Air Canada has apologised after some passengers, including a retired British couple, were “mistakenly removed” from a Heathrow-bound plane by armed police.
Shocking footage showed how some 23 people were ordered to leave the flight on Tuesday evening with no explanation. The airline has now confirmed that some passengers were rounded up and removed by mistake.
The airline said that some passengers had been removed due to “disruptive behaviour” and for not complying with face mask rules, but admitted that others should not have been thrown off.
Retired British couple, Richard and Patricia Brailey, aged 71 and 66 respectively, had boarded flight AC866 to London Heathrow at Montreal’s international airport with no problems.
But shortly after settling into their seats, armed police reportedly boarded the plane to remove the Braileys.
The statement released to MailOnline said: “We regret that some customers who were not involved were unfortunately deplaned. We have since reached out those we have identified as mistakenly removed to apologize and address their concerns.”
Jess McFadyen, who works for Motorsport, filmed the altercation with airline staff and police, calling it “absolutely disgraceful”.
”The attendants pulled 23 people off the plane totally at random, including this elderly couple, a pregnant Williams team member, and a family of four,” wrote Ms McFadyen on Twitter.
Support staff from Formula One teams who were in Montreal for the Grand Prix were also made to leave the flight.
The Braileys and other passengers were told they could not board another Air Canada flight for 24 hours after their removal from the London-bound aircraft, and – since they had been deplaned – the arrangement of a replacement flight was now their responsibility.
“We were in total shock. I was assuming there must have been a problem with the paperwork or something,” Richard Brailey told reporters.
“I was asking what it was all about and if I could speak to the captain, but I was told that I would find out later. It was a nightmare scenario.
“It was utterly bizarre because there was no noise or aggravation on the flight. As far as I could tell everyone was behaving properly, and we certainly were.”
He added that the man next to them had been asleep under a blanket before he was woken up and removed.