London Bound WestJet Flight Returns to Calgary Due to Unruly Passenger

  • WestJet 737 MAX 8


    IATA/ICAO code:

    Airline type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Calgary International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport

    Founded year:

    Alexis von Hoensbroech


A WestJet scheduled flight from Calgary to London’s Gatwick Airport was forced to turn back and make an unscheduled stop an hour into the night flight. One of the airline’s flight attendants was allegedly assaulted by an unruly passenger, forcing the plane to turn back for an unscheduled stopover.

A tough flight

The violent incident happened on August 11 aboard WestJet flight WS1, operated on one of the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner registered as C-GURP. Originally scheduled to depart at 19:55, WS1 was slightly delayed and instead took off at 20:47. But about an hour into the eight-and-a-half-hour transatlantic flight, a middle-aged male passenger was allegedly hit by a flight attendant. WS1 eventually diverted back to the Calgary Airport where Calgary Police Services arrested the suspect. Police said in a statement:


“On return to Calgary, a man in his 50s was arrested and removed from the plane.”

In addition to being charged with assault, the suspect was also charged with failing to follow the instructions of the flight attendants. Additional charges included mischief and common nuisance endangering the lives of others. Following the incident, WestJet emphasizes that it has a zero-tolerance approach to any interference that threatens the safety and security of passengers, crew and operations. The Canadian carrier also reiterates that the situation was handled professionally and according to protocol, with its crews trained to handle many escalating issues.

Accident over a mask

According to WestJet, the incident was a result of mask non-compliance, which then led to the physical altercation with the flight attendant, marking it as the latest mask-related unruly passenger incident in Canada. Compared to a growing list of countries, Canada remains a country that requires all passengers, including children six years of age and older, to continue to wear face masks on board all flights.

The requirement means that all Canadian flight attendants must continue to enforce the mask mandate at all times. Unfortunately, enforcement places flight attendants deeper into uncomfortable situations as they face vocal and even physical rebuffs from unruly passengers. WestJet Chief Operating Officer Diederik Pen highlighted the seriousness of how worrisome the job can be, saying:

“Our cabin crew members show up daily to ensure the safety of our guests and operations. Over the past two years, they have been on the front lines of the pandemic, navigating a highly complex operating environment and required to enforce restrictions, such as mask compliance. When Canadians turn back to travel, we will never compromise on making the right decisions to support the safety and well-being of our crews and guests.”

Mask mandates have since remained the primary driving factor behind violent, unruly passenger incidents on flights. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has strongly opposed Canada’s position on on-board mask mandates, after asking Canada’s Public Health Agency to drop the requirement. Despite the questions and cases, Canada continues with red tape and reinstated mandatory random COVID-19 testing for international passengers arriving by air, but not for road or sea transport passengers.

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Source: Global News

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