For this Regina family, rebooking their Sunwing Cuba vacation meant adding a drive to Winnipeg

For this Regina family, rebooking their Sunwing Cuba vacation meant adding a drive to Winnipeg

New Year’s and Christmas are in the rear-view, but travel headaches reported by scores of Sunwing passengers around the holidays continue.

After having an early January flight cancelled and then refunded through the company, a Regina family said they booked another flight to Cuba through Sunwing for later this month.

The catch, said Lisa Adams-Krahenbil, is the only flight out leaves from Winnipeg — a six-hour-drive from home.

“I did ask when they offered the Winnipeg flight, I said, well, will you pay the gas to get to Winnipeg? And they said no,” said Adams-Krahenbil. 

“It’s all basically out-of-pocket if we still want to go.”

Adams-Krahenbil and her family are opting to absorb those costs and drive to Winnipeg to board the flight. They still want to take in sunny Cuba after being denied that opportunity earlier this month.

Many cancellations

The family is among many to have flights booked with Sunwing cancelled in recent weeks. 

They were supposed to take a Sunwing flight to Cuba from Regina Jan. 3 for a winter holiday. A few days beforehand, Adams-Krahenbil started to hear rumours that their trip was cancelled.

Sunwing has said one reason it cancelled flights out of Saskatchewan in January was due to a pilot shortage. (The Canadian Press)

“I thought it was a scam only because Sunwing website still had our flight there,” she said. “I phoned Sunwing. They had no idea what I was talking about.”

Not long after, Adams-Krahenbil received confirmation that flight was cancelled. The company offered an alternative departure date that didn’t work for the family, she said.

“It was my family’s first hot holiday all together … we were looking forward to it, so it was really heartbreaking,” she said. “You pay your money, you should have the flight.”

A family poses for a photo outside with a forest in the background.
Lisa Adams-Krahenbil, left, and her family are set to fly to Cuba later this month, again with Sunwing. (Submitted by Lisa Adams-Krahenbil)

They received a full refund from Sunwing, something Adams-Krahenbil is grateful for given the wait others are reporting after having flights cancelled.

The family still wanted to visit Cuba, so they recently booked a new vacation, again through Sunwing. But that flight, which leaves later this month, takes off from Winnipeg. They’ve decided, albeit begrudgingly, to make the nearly 600-kilometre drive from Regina.

“It’s all going to add up, definitely, but my kids were really excited about this trip … as was I and my husband,” said Adams-Krahenbil.

A Sunwing spokesperson said the company struggled to find enough pilots for the winter season and had to cancel some January flights from Saskatoon and Regina as a result.

Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs, president of Air Passenger Rights, suggested Sunwing is breaching contracts with some passengers.

“They should pay for any extra costs for rebooking trips … whether through Sunwing or another airline,” Lukacs said.

Gabor Lukacs is president of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights.
Gabor Lukacs is president of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights. (Zoom/CBC)

Some passengers out of Saskatchewan are planning to file a class action lawsuit against Sunwing. Lukacs said that process will take time before it’s all wrapped up and that he hopes the company comes around before then.

“This type of behaviour, it should not be accepted,” he said. “It should be made clear to everybody in Canada, Airlines and any other corporations, that this is not a way to do business in Canada, it won’t be tolerated.”

WATCH | Sunwing winter holiday woes continue:

Sunwing winter holiday travel woes continue

It’s the latest in a saga of cancelled flights over the winter holidays. Some Saskatchewan residents hoping for a sunny vacation are having to make their way to Winnipeg. It’s costly and some say it’s not right.