The plane for our 3PM Kamloops to Calgary flight arrived with an apparent nose gear problem. Kamloops is a small city in the interior of British Columbia and Westjet does not have any 'extra' planes on site. The Westjet gate agent (and local team) did a terrific job of trying to stay in contact with the plane as it's arrival was delayed while the flight crew was working with whatever alarms they had on the way into Kamloops.
After arriving, we were actually told that the issue was related to the nose gear pretty shortly after the Captain got into the terminal. In addition, were advised that the plane likely couldn't fly in its current state and that Westjet might consider sending a "rescue" flight later in the day or that we could re-book. Most lined up to see about re-booking. The local team brought in two additional agents, although there were only 2 terminals, to help.
At various times, the agents were on the Sabre agent terminals to work on rebooking, on the landline, and/or on their mobiles. Sometimes on more than one call and working the terminal simultaneously. Progress was slow and I blame Sabre, the amount of manual and duplicate entry required was stunning. Furthermore, there seems to be arcane knowledge required to effectively navigate the systems, especially for less common operations, and having a veteran with >5-years experience with Sabre was key to the efficiency of less experience operators. Eventually we got re-booked, including our connection to our final destination, next day. Regrettably, there was trouble with obtaining a hotel and we needed to exit the departure lounge and re-line up in the main terminal.
Multiple agents were working the accommodation and transportation issues too. For whatever reason, when it was our turn at with the agent, a way to obtain hotel chits was discovered and we were issued the hotel chits and meal vouchers. We went to the terminal restaurant for a meal before catching the shuttle for the hotel.
While having our meal, other passengers came in and let us know that a fix for the plane had been found and that Westjet was having a crew drive in from Kelowna (a couple of hours away) as our original crew was now down due to crew rest requirements.
We finally departed after a 6-hour delay and arrived at our final destination 8-hours later. The 'hack' for the plane was to fly to Calgary with the landing gear deployed the entire way. I presume the local Westjet maintenance engineers confirmed that the gear was down and locked (despite any cockpit alarms) and that the plane could be flown. However, raising the gear would leave us with a risk that we wouldn't/couldn't know if would deploy correctly again until after the being looked at Westjet's main maintenance facilities in Calgary. The flight was a tad noisier but uneventful.
In Calgary the team there efficiently booked us on Red-eye out of Calgary, including helping us with our checked luggage. The connecting flight was no fun but that's timing related and doesn't reflect on the effort that Westjet's team in Kamloops and Calgary made to get us to our destinations.
Lousy situation, fantastic individual performances. I can't award an excellent as our original flight didn't go but I admire the hard work and long hours (yes, hours) that the Kamloops Westjet team put in. I love you guys.