Saskatoon family leaving for winter vacation loses $5,000 transfer to Sunwing Kerfuffle

The Stone family on a previous vacation.  Her trip to Mexico in 2023 did not go so smoothly.  (Submitted by Adrienne Stone - photo credit)

The Stone family on a previous vacation. Her trip to Mexico in 2023 did not go so smoothly. (Submitted by Adrienne Stone – photo credit)

Saskatoon resident Adrienne Stone just had enough of Sunwing Airlines after months of confusion surrounding her family’s winter vacation booking.

The Stone family first made plans to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Sunwing in August 2022. You booked a direct flight from Saskatoon for February 10, 2023.

Stone said the price for the trip was good and that her family had traveled on Sunwing at least six times and hadn’t had any major hiccups before.

“The odd delay or two due to the weather, things like that, but nothing major. They’ve always been a great airline – cheap, get you there, get you to a good resort, and transport from the airport to the hotel is included. No problems,” Stein said.

Then, on December 30, Sunwing canceled all of its flights out of Saskatchewan through February 3. At the time, Stone didn’t think their trip would be affected as they wouldn’t be departing until February 10.

“Then I spoke to my aunt in Regina and her flight to the Dominican Republic was canceled and she said she realized something was wrong a few days beforehand because [her] Travel was missing from the Sunwing app and that was kind of an alarm signal for them.”

Stone decided to check on the status of her own trip. Like her aunt’s, it was absent from the Sunwing app.

Stone called Sunwing and received confirmation that her trip had indeed been cancelled. She was unable to reschedule the trip from an airport outside of Saskatchewan because the transportation would have been too expensive.

Stone opted for a refund, which Sunwing said would take 30 days. She received an invoice. But weeks later, Stone noted that Sunwing was still selling the same Puerto Vallarta package her family booked in August.

“I called them and said, ‘You’re still selling this… is it a try? Are you fraudulently taking people’s money for a canceled trip?’”

She said her family was reassured that the trip was still canceled and everyone who booked it would be given a refund.

Stone rebooked the trip with WestJet, but it cost the family $5,000 more than Sunwing.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The elusive flight returns

Then on Monday, Stone received a direct message on Twitter from a Sunwing employee saying the flight would go ahead after all. She said she didn’t know why the Stones’ trip was canceled. Sunwing offered to rebook her at the same price they agreed in August.

“They asked me about the cancellation policy to cancel my other trip with WestJet. I said, ‘I’m not going to wait another 30 days or deal with all these cancellations to be on this original trip. And you don’t feel really safe about booking anything at all with Sunwing now.'”

She said Sunwing fully admitted it screwed up the Stones’ family trip and that the airline said the trip should not have been canceled in the first place.

“She actually got down and actually looked … and she basically said, ‘We screwed up.’ And it actually gave me a little bit more confidence in Sunwing that they actually have some decent people doing their job.”

In the end, Stone decided to stick with WestJet bookings, even though they were $5,000 more expensive, because she didn’t feel safe with Sunwing.

She said her generally positive attitude helped her get through the whole ordeal.

“In a situation like this, because there’s nothing you can do about it … you have to go with the flow. And if I actually sat down and really thought about it, I’d probably just sit there and cry and curl up and play ball and do nothing. But that doesn’t help either.”

The Stones finally get to go on vacation on Sunday, and it can’t come soon enough.

“I’m really looking forward to the warmer temperatures,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to spending time with my family in Mexico. We do this every year. It’s a great family holiday.”

Stone admits she’s still nervous about delays or other mishaps that are common with airlines these days.

“I think I’ll be a little nervous until we land there.”

CBC News reached out to Sunwing Airlines for a response to Stone’s problems booking her vacation, but received no response within the timeline given.


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