Air Canada snubs loyal customer

A pregnant Winnipeg businesswoman says she wasn't taken seriously when her seatmate became physically aggressive onboard an Air Canada flight.
A pregnant Winnipeg businesswoman says she wasn't taken seriously when her seatmate became physically aggressive onboard an Air Canada flight. File photo/Global News

A Winnipeg businesswoman is asking Air Canada to do better after she said she was treated poorly on a flight from Toronto on Monday.

Marissa Freed had just settled into her seat on Air Canada flight 261 to Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport when her seatmate arrived and became verbally and physically aggressive.

“He seemed somewhat disgruntled but I didn’t pay much attention to it – I was attending to my emails,” she said.

“He proceeded to move his elbows sort of sideways to ensure he had all of the armrest room. And he … got a little more aggressive, in fact sort of shoved me off at one point.”

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Freed said she hadn’t even made eye contact or spoken to the man at this point – and wasn’t about to get into an altercation with him, as she is eight months pregnant.

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“Rather than saying something myself … I got up out of my seat and I went to the front of the plane and I informed the flight attendants what was going on and said that I was happy to get off the plane and wait for the next flight or perhaps this gentleman needed to be moved,” Freed said.

The flight attendant went to speak to the man, who was standoffish.

Airport personnel were brought in and the threat of police action saw the man moved further back on the plane.

But Freed said she realized she would still have to pass the man heading to the rear of the plane to use the washroom.

“Even after I suggested I could use the washroom in the front, [the flight attendant] informed me that was exclusively for business class passengers,” Freed said.

A request to the captain was met with annoyance and Freed said she was told she was putting the flight attendant in “an uncomfortable position”.

She offered to get off the flight, but was again told that would inconvenience other passengers as her luggage would take half an hour to sort and remove from the plane.

READ MORE: Court dismisses $2,400 claim by woman denied boarding by Air Canada

Eventually, she acquiesced to the captain, but said she is unhappy she did so.

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“[The man] could have pushed me, he could have tripped me. In my mind, it didn’t seem like a worthy risk to take,” she said.

“In retrospect, I probably should have gotten off the flight. It wasn’t the right thing for the captain to do and it actually made me quite uncomfortable.”

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In addition to being eight months pregnant, Freed is an Air Canada Altitude 100K customer. She said her company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights with the airline annually.

“I find it very troublesome that the exclusivity of a washroom is more important than the safety of a woman,” she said.

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In the wake of the incident, Freed said she doesn’t know what she is looking for from Air Canada. But she said she wants them to “get their priorities in check” so a similar event doesn’t happen again.​

Air Canada has told Global News they have no comment on this matter.