The Ma family had to pay over $15,000 for return flights to Canada from Puerto Rico after the carrier suspended operations to the island.
A family left stranded in Puerto Rico by the cancellation of their WestJet flight have expressed their upset over their ordeal, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. Chris Ma and ten members of her family, who had flown to the island with American Airlines on October 28th to catch a cruise, only learned of the cancellation when they arrived at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) on November 4 to board their return flight home.
“It was just really upsetting […] We were stranded,” Ma said, adding, “We were just so worried.”
WestJet, along with Air Canada, canceled services to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September. It says that it provided “ample notification” of this suspension of services, both posting a notice on its website on October 8th and sending out e-mail notifications.
Unable to find a WestJet counter at SJU, Ma made contact with the carrier, who did apologize, but said that they were unable to offer assistance. Ma then reached out to EC Travel, the agency that had booked the family’s tickets. Ma said that the agent was unaware that WestJet had suspended services to the island and advised her to purchase return flights via an alternative carrier.
Ma and her family eventually booked multiple connecting flights home to Toronto and Montreal via three separate carriers. In addition to this, the group had to spend an additional three days in San Juan before heading back to Canada. Ma said that, in total, the family spent an extra $15,500 in order to get home.
“I feel like WestJet is to blame. If they’re going to cancel flights that we already bought tickets for, they should have been able to help us more,” Ma commented.
WestJet, however, has defended its actions, saying that, in addition to notifying passengers, it alerted travel agents via a website aimed specifically at travel operators.
It also added that, while it can issue refunds for tickets and change fees, it is the travel agencies themselves who are responsible for arranging new flights for stranded passengers.