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Air Canada Issues Apology to Passengers Removed from Plane After Refusing to Sit in Soiled Seat

Air Canada has apologized to two travellers who were kicked off a flight after complaining that their seats were wet and had been soiled by vomit by an earlier passenger.

Susan Benson, a witness to the incident that occurred on Aug. 26, said she was flying with Air Canada on a flight from Las Vegas to Montreal. Two ladies and a man were “struggling to get seated” in front of her, and she said there was a “foul smell.”

According to Ms. Benson, a passenger had been sick on the previous flight so cabin crew tried to do a quick cleanup. “They placed coffee grinds in the seat pouch and sprayed perfume to mask the smell.”

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“When the clearly upset passengers tried to explain to the flight attendant that the seat and seatbelt were wet and there was still visible vomit residue in their area, the flight attendant was very apologetic but explained that the flight was full and there was nothing they could do,” said Ms. Benson.

She said that the passengers expressed that they did not want to spend a five-hour flight seated in vomit and with the smell of vomit. Flight attendants and a supervisor said there was no option to move to a different seat and Ms. Benson said no alternative options were offered to the passengers.

“The passengers asked if they could at least have blankets to sit on and wipes to clean more themselves. Reluctantly they were given blankets wipes and more vomit bags. The best Air Canada could do,” said Ms. Benson.

She said the pilot then came down the aisle and told the two women to leave the plane and pay themselves for new flights, or “they would be escorted off the plane by security and placed on a no fly list.”

The pilot claimed the passengers were rude to the flight attendant, according to Ms. Benson. She defended the women, saying, “They were certainly not! They were upset and firm, but not rude!”

Ms. Benson later elaborated, telling reporters that the passengers did “not cause a scene” and were “not belligerent.” The passenger talking to the flight attendant did not raise her voice, said Ms. Benson.

She said a passenger seated next to the women identified himself as a police officer and attempted to intervene on behalf of the women, whose final destination was Vienna. He spoke fluent French with the pilot and tried to explain that the women should not be treated like that. “He explained they were not rude just upset.”

“And then when the pilot got up and walked away and [the police officer] said to the ladies, which I could hear very clearly, he says, ‘I just explained to him that I’m a police officer in Montreal and that we would not treat people this way, that you were not rude, that your seat is definitely got vomit and it’s wet, but you’re settled now. We’re all settled and we’re fine,’” Ms. Benson recounted.

Security then arrived and escorted the women off the plane. They did not return for the flight and Ms. Benson said she regretted not videotaping the encounter or obtaining contact information to find out why the women were kicked off the plane.

“For what?” asks Ms. Benson. “For refusing to sit in vomit for five hours!”

The airline did not respond to requests for comment by press time, but said they were “reviewing this serious matter internally and have followed up with the customers directly as our operating procedures were not followed correctly in this instance,” said the airline.

“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. We remain in contact with them about this matter,” the airline said.

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