Swoop air travelers headed for Hamilton for the new year’s celebrations were in for a surprise, and not of the kind they liked. Poor weather saw planeloads of passengers abandoned at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in the early hours of December 30th. Eventually, passengers were offered a connection back to Hamilton – a seven-hour ride on a bus.
Swooping into Montreal due to bad weather
The last days of December were not kind to Canada. On the 30th December, dozens of flights were canceled at Montreal Airport due to freezing rain and a major snowstorm incoming. Flights departing for Toronto, Quebec, Halifax, Vancouver and numerous other destinations had to be called off as the city braced for up to 20 centimeters of snow.
However, it wasn’t just the flights leaving Montreal that were affected. High winds at Halifax saw Swoop’s Hamilton bound flights from Tampa Bay and Halifax diverted to Montreal in the latter part of the day. Clearly, safety was an issue, so passengers were accepting of this course of action.
What they didn’t expect, however, was to be dumped in a largely empty and closed down Montreal Airport at 2:30 in the morning with no word from the airline or help forthcoming. One passenger, Kyler Jones, told the Hamilton Spectator,
“We had no idea what was going on. They (aircraft staff) gave us a call centre number for Swoop and basically left us to our own devices.”
Being given a call centre number is not the worst thing ever. Surely that should have resolved the problem fairly rapidly, perhaps with offers of hotel or alternative flights? You might think so, but as Jones explained,
“The call centre only opened at 8 a.m. How can you do that to people?”
Swoop Airlines just abandoned a plane full of passengers going to Hamilton in Montreal and told us to call a hotline and get on our way. This is in violation of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations which requires airlines presiding over diverted or cancelled flights to…
— Friar Beef Johnson (@FrBeefJohnson) December 30, 2019
Busses at dawn
The first any of the passengers heard from the airline was at around 5:30am, having already spent three hours in the airport. Some of the passengers received an email letting them know that alternative transport was being arranged. No doubt they assumed this would be a new aircraft to take them the short one hour hop across to Hamilton.
But, as you’re gathering with this story, Swoop did not exactly win any customer service awards for their actions. At around 7am, the mode of this ‘alternative transport’ was revealed to be two busses which would arrive at Montreal Airport at 9am. However, passengers were warned there would not be room for everyone.
“They did the women-and-children-first thing; there was a pregnant lady who got on, which I totally agree with.”
Swoop passengers who saw their Halifax-Hamilton flight diverted to Montreal due to bad weather were told their trip would be completed by bus.https://t.co/xo4eEBwPT1
— 900 CHML (@AM900CHML) December 31, 2019
For those passengers who did not make the ‘first come, first served’ bus, they were faced with an even longer wait in the airport. An additional two busses finally rocked up at around 12:30pm, 10 hours after the flight landed. Durant summed up the feeling of all on the bus, saying,
“Now we have this seven-hour drive to go on and it’s very unpleasant.”
Clearly, Swoop’s new year’s resolution should be to improve its customer service!