More than 100 Canadians, most of them social media “influencers,” could face criminal charges, huge fines and even jail time because of their in-flight partying on a chartered airliner just before New Year’s. Ironically, it was a YouTube video of the scene on the plane that led to the huge controversy in Canada and a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the incident a “slap in the face” for other Canadians suffering through the Omicron wave of COVID-19. The video shows passengers on the flight, which was chartered through Sunwing Airlines, a Canadian vacation carrier, drinking, dancing and vaping in the cabin on their way from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico on Dec. 30.

The Sunwing crew apparently didn’t consider the in-flight behavior bad enough to warrant turning back or diverting and the plane continued to Cancun. There have been no allegations that any of the passengers were violent or ignored crew instructions. After the video controversy blew up, the airline announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with the organizer of the trip for the return flight and it didn’t send a plane to pick up the passengers. Air Canada and Air Transat, another Canadian vacation carrier, then announced they wouldn’t allow any of the party passengers on their aircraft either. 

Several federal government departments announced they were investigating the flight and cabinet ministers warned of potential consequences that include fines of $100,000 and jail terms. Two of the passengers were flight students who chronicle their experiences on social media and Transport Canada said it was reviewing their participation to see if it could affect their pilot certification chances. Others have been fired by their employers from high-profile jobs. Meanwhile, as of Friday, only 27 of more than 130 passengers had hopscotched back to Montreal using U.S. and Mexican carriers and all were met by government officials who administered COVID tests and who, in the words of the federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, “interrogated” the passengers.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to socialism. There will be no having fun! It’s worth noting that the Canadian Prime Minister’s only previous job experience is as a snowboard instructor? Similar to Hugo Chavez’ bus driving experience made him a great choice to lead Venezuela.

    • Objection! Nothing to do with ‘socialism’ nor mercatilsism.

      The irresponsible irrationally selfish bleeps risked others health (reported that some people are now self-quarantining in Mexico), disrupted others’ peaceful enjoyment of flight, and endangered others by disobeying crew (which can cause deaths in case of emergency evacuation).

      But thanks for exposing yourself as of such mentality. Hopefully you have nothing to do with airplanes.

  2. I don’t see this as any different than any other private charter. That’s why you private charter. If they didn’t interfere with the flight activities in any illegal or unsafe way, what’ the problem. Hey Canada, how ’bout explaining.

    • Read news before blabbering.

      The irresponsible irrationally selfish bleeps risked others health (reported that some people are now self-quarantining in Mexico), disrupted others’ peaceful enjoyment of flight, and endangered others by disobeying crew (which can cause deaths in case of emergency evacuation).

    • I agree with roger anderson! In the US all you have to do is go to any GA airport in Florida and see all the activity. All kinds of charter and airplane owners taking passengers away from all of the worthless COVID restrictions and idiotic TSA enforcement. My understanding is that Mexico has the fewest COVID restrictions in North America. The past year has been the busiest ever for my company and for many charter outfits throughout the country. My logbook reflects the huge amount of flying time for 2021. As long as there was no interference of the crew, the only thing I see questionable is the fact that this video exists.

  3. How dare these miscreants appear fearless in the face of covid? Too bad some of them had to lose their jobs, and/or otherwise had their intended livelihoods derailed. But as influencers, they still have bright futures, just different. Right?

  4. From some Canadian publications I have read online and from what I saw in the FBO on the last quick trip to Canada I flew, it looks to me that Canada citizens are getting tired of all the restrictions just like Americans are.

  5. Dumb as a box of rocks is the only way to describe these people. I mean, are you kidding me? Let’s document how fricking stupid we are and then have it broadcast over all local, national and international communication networks. They deserve what they get for being so self absorbed and so stupid beyond definition.

  6. This was a private charter… they can do what they want without big brother interfering. However, stupid for that video to be published. There’s an argument to keep your private life PRIVATE. Next time, charter in the US.

    • Objection! Nothing to do with Canada or US.

      The irresponsible irrationally selfish bleeps risked others health (reported that some people are now self-quarantining in Mexico), disrupted others’ peaceful enjoyment of flight, and endangered others by disobeying crew (which can cause deaths in case of emergency evacuation).

      But thanks for exposing yourself as of such mentality. Hopefully you have nothing to do with airplanes.

  7. Caution that media reports vary, some say the irresponsible irrationally selfish bleeps did refuse to obey crew instructions.

    Reports that some who snuck back into Canada were handcuffed on arrival seem to be false, but certainly they’d be interrogated.

    May face COVID-19 quarantine, perhaps fines, especially if documentation submitted for flight is at odds with what arrival officials find.

