Customers not impressed with response

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Dispute some claims in Porter’s statement on flight diverted to Stephenville

Some travellers are disputing the story told by Porter Airlines concerning its handling of a flight from Halifax to St. John’s that was diverted to Stephenville.

Sixty-three passengers elected to get off Porter Flight 255 in Stephenville late Sunday night instead of flying back to Halifax, where they were told it may take a further five days to get a flight back to St. John’s.

The plane flew over St. John’s for approximately one hour earlier that evening before it was sent to Stephenville for refuelling. Weather conditions were foggy that night.

Those remaining in Stephenville had to cover the cost of accommodations and transportation to St. John’s. There were no Porter personnel working at the airport, and the plane’s captain had to personally retrieve luggage with the aid of a flashlight.

On Monday, a spokesman for Porter said passengers were told prior to departing from Halifax they could get a refund if they chose not to travel and instead book a ticket for the next available flight.

However, multiple passengers who contacted The Telegram Tuesday said they were told no such thing. They also disputed a comment made by the spokesman that insinuated Porter may have considered adding an extra flight.

“We always look at alternatives, such as adding extra flights, to help passengers in situations like this,” wrote the Porter spokesman in an email to The Telegram. “However, when so many passengers decided to deplane in Stephenville, the need to do so in this case was less urgent because the remaining customers could be accommodated in more reasonable time frames.”

Gillian Hickman was travelling from Ottawa on Sunday and is a VIPorter member. She said the possibility of adding an extra flight was never presented as an option.

“In fact, we asked if they would put on an additional flight in the morning, and (Porter) outright said no,” according to Hickman, who used to live in Ottawa and has been flying with Porter ever since it began offering flights to and from St. John’s.

Fellow traveller Emma Young, who boarded the flight in Halifax and was interviewed by The Telegram shortly after arriving home in St. John’s Monday, backed up Hickman’s assertion in an email Tuesday.

She said passengers in Stephenville were told adding an extra flight was not an option. Young also said she was never presented a refund offer for choosing not to board the flight from Halifax Sunday.

Hickman has no plans to book further flights with Porter.

“That’s the best route to Ottawa, but I won’t use it again,” she said. “To me, you don’t treat people like that.”

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Geographic location: Stephenville, Halifax, Ottawa

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