Air Canada tight lipped on threats to passenger

Threatening to label a Yukon passenger a flight risk for collecting names of dissatisfied Air Canada/Air Canada Jazz customers is not something the…

Threatening to label a Yukon passenger a flight risk for collecting names of dissatisfied Air Canada/Air Canada Jazz customers is not something the airlines can comment on.

Air Canada Jazz officials say the incident is the responsibility of Air Canada.

Air Canada says it’s Jazz’s baby.

Neither company’s officials would comment on the issue or explain their corporate policies.

The passenger, Peter Coates, doesn’t understand why an Air Canada employee threatened to label him a troublemaker and list him as a flight risk two weeks ago for attempting to collect the names and numbers of people willing to join a class-action lawsuit against Air Canada Jazz.

Coates was threatening the lawsuit because he and other passengers were grounded for three days in Vancouver when temperatures in Whitehorse were below minus 40 Celsius.

The frustrated passengers were forced to pay for hotel accommodations while Air Canada’s competitor, Air North, continued to fly.

Coates maintains Air Canada chose to purchase Bombardier’s CRJ — a plane that cannot fly in temperatures of minus 40 or below — for its Yukon route instead of flying one of its Airbuses or planes similar to Air North’s Boeing 737.

On February 5, spokespeople were asked for the airline’s policy regarding banning people from its flights and labeling them a risk.

At the time, Air Canada Jazz spokeswoman Debra Williams wouldn’t comment.

“I have received your voice-mail with respect to passenger policy queries. I would refer you to Air Canada — Angela Mah (Corporate Communications) in Vancouver — 604-270-5471,” said Williams.

But that afternoon Mah said, there had been some mistake, and to talk to Williams.

Asked about the incident and company policy on February 8, Williams once again referred the matter to Air Canada’s Mah.

However, it is unlikely either airline would be able to answer questions about the event, Mah added.

“I have answered this question a couple of times I think, but will restate that questions regarding policy or Vancouver staff be directed to Air Canada,” said Williams.

“I am sure you can understand, however, that airlines — for obvious reasons — cannot supply specifics on such information for reasons of security.”

Thursday morning Mah once again declined to comment.

“The only thing I can tell you is that it’s not for us to comment on this, I would refer you to Air Canada Jazz.

“We’re separate entities. I’m not able to assist you on this.”

While Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz follow the same policies, Mah wouldn’t comment on those policies or provide copies of them.

On Thursday afternoon, Williams once again referred the incident to Air Canada.

“I have spoken with Angela (Mah) today and I understand that she did speak with you in response to your query,” she said.

“There is nothing more that we can add to that discussion. Policies (for AC and Jazz) are set by AC, and I believe more specifically your query is in reference to a discussion involving an AC employee, and for obvious reasons I cannot speak to that as I am with Jazz and not AC.”

According to Air Canada Jazz’s website, the company operates under an agreement with Air Canada.

“Air Canada Jazz operates scheduled passenger service on behalf of Air Canada with approximately 880 departures per weekday to over 84 destinations in Canada and the United States …”

Coates isn’t surprised the airline isn’t talking.

If he was in its position, he probably wouldn’t either, he said.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” he said.

While his lawsuit plug has hit a bit of a dead end, he’s going to try to avoid a repeat incident as he’s planning on avoiding Air Canada as much as he can, he said.

“I’m only going to use Air Canada as a last resort. I’m going to go out of my way to avoid them.

“I don’t like being threatened like that.

“I don’t think they had any reasonable grounds for attempting to bar me from the flight.”

According to Air Canada’s policies, available on its website, there are several reasons why ticket holders can be barred from boarding an aircraft.

If a person has mental or physical disabilities and doesn’t have anyone to accompany them on board, they can be refused a boarding pass.

People with “obvious” contagious diseases are also denied service, as are people with offensive odours.

The mentally deranged or incapacitated who appear at the gate without a doctor’s note vouching for them can also get the boot.

People who are drunk or on drugs are not allowed to enplane.

Neither are people who are, or are believed to be, abusive, offensive, threatening, intimidating, violent or otherwise disorderly.

The policies also disallow people whose conduct is a hazard to themselves or others, people who fail to abide by the company’s directions, people who fail to wear their seatbelts or people who smoke, or try to smoke, onboard their planes.

People who use cellphones, laptops or other electronic devices onboard a plane after being told not to can also be banned, as can people who have no shoes or are found to be carrying weapons.

Interpreting which acts fall into which categories, if any, is at the discretion of airline employees.

Penalties for improper behaviour include being removed from airplanes, probation, being turned away at the gate, or varying bans, including a lifetime ban, according to the policy.

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