WestJet flight forced to land in Winnipeg after unruly guest was smoking, refused to wear mask

By | June 18, 2020

WINNIPEG — A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Toronto was forced to land in Winnipeg on Sunday at around 2:25 p.m. due to an “unruly” passenger, according to police.

The RCMP said a man, 60, lit a cigarette and refused to follow directions from the flight crew, including refusing to wear his personal protective face mask when directed to do so.

“We sincerely apologized for the delay and interruption to our guests travel plans who were affected by the diversion and unfortunate situation,” a spokesperson for WestJet said a statement. “The flight refueled before departing again for YYZ.”

A directive issued April 20 by Transport Canada requires all passengers to wear a non-medical face mask or covering during a flight.

“In support of the directive, it is mandatory for guests to wear protective face coverings throughout their travel journey, including at the airport and while in flight,” reads a portion of the WestJet statement. “In addition and per the directive, travellers are required to show that they have a suitable face covering prior to boarding a WestJet flight.”

Balvir Singh, of Surrey, B.C., has been charged with mischief over $5000 and two offences under Canadian Aviation Security Regulations: smoking on an aircraft and failing to comply with the instructions of the flight crew, which carry maximum fines of $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. The man was also charged with failing to comply with the instructions of the flight crew to wear a face mask under the Interim Order to Prevent Persons from Boarding Flights in Canada due to COVID-19. That offence carries a maximum fine of $5,000.

The man was taken into custody but has since been released on bail.

None of the charges have been tested in court.

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