemonade with them. There always is a trade-off between the cost of the product and the price charged for it. WestJet positioned itself as the ultra low cost, no frills operator on the LGW routes. But to offer a stripped down product at the lowest possible base fare, management opted for the cheapest possible lift (or they overpaid for crap in which case they deserve all this grief). Going ultra low fare meant leasing old planes and perhaps ones more experienced overseas operators had rejected, or would recognize as substandard upon physical inspection by seasoned 767 maintenance staff.
Going forward, the answer is probably to move up the cost curve a bit, get better lift, maybe upgrade the in-flight product just a bit, and charge a little more. WestJet needs good used lift to make this work, and since fuel prices will be higher next summer - mark my word on that - WestJet might have to charge more anyway.
Long term, sticking with this junk and even junkier backup will harm the airline's reputation. So I expect something different for next summer on the North Atlantic.
I will add one bit of schadenfreude: It's funny how Gregg keeps trying to come across as this know-it-all who is smarter than all the bumpkins at those legacy airlines with all their costs. The fact is, there are no short cuts that haven't been discovered. If you could run a reliable international carrier with only old, unreliable long-haul aircraft, and make a lot of money, Boeing and Airbus would not sell another long-haul aircraft."

Another poster who says he works for Team Teal said this

"It's been pretty embarrassing to see how unreliable the 767's have been. I've told friends and family to avoid booking us to LGW which is something I've never said to anyone. While we could look back and do hundreds of things differently I'm pretty confident that we'll learn from our mistakes and move forward. If one thing has surpassed my expectations it's the loads. There is definitely a market for us."

To me this is written in a very pragmatic fashion devoid of the "Kool-Aide" that is the norm for Team teal.

Another poster said this about Jazz's foray into the Wide Body world

"Chorus Aviation - using its regional airline subsidiary Jazz Aviation - went from no large aircraft or transoceanic flights to 6 B757 flying Caribbean/Central America/South America in 9 months. Started the operation on schedule with full regulatory approvals and never once had to sub charter to cover MTC IRROPS. Not every flight left on time but customer inconveniences were rare in an operation where all 6 aircraft were fully allocated most days of the week.
WJ needs to stop making excuses and take a hard look at why they cannot execute the addition of a fleet type with any reasonable degree of reliability. It looks like they decided to do it on the cheap and that some of the program managers and senior decision makers are in over their head."

More can be found at

http://theairlinewebsite.com/topic/4...s-in-the-news/
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 14:04
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I'm not trying to up Westjet, and my apologies for the AC is a not a private firm image, was just trying to point out that i feel the government needs to do more to enhance Canadian domestic/international travel competition, maybe by privatizing airports or giving incentives to upgrade fleets to be more environmentally and internationally competitive. I know is not the most popular comparison, but if you want to fly NYC-LHR, you have over 6 airlines to choose from, we are limited to to a 2-3. 2 of which have major limitations, and as you can see operational issues with one. It shouldn't cost 300 bucks round trip to fly between Ottawa-Toronto, sometimes to LHR/LGW costs 900-1200 plus.

With regards to part availability, i've worked in that industry for a bit, and trust me in a AOG or emergency situation, the competition was always slow or unfair selling the required part, which meant we had to look to other options internationally, which takes time and lots of money.

This is indeed Westjet's doing and i agree with the other poster, they have to upgrade their experience and service, to match AC at least. Not sure how long they can go with the 767 in the long run but i feel they will improve.

I also cant stand people who think Westjet is still "your neighbourhood airline"....the fares, operations and service are that of a normal airline. AC at least has a good track record of being 4 stars plus, WJ put their domestic product, internationally! No one wants to fly to London (Gatwick) with a stop in St.John's, especially on 767, might as well take Rouge - direct.

I've flown both AC and WJ numerous times and i found that AC offered a better product domestically, wont compare internationally cause there is no comparison right now. AC made a great move separating mainline with Rouge, now you have 2 options, both AC based, to choose from. When i flew Rouge it wasn't the best experience, but i got what i payed for, and the fare was cheaper than WJ. I think it's time to stop treating WJ like a newcomer. Although i enjoy their product, they have become very cost-based, and not offering more unless you pay significantly. They have also removed inflight entertainment and limited their service, which is really telling to what they are trying to accomplish....

