Air Canada has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons after a power-tripping flight attendant and pilot ordered 25 people, including an elderly couple, a pregnant woman, and three members of the Williams Racing Formula 1 team off a Montréal to London Heathrow flight.
The group of passengers were given little information about the reason they were being ejected from the flight, as police officers marched them off the packed Boeing 787 Dreamliner at around 12:30 am on Tuesday.
Once in the airport terminal, some of the passengers were told they would be banned from flying Air Canada for at least 24 hours on the orders of the Captain. Staff were either unwilling or unable to explain what allegations had been made against them but there was talk of face mask non-compliance, drinking and other unruly behaviour.
What made the situation so bizarre, however, was the fact that none of the other passengers on the flight had made any complaints against the group who had seemingly been removed from the flight at random.
Pictures shared from onboard showed calm but clearly upset mask-wearing passengers being removed by police. Could it really be true that nearly 30 passengers in several different parties were behaving so badly on the same flight that it warranted the police being called?
It turns out, that the answer is no, the reason for the group’s forced removal from Air Canada flight AC866 wasn’t because of disruptive passenger behaviour.
Sources now claim the plane was overweight due to special cargo in the belly hold and that the weight had to be quickly reduced. A group of passengers were selected, possibly because of lack of airline status, onward connections and other criteria, and the police were called to help staff break the bad news that these passengers would be ‘disrupted’.
The working theory is that something was lost in translation (possibly between native and non-native French speakers) and that ground staff and police were informed they had to remove ‘disruptive passengers’.
In the rush to get the passengers off the plane, it turns out that some were made to leave their hand luggage onboard the aircraft which contained their wallets and passports. On arrival in London, the lost luggage then caused a security alert.
A spokesperson for Air Canada hasn’t confirmed the latest theory and the airline still believes the passengers were taken off the flight for unruly behaviour.
“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,” the airline said in a statement.
“We understand that there are allegations that in the course of removing these passengers, certain unrelated individuals were deplaned as well,” the statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.