Customers who have tickets booked with Canadian airline WestJet will have to exercise extreme patience this week. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and good old-fashioned Canadian winter weather, the airline is facing a barrage of calls from customers trying to change or cancel their flights. The airline is so overwhelmed that its dedicated 24/7 customer service line has a current wait of 600 minutes – or ten hours. You didn’t have anything more important to do today, right?
It’s not just the coronavirus
It might actually be more than just the pandemic that is affecting WestJet customers. In fact, two separate parts of Canada are facing winter storm systems, affecting a total of six WestJet airports. According to the airline’s travel advisory page, the following destinations are under winter-storm-system advisories:
- Quebec City (YQB)
- Montreal (YUL)
- Lethbridge (YQL)
- Medicine Hat (YXH)
- Fredericton (YFC)
- Moncton (YQM)
The bulk of these winter storm advisories were posted today and all of them cover tomorrow and/or Saturday. With Montreal as Canada’s second-largest city, and much of Westjet’s operations focused on its home province of Alberta, it’s no wonder that wait times are so lengthy.
But of course, it’s also the coronavirus
While the bulk of WestJet’s services are domestic and transborder (with the United States), it also flies to Mexico and several European destinations.
With potentially disastrous and unfortunate timing, WestJet’s new Dreamliner service to Rome is set to begin in May. That launch date may be in jeopardy if the situation fails to improve over the course of the next month. Of course, Italy has been the European epicenter of the pandemic and the entire country is under a government-imposed lockdown as of this week. Hopefully, these extreme measures will pay-off in the weeks to come.
The United States’ recent decision to impose a travel ban between Europe and the United States may also be a burden on WestJet’s customer service line. It’s possible some Americans opted to fly with WestJet, transferring through a Canadian city on their way to Europe.
The airline’s European destinations include:
- and Rome
WestJet responded to our inquiry with the following statement:
Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re experiencing very high volumes for our phone, email and social media support channels. We are fully staffed and our WestJetters are working hard to take care of our guests as quickly as possible.
In the effort to assist guests with imminent travel plans, we are asking all other guests to refrain from contacting us until 72 hours in advance of their flight to ensure we are able to prioritize our queue.
We have set-up the following page to assist guests with some of their common questions and concerns, should it be helpful outside of the 72 hour window.
We appreciate and thank our guests for their patience and understanding during this time.
Thankfully, WestJet does have a callback service for its customer service line. This means that once you call their number and establish your place “in the queue”, you have the option to request a callback. If you choose to do this, then an agent will call you back within an estimated window of time.
With an approximate wait time now of eight to ten hours, it would be absurd to actually be on hold for such a long time – especially when a callback service is available.
Have you had a WestJet flight affected recently? Share your story with us in the comments!