    Some fired for character not being suitable for their job: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/sunwing-party-plane-passengers-fired-facing-other-repercussions-at-home-1.5731519

  8. Masks & vaping are the only visible rule violations, although obviously there may have been unseen and unreferenced “failure to follow flight crew instructions” conflicts. However, based on the statements of the charter organizer that “partying was allowed” by the charter, alcohol was being served as it went on and that some flight attendants participated in the dancing, one might be justified in suspecting Sunwing (and other charter providers) elected to decline providing a return flight as a PR image CYA, and only because the kids had created a ruckus by stupidly posting the videos.

  9. I applaud people who actually behave just like people. Not lemmings to Gov’t controls like mask diaper rules etc. If they disregarded crew instructions then fine. However, if the uproar is over masks then good on them. As the CDC reported, mask diapers that everyone wears below their noses have less than 2% efficacy against Omicron. So fine, follow crew instructions and enjoy your charter. Listen to the crew but enjoy life.

  10. Bunch of a$$hole kids but:

    “The video shows passengers on the flight, which was chartered through Sunwing Airlines, a Canadian vacation carrier, drinking, dancing and vaping in the cabin on their way from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico on Dec. 30.”

    Charter flight. The plane owner’s planes so his or her rules.

    Glad I missed it but I don’t see a crime here.

  11. Long ago, but not far away, AVWeb permitted comments on the columns they published. And then, over time, the comments got more and more personalized to include the individuals’ thoughts on politics, vulgar shots at one another, and so on. And…they became not so unlike what one or two have been doing on here today. You might want to bite your tongue when you feel the urge to use this as a FB type exchange, you know, politics, personalities kinda stuff, or you/we may find comments no longer permitted…..again. That’s my opinion and comment on this.

  12. You know, I get it. People want to party, it’s a charter jet, who cares what a bunch of “influencers” do…ammiright? Personal Freedom and all….

    Yet….

    This is not normal times so let’s check in for a moment. Some folks like to think that COVID is “just like the flu”, but is it?

    Flu stats (for US)
    5902 Deaths in 12 month period.
    1.8 deaths per 100,000 people
    (240,000-650,000 deaths world wide annually)

    COVID stats (for US)
    600,000 deaths in one year, 837,000 since the outbreak)
    77 – 354 Deaths per 100,000 people
    5,400,000 deaths world wide

    and there are complications from COVID that can linger for months. To think that COVID is “just like” the flu is like saying a Piper Archer is like a B737….they are not even in the same class.

    So at issue here is not a bunch of boozed up asshats throwing a finger at “Da Man” because they are tired of COVID…hell, we all are, but this *is* about said asshats spreading a highly infectious disease that has a mortality rate is significant. This is not about *their* freedum, but about how they are actively affecting the freedom of others. Their freedom to not get sick, to not wind up with high medical bills or death. This is about judgement or in this case, the lack of judgement at multiple levels.

    This is a site about aviation and at times I am amazed at the judgement displayed in these comments regarding COVID. The FAA sets rules that we as pilots, like them or not, abide by. Don’t bust Class B without permission, don’t fly VFR to IFR without proper training, etc and maybe we don’t like all odf them but we still follow them, because to ignore them one timer may mean not just one pilot’s life, but those of others.

    Why then is this different? We gain control of this virus by doing everything we can to not allow it to continue. What’s to say the next mutation coming from unvaxxed asshats will be more infectious and haver a high mortality rate (oh gee, already happened in France) and at what point do we actually consider the lives of others as valuable as our own. I assume we do this as pilots flying passengers around, following rules we chaff at, so do we throw judgement out the door just because some one from one Party says do this and their not liked?

    Personally, having known people who had loved one lost to a virus who’s impact on this planet could have been greatly contained had we stopped seeing the world in one of two colors, but did what was good for our neighbors, personally I’d throw the lot of them in jail and wait to see if any one linked to their spread dies then charge them with involuntary manslaughter as they acted in a careless manner causing the death of another.

    • Justin, international passengers are “fully vaccinated” by law.

      So which is it? COVID vaccines either work OR you are admitting that this vaccine is useless against getting and spreading of the disease.

      Personally I don’t care if these teens party like the British royalty.

    • Please point out specifically what FAR’s are being violated in this video. I know of no FAR whether pt 91 or pt135 or even pt121 that is being violated here. Now if that plane is registered in Canada, well another country can make any rules it pleases.

  13. “Personally, having known people who had loved one lost to a virus…”

    Valid point. Those concerned for their health are free to vaccinate themselves, wear a mask, and self isolate.

    I don’t think anyone is trying to take away their rights.

  14. While the fight may be a private charter, rules of flight still applies. The flight crew abide by regulations and passengers must obey flight regulations. Social influencers may be the new term for social butterflies of ye old days when periodicals ruled. Social influencers have more exposure using tik tock, fb, Instagram, Twitter, etc,…….. to reach a greater number of………….nitwits. Neer do wells in old vernacular.

    • The Prim Minister needs to do a search on “British prime minister COVID party” before casting aspersions about slaps in the face to responsibility. Hell, he’s already forgot breaking his own rules last Easter! Politicians are shameless hypocrites and none greater than Trudeau.