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An “Unruly” Westjet Passenger Arrested for Refusing to Wear Face Mask and Causing a Diversion

An “Unruly” Westjet Passenger Arrested for Refusing to Wear Face Mask and Causing a Diversion

A disruptive passenger onboard a Westjet flight from Vancouver to Toronto was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Sunday after lighting a cigarette and refusing to wear a face mask according to a police spokesperson. Balvir Singh was detained after the Westjet flight WS706 made an emergency diversion to Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon.

In a statement, Westjet confirmed one of its Boeing 737 aircraft was forced to make an emergency diversion because of what an airline spokesperson described as an “unruly passenger”. After a short period on the ground where the passenger was removed and arrested by the RCMP, the plane refuelled and departed for Toronto, arriving around an hour later than scheduled.

Photo Credit: Westjet

“We sincerely apologize for the delay and interruption to our guests travel plans who were affected by the diversion and unfortunate situation,” a statement from the Calgary-based airline continued.

While there’s a fierce debate south of the Canadian border as to whether more could be done to make passengers wear face masks onboard flights, that shouldn’t be the case on a domestic Westjet flight. The Canadian authorities made it mandatory to wear face masks or coverings on all forms of public transport, including planes, in a mid-April directive.

Air passengers are required by law to wear masks at various touchpoints in their journey, including:

  • Airport security checkpoints where social distancing isn’t possible
  • Whenever social distancing isn’t possible – like on a busy flight
  • As directed by airline employees or public health officials

The rules acknowledge that it might not be possible to wear masks all the time but that they should be worn as much as possible and whenever directed. it’s understood that the disruptive passenger aboard Westjet flight WS706 was arrested for smoking and refusing to comply with crew members instructions.

The 60-year-old Balvir Singh has been charged with mischief, smoking on an aircraft and failing to comply with the instructions flight crew. Singh was also charged with failing to comply with crew member instructions to wear a face mask. The maximum penalty is found guilty is a fine of $5,000.

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