By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
Passengers aboard an Air Canada flight bound for Vancouver from Ottawa last week were presented with an interesting dilemma. They were essentially asked who they believed, the flight attendants who walked off the plane claiming the aircraft wasn't safe or the captain who insisted, via PA announcements, that it was. Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason was among the majority who stayed on Flight 139 and tweeted about the incident, incredulous that passengers were put in that position but appreciative of the free liquor that flowed in coach after the aircraft finally took off, three hours late. In his column, Mason said a smell from the aircraft's ventilation system prompted the flight attendants' exodus and an unusual follow-up from the cockpit.
Mason said that rather than simply cancel the flight, the captain went to "great pains" to convince passengers that he was right and the FAs were wrong. "In the end he sold the passengers, which took a remarkable leap of faith on the part of many of us," Mason, a self-confessed nervous flyer, wrote. Meanwhile, maintenance staff were working on the nervous flight attendants and one of them was convinced to work the flight. After rounding up a couple more to fill out the crew, Flight 139 took off for the uneventful five-hour flight west. In addition to the free booze, passengers were given vouchers to compensate for their inconvenience. Meanwhile the captain can expect a meeting with Air Canada brass on what exactly passengers need to know during a ground delay. "Why alarm them when we know the plane is perfectly safe?" Michael Tremblay, the head of Air Canada customer relations, told Mason afterward. "I think it might have been handled differently. I think we're probably going to talk to the captain about what information is appropriate to share with passengers and what is not."