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Air Canada sorry for booting passengers who refused vomit-soiled seats

air canada sorry for booting passengers who refused vomit soiled seats

Air Canada says it has apologized to two passengers who were escorted off a plane by security after protesting that their seats were smeared with vomit.

The airline said Tuesday that the passengers “clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled.”

The incident during boarding for an Aug. 26 flight from Las Vegas to Montreal was described in graphic detail by another passenger, Susan Benson of New Brunswick, who said she was in the row behind two women.

In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Benson wrote there was a foul smell when she boarded the plane, “but we didn’t know at first what the problem was.” 

“Apparently, on the previous flight someone had vomited in that area,” Benson wrote. “Air Canada attempted a quick cleanup before boarding but clearly wasn’t able to do a thorough clean. They placed coffee grinds in the seat pouch and sprayed perfume to mask the smell.”

Reached by phone Wednesday, Benson told CBC News that the passengers assigned to those seats told a flight attendant that the seat and seatbelt were wet and they could still see residue of vomit.

The attendant and a supervisor told them they were sorry, but that the flight was full, and they would just have to sit there.

After some back and forth between flight staff and the passengers, Benson said staff “finally agreed” to give the two women blankets, wipes and vomit bags to try and clean up and protect their clothes as best as they could. 

But soon after, one of the pilots approached the women, who were on their way to Vienna, and gave them two options.

“They could go on their own accord and work out their own new flight, or they would be escorted off and placed on a no fly-list,” Benson said. 

When asked why they were being kicked off, the pilot accused the women of being rude to the flight attendant. Benson disputes this, saying the women were upset and firm, but “they were definitely not rude.” 

Trying to reason with pilot 

Benson said eventually, a passenger seated next to the women started speaking to the pilot in French — a language Benson doesn’t understand. 

But after the pilot walked away, Benson said the man told the two passengers that he had attempted to de-escalate the situation and that “we’ve worked it out.”

Overhearing this and believing the issue was settled, Benson was appalled when security approached the women and escorted them off the plane. 

“I was shocked about how it was all handled and how it played out,” she said. “I just felt terrible for them.” 

Once the plane landed, Benson says she saw the male passenger go directly to the first Air Canada kiosk but did not ask whether he filed a complaint. 

Benson complained directly to Air Canada herself in a survey, but has not received a response. 

Apology not enough, says passenger

Asked if it would dispute any of Benson’s account, Air Canada did not respond.

In its statement, Air Canada said it was still reviewing the matter on Tuesday and has contacted the passengers “as our operating procedures were not followed correctly in this instance.

“This includes apologizing to these customers, as they clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled, and addressing their concerns.”

For Benson, the apology isn’t enough. 

“To me, that statement is a blanket statement they’ve given word for word to every single news outlet,” she said, adding it feels disingenuous. 

“[The passengers] need more than an apology, they definitely disrupted their flight and their lives.” 

Benson says she wants to know whether the flight crew was reprimanded. 

“I may never know …I just want them to be aware that it was unacceptable.” 

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