WestJet Experiences 10 Hour Call Centre Wait Times Amid Coronavirus Panic

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?

westjet-boeing-737-800
WestJet operates a number of services to Europe and many more to the United States. Photo: WestJet

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 absurdly long wait time to speak with a WestJet customer service agent. Photo: WestJet

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.

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WestJet, Halifax, Manchester
The bulk of WestJet flights utilize the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. Photo: Getty

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.

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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.

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The airline’s European destinations include:

  • London
  • Dublin
  • Paris
  • Barcelona
  • and Rome
westjet-787-dreamliner
The 787 Dreamliner is the latest addition to the WestJet fleet. Photo; WestJet

WestJet’s response

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.

Conclusion

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!

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Steve davis

We are to be going to jamaica mar 21 but as per all canadians being advised to not travel I contacted west jet and are not interested in reimbursing our tickets or issuing credit we didnt have travel insurance but this is a death waiting if you go they can’t guarantee my safety on the plane so why can’t I get a credit for another time later very very wrong even our prime minister is self quarantined to be safe and westjet can’t give me a credit to stay safe and help

Frances

The call back line is or has not been taking numbers allday

Just An Agent

That’s what happened when there are 600+ callers sitting on hold waiting to speak to an agent. While it’s an estimate, most callers were getting the contact center agents in just over an hour. Some tips to speed up the hold time. Have your booking reference ready. If you booked thru a travel agent, call them as agents cannot change or cancel those tickets unless travel is immediately happening. Be patient, most agents are in fear of losing their jobs and bitching them out, insulting and treating them poorly doesn’t help anyone.

Gail Annand

I have been calling Westjet for 2 days to cancel a trip with no success. Callback does not work and I am disconnected everytime I call. Why not setup an option online to cancel or rebook a flight as Air Canada has done. I also had a ticket with Air Canada and I canceled my flight online, it was quick and painless.

Jim

Always press for French , they speak both and seldom have a wait time

Jay Sagoo

I have been trying to cancel my Westjet Vacation for two days now. Their phone lines are completely jammed, and i cannot cancel online.
I am very disappointed with Westjet, as they have left me with no choice in how to cancel my flight, as we are leaving on Monday. I hope flyers read this message and think twice when booking with Westjet.

Terry and Orest Witiw

We were to travel to Houston Texas next week. Due to advise from our gov,t officials we chose to cancel and not visit our children. I had excellent service yesterday. I was on call back for 6 hrs. They called back in 4 1/2 hrs. Very polite and very efficient staff. Thankyou to all Westjet staff.

Carey

You should be able to cancel on line? Go to ‘My Trip’ in the Westjet app (assuming you added the trip, using your WestJet ID)? The money (not incl seat selection fee) should go into your ‘travel bank’? I just did that recently, THEN, I read the $100 cancellation fee would be waived if the trip was booked between certain dates…don’t recall the dates.

Nicola

Westjet customer service is a disgrace!

Craic O'Dawn

Since Westjet was bought by Heather Reisman’s husband Gerry Schwartz, it is now an LLC charging IATA fares.

Joe

I am in Mexico with a return flight booked with WestJet in early April. The phone #’s to be used from MX do not work and the Cdn toll free # also does not work from here. There is no email address either for customer support. The IM and Virtual Assistant routes never understand any questions posed to them. All that said, WestJet sends me emails daily to book future travel or apply for their credit card.

vico

The westjet 10 hr. wait times false . I had 2 phones going for 14 hours with no results I didnt get through until the next day after several hours waiting again

Ken A. N. McLean & Robert wm. LaMarre

Stuck in Puerto Vallarta México and can not reach West Jet to change or get an earlier fight to Toronto On.

Ken A. N. McLean & Robert wm. LaMarre

Our original flight with west jet was April 1 2020 from Puerto Vallarta Mex. to Toronto On. . We have contacted the gov’t to let them know we are here in Mexico and there has been no reply from the gov’t or west jet. Our medications will round out if we do not get a flight back to Toronto before West Jet stops flying to Puerto Vallarta on April 22 2020.