Canadian airlines refuse to fly passengers home after in-flight party videos go viral

(NEXSTAR) — A group of passengers filmed partying on a recent Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Cancun could be stranded in Mexico after images of their high-flying antics went viral.

News of the in-flight fiasco made headlines earlier this week after members of the tourist group on the December 30 chartered flight were seen vaping, drinking and eschewing masks. Footage of their behavior — some obtained by Le Journal de Montreal — even caught the attention of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called their actions “a slap in the face” at Canadians actively working to protect themselves and their fellowmen. citizens safe.

Now several Canadian airlines say the unmasked travelers will not be welcome on flights back to Canada, with Air Transat, Air Canada and even Sunwing all refusing to fly them home.

In a statement obtained by Winnipeg’s City News, Sunwing claims the group was offered a return flight, but only if they could agree to a set of security conditions. Tour organizer James William Awad released a statement Thursday morning claiming that Sunwing insisted there was no in-flight meal on the five-hour flight home, saying this provision was the sole reason why there were no in-flight meals. no agreement could be reached.

“Unfortunately, the group did not accept all the terms,” ​​Sunwing said. “As a result of our ongoing investigation and the group’s refusal to accept all conditions of carriage, we have made the decision to cancel the return flight. We regret any inconvenience caused to passengers.”

Air Canada also said it would ban any passengers they could identify from the Sunwing flight. Air Transat, meanwhile, released a public statement on Twitter confirming that some of the offending passengers had… tried to book Air Transat flights home.

“We confirm that she will be denied boarding based on our legal and regulatory obligations to ensure the safety of both our passengers and our crew, which is our top priority,” Air Transat said.

To complicate matters, one of the passengers who spoke to the Canadian press claims that she and about 30 other members of the group have since tested positive for COVID-19 in Mexico.

“The organizer just let everyone down. I don’t know who else is there. All flights have been canceled,” the young woman said in a statement from the Ottawa Citizen.

She also claimed she won the trip via an Instagram contest and was expecting a “relaxing” and “cautious” vacation with the group, which consisted of social media influencers and reality stars, according to CTV News Montreal. On social media, she told her 16,000 followers that she was willing to “take the consequences” of her actions.

If the travelers have indeed tested positive for COVID-19, Canadian regulations would prohibit them from entering until 14 days have passed since their last positive test, or they receive a medical certificate confirming that the symptoms are “not related to COVID-19.” 19,” said the Canadian government.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Trudeau said Transport Canada “takes this situation extremely seriously”.

“There will be a full investigation to what exactly happened in this situation,” said Trudeau. “I think like all Canadians who have seen those videos, I am extremely frustrated. We know how hard people have worked to protect themselves, to limit their family gatherings at Christmas time, to wear masks, to let themselves be vaccinate, to do the right things, and it’s a slap in the face to see people endangering themselves, their fellow citizens, by being completely irresponsible.

“I can assure you that this is a situation that Transport Canada takes very seriously, and we are certainly monitoring it.”

Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, had previously promised that the offending passengers would be held responsible for their actions.

“Our government takes reported incidents like this very seriously,” Alghabra said in a joint statement with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino. “We have instructed our respective departmental officials to immediately launch an investigation into these allegations of non-compliance with COVID-19 and air safety rules and regulations.”

Passengers who violate these rules could face fines of up to $5,000 Canadian (about $3,925 USD) per violation, officials noted.

Tour organizer Awad, meanwhile, claims that all passengers were tested prior to the December 30 private flight. He now says his tour company is “working tirelessly” to get the tour group home.

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