Alaska Cruise in 2 Weeks & WestJet Strike: What to Do?

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Shanti, May 17, 2018.

  1. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I just ranted about this on the transportation board, but I also need cruiser advice, not just the chance to vent. The incoming flight to our DCL Alaska cruise could easily be cancelled by the strike that WestJet pilots are planning. The strike won't begin until May 22nd at least, and even if the Canadian government steps in after two weeks of strikes to restore service, our June 3rd flight from Texas to Vancouver does fall within that two week period and has a high chance of being cancelled or disrupted to the point that we miss the cruise.

    I searched and finally found reasonable rates on the same route via American, but WestJet has refused us a refund. They say it's "business as usual", and were dismissive to my concerns about not being able to wait until the last minute to make sure we have a reliable flight to ensure we make our cruise.

    I want to book the American flights to get peace of mind, but would hate to waste so much money un non-refunded flights. There are few AA flights on this route at this reasonable price point (and none this reasonable on other airlines), so I want to book now, before these prices are gone. I can't just wait & see for another whole week. The difference will be several hundred dollars.

    I have travel insurance, but doubt I could get reimbursement for choosing to cancel & rebook before my flight is actually cancelled or disrupted. That's the catch-22 here. I'm supposed to wait until the 11th hour to make other arrangements, and we all know how expensive that would be. I don't know what to do.

    I've considered flying SWA into Seattle, but prices I found are fairly high for SWA even for that, and when you add the cost of secondary transportation to and from Vancouver, the American Airlines flights straight into and out of Vancouver are a better deal.

    I don't know what to do. Well, what to do other than never flying WestJet again- I figured that out while on the phone with their unsympathetic "customer service" department this morning. Help!
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  2. clten

    clten DIS Veteran

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    You indicated you have travel insurance. Have you contacted them to see what would happen if there is a strike. I know insurance companies don't like to play the "what if" game but what coverage do you have for this situation? Would they cover the change fees to get you on a different flight? For them, even with airfares being much higher than they are today, that would be a savings over having to cover the full cost of your trip if your flights are cancelled and they have to refund your flight and cruise costs. (It may not help with your stress as you would probably have to put out the extra money and wait for reimbursement. But I think at this time, it is just about finding out what your options are to make an informed choice.)

    I'm assuming the airfare was paid with a credit card. Is there anything your credit card company can do for you? This may be the same situation as the airline. They can't do anything until a strike actually happens and your flights are actually cancelled. But it is another avenue to check to see if maybe there are options for you.
     
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  4. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Good point about the insurance company possibly preferring to cover a change rather than a missed cruise. I will call them to ask.

    I purchased the flights with my debit card. I'm not worried about getting a refund if the flights actually are cancelled. WestJet has publicly stated it will refund those flights. My concern is that I need to book other flights now, and can't wait around for cancellation of our flights. So if I book now & our flights never get cancelled, then I'm out the money.

    It isn't right to force passengers to wait until the 11th hour, when options are limited & prices are sky-high.
     
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  5. clten

    clten DIS Veteran

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    I wasn't assuming you were worried about getting a refund if your flights were cancelled, I was bringing up the credit card because some of them offer insurance/protections on purchases and a lot of people don't think of those options. I thought it just might be another avenue to see what they can do for you beyond processing the refund if your flights are actually cancelled.

    I sympathize with your situation, I certainly would not want to be in your position because there is no easy answer to your problem. I'm not surprised on WestJet's position, they have a business in trouble and they don't want to give back money until they have to. But it doesn't help the thousands of people who would be impacted if the strike does happen.
     
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  6. ladyofthetramp

    ladyofthetramp DIS Veteran

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    Shanti- I have been following your posts as we are both cruising in Alaska with DCL this summer. I am sorry about your situation. I wish I had better advice to give. It might just be for piece of mind you book other flights. Expensive -yes! So is the cruise. It is something you will have to find peace with if you choose that path. Good luck. Keep us posted.
     
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  7. ironz

    ironz DIS Veteran

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    Have you tried looking at flight options on Alaska airlines? Don't know how they compare to AA (don't know your exact travel days) but worth a look.

    I also agree with the PP about checking with your travel insurance-- the flight might *not* get cancelled, then you have to do nothing. And if it does, you might have to pay for a flight, but get reimbursed by the insurance company. We have (knock on wood) not had to use our coverage for previous cruises, so I'm not sure how it would work.
     
