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

White Rock beach was buzzing with activity on Father’s Day. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: White Rock beach buzzing with activity on Father’s Day

High of 27C drew hundreds of people to the beach

This year’s Virtual Hike for Hospice raised just over $30,000 with the support of participants including Marlene. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual hike raises $30K for Peace Arch Hospice Society

Community support smashes fundraising goal

SFN councillor Joanne Charles, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker and Coun. David Chesney listen to welcoming remarks from Chief Harley Chappell (Xwopokton). (FIle photo)
White Rock, SFN grieve together on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Residents encouraged to wear orange on Canada Day

Surrey RCMP are investigating after shots were fired at a white Jeep Saturday evening in Newton. (Shane MacKichan photo)
UPDATE: Surrey RCMP asking for video after shots fired in Newton

Surrey RCMP said a silver SUV shot at a white Jeep

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

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

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read