Friday, August 18, 2006

Dear West Jet

After a harrowing experience on our intended flight to Saskatoon, I decided to write a letter of complaint to WestJet. My dad told me to do it right away, so I remembered the important points, but there was a wedding to attend and friends to visit, so I didn't take his advice. Here is the edited version of an earlier draft posted on this site. I mailed it today.

To Whom It May Concern:

I was on WJ Flight 178 on Aug. 4, 2006. I was flying from Victoria to Saskatoon with a transfer (to Flight 178) in Calgary. The plane was not able to land in its intended destination, Saskatoon, because of a storm. After an hour of flying above the storm, waiting for a break that never came, we flew to Regina to refuel and regroup; during the landing in Regina, the level of turbulence traumatized the passengers on the flight. People were screaming and flight attendants were trying to control their tears. My partner and I, both experienced travelers, were very shaken up.

The pilot informed us that after refueling, we were going to try to land in Saskatoon again (it was now midnight, local time). He told us this might not be possible because there were two storms still above Saskatoon. If unable to land, we would return to Calgary.

The pilot should be commended on landing the plane safely in Regina; however, I was disappointed in his conduct after the landing.

First, the pilot and the crew did not reassure the passengers about the safety of the rough landing and divulged too much information about the weather conditions that they had decided we were going to re-enter. I was surprised that the pilot addressed the passengers' fear with light-hearted jokes and no serious concern. This did not instill confidence in his ability as a pilot. I don't think it was wise of him to tell us about the storms we were about to re-enter, due to the level of fear and anxiety that existed in the plane at the time. I didn't want to experience another rough landing, and was ready to avoid it at all costs.

Second, no explanation was given regarding the decision to return to Calgary if the landing was unsuccessful a second time. I didn't want to end up in Calgary because I had a wedding to attend in Saskatoon the following day. Why Calgary over Regina? In addition, no information was given as to our travel options from Calgary. In fact, the flight attendants seemed confused about the decision and were unable to provide us with a logical explanation.

Third, the pilot was disrespectful to some of the passengers, including myself. He told us that we had the option to get off the plane in Regina, if we wished, in order to find our own way to Saskatoon. My partner and I opted to do so. After approximately 15 of us decided to get off the plane, he back-tracked and tried to convince us not to go. In fact, he suggested that we were now delaying the other passengers with our decision to get off the plane, a tactic that only succeeded in raising the tension of the passengers who chose to remain on board. He used a condescending tone that was inappropriate, especially because many of us were concerned for our safety. I didn't think the anxiety I was experiencing was worth the possibility of landing in Saskatoon that night, and because he made no effort to reassure me of the safety of the flight, I don't see that he was in a position to judge me on my choice.

WestJet cannot control the weather, but it should develop protocol for its pilots in these types of scenarios. The passengers should be the most important thing to WestJet, and I didn’t feel important to your company during Flight 178.


Erin Riley


Anonymous said...

Too diplomatic. Give 'em hell!

I wrote you a private email because I don't want your mom to read the profanity and expletives in my new and improved version.

Lydia said...

I think your letter is very well written, but maybe drama it up a bit. You should try to get a free flight. But without swearing or directly asking.

Anonymous said...

You are to be commended for your retrained response-certainly not the type of rabid reply that I would have written (and consequently probably would not have been well-received-or even read for that matter). Dad

Anonymous said...

Try "restrained." Dad

sarah said...

Hmmm... have you ever flown with West Jet before? Sometimes they are more willing to compensate you if you are a repeat customer.

If you have, you could try the old "I've never had any problems with your company before..." deal. Works like a charm.

Anonymous said...

Letter is good but not enough examples of their inappropriateness. Don't write it for a reward, ie. a free flight, rather let them know you were freaked out, not something anyone wants to experience in these times of travel. Or consider this, would you want to fly with this company again even if it was free, as you said you can't predict the weather... Let me know how it works out.(P.S. My own travel back home was with some turbulant trauma but the flight attendants proved to be very professional when they were called on to act, including one of them sitting on the floor beside us at one point showing us her knickers!! A "Do as I do" scenario...Maybe they need to re-think their uniforms, I suggest trousers for the larger woman. Ha ha ha)Xxx.