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In memo to staff, Sun Country CEO admits to weekend mistakes

The company's Eagan call center was understaffed, Jude Bricker said.

Sun Country will cover the extra costs incurred by passengers stranded in Mexico after their trips home to the Twin Cities were canceled by the blizzard.

Sun Country CEO Jude Bricker has addressed the struggles the company faced over the weekend as heavy snow hammered the Twin Cities, admitting the company's call center was understaffed as it dealt with the fallout from dozens of flight cancelations.

In a memo to employees forwarded to BMTN, Bricker said he wants staff to get the "facts" of what the company did right, what it could have done better, and "how we're moving forward."

Bricker, formerly of Allegiant Air, admits that the weather in the Twin Cities left its call center in Eagan chronically understaffed, leading to busy signals that frustrated passengers trying to make their way home.

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"We need to find ways to improve our customer communications as we failed in that area," he wrote. "Due to the extreme weather conditions and road closures, many of our agents were unable to get to the office throughout the weekend. Many volunteered to come in or work extra shifts, but we still struggled to get to the planned staffing levels."

Even had it been fully staffed, Bricker admits it wouldn't have been enough to deal with the estimated 6,000 Sun Country passengers whose flights home to MSP were canceled Saturday and Sunday.

Stranded Mexico passengers will get costs covered

Bricker also conceded that Sun Country should have flown a rescue flight to Mazatlan, Mexico, where passengers were stranded after the Saturday flight was canceled. These passengers were told to make their own arrangements to get home as Sun Country's services were done for the season.

The company "should have been reachable to affected passengers and covered their transportation costs if we didn’t fly them home," the memo says.

The company is now contacting passengers in Mazatlan and San Jose del Cabo to tell them that they'll not only be refunding their original ticket price, but will also cover "any additional reasonable transportation costs they incurred" to get home.

This includes the difference they paid to another airline, as well as the cost of taxis, shuttles and transportation costs to get them to and from the airport.

"We have a special email address set up and staff dedicated to assist those passengers," Bricker says. "We are committed to finding them a way home."

He suggests that going forward "automation will be central" to its strategy to handle "stresses to our system like what we experienced over the weekend, more details on which he is expected to release at a later date.

Here's the full memo:

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