June 5, 2023

More than 200 flights canceled due to WestJet outage; The company says more delays are needed

WestJet says more than 200 flights have been canceled due to this weekend’s system outage, and more delays and cancellations are “expected” in the coming days.

The outage was attributed to a “cooling issue” at the airline’s primary data center, WestJet vice president and chief operating officer Diederik Pen said in a message to passengers on Sunday.

While Pen says the issue has been resolved, his statement also acknowledged that the company’s technology systems “remain unstable.”

“Unfortunately, due to the extent of yesterday’s network impact, we are still seeing residual disruption,” Pen’s statement said.

“Further delays and cancellations are necessary in the coming days, as we are working hard to revive our operations.”


In an interview with CTV News Channel on Sunday, Pen elaborated on the cooling issue, saying the company’s data center air conditioning system shut down around noon Saturday and could not be restarted.

“As a result, our entire computer data center overheated and shut down,” Pen said. “It’s the core of our system and unfortunately it took nine hours for the system to restart.”

Pen told CTV News Channel that 144 flights were canceled on Saturday and 100 on Sunday, a significant disruption that he said will continue to ripple through the company’s system this week.

Asked how many days he thought it would take WestJet to return to normal, Pen declined to offer a specific time frame.

“I don’t want to make false promises,” he said. “We believe it will take tomorrow and possibly the day after tomorrow before everything returns to normal and stable.”

About 6,500 guests affected by the cancellations still need to be rebooked, he said, and the airline is adding flights to its schedule to accommodate them.


The airline said the outage affected its ability to share information with passengers.

Many customers expressed their frustration on social media, saying they had waited hours in check-in lines and lost connections as a result.

They also criticized the airline for its lack of communication about what happened, Pen admitted in his statement and interview with CTV News.

“On behalf of the entire WestJet team, we sincerely apologize to all guests for this unexpected disruption to their travel plans and the resulting impact on communications, affecting our ability to relay information,” Pen said. “We deeply regret the extraordinary events this weekend that prevented us from providing our guests with the experience they deserve.”

The airline says its phone, email and social media support channels are currently experiencing “extremely high volumes” and is asking customers to check the WestJet app or the company’s website for up-to-date information about their flights.

“In an effort to assist guests with future travel plans, we ask that all other guests refrain from contacting us until 72 hours before their flight to ensure we can prioritize calls,” Pen said.

“All affected customers will be informed of their accommodation options via email as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we cannot help customers who arrive at our airports to re-apply for accommodation.”

Pen said the airline would conduct a “full review” of the incident.

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