Sunwing Airlines Inc. was scrambling on Thursday to get passengers to and from their vacation destinations following a cyberattack earlier this week, but many remained stranded and frustrated with the airline’s communications.
The cyberattack affected Sunwing’s third-party vendor, Airline Choice, an U.S.-based service provider responsible for checking in passengers and providing background information about them. The security breach hit other carriers globally, but Sunwing is the only Canadian airline that uses the vendor.
The airline is now handwriting boarding passes and sub-chartering aircraft from other carriers such as WestJet, AirTransat and Nolinor Aviation to relieve the backlog.
Sunwing said late Thursday that 188 flights to and from holiday destinations have been affected by delays, and as of Thursday afternoon 153 of those flights have been completed or are in progress.
“We expect to be close to normal operations by the weekend. Customers with upcoming flights over the next few days are encouraged to keep checking their flight status on Sunwing.ca for the most up-to-date information on departure times.”
Montreal resident Mathilde Garneau was scheduled to fly out of Cancun, Mexico, on Wednesday but discovered her flight was cancelled after her airport transportation did not arrive to pick her up.
Despite reaching out to Sunwing, Ms. Garneau was unaware of the cyberattack until she checked social media. She was later told that she could take another flight on Thursday.
“The lack of communication from Sunwing was frustrating,” Ms. Garneau said. “Thankfully I only had to wait 24 hours. The people sitting in front of me on the plane right now have been trying to leave since Monday. It’s been mayhem.”
Toronto resident Adrian Carter was scheduled to fly out of Cancun Thursday, but since he was unsure whether his flight would depart he scrambled for two days to co-ordinate a backup plan for his group, including eight children. He boarded his flight Thursday, but prior to the flight confirmation, Mr. Carter says he was worried when his hotel denied him a late checkout early Thursday.
In an updated statement provided by e-mail Thursday, Sunwing said it has extended the option to change travel dates with no penalty fee for “bookings with originally scheduled departure dates between April 19, 2022 and April 25, 2022, which is valid for travel up to June 23, 2022.
“There will be no change to pricing on customers’ original bookings.”
Airline Choice said it took “certain systems offline to secure our environment” and immediately launched an investigation after the security breach to determine the source of the disruption.
“We have already begun restoring functionality to our systems and are working around the clock to complete that as soon as possible,” the company said. “Because our investigation is ongoing, we’re not able to provide additional information at this time.”
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