Skip to main content

'Just disgusting': Travellers kicked off Air Canada plane after speaking up about vomit-soiled seats

EDITOR'S NOTE -- The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has opened an investigation into this incident. Read the latest here

Air Canada says it is apologizing to customers after passengers' seats were reportedly soiled with vomit on a flight from Las Vegas to Montreal.

A woman who says she was a passenger on the Aug. 26 flight wrote in a social media post that the plane’s crew "placed coffee grinds in the seat pouch and sprayed perfume to mask the smell" of vomit prior to boarding. The flight from Las Vegas to Montreal clocks in at almost four and a half hours.

Susan Benso said she noticed the stench before realizing a nearby passenger's seat was soiled with vomit.

"She said, 'My seat is wet. It's on the front of the seat in front of me. It's on my seatbelt.' And she said, 'It's just disgusting.' And she pushed the button to bring a flight attendant," said Benson in an interview with CTV News Montreal.

"When the clearly upset passengers tried to explain to the flight attendant that the seat and seatbelt were wet and there was still visible vomit residue in their area, the flight attendant was very apologetic but explained that the flight was full and there was nothing they could do," wrote Benson on Tuesday, Aug. 29. She says the passengers asked for a supervisor, who came shortly after.

"The supervisor came and just reiterated the same thing: 'We're sorry ... 'we've cleaned the best we can, there's nowhere else to put you, you're just gonna have to sit in it," she told CTV. "And she's like, 'We cannot sit and vomit for five hours."

Eventually, Benson says, the passengers asked for blankets to cover their seats for the flight, which they received, along with wipes and more sick bags.

When they got settled in, according to Benson, the pilot approached them and asked them to leave.

"He was very calm and just bent down at eye-level and said, 'You guys, you can leave the plane right now on your own, or I will call security and they will escort you off the plane,'" alleged Benson, adding the pilot said they could be added to a "no-fly list" if security had to get involved. 

"Next thing we know, security comes down the aisle and escorted the two ladies off the plane!” she said.


CTV News reached out to Air Canada to confirm Benson's story.

In response, the airline said it was "reviewing this serious matter internally and (had) followed up with the customers directly."

"Our operating procedures were not followed correctly in this instance," wrote the Air Canada, which added that it has apologized to the customers involved.

"They clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled," the airline added. "We remain in contact with them about this matter."

CTV also asked Air Canada if it had handed out any refunds or credit in this case, but has not yet received a response.

Benson said she didn't exchange contact information with the affected passengers, so it's unclear if they received anything from the airline beyond an apology. She told CTV they were travelling to Vienna, and had a connecting flight to catch.

"I feel like it (deserves) more than an apology," said Benson. "I mean, they were embarrassed, and escorted off."

Gabor Lukacs, president of the travellers' advocacy group Air Passenger Rights, says the pilot's alleged behaviour constitutes bullying. Specifically, he took issue with the pilot reportedly telling the passengers they could end up on the no-fly list. CTV asked Air Canada to respond to that claim, but did not receive a response.

"That's a form of bullying. That’s a serious threat," he said. "The no-fly list is made for terrorists, not for someone the pilot doesn’t like."

He said he's aware of similar incidents, claiming the only difference between this event and others is that it was publicized online.

"I really admire the (traveller) sitting behind the passengers," he said, referring to Benson, "for not remaining silent." Top Stories

Here is Canada's unseasonably mild December forecast

December is predicted to be unseasonably mild across Canada, thanks to a "moderate-to-strong" El Nino and human-caused warming. Warming and precipitation trends will be stronger in some parts of the country than others, and severe weather is still possible, meteorologists say.

Stay Connected