Hundreds of Swoop Airlines passengers were forced to spend the night in Hamilton after their flight was grounded on Thursday night.
According to the airline, Flight WO800 was cancelled after the airplane suffered engine issues and had to be inspected by maintenance staff.
“We’d like to sincerely apologize to our travellers for the interruption in their plans, however safety will always be at the forefront of our decision-making,” Karen McIsaac, senior communication adviser for the airline, told Global News.
During the delay, a female flight attendant in her 40s was assessed by Hamilton paramedics for a reported heat-related illness.
“She was transported to hospital in stable condition suffering from what appears to be heat exhaustion,” said Hamilton Paramedic Superintendent David Thompson.
“A flight attendant required medical attention unrelated to the incident, and a replacement flight attendant was brought in to mitigate any impact to the departure,” the airline said in a statement. Swoop declined to provide further details on the flight attendant’s condition, citing privacy concerns.
WATCH: Passengers stuck on grounded Swoop plane with no air conditioning at Hamilton Airport
Swoop cancelled the 7:30 p.m. flight just after 11 p.m. Thursday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded in Hamilton and another full load of passengers stranded in Las Vegas.
Holly Webster, who had been scheduled to fly out to Las Vegas for a wedding on Friday, said she and her friend Danielle suspected something was wrong when they walked up to the plane and they noticed a bunch of workers gathered around one of the engines.
Once they boarded the plane, they were struck by how hot it was.
“The craziest temperature I likely have ever felt,” said Webster, adding that she was seated near the left engine and could see the workers continue to inspect it and looking around on the ground nearby. They had heard unconfirmed reports that someone had thrown ‘change’ in the engine.
McIsaac told Global News that they could not confirm that report.
“We weren’t able to confirm that that incident actually took place,” said McIsaac. “However, obviously as a precautionary measure, we did have a full maintenance inspection.”
Webster said they were sitting on the plane for roughly half an hour when the situation became increasingly uncomfortable without any word from the airline on what was going on.
“There was one gentleman who was trying so hard to get out of the plane because he said he had a heart condition, but no, he wasn’t allowed off,” said Webster. “And then one of the flight attendants, she had a big bag of ice on the back of her neck, and she was crying and she was being led out by another flight attendant. They brought in a wheelchair and fire trucks, took her away crying in a wheelchair, so then everybody’s like, ‘Okay, what is going on?’ Because we weren’t getting any communication.”
The airline eventually let the passengers disembark and return to the airport, and Webster said people were “pushing and shoving” their way off of the plane.
“We were there for about three hours, getting intermittent emails from Swoop, updating us, saying that our flight was leaving — first at 7:30, then 8:30, 9:30,” said Webster. “It was crazy. … People making scenes and shouting, and then the police showed up. And nobody was sure why the police were there, so that was a little bit concerning for us too. Again, no communication from Swoop, so we didn’t know if we were leaving.”
At 11 p.m., there was an announcement that the flight was cancelled and that people who live out of town would be provided with accommodation and transportation to and from the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, as well as a $10 meal voucher.
“The whole time, we’d been on Twitter, trying to communicate with Swoop, and they were actually much more responsive over social media than they were in person, which is also frustrating.”
The flight to Las Vegas was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, but Webster said they’ve still missed the wedding they were flying to attend.
“That’s super frustrating for us as a paying customer, because we lost a hotel in Vegas, which is super expensive, especially on July 4th weekend, we took a day off work, which is even more expensive than the hotel. And then we’ve now forfeited a third of our vacation, and ours was attached to a wedding … which we’re missing. So all in all, extremely, extremely disappointed with how it was all handled.”
Mike Malecki (@ManofSteelMike on Twitter) also spoke to Global News, saying that he had been on board Flight WO800, but he opted to book a flight to Las Vegas out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Friday morning.
“On a rebooked flight out of yyz right now,” he wrote in a private message on Twitter. “Taking off. Horrible customer service by swoop. No communication.”
McIsaac said Webster and anyone else who was inconvenienced by the cancellation is welcome to reach out to their ‘Contact Swoop’ team, who will assess each case on an individual basis.
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