Air Canada has apologized to customers who were allegedly escorted off a plane for refusing to sit in a chair covered with vomit for the duration of their over four-hour flight.
The airline issued a statement after a viral Facebook post claimed two as-yet unidentified female flyers were told there was nothing to be done about the visible vomit on their soiled seats.
Susan Benson, a passenger onboard the Aug. 26 flight from Las Vegas to Montreal, said she first noticed the smell of vomit — and two women struggling to be seated — when she boarded the plane. The pair were in the row directly in front of her and were treated unfairly, she said.
“There was a bit of a foul smell but we didn’t know at first what the problem was. Apparently, on the previous flight someone had vomited in that area,” Benson wrote. “Air Canada attempted a quick cleanup before boarding but clearly wasn’t able to do a thorough clean. They placed coffee grinds in the seat pouch and sprayed perfume to mask the smell.”
Benson claimed when the “clearly upset” passengers spoke to the flight attendant about the visible vomit on their seats, the staff member was apologetic, but informed them there was nothing that could be done.
In an interview Tuesday with Global News, Benson said her fellow passenger was also wondering why the seat was also wet if the airline crew had changed the seat cover. The seat was “not acceptable” for a four-hour flight, Benson explained.
After a supervisor reiterated that they would have to sit in the soiled seats, the two women were “reluctantly” provided blankets, wipes and vomit bags to clean the area themselves, according to Benson.
She maintained, despite arguing with flight staff, the women were “upset” but “not rude.”
Eventually, the pilot allegedly gave the women two options: leave the plane on their own accord and pay for another flight or be escorted off by security and placed on a no-fly list. The pilot reportedly cited their rude behaviour as the reason for the forced exit.
Benson said a fellow passenger sitting beside the women — and who identified himself as a police officer — spoke calmly with the pilot in French. While Benson said she doesn’t understand French, she understood he was trying to negotiating on his seat mates’ behalf.
But then security approached the two women and said they needed to speak to them privately, according to Benson. She didn’t initially realize they were being kicked off the flight, but they never returned. She wishes she had asked for the pair’s names and contact information.
“I wish I had videoed. I wish so many things,” she said. “But looking back I just thought it was handled.”
When the flight landed, Benson said the police officer who was on the plane immediately went to the Air Canada kiosk. She told Global News she assumed he filed a complaint and she hasn’t stopped thinking about the incident.
“That was wrong. It was terrible,” Benson said, adding she also complained directly to the Canadian airline.
Air Canada claimed to be conducting an internal review of the incident and said it is in contact with the affected customers.
“Our operating procedures were not followed correctly in this instance,” the airline said in a statement. “This includes apologizing to these customers, as they clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled.”
Benson could not confirm whether the two passengers had indeed been placed on a no-fly list but called for legal action against Air Canada. She said witnessing the scene made her “ashamed to be a Canadian and ashamed of Air Canada.”
— with files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez