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Passenger records WestJet luggage being thrown against aircraft door at Calgary International Airport
Published Friday, April 13, 2018 4:23PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, April 13, 2018 6:37PM MDT
Officials with WestJet confirm they have launched an investigation after a video of questionable baggage handling practices at Calgary International Airport surfaced.
The video, recorded by a passenger seated in a WestJet aircraft in the early morning hours of April 3, depicts pieces of luggage being offloaded from a second WestJet aircraft. The bags appear to be haphazardly thrown against the door opening with several pieces falling to the ground below after missing the conveyor belt outside the plane.
“As we were waiting to take off, I’m looking out the window and I see this luggage sort of fly past my head. 'That’s weird' and I look again and there’s another piece and another piece and another piece,” said the passenger who requested to have his name withheld. “The lady behind me was with her husband and she was saying ‘Oh my god, no wonder people bring their luggage on board’.”
In a statement to CTV Calgary, WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart confirmed the airline was aware of the video.
“What was witnessed in the video was disappointing and we thank you for bringing it to our attention. The offload of this luggage in no way meets our service standards. We apologize to those guests whose luggage was handled roughly while being offloaded from one of our aircraft in Calgary on April 3.”
“Our goal is to always take care of our guests, and their luggage, and we are now looking into this matter.”
The passenger says the incident provided him with insight into how one of his own bags may have been damaged during a trip earlier this year and why WestJet representatives appeared less than surprised to hear of it.
“Back in February, I had a hard, lifetime warranty suitcase that was ripped apart,” said the man. “I went to WestJet and reported it and they said ‘Okay, yep, damaged. Here you go. Get a new one’ and that was really the extent of the conversation.”
“It wasn’t dented, it was ripped apart. A hard Samsonite suitcase.”
Gábor Lukács, an air passenger rights advocate and the founder of Halifax-based Air Passenger Rights, says the actions of the baggage handlers in the video exhibits ‘a complete lack of respect towards the property of passengers’.
Lukács says passengers in Canada should know their rights when their luggage is damaged.
“The airline is liable up to approximately $2,100 and you should be persistent if you see that your baggage has been damaged when you arrive,” explained Lukács. “You should take photos of it and file a report right away. If they refuse to take a report, you should document them refusing to take your report and then put in a complaint in writing right away.”
“You are required under law to report damaged baggage as soon as you notice it and within seven days at the latest.”
The passenger says he has no plans to book a flight with WestJet again.
“I don’t want anything from this. I don’t want anything from WestJet. It would be great if they changed their policy in terms of how they handled this. I hope they do but it’s not going to impact me because I don’t plan on flying them anymore.”
The Canadian Transportation Agency confirms there were 968 baggage complaints against carriers filed in Canada in the 2016-2017 calendar year, a steep increase from the 276 complaints in 2015-2016. Of the 968 complaints, 48 per cent involved Air Canada while 2 per cent involved WestJet.
Wiht files from CTV's Stephanie Wiebe