Masking violations were behind the deplaning of 25 passengers on an Air Canada flight this week, the airline says, though some customers were “mistakenly” removed.
Some passengers, meanwhile, say Air Canada has yet to apologize and compensate them for their tickets and for hotel expenses arising from the incident.
Flight AC866 was scheduled to leave Montréal-Trudeau International Airport on Monday night, when Air Canada ordered 25 passengers off the plane, which was destined for London’s Heathrow Airport.
“Our general policy is to not discuss incidents of disruptive behavior on board our aircraft, but we can confirm the deplaning of passengers from flight AC866 on June 20 was related to non-compliance with Canadian government mask regulations, Canadian Aviation Regulations, as well as directives of our crew,” the airline said in a statement Thursday.
“The actions taken were for the safety and benefit of the other 266 passengers on the flight.”
Air Canada acknowledged some passengers shouldn’t have been removed.
“We regret that some customers who were not involved were unfortunately deplaned. We have since reached out to those we have identified as mistakenly removed to apologize and address their concerns.”
While the UK has scrapped its mask mandate on airplanes, Canada still requires that airline passengers wear face masks on board.
Two passengers who say they were masked and following directions when they were deplaned told the Star on Thursday that Air Canada had yet to contact them.
UK residents Georgina Trumpess and Jean Marshall said the flight was already delayed three hours by the time they boarded. Some time after they were seated, they said, they saw about eight officers board the plane. They asked several passengers, including a pregnant traveler and an older couple, to get off the plane without explanation, Trumpess said.
When the officers got to the row where Trumpess and Marshall were sitting, they asked all six passengers to leave.
“We just did what we were told,” said Trumpess, tearing up. “We were shocked. … It was a horrible situation.”
After getting off the plane, the passengers were told they’d been disruptive, that they couldn’t fly Air Canada for 24 hours and that they would have to buy new tickets, the couple said. They also say they couldn’t get their luggage.
So at around 3 am, Trumpess and Marshall walked to a hotel and got a room for more than $300. The next day, Trumpess’ parents in England booked the pair on another Air Canada flight to England with a connecting flight in Dublin for £2,000. Though Trumpess and Marshall worried they might not be able to board within 24 hours, as they’d been told, got the next flight.
That flight was also delayed, this time by four hours, the couple said, missing their connection. By the time they got to Heathrow, it was Wednesday evening, a day and a half after they were initially supposed to arrive home. And their luggage was nowhere to be found.
“It’s so awful,” Trumpess said, noting they had to miss extra days of work. She said late Thursday afternoon Air Canada had yet to contact them. “We were treated like criminals.”
Other passengers aboard flight AC 866 voiced their dissatisfaction earlier on social media.
Asked if any passengers were facing fines or charges in the incident, Transport Canada said it takes allegations of non-compliance with aviation safety and security regulations “extremely seriously” and “will never hesitate to take appropriate and proportional enforcement action when instances of non- compliance are identified.”
“Transport Canada is aware of the alleged incident, and the department will conduct extensive checks to ensure compliance with applicable safety regulations. While this process is underway, Transport Canada will not provide further information,” said spokesperson Sau Sau Liu in an email.
The Canadian Transportation Agency, which provides consumer protection for air passengers, said late Thursday afternoon it had not received any complaints about the incident.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION