Over the weekend, passengers faced hours-long lineups to rebook cancelled flights, and some had already been through the process more than once.
Andrew Moreau, a WestJet passenger from Winnipeg, spoke by phone from the Calgary International Airport. He and two others were flying through Calgary on their way to Las Vegas on Saturday when they were told at the gate their flight was cancelled. After six hours in the terminal trying to book another flight, they were told nothing was available for Las Vegas, so the trio agreed they’d fly to San Francisco and drive the rest of the way.
But Moreau said as they sat at the gate on Sunday, the same thing happened – the flight was abruptly cancelled. They decided to abandon their trip and rebooked a flight back home to Winnipeg.
“This is what we’ve seen happen to just about everyone and we’re starting to see the same people over and over again, being recycled through,” Moreau said.
Chief Operating Officer Diederik Pen released a statement on Sunday, which reads in full as follows:
To our valued guests,
On Saturday November 5, WestJet experienced a system-wide outage that impacted operations across our network due to a cooling issue in our primary data centre. Upon learning of the issue, we immediately implemented procedures to employ backup options and manual processes where possible, to minimize guest impact.
Despite our best efforts, a severe disruption to our service occurred, resulting in more than 200 flight cancellations across our network and significant delays throughout Saturday and Sunday.
On behalf of the entire WestJet team, we sincerely apologize to all guests for this unforeseen disruption to their travel plans and the resulting impact on communications, affecting our ability to relay information. We deeply regret this weekend’s extraordinary events that prevented us from delivering the experience our guests deserve.
The technology outage has been resolved and all systems are online, but we are still experiencing some instability. Unfortunately, due to the scope of yesterday’s network impact, we continue to see residual disruptions. Further delays and cancellations in the coming days will be required, as we work diligently to recover our operations.
We understand we let our guests down, and as we work to restore normal operations we owe our sincere gratitude to all who continue to demonstrate patience and understanding as we are currently experiencing very high volumes for our phone, email and social media support channels and long lineups at airports.
While our teams are working to assist guests as quickly as possible, we ask that anyone with travel plans check the WestJet app or WestJet.com for the most up-to-date information on their flight. In an effort to assist guests with imminent travel plans, we are asking all other guests to refrain from contacting us until 72 hours in advance of their flight to ensure we are able to prioritize calls. Re-accommodation options for all impacted guests will be communicated through email as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist guests who are coming to our airports for re-accommodations.
We are undertaking a full review on this incident, and it is my sincere promise that we will find areas of opportunity to improve.