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Stranded: WestJet, Air Canada cancel San Juan flights

Caroline Floyd

Sunday, November 12, 2017, 3:44 PM - Some travellers are getting unwanted extensions to their holidays in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as two Canadian airlines have suspended flights to the island for the winter.

Ottawa residents Rick and Joan Hughes told CBC News they found out their West Jet flight had been cancelled just two days before they were supposed to come home. The couple was on a cruise at the time they were notified. "WestJet basically said, 'You're on your own'," Hughes told CBC.

They weren't the only ones to find out they were 'stranded at sea'. Another passenger booked on the same flight, London resident Michelle Robinson, told CBC she was informed by her booking agent, Kiwi.com, on November 2 that her November 4 flight was cancelled. "You can't do that to people without offering some sort of alternative," Robinson said.

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A spokesperson for WestJet, Lauren Stewart, told CBC News that flights had been suspended to San Juan due to infrastructure concerns in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the then-Category 4 storm that devastated the island in September. The third party booking services - Flight Network and Kiwi.com - used by the Hughes family and Robinson were responsible for letting them know about the flight changes, according to Stewart.

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WestJet posted a travel advisory on their website on October 8, saying flights would be suspended starting on October 30 for the winter season. The current advisory offers change and cancellation assistance for anyone holding tickets scheduled for travel through January 13, 2018.

WestJet isn't alone in the decision to refrain from travelling to San Juan this winter. Air Canada's website has a similar advisory, citing concerns with Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan in its decision to "suspend all flights to Puerto Rico until further notice." The airline told CBC News it's helping affected passengers make alternate arrangements at no extra cost.

Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport was closed for several days in the wake of the storm, which made devastating landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20. The airport's Twitter account has reported intermittent power outages since its reopening on September 23, as the island struggles to rebuild. Thousands of Puerto Ricans are currently reported to be fleeing to the U.S. mainland as the efforts to restore water and power to the island lag.

Sources: CBC News | Air Canada | WestJet | Aeropuerto SJU |

Watch below: Historic landmark destroyed in Puerto Rico

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