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Stranded in paradise: airline catching up after flights delayed by severe weather disruptions

What started out as a winter escape before Christmas has turned into a seven-day waiting game for some Saskatoon flyers.

Susan Hawryluk flew out to Punta Cana with Sunwing on December 14 from the Saskatoon airport, with the intention of landing back home on December 21.

She and many other couples have been stuck in the Dominican Republic town waiting for answers.

“We assumed everything would have been status quo as it has been for the past 15 years we’ve used Sunwing,” Hawryluk said.

She said they left their resort on the 21st and waited hours at the airport, with a Sunwing representative frequently coming to tell them they’d have to wait longer, and that their flight was delayed.

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Eventually other accommodations were given to the people left waiting on a flight that would never come, being told that the flight was pushed back to the next day.

“This would go on, starting at 7 in the morning, we’re sitting in the lobby until about 4:30 in the afternoon.”

Again, they’d get rechecked back into a resort at the end of the day, being told the flight would go out the next day, with this situation repeating for several days.

“I’m not going to lie, there’s been tears. Devastating, you’re thinking you’re going to get home safe to see your family, you’re going to spend Christmas with your family. You’ve got a granddaughter at home who has her very first Christmas this year.”

“Once we knew for sure we weren’t going to make it home for Christmas it was extremely heartbreaking and devastating,” Hawryluk added.

She said the Sunwing representative has been right there trying to help them, but added that they didn’t know what was going on either.

She said some people are worried about their jobs, and whether they’ll even have one when they get back.

“I’ve seen other people say ‘I’ve got to pay my employees, I can’t even do that.’”

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Blake Dauvin and his girlfriend left on the same day with the same expected day back, but said the constant delays have been weighing on everyone.

“After the first couple days of delays it’s not like a vacation anymore.”

“I want to go home. People have jobs, people have families, especially over Christmas we’re missing out on those things,” Dauvin added.

He noted that he was hopeful, saying that a Saskatoon flight to the Dominican is on its way for Wednesday, and that he hopes to catch it heading back to Saskatoon.

Global News reached out to Sunwing and received a statement.

“A number of return flights continue to be impacted by delays due to displaced crew and aircraft resulting from the aftermath of severe weather disruptions across Canada. We are working hard to reaccommodate customers in destination by subservicing aircraft, and arranging alternate hotels and transfers for those with overnight delays,” the statement read.

“Our teams continue to proactively work around the clock with several airline partners to subservice aircraft and return customers home. We have completed two recovery flights so far this week, have planned another eight recovery flights which are scheduled to depart up to and including December 30, 2022, and are currently finalizing recovery plans for our remaining passengers in destination. Additional information will be provided to customers through flight alert notifications and their destination representatives once rescheduled return flights are confirmed. In the meantime, customers can sign up for flight alerts on Sunwing.ca.”

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“Customers currently in destination who would prefer to book an earlier return flight on another carrier can do so at their own cost, should they so choose, and may submit a refund request for their unused Sunwing return flight at http://www.sunwing.ca/en/sunwing-airlines/delay-claim/ following their return home.”

“Our teams continue to do everything possible to get passengers home. We deeply apologize for delays during the holiday season, and thank our customers for their understanding while we work to overcome operational challenges brought on by severe winter weather across key regions in Canada.”

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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