Air Canada 866 from Montreal to London faced a further delay on Monday night when 25 passengers were removed. Many of those passengers claim they did nothing wrong. So what really happened onboard?
Why Were So Many Passengers Kicked Off Air Canada 866?
Here are the pieces of the puzzle we must try to put together:
- AC866 from Montreal (YUL) to London (LHR) departed late on Monday, June 20, 2022
- 25 passengers were removed
- Those passengers were apparently not told why they were removed until after leaving the plane
- In the terminal, they were told they were removed for either failing to wear their mask or appearing to be drunk
- Many of those passengers, including a pregnant woman and senior citizens, denied they had been drinking or worn their mask improperly
- The captain told the aircraft the passengers had been removed for “security reasons” and for “not following airport instructions”
- Air Canada decided the following morning to rebook at least some of the passengers
- Air Canada has also promised an investigation, noting some passengers may have been improperly removed
- One passenger blamed a “power tripping” purser on Instagram for claiming people were drunk who were not
A Horrible Ending For One Couple
Here’s how one couple, Richard Brailey, 71, and wife Patricia, 66, described being removed:
“We wore our masks all the time in the airport and on the plane after we went on board. The only contact we had with the stewards was when they welcomed us in the normal way. We had waited for about an hour for the plane to take off when a member of staff with a list of numbers came along looking up and down the rows.
“They started looking at the seat numbers and earlier removed two young girls from three or four rows in front of us. Then they pointed at us, and told the police with them to remove us. We were totally flabbergasted. We had just been sitting in our seats normally with our masks on and looking forward to getting underway.
“The chap who was sitting next to us was also ordered to leave. He had a blanket over himself and was asleep, but was woken up and told to get off. We were in total shock. I was assuming there must have been a problem with the paperwork or something. I was asking what it was all about and if I could speak to the Captain, but I was told that I would find out later. It was a nightmare scenario.
“It was utterly bizarre because there was no noise or aggravation on the flight. As far as I could tell everyone was behaving properly, and we certainly were. We were taken off at the same time as three members of the Williams Formula 1 team who had friends left on board.
“What really annoyed us was the lack of communications and nobody telling us anything as we were led back into the terminal. We had to find our ow way back to Departures and this woman came down to say that we may have been thrown off for alcohol abuse, not wearing masks or failing to obey regulations.
“It was all rubbish because we had done absolutely nothing wrong. We asked her for evidence but she could not give any. Nobody was drunk, and we were not aware of anyone abusing anyone or failing to obey instructions. We were treated as if we were terrorists. Air Canada appeared to wash their hands of us. We were not offered a hotel or food. We tried three hotels, but all were fully booked and we had to stay in the terminal.
“Our son booked us the new flights for £1,300 because we thought we did not have any other way to get back home. In the end that money was wasted because Air Canada changed their minds and put us on different flights back home.”
The couple are now seeking compensation, including the money for their new Air Transat tickets they did not use. They vehemently deny they were drunk or failed to wear their mask properly onboard. Other passengers, like Jess McFadyen, back their account:
— Jess McFadyen (@JessMcF1) June 21, 2022
Was Our N95 Not Good Enough?
Another couple, Josh Slatkoff and his wife Tara Sharpe, were removed and later told it had been for the same reason. They also were not drinking and claimed to be wearing their masks properly. Slatkoff told the CBC:
“We showed our masks, N95s, and I said to her, ‘Does this look like the kind of mask someone would wear if they were refusing to wear a mask?'”
Slatkoff also noted that they observed no “rowdy” people on the airplane.
Air Canada Takes Cautious Approach In Response
Air Canada has taken a cautious approach, noting that it is investigating the matter as well as the allegations that some passengers may not have been properly removed.
“We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident involving a group of 25 customers who were removed from our flight from Montreal to London Monday night, due to disruptive behaviour.
“We understand that there are allegations that in the course of removing these passengers, certain unrelated individuals were deplaned as well.
“Some of these deplaned customers were rebooked this morning and are on their way to their final destination. Once our investigation is completed, we will follow up with the customers.”
Other passengers removed included a pregnant woman and a young family of four.
This an odd case that appears to be an overreaction to what might have been misbehavior from a smaller number of passengers, though at this point I am willing to let the investigation continue and wait for more witnesses to come out. Thus far, however, every witness has backed up the assertion that Air Canada removed passengers who did nothing wrong. If it does turn out to be an overzealous purser, as one passenger on the flight alleged, I hope that purser is reassigned to a non-customer-facing role.
The chief steward was on a power trip! She made out like people were kicking off or getting drunk. Full lies!
Shocking treatment of many people on AC866 https://t.co/9OkO90Jo65
— Jay (@jayegan) June 21, 2022
Were you on this flight? Let us know in the comments section below.