Room for improvement is there, but they are not even close to providing seamless international travel using wide-bodies. I also feel their domestic product will continue to deteriorate especially with the new C-Series/733 coming to AC.

Last edited by striker26; 12th Jul 2016 at 14:15.
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 15:19
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Striker 26, What is a "private company image" for Pete's sake, you are either private or you are not, and Air Canada is TOTALLY private! Privatise airport's ? With the exception of a few north of 60 they ARE private, the result is CYYZ is now more expensive to land an aircraft at than London UK or Tokyo? Again you seem to have missed a bit of history, I just purchased a ticket to go to the UK, total airport improvement fees, security fees . Airways fees along with all the other crap equal just about the ticket cost! So I don't think privatising has achieved anything that was promised, { As for naming airports after politicians, don't get me going!} in fact quite the reverse as small airports lose their IFR status due to ridicules cost of certification, this in spite of being Medivac destinations, but then small town Canada is ignored by most governments who don't need their votes to stay in power. To get back to West Jet, whoever purchased those clapped out dogs should be handed their pink slip, next time use folks ho are truly qualified in the field of aircraft appraisal!
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Old 13th Jul 2016, 22:14
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From the Governance of Canadian Airports: Issues and Recommendations published in 2014, quote " Canadian airports receive no subsidies from the federal
government; they do, however, pay substantial rents to the government as the land owner. Thus, the airports
must fund the modernization of their infrastructure and their operating expenses by their own means."
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Old 14th Jul 2016, 01:04
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These planes are lemons. And you can't make lemonade with them. There always is a trade-off between the cost of the product and the price charged for it.
Exactly the point when I mentioned the defunct Jetsgo in my earlier post.
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Old 14th Jul 2016, 16:39
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No one wants to fly to London (Gatwick) with a stop in St.John's, especially on 767, might as well take Rouge - direct.
Umm, WJ is flying 767's direct to LGW from YYZ etc. No need to go via YYT. They are also flying YYT-LGW using B737's in direct competition with AC's YYT-LHR flight (that uses A319's). The WJ YYT-LGW route seems to benefit from a considerably more reliable service - no doubt due to newer A/C with more spares available - so perhaps a routeing via St John's isn't the worst idea in the world anyway?!
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Old 24th Jul 2016, 16:23
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Not just team teal, AC has some issues as well.
https://ca.news.yahoo.com/stranded-m...224258511.html
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Old 26th Jul 2016, 15:59
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Issues? Most airlines have them. Never heard of an airline that didn't. Nothing new here. Just yesterday, for example, an Etihad Airbus was delayed 20 hours at Edinburgh due to tow bar availability.. Oh yawn..
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 02:32
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I flew WJ yesterday from LGW to YYR. It was delayed by two hours, however i liked the overall experience. I like the fact that it is stripped back, I was able to use my laptop to watch movies which for me was better than a twenty year old tiny screen. The Westjet Connect is a move which i expect many other airlines to adopt moving into the future. I like the fact i was not bombarded with crappy airline food all the time and took both complementary drinks. Because I was in 5H I had a huge amount of room to stretch out. The plus upgrade price is reasonable for what it looks like. Just my two cents.

Now 767 aircraft was a mistake, they should have looked at a more modern aircraft; Parts are sparse and expensive. Although I am not a major fan of airbus, i think a old a330 or a340 would have been better. they travel quicker, with more parts available around the world rather than an older Boeing aircraft.

We cant forget though, you cant just stockpile a whole 767 because you dont have the money to do so.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 22:49
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Those '67s are hurting their bottom line: WestJet?s London glitches weigh on costs as airline reports 40% drop in profit | Financial Post
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 13:34
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i think a old a340 would have been better
You're not really familiar with costs associated with running airliners if that's your recommendation.
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Old 1st Aug 2016, 03:41
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Well seeing as im not an airline pilot,then no. however that would seem like a logical step as they - IMO - would be more reliable and have more parts available around the world. I know Swiss International are retiring their fleet and they were getting them up until recently.
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Old 1st Aug 2016, 13:38
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however that would seem like a logical step as they - IMO - would be more reliable and have more parts available around the world.
Interesting logic - 377 total A340's were built and it's been OOP for 5 years. Over three times that many 767s have been built and it's still in production. Why would you think A340 spares would be more readily available?
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