MONTREAL - Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has asked Transport Canada to investigate reports of "unacceptable" behaviour on a recent Sunwing Airlines flight to Cancun, Mexico.
I am aware of the reports of unacceptable behavior on a Sunwing flight. I have asked Transport Canada to investigate the matter. We must take the risks of COVID seriously!— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) January 4, 2022
Videos of the Dec. 30 flight shared on social media appear to show passengers not wearing masks as they gather in close proximity, singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats.
In one video, a large bottle of vodka appears to be passed among passengers, and later a woman appears to be smoking an electronic cigarette on the plane.
According to reports, the plane had been chartered and some of the passengers were cast members from Quebec reality television shows.
"I have asked Transport Canada to investigate the matter," Alghabra wrote in a post on Twitter. "We must take the risks of COVID seriously!"
Rena Kisfalvi, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local that represents about 1,000 Sunwing flight attendants, also called the passengers' behaviour "unacceptable" and expressed sympathy for the crew on the Cancun flight.
"There's a point where if you lose the control, you can't get it back sometimes,” she said in a phone interview.
Compliance with mask rules has been a “massive issue” over the past year that has “caused a tremendous amount of aggressive behaviour” from passengers toward cabin crews, she said.
“I'm not sure where Transport Canada is on this. Why haven't you done more?” Kisfalvi asked, at around the same time Alghabra put out his Twitter post.
“These passengers that are not complying, are they being charged? Are they being denied boarding in the future? Are they placed on a no-fly list? Maybe we as a government have to take that step to show the travelling public, ‘Look, we mean business here.’”
Sunwing Airlines did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
On Instagram, 111 Private Club took credit for the flight, describing the all-inclusive New Year's trip to Mexico it organized as the "best event of the year." It posted a screenshot of a newspaper article about the flight with the caption, "we made the news."
James William Awad, who operates 111 Private Club, did not respond to a request for comment sent through Facebook. A message sent to the 111 Private Club account also received no reply.