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Passengers arrive in Montreal following plane party controversy involving Quebec influencers


About a dozen passengers managed to arrive in Montreal Wednesday night from Mexico after video footage of their flight down south on Dec. 30 showed Quebec social media influencers and reality TV stars partying maskless, vaping, and drinking in the aisles on board a Sunwing Airlines plane. 

It was a scramble for many of them as multiple Canadian airlines said they refused to let them board their planes to return home after the controversial chartered flight made headlines around the world — and even drew some harsh words from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While some media reports said at least one of the passengers from an Air Canada flight Wednesday night was handcuffed by border agents upon arrival at the Montreal-Trudeau airport, the Canada Border Services Agency later told CTV that those reports were "false" and that no one was arrested or handcuffed off the flight.

Passengers refused to answer any questions from journalists who were waiting for them outside the terminal. 

They were able to board the flight despite Air Canada releasing a statement earlier in the day that said it would block the passengers involved from boarding its planes.

The flag carrier said in a statement that, “With the information we currently have regarding the events that took place on the Sunwing flight, and to the extent that we can identify the passengers who were part of the group, Air Canada is denying boarding to ensure the safety of other passengers and its crew.”

Sunwing was the first airline to publicly say it will not let the “unruly” group of passengers board their planes after cancelling their return flight home, alleging in a statement sent to CTV News that the group “did not accept all of the terms” and conditions the airline said were necessary “to ensure the safety of the crew and passengers.”

Each person was left to try to book his or her own ticket home after their trip was scheduled to end on Wednesday. 

Later Wednesday morning, Air Transat followed suit and vowed to not board the people seen in the videos as they try to head back home from their holiday in the popular sunset resort town of Tulum, Mexico.

Air Transat wrote on Twitter Wednesday that some members of the group tried to buy tickets with the airline, but are being denied.

The airline said “the safety of both our passengers and crew” is their “top priority.”


Several of the people on the Dec. 30 flight were headed to Mexico for a New Year's Eve holiday and posted videos of themselves partying and drinking alcohol inside the plane. 

At least one of the passengers on that flight says she has tested positive for COVID-19 and worries there could be dozens more positive cases among the group. 

An emotional Rebecca St. Pierre, 19, from Trois-Rivières, Que., told The Canadian Press that she is now stranded in Tulum and believes the organizer, James William Awad, has "simply abandoned everyone."

Awad said in a tweet that he intends to make a statement Thursday morning to address the situation. 

Meanwhile, St. Pierre said she doesn't know how she's going to pay for her hotel room where she has remained in isolation since testing positive on Wednesday. 

She won the trip in a contest on Instagram and while she was looking forward to a week of "mindfulness," it has now turned into a troubling and expensive ordeal.

The videos floating on social media painted an accurate picture of what actually happened on the flight, according to St. Pierre, who acknowledged that there was no social distancing and believed some of the passengers were taking drugs. 

On Wednesday, screenshots of messages exchanged between the passengers suggested that some were told to place Vaseline in their noses prior to their return flight home in an attempt to thwart COVID-19 testing. St. Pierre told The Canadian Press that some passengers, in fact, did this.


The airline trouble for the passengers comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned their behaviour on Wednesday, saying what they did on the plane was “completely irresponsible” and a “slap in the face” for those respecting public health guidelines.

The plane party is also the subject of at least two investigations -- one by Sunwing and the other by Transport Canada for possible violations of Canadian Aviation Regulations, which could bring fines of up to $5,000 per violation for the passengers. 

Sunwing has said it would cooperate with the federal government in its investigation, which is also looking into non-compliance with COVID-19 measures. 

Meanwhile, some of the 150 social media celebrities stranded in Mexico say they were unfairly blamed for the plane party. One of them, Isabelle Labrecque, told her followers in an Instagram Live video that "we were sleeping" and "we don't want to be bashed for things that we didn't do."

She also said "a minority" of the passengers were partying, while most were well-behaved. 

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV's Selena Ross. Top Stories


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