June 24, 2019 4:59 pm
Updated: June 25, 2019 2:12 am

Air Canada passenger’s stranding on a plane was ‘one in a million,’ expert says

ABOVE: Air Canada says it's investigating how a passenger woke up alone on a plane, still buckled into her seat, after landing in Toronto. Abigail Bimman reports.

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An Air Canada passenger’s experience of being left on a plane had a “one in a million” chance of happening, a pilot told Global News Monday.

But the airline has confirmed that it happened.

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Alan Eugeni wasn’t present when Tiffani Adams said she fell asleep and became stuck inside an Air Canada plane after it flew from Quebec City to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ).

“This might just have been an innocent mistake from an inattentive employee,” Eugeni said in a phone interview.

“Or perhaps a slightly careless employee who was focused on something else and didn’t do the final check.”

An event like this is “not very likely” to take place, Eugeni said.

In most cases, a flight attendant’s last job is to go to the back of the plane and make sure no one is still in the bathrooms.

Then, the attendant’s job is to walk to the front to ensure no baggage — or passengers — have been left behind, he added.

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Guidance for passenger and cabin safety is set out in section 705.4 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

Regulations state that an air operator must establish procedures that “passengers move to and from the aircraft and embark and disembark safely.”

The procedures themselves, however, are set out in airlines’ flight attendant manuals.

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“Each airline has its own procedure, but typically, the last step would be for a flight attendant to start at the back of the aircraft,” Eugeni said.

Global News asked three of Canada’s major airlines what kinds of procedures they follow when it comes to ensuring no one has been left on board.

Air Transat has an internal procedure which states “that the minimal number of flight attendants required by the legislation and at least one pilot remain on board until all passengers have disembarked.”

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WestJet said its cabin crew does a “post-flight cabin check.” The airline also has what it calls a “unique grooming policy” that involves checking each seat.

Air Canada would not provide any further information on this incident.

Eugeni said he could envision a situation in which a passenger might have been missed.

An Airbus A319 (A319-100) jetliner, belonging to Air Canada low-cost carrier Rouge, lands at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nv., on Wed., Feb. 27, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Air Canada largely uses planes such as Airbus models 319-100, 320-200 and A321-200s, as well as Bombardier Q400s on its flights between Quebec City and Toronto.

None of these are particularly small planes, Eugeni said — the Airbus models alone can each hold over 100 passengers.

He could understand a staffer missing a smaller-built person asleep in the back of the plane, wearing colours that blend in with the seats and the aircraft interior.

If the staffer only did a “cursory check, or maybe didn’t want to go all the way to the back of the aircraft, and was maybe looking from 10 seats ahead, or maybe 15 rows ahead,” then a passenger could have been overlooked, Eugeni said.

“That’s not an excuse, that’s not the proper way of doing it,” he said.

Ross Aimer of Aero Consulting Experts said he had never heard of an incident like this one.

He said numerous errors would have to be made to miss a passenger the way it happened here.

Any catering, cleaning or flight crew would have found Adams in the morning if she hadn’t taken steps to leave the plane, Aimer said.

  • With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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