A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Airlines prepared for unruly passengers ahead of return to air travel

Air Canada said it has seen an uptick in disturbances on flights since the beginning of the pandemic

After months of reduced air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines in Canada say they’re ready to contend with what could be a turbulent summer season.

Air Canada said it has seen an uptick in disturbances on flights since the beginning of the pandemic, but did not provide any details.

In the U.S., where air travel has increased significantly in recent weeks, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have announced the suspension of alcoholic beverage services because of incidents of passenger disruption, including violent assaults on flight attendants.

Timothy Perry, president of Air Line Pilots Association Canada, said in an interview Tuesday that there’s been an increase in disruptive passenger behaviour since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think all flight crew have taken notice in the increase in unruly behaviour among passengers, however I do also believe that while concerning, I don’t think the flight crew are concerned about the ability to handle it,” Perry said.

Perry said flight crew training, which includes de-escalation strategies, and other protocols will help protect the safety of the crew and passengers in the event of an onboard disturbance.

WestJet also said that while unruly situations are “extremely rare,” flight crews are trained to manage such incidents.

An Air Canada spokesperson said compliance issues are dealt with “primarily through education, using our standard procedures.”

Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada Component of CUPE, did not say if crew members have noticed increased disturbances on flights but did say the safety of the flight crew was an ongoing issue for the union.

“Rowdy behaviour is never appropriate, but especially the year we’ve had, any aggression or unruly conduct onboard or towards cabin crew is just unacceptable,” Lesosky said in an email. “Cabin crew have a hard enough job as it is, being tasked with enforcing mask compliance, monitoring alcohol consumption, and ensuring the travelling public is safe.”

Air Canada and WestJet did not respond to queries about their in-flight alcohol policies.

However, Perry said restricting alcohol in some or all parts of a plane isn’t an unusual tactic on Canadian flights.

“That has happened and to be honest, that happens more than you might think,” he said. “Most people enjoy alcohol responsibly on the plane, sometimes that’s not possible and one of the very first steps in de-escalating unruly behaviour … is to cut off alcohol to part of the cabin or all of the cabin.”

Transport Canada did not respond to a request for comment on how many incidents have been reported on-board flights in the last year.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: New rules appear to push international air travel down even further than pre-pandemic

Air Traveltravel

Just Posted

Shortreed Elementary received $40,000 from the Indigo Love of Reading foundation to purchase new books. (Special to The Star)
VIDEO: Shortreed one of 30 Canadian schools aided by Indigo’s Love of Reading program

Aldergrove school received $40,000, which will be put towards new books for the library

Students staged a flash mob on the last day of dancing at Lisa’s School of Dance in Langley City on Saturday, June 19. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Final dances held at Lisa Dew’s dance school in Langley City

After 35 years, the school has been forced to close due to the bottom-line impact of the pandemic

Jessica Horst, a volunteer with the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society, picked Scotch Broom at Jackman Wetlands on Wednesday night. (Lisa Dreves/Special to The Star)
Scotch broom removal a big task six years in the making at Jackman Wetlands

Volunteers filled a truck-full of invasive shrub growing rampant in Aldergrove park

Health and safety protocols for arriving international travellers are strict and don’t consider reasons for travel, says a letter writer. (Black Press Media files)
LETTER: Langley performer irked by ever-changing, inconsistent COVID rules

Letter writer feels she had not choice but to move to Mexico to ride out pandemic

A fawn separated from his mother by a well-meaning homeowner in Maple Ridge is a cautionary tale, say Conservation officers and staff at Langley’s Critter Care wildlife sanctuary. (Critter Care/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Maple Ridge fawn in Langley wildlife sanctuary after separation from mother

Wildlife officials say moving a fawn is not a good idea

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read