Sunwing customer denied refund after Hurricane Irma strikes their destination
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston , CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, December 5, 2017 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 6:53PM PST
Hurricane Irma may have come and gone, but the problems left in her wake are still lingering. While most airlines and tour companies accommodated passengers who were affected by the storm, a Vancouver couple says Sunwing wasn’t so hospitable and weeks later they’re still fighting to get their money back.
Ellen Macri and her husband were looking forward to going to Cuba last September, but when they saw Hurricane Irma barreling towards the island they become concerned.
Florida’s governor had already declared a state of emergency the day before they were supposed to leave, and Sunwing was taking evacuation measures and flying its passengers out of the hurricane’s path as well.
“We didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of a hurricane,” said Macri, “We didn’t think it was safe. We weren’t going and we wanted to rebook our trip somewhere else.”
The couple was even willing to pay more to rebook a trip, but Sunwing told them no.
“So we’re going to get on that plane, and how are we going to get out of there?” asked Macri, “We decided not to go.”
It was a wise decision. Later that week the Category 5 hurricane struck, devastating Cuba. And those stuck at resorts on the island had horror stories returning home to Vancouver.
"The whole room was caved in, all the glass was broken, shattered in where we were," said Kayla Hamill, who was returning from Varadero, Cuba on Sept. 12.
Nearly $2,700 went down the drain for Macri because they didn’t want to go. She thought they were protected but the Worry Free Cancellation Waiver had been voided when she had upgraded her hotel, and Sunwing wouldn't compensate them.
"We want our money back," explained Macri.
McLaughlin On Your Side reached out and Sunwing reviewed the case.
In a statement to CTV News, Sunwing stated: "..we feel that there was an opportunity for our agents to have dealt with the situation more sympathetically.."
Sunwing has now offered them a travel credit voucher that won't expire and additional travel credits worth $200.
Unfortunately, Macri has started a new job and can't travel anytime soon, and although she wanted a full refund she's glad she got something.
So how do travellers avoid this in the future?
You should buy cancellation insurance for any reason that guarantees you get your money back. The Macri’s wanted a full refund in their case, because they weren't keen on travelling again with a company who they feel let them down.
They aren't the only ones who experienced the trouble. Karen and Clive Roberts of Surrey ran into a similar situation with a planned trip to Cuba on Sept. 6. They reached out to us Dec. 1 for help, we contacted Sunwing and the company issued them a full travel credit for future travel. The couple said they are very happy with the resolution.