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  8. mab2012

    mab2012 DIS Veteran

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    I can understand your anxiety. It's hard to be calm with a cruise on the line. But for what it's worth, I will be very surprised if there is actually a labour disruption at WestJet. That would be pretty disastrous for their business, and I really don't think WestJet will let it come to that. The pilots' union knows this, and that's why they've voted for the strike mandate. That immediately puts pressure on bookings, which puts pressure on WestJet to come to an agreement that's favourable to the pilots. It creates a lot of leverage even if they don't actually follow through.

    It's worth keeping in mind the backstory here too. WestJet has historically treated their employees well, and had a good relationship with them. They've encouraged a "family" feel and ownership in the company. Many of the pilots will be shareholders. As the company has grown, no doubt that inclusive "small-company" feel has lessened somewhat, and presumably that's why we're seeing unions starting to form, but there's no indication that things have degraded to the point where the pilots actually want to see the company suffer. The union here is brand new, this is the first collective contract they're negotiating at WestJet, and both sides seem committed to continue talking at this point. I think they'll sort it out.

    I'm sorry to hear that you were unhappy with your customer service experience. I can only say that, as a regular WestJet flier, I've always received good service both in-flight and on the phone, especially compared to our other national airline. I do think that any other airline would give the same answer in a similar situation. I think it's wise to have a back-up plan in place, and contacting your insurance company to see what your options would be seems sensible. Is driving an option? I can see you're in Texas, so it would of course be a very long drive, but at least there's no ocean in the way. Whatever contingency you do come up with, hopefully it won't be needed. Good luck!
     
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  9. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I appreciate your concern, but no, driving from Austin, Texas to Vancouver, Canada is not an option for us. It would take days on both ends of the trip that we don't have available in our schedules. I work full-time and share custody, so I don't have unlimited time.

    The pilots have publicly declared their intention to strike as soon as the Victoria holiday weekend is over, so I do take this seriously.

    The customer service agent I spoke to was unsympathetic and unhelpful. Good customer service would be allowing refunds to passengers whose travel within the next few weeks is endangered by these developments.

    I talked to my insurance company and should be able to claim $250 pp for the flight change to American, which I don't need a reason for. I think I'm going to do that even though I'll lose some money, as it's action I can take now, rather than just cross my fingers.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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  10. Ravenne

    Ravenne queen is never late Everyone else is simply early

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  11. cccdisney

    cccdisney DIS Diva

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    OMG! We are on the Alaskan cruise this Monday, May 21st and flying to/from SFO on WestJet (arriving on May 20th and flying back late on May 28th) I didn't even know about any of this until I saw this thread. Yikes! I need to do some research!
     
  12. mab2012

    mab2012 DIS Veteran

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    It was just a question. For some people that would be an option, even if not a particularly palatable one. Others, not so much.

    I didn't suggest you shouldn't take it seriously, only that what the pilots say now and what they will actually do are not necessarily the same thing. I have two upcoming flights booked with WestJet, so I'm watching too. I'm glad you've found an option you are comfortable with.
     
  13. mab2012

    mab2012 DIS Veteran

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    You should be okay on your outbound flight for sure. The pilots are in a legal position to strike starting Saturday, but have said that they will not do so before Tuesday (May 22). Might be worth having a contingency plan for your return flight, but even if the pilots DO strike (which I still think is unlikely), WestJet is not going to leave passengers stranded. I would be prepared for potential delays at minimum though.
     
  14. cccdisney

    cccdisney DIS Diva

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    Since the outbound flight is the one that would cause us to miss the cruise, I'm certainly thankful they won't possibly strike that day! I'm not going to stress about it. If we get off the cruise and the flight is cancelled, I guess I'll be thankful we have trip insurance.
     
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  15. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

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    We had a potential strike problem once with Air Canada. We booked refundable Delta tickets just in case.

    When it was decided that there was no strike and we could fly with Air Canada, we cancelled Delta and used the credit to book our next trip when we came back.
     
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  16. Ravenne

    Ravenne queen is never late Everyone else is simply early

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  17. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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  18. bcwife76

    bcwife76 DisneyMomma

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    Yes, strike averted so it would seem!
     
  19. Ravenne

    Ravenne queen is never late Everyone else is simply early

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    Did you end up changing your flights to American? Or were you waiting?
     
  20. Mich123

    Mich123 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the updates on this! I've been lurking and worrying about West Jet, too.
     
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  21. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I had put American Airlines flights on a free 24-hour hold. Since it took over a week for WestJet to reach this decision, I had placed the same round trip flights on hold each time they expired, until I got the news yesterday. I like American's 24-hour hold policy, and even though I didn't end up booking through them this time (although we will fly on them as the stateside portion of our WestJet-booked trip uses American as a carrier), the good experience has confirmed for me that I will book via American in the future. It was really reassuring to have those flights on hold in case a strike had been declared.
     
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