Flight canceled, leaving passengers stranded in Mexico

Hundreds of Canadians are stranded in Cancun, Mexico, and do not know how to get home after their Sunwing flights were canceled last week.

Passengers say they have been shuffled from hotel to hotel after sleeping on airport floors and in corridors, saying their ordeal will not end.

“We just want to go home,” said Tess Friedenberger, who is scheduled to fly home to Calgary on December 22 on a Sunwing flight from Mexico. “I never expected us to be in a situation like this, I never thought that would happen. We are writing to the consulate, we are writing to hire a law. We are ready to do whatever it takes.”

Friedenberger said in an interview that the information from Sunwing was incomplete and inaccurate, noting that many of her companions were angry and beginning to feel hopeless. Video taken by a stranded Sunwing passenger and seen by The Canadian Press shows dozens of people at Cancun Airport chanting “Liars!” and “Bring us home!”

“There’s no help and no one we can really trust at this point,” she said. “We pretty much defend ourselves.”

Friedenberger left Calgary on December 15 for a vacation at Sunwing in Cancun. She was supposed to return home a week later, but she received a notice saying her flight was delayed. Over the next few days, the announcements kept coming, pushing flights into the weekend.

Eventually, she and her companion were told their flight would depart on Christmas Eve, she said. But when the time came, she said a Sunwing representative said the flight didn’t exist.

She said they haven’t heard anything since they were able to go home.

In the meantime, she and her fellow passengers were taken by Sunwing between hotels in Cancun, who paid for their own taxis to get there, she said. She said the second hotel they went to had no idea they were coming and no rooms were booked for them. Everyone slept in the hotel lobby until they were finally given a bed.

“There are older people who need medication,” she said. “There were kids all over the hallway, screaming and crying and trying to sleep.”

When Sunwing directed them to another location on Christmas Eve, some were so distrustful that they stayed to sleep in the lobby until there was evidence that a room was waiting for them, she added.

Sunwing said in tweets on December 22, 23 and 24 that it had canceled flights because of severe winter weather conditions in various parts of the country. Friedenberger said she understands that bad weather can be devastating, noting: “We’re Canadians.”

“It was a lack of communication and not knowing what to expect and the mess around,” she explains. “If you know we won’t be home until December 28, that’s fine. Tell us that and put us in a room at a hotel.”

Friedenberger said she has met other Canadians stranded in Cancun on other Sunwing flights, and she says they are facing similar unknowns.

“There’s so much more to it than just us,” she said. “I would say hundreds at this point.”

Cristina Oppedisano said her Sunwing flight from Cancun to Toronto on December 21 was also cancelled. Like Friedenberger, Oppedisano said in an interview that she and her family don’t know when they will be home.

She said that she and her group of 10 family members, including 4 children, were also sent from hotel to hotel unprepared, sleeping on the airport and transparent lobby floors. that time. She and her family were part of a group of about 100 passengers scheduled to be on the canceled Sunwing flight, she said.

“We’re stuck here,” she said, adding that she had not yet received any word from Sunwing about when they might be able to go home.

In an emailed statement on Sunday afternoon, Sunwing said “several northbound flights” continue to be delayed as severe weather hampers the ability to move aircraft and crew to airports. is different.

The airline did not say how many flights were affected.

“Our teams are working hard to support customers by providing flight service where possible, in addition to arranging hotels and alternative transportation for those experiencing overnight delays, The statement added that customers should continue to check the status of their flight online.

“Our local and destination teams continue to proactively manage the situation and are doing everything they can to bring customers home in the coming days,” the company said.

Sunwing did not immediately respond to a follow-up email asking when those stranded in Cancun could go home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 25, 2022.

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