A stranded American couple on their honeymoon might recommend Yellowknife as a travel destination but likely won’t encourage their friends to fly with WestJet.

Karla Soto and spouse Luis Monroig originally planned to come to the NWT capital for an aurora sightseeing tour over four days and three nights. Everything was running smoothly until WestJet had to cancel their Dec. 21 flight to Calgary due to inclement weather conditions. Massive snowstorms in southern Canada left many holiday travellers in a bind.

The airline tried to rebook Soto and Monroig on a Dec. 28 flight.

“So we were just waiting and waiting in the airport, then at night, the flight finally got cancelled. So we went to the agent at the airport and I don’t think they handled the crisis very well,” said Soto. “The agent said that if it was weather-related, there is no such help, and we didn’t get any help (from WestJet) that day at all.”

Soto and Luis Monroig said they didn’t get any assistance with the added cost of accommodations, meals or other essentials either.

They didn’t give up on trying to book an earlier flight back to their home in Virginia.

“We spent two more days trying to get our flight rebooked, and nobody helped us at WestJet. Like, we go to the airport for two days instead of spending our honeymoon relaxing, having fun. We called the number they gave us, and nobody answered. I fell asleep while just waiting for the operator to answer, that was a four-hour phone call.”

The couple persisted but had no success until they came up with another plan, which was to fly to Edmonton aboard Air Tindi. However, that meant spending an extra $450 per person for tickets, because they thought that it might be easier for WestJet to rebook their flight from a larger airport.

WestJet offered to rebook them from Edmonton to Montreal on Dec. 26, but that also came with additional costs, according to Soto.

Soto and Monroig pressed the airline for a refund. They said they reached out to WestJet agents in multiple airports but none of them were willing to help.

They finally departed Yellowknife on Dec. 23.

“We got stranded in Edmonton and we got stranded in Toronto too, and they only helped us one night, and the rest of them, they were supposed to refund (us) but the form they gave us I don’t feel that is a guarantee.” Soto said, noting that a WestJet employee informed them that even a misspelling of a name could result in their claim being rejected.

“That could be an excuse if they really don’t want to issue that refund.” said Monroig. “That doesn’t sound right.”

She and her partner understand that WestJet was facing major complications caused by the weather crises, but they feel there should be a better way to deal with this.

Monroig sounded a note of optimism that the couple is at least better prepared to face challenges together in the future.

WestJet couldn’t be reached for comment prior to publication deadline.

Kaicheng Xin

Kaicheng Xin is a Multimedia Journalist with NNSL Media. You can reach him at kaicheng.xin@nnsl.com

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