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I'm stuck in Jamaica

Ali de Bold

Yes, I realize how spoiled it sounds to say that, but at the moment that is the case.

Thanks to Westjet, the airline that cares, Alex and I and 300 or so other passengers spent 14 hours at the Montego Bay airport yesterday waiting to find out if on the entire island of Jamaica, an additional medical oxygen tank could be located to replace the one that had been used for a medical emergency on the inbound flight.

You'd think with hospitals close by and all of the planes in the airport, this wouldn't take long to sort out. Heck, our resort 20 minutes away had plenty of oxygen tanks for the scuba excursions, but not only could none be located, no one was able to communicate that they couldn't locate any until we had been waiting for 11 hours.

Either this was a situation they had either never encountered before and had no plan for, or it was just "no problem, mon" to keep everyone waiting for hours with no information, internet or phone access.  Given the driver from our resort to take us the airport in the first place forgot to pick us all up and we waited there for an hour before this ordeal, I'm inclined to think, "no problem, mon" was the reason.

In all of that time, there were about 4-5 announcements made to waiting passengers, 2 of which were to tell us to line up to receive our meal vouchers, which the airport honoured for approx $7 each.  Keeping in mind that a bottle of water at the Montego Bay airport is $3.00, a muffin is $4 and a bowl of soup is $8 passengers weren't satisfied with this after such a long wait.

After 10 hours of waiting, we noticed the plane had been powered off but since the staff said nothing, we didn't know what was going to happen.  We later found out that they had sent all of the crew to a hotel for the night, while passengers still thought we'd be flying out soon.  People were lining up to ask the staff questions, each being told something else:

"Don't worry! Oxygen has been located and is on it's way!"  

"There is no oxygen coming and we know nothing"

"Westjet would never leave you stranded at the airport, mon!"

 "We're going to put you all up at a hotel!"  

"Who said you were going to a hotel?  No, we are departing at 1am tonight!"  

"You will take a taxi to a hotel for $150 Jamaican Dollars (less than $3 CDN)"

"The taxi to the hotel is $35 USD"

This I've discovered is classic for Jamaica. Regardless of the question, the answer is completely different from one person to the next.  People will tell you whatever so you will obediently trot back to your seat and shut up.

Finally, the supervisor, (who refused to tell us her name) arranged for us to go to a hotel for the night and fly out the next day, 24 hours after our original flight was scheduled to leave.  There were no vouchers provided for the $70 return taxi trip or food. She told us to save our receipts, which would be reimbursed by Westjet at a later date.  I will be very surprised if Westjet honours these since the policy in Jamaica is to tell everyone whatever to get them out of your hair and since she wouldn't identify herself there is no accountability.

I've actually never had a negative experience with Westjet until now.  I've been stranded in many airports by other airlines whose unofficial motto is "we could care less (and it shows)", but for an airline whose claim to fame is their customer service, it seems someone forgot to mention that to the staff in Montego Bay.

At 1pm today, we'll head back to the airport without boarding passes or the name of the supervisor who supposedly booked us on the flight back, and pray they have us in their system.  If not, somebody gonna get a hurt reeeal bad.

Wish me luck!
Jan 13, 2011 @ 10:55 am

7 Replies



I can't even imagine how frustrating yesterday must have been, we all hope you get home safe, with more than a bottle of water and a muffin to eat, and a full tank of oxygen on board.... and hopefully according to schedule.

Good Luck!
Jan 13, 2011 @ 11:03 am


Is it bad that I'm laughing my head off at your story and the feeling-bad-for-you part is kind of a secondary thought?

Er, I meant to say - how terrible! I hope you get home safely and on schedule!
Jan 13, 2011 @ 11:18 am
Ali de Bold

Yes, it's bad

Mamaluv, I reject your comment and accept Lauren's instead. ;)

I'll laugh about it when we've been reimbursed for everything from WestJet. It's been quite expensive so far.
Jan 13, 2011 @ 11:26 am
Ali de Bold

We made it

We did end up flying out 24 hours after our scheduled departure. We found out that the flight from the night before had gone out finally after 3:30am, landing in Toronto well after 8am. The remaining stranded passengers were forced to sleep in the airport. I imagine Westjet is getting a lot of calls about this one! Including ours. I'm hopeful they will honour our receipts and do something for the other passengers.
Jan 15, 2011 @ 04:54 pm
Ali de Bold

Westjet stepped up

I'm very pleased to report that I just received a phone call from Westjet who responded to my letter within 24 hours to apologize and refund our expenses or offer us a travel credit for double the amount. The person who called was really great about it and I have to say I respect the way that they are handling this on the Canadian side. They told me they are emailing the other passengers with offers as well to make up for it.
Jan 23, 2011 @ 06:27 pm


I'm so happy for you Ali! :) It's extremely frustrating when after having received poor customer service, the service providers aren't courteous enough to own up to their mistake and apologize. Whats up with snarky reps? Whatever happened to "customer's always right"? Or does it only apply when I'm the one providing to the customer? lol Oh well...

A lot of people don't understand that good customer service isn't always about getting what you want, it's about being satisfied by the service you were rendered. I'm very glad it worked out for you.
Jan 24, 2011 @ 09:43 am
Ali de Bold

Thanks Becky

They totally owned up to it. :)
Jan 24, 2011 @ 09:58 am

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