WestJet says it cancelled a Calgary to Toronto flight because passengers refused to comply with mask policy

By | September 8, 2020

CALGARY — Officials with WestJet confirm a red-eye flight from Calgary to Toronto was cancelled early Tuesday morning after guests flying on employee travel passes refused to comply with the airline’s mask rules.

But the father of the child who was not wearing a mask, says his family was unjustly targeted as his daughter is only 19 months old and falls below the age requirement for mandatory mask use.

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart confirmed the nature of the cancellation in a statement to CTV News.

“Flight 652 from Calgary to Toronto was cancelled last night after guests travelling on employee travel passes chose not to comply with the Transport Canada order related to the wearing of masks on-board the aircraft for all guests 2 years and older.”  

In order to protect the privacy of the airline’s guests, Stewart would not provide specific details regarding the matter but did cement WestJet’s stance on mask use.

“WestJet recently launched a zero-tolerance mask adherence policy. Those guests travelling on employee travel privileges, including buddy passes, are held to a higher standard of behaviour on WestJet aircraft and we are disappointed that this issue ended ultimately in a flight cancellation for all guests on board. We apologize to our affected guests for this inconvenience and we have re-accommodated the majority of them on flights departing today.”

A passenger who was seated a few rows ahead of the group that refused to comply with mask rules, tells CTV News says it was a family travelling with a child. The child was said to be crying and in distress over the fact they would have to wear a mask.

The passenger says the family refused to make the child wear a mask and the flight crew requested that the family step off the plane that had yet to leave the gate. Police and Calgary Airport officials entered the aircraft and spoke with the group. After approximately 45 minutes, the captain announced the flight had been cancelled.

“WestJet handled the situation with class, as did the police,” said the passenger after arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport Tuesday afternoon. “If this had been in the (United) States, YouTube would have been littered with videos of these people being dragged out of an airplane.” 

Safwan Choudhry tells CTV News that it was his family that was targeted over the airline’s and Transport Canada’s mask policy and he says the flight crew was wrong to mandate that his youngest daughter wear a mask as she has not had her second birthday.

A video provided to CTV News by Choudhry appears to show some of the interaction with crew members on the plane, as well as him and his wife speaking to WestJet employees and a police officer.

“We spoke with the crew, OK, and we kind of resolved the mask matter, that was no longer an issue,” said an unnamed Calgary police officer while on the plane. “Unfortunately, the behaviour of the rest of the passengers have left the crew feeling unsafe to fly, which is why they’ve made the decision they have.”

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