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

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Days after students’ return to Victoria High School was delayed by a year, the province has announced some amenities that will be included in the school’s expansion project. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Child-care spots, artificial turf field, non-profit space included in Vic High expansion

SD61 now aims to welcome students back at the high school by September 2023

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

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read