The Hammer comes down:
Air travel incidents

With the travel season coming, would you be less or more angry if these incidents happened to you?

By Linda Hammerschmid

Air Canada has been in the news all too recently and not in a good way.

On a recent Air Canada flight out of Halifax at the end of April, a passenger was unceremoniously escorted off her flight for having what an attendant decided was a contagious rash.

A doctor who had previously seen the passenger prior to the flight diagnosed the rash as non-contagious. Perhaps a medical note to that effect would have been prudent to obtain, but alas no such note seems to have been given.

Nonetheless, upon seeing the rash, the location of which must have been evident, the attendant, wearing gloves and a mask, informed the passenger to deplane.

So many may call this an over-reaction, others call it prudent. What do you say?

… upon seeing the rash… the attendant, wearing gloves and a mask, informed the passenger to deplane.

Personally, I remember a similar incident as a student, back in grade 6 when my teacher pulled me out of class for what she deemed to be chicken pox or measles as I had spots on my face. Sadly, I suffered from adolescent acne, which is all that it was. But what if it had been something contagious? Doesn’t prudence dictate, for the greater good, to take preventative action?

There was reason, in my opinion, to ask the woman to leave the plane, if she didn’t have a doctor’s note, because why subject all the other passengers to a possible contagion. Like that old L’Oreal commercial “and she told someone who told someone…” you know how it goes. Had the rash been endemic, and the woman had not been taken off, the other passengers would have had cause to complain, or worse and once they were infected it would spread once they arrived at their destination.

As it turns out the passenger had Shingles, which can be contagious in its early stages before the rash area develops crusts. If the rash area is covered the risk of transmission is quite low, but it seems the rash in this case was visible ergo the concern.

On another Air Canada flight on April 21, this time out of Frankfurt, a mother and son were told to disembark because, according to the mom, she questioned the policy that she had to sit behind her son in Business Class! Supposedly, this was for safety reasons, such as applying an oxygen mask (if required) – Really?!

‘… allegedly one attendant even went so far as to tell the woman ‘You don’t have the right to question policy’.’

How does sitting behind and not adjacent to your child make this easier? In any event, the mom requested to see the “policy” which the crew was unable to provide. The Captain even came out from the cockpit to tell the mom she had to leave the plane – but no written policy was forthcoming and allegedly one attendant even went so far as to tell the woman “You don’t have the right to question policy”. Really, again?!

The current AIR CANADA RULE 50 on travelling with children reads as follows:


(1) Children are accepted for transportation when accompanied on the same flight and in the same compartment by a passenger at least 16 years of age. Only one infant will be accepted for carriage with each fare paying passenger at least 16 years of age occupying the same or adjacent seat* occupied by the infant. Note: The infant must be placed in an approved infant safety seat.

(2) Children under age 8 must be accompanied by an adult age 16 or older when travelling. The accompanying adult must occupy a seat in the same cabin and be seated adjacent* to the young child.

(3) Passengers travelling with children under the age of 12 will receive complimentary seat assignment ensuring children are seated adjacent* to an adult/guardian travelling with them. Customers may contact Air Canada reservations directly to be seated or review their reservation 36 hours after booking to validate their seat assignments. Customers should always indicate in their booking they are travelling with children.

‘If you travel with child(ren) – read and print the rules of the Airline you are travelling on and put them with your tickets.’

Interestingly enough, on the Air Canada site regarding Travel With Children, the wording differs slightly and states you will receive complimentary seat assignment when travelling with children under 12 ensuring “adjacent seating”. In neither the “Rules” nor on the site is any distinction made regarding the class of fare purchased.

So folks, the moral of these two stories is:

1. If you have a medical issue get a doctor’s note and carry it with you; that way you can present it before boarding.

2. If you travel with child(ren) – read and print the rules of the Airline you are travelling on and put them with your tickets.

3. If you book your trip through a travel agent – make sure you ask if there are any impediments/conditions before leaving and confirm that in writing and bring a copy with you.

Bon Voyage!

* Italics added by the writerBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.ca

Feature image: abdallahh via StockPholio.net

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca, its publishers or editors.

Read also: The Hammer comes down: My favourite hobby

linda hammerschmid

Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law. You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show ‘Passion’ with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of CPAT (Caring Paws Animal Therapy), giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.

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