A Kelowna man said Monday’s debacle with Swoop airline is not the first time a flight has been cancelled leaving passengers scrambling. In fact, he said it’s not even the first time this month.
Chris Hanlon, a self-employed IT consultant based in Kelowna, was scheduled to present at the BSidesLV conference in Las Vegas on Aug. 6, and Swoop’s direct flight to Vegas advertised for $98 was a pretty irresistible travel option.
Okay guys, 10/10 would NEVER recommend @FlySwoop to anyone. You’re better off walking to your destination. They cancelled my flight for today & rescheduled it for September 10th. TWO WEEKS LATER. So ya, if your options are walk or fly with swoop. Just walk, cardio is good for you
— shan💕 (@somuchemphasis) August 29, 2019
Hanlon booked his flight with Kelowna’s newest low-fare airline and was set to take off on Aug. 4 at 2:35 p.m. But just 32 hours before his flight was scheduled to take off, Hanlon got an email saying his flight had been cancelled “due to unscheduled aircraft servicing.”
Hanlon called the airline—after noticing the email around nine hours after it was received—and was put on hold for more than one hour. He was unsuccessful in connecting with a customer service agent. The office had closed.
He tried calling again on Monday, Aug. 5 but learned customer service wasn’t taking calls due to the holiday.
Nearly four weeks later, Hanlon still has yet to hear back from Swoop.
Why in God’s name would anyone book with Swoop Airline or whatever they are called? A discount airline with no resources or assets that offer discount prices but no contingency plans (planes) if your flight is cancelled. Shame on @WestJet! It’s your (shameful) airline
— PapaLeits (@bruceleiter) August 29, 2019
Instead of the two-hour direct flight, Hanlon had originally signed up for, he had to take three planes to get to his destination. He flew out of the Kelowna International Airport via Alaska Airlines to Seattle—Seattle to Los Angeles—Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
In total, it cost Hanlon seven hours and around $400.
But, he did make it to the hacking conference to host his workshop.
“I would like to see Swoop phone or text people when there is a cancelled flight so there are a few options,” he said. “And maybe, if there is a cancelled flight, maybe it would be a good time to have someone work some overtime to have people rescheduled on another flight.”
I live in Hamilton and am going to Vegas in Oct. With all the issues this dog and pony airline has, I decided to book with Air Canada out of YYZ. Swoop is very unreliable and unprofessional in the way it handles customers when the their flights do get cancelled.
— whib (@whib15) August 28, 2019
As a WestJet subsidiary, Hanlon said he wonders why passengers couldn’t be put on one of the many WestJet planes after the flight was cancelled.
Hanlon said he continues to email the airline in hopes to have his ticket reimbursed.
“I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “Maybe they’ll learn from these experiences.”
“It’s hard to plan for everything when you’re starting out,” he said about the newly introduced airline.
Hanlon added he would most likely try his luck again with the airline as it is Kelowna’s only direct flight option to the city that never sleeps, but he would be less likely to if another carrier offers a direct route.
“I haven’t heard of any other airlines where they just drop multiple flights,” he said.
On Monday, Aug. 26, Winnipeg-bound travellers were informed their flight on Swoop had been cancelled due to “unscheduled maintenance” and passengers were left stranded. Some were told the soonest they could be put on another flight was Sept. 2.
Swoop president Steven Greenway said the cancelled flight was rescheduled to take off on Thursday, Aug. 29.
“On behalf of Swoop, I would like to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience our impacted travellers have experienced due to the unscheduled maintenance to one of our aircraft,” Greenway said.
Kelowna Capital News has reached out to Swoop regarding this specific incident and has yet to receive comment.