Why one Winnipeg family may swear off flying with WestJet

One Winnipeg family says they may never fly with WestJet again.

Despite management for the Calgary-based airline and the Air Line Pilots Association reaching a tentative agreement at the 11th hour to avoid a pilot strike, a domino effect has kept some flights grounded in Winnipeg.

Shannon Grzebeniak and her family were supposed to fly to Abbotsford from Winnipeg at 6:10 a.m. Friday to visit her sister-in-law. Grzebeniak hasn’t visited the family member in her home in eight years.

Upon checking a flight tracker late Thursday, the status of her Swoop flight, a subsidiary of WestJet, was listed as cancelled.

“To this morning, we have not received any kind of email stating that it’s been cancelled or that there will be refunds. There’s just been no communication whatsoever,” Grzebeniak told 680 CJOB on Friday morning.

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The Winnipegger and her sister-in-law were planning to zipline in Whistler and go on a boat tour in Vancouver during the family’s stay. Those excursions can’t be refunded, either.

“We’ve been planning this trip for months.”

Some 1,800 pilots at WestJet and Swoop were poised to walk off the job early Friday following months of unsuccessful negotiations. The bulk of their planes were grounded on Thursday.

In a release sent out late Thursday, ALPA announced the two parties had come to terms.

WestJet said it will resume operations as quickly as possible, but getting the fleet back to full force will take time. Flights with WestJet Encore regional services and WestJet-owned Sunwing airlines remain unaffected.

“Guests remain encouraged to continue to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport,” the airline said in a statement.

Click to play video: '4,000+ WestJet, Swoop flights over next week at risk as strike looms'

4,000+ WestJet, Swoop flights over next week at risk as strike looms

However, the Grzebeniak family remains disappointed.

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“I agree that the pilots needed to do something because they are feeling that they’re not being paid enough, but it’s just too bad that it has to get to this,” she said, adding her daughter, who lives in Northern Manitoba, has burned six days worth of vacation sitting idly in Winnipeg instead of B.C.

“We’re all about customer service, and I don’t think that they’re looking after their people during this.”

The union said WestJet pilots are behind others in the profession when it comes to job protection, career advancement, compensation and scheduling flexibility — all of which have been addressed in the proposed contract.

A membership vote on the agreement will begin in the coming days.

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