A couple from Victoria, BC say they’ve yet to receive an explanation about why they were escorted off a plane from Montreal Trudeau Airport overnight Tuesday.
Josh Slatkoff and his wife, Tara Sharpe, were left stranded in Montreal, banned from boarding another Air Canada flight for the next 24 hours after the captain of the plane made the order, he said.
They had been on their way to the UK for a memorial service, Slatkoff said.
“Her grandmother just passed away so we were going there to be with family. Our flight had a connection in Montreal,” he said.
He says they had been seated and were waiting for the flight to London to get off the ground when a group of police officers boarded around 12:30 am and began escorting two people off the plane.
The plane was set to depart Monday night and though there had been delays, people on the flight were being patient, Slatkoff said. Some looked like they were returning from Grand Prix weekend.
“The next row in front of us was also removed, and that included a couple that was in their 70s. At that point I was completely shocked. We had no idea what to make of what was happening,” Slatkoff said.
“Then the Air Canada attendant pointed at our row, and he told us we needed to leave as well.”
It wasn’t until the two reached the airport that an Air Canada agent told them the captain of the plane had asked for some people to be removed because they were drinking and not wearing masks.
But Slatkoff says he doesn’t recall seeing any rowdy people on the plane, and that includes him and his wife.
“We showed our masks, N95s, and I said to her, ‘Does this look like the kind of mask someone would wear if they were refusing to wear a mask?”
‘At Air Canada’s mercy’
Air Canada says it’s now investigating the incident. They confirmed a total of 25 people were “deplaned” from the flight.
“We understand that there are claims that, in the course of removing these passengers, certain unrelated individuals were deplaned as well,” the airline said in an email statement.
“Some of these deplaned customers were rebooked this morning and are on their way to their final destination.”
But, as of Tuesday morning, Slatkoff said he was still waiting to hear from someone.
He stayed at a downtown hotel after getting stranded at the airport at 2:00 am but now might need to plan for another night in the city. His luggage is in London.
“We’re at Air Canada’s mercy at this point,” he said.
He and his wife were planning on staying in London with family until the end of the month before returning to Victoria. They’re still planning on flying over.
“You have made a terrible mistake and I really want to see what you’re going to do to make this right,” Slatkoff said.
Airport Patrol at Trudeau airport said it responded to a situation on board an aircraft that evening and escorted passengers off the plane, at the request of the flight captain and crew. The Montreal police service, the SPVM, was also called due to the number of passengers involved but did not have to intervene.