An 86-year-old Kelowna woman will miss out on what could be her last chance to see a palm tree in a tropical location because of the weekend WestJet system outage that continues to impact flights.
Cheryl Murphy says she got up at 3:45 a.m. Monday to take her mother Vi Hubick to Kelowna International Airport for a flight to Vancouver. That’s where Vi was going to meet up with her best friend of 82 years, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii.
“Mom was so excited, like a child at Christmas counting down the sleeps till the day she was to depart and meet up with her best friend,” she explained.
Cheryl said because it snowed the night before, she checked the YLW website to make sure the flight was on time.
She dropped her mother off for the 6:15 flight but got a call at 7:04. “It’s mom saying come and pick me up please, they cancelled the flight.”
All that the WestJet staff at the airport could tell Vi was that she would have to check her email.
“Well, mom is 86 years old, travelling by herself and has macular degeneration. She doesn't see at the best of times, never mind an email on a phone,” Murphy told Castanet.
She says the email never came, so she phoned WestJet, but got a recording saying the call volume is high and to try again later. She persisted and finally got through hours later.
“I was on the phone with a rep for an hour and a quarter to try to get mom to Hawaii to meet up with her friends. This holiday would probably be the last time she sees a palm tree,” adds Murphy.
“The best the WestJet rep could do was a red-eye flight three days later on Wednesday, Nov. 9, landing in Hawaii at 8:36 p.m.”
All the other flight options either involved multi-hour layovers, multiple connections or an overnight stay in a strange city, not suitable for an 86-year old woman travelling alone with limited eyesight and hearing.
In the end, they made the tough decision to cancel the trip.
“So disappointed in WestJet, Canada’s former premier service airline,” said Murphy.
Her mother’s friend and the woman’s daughter did eventually make it to Hawaii, flying from Calgary to Vancouver, then after a delay, on to Honolulu.