A 71-year-old woman was told that she was banned from flying on Air Canada following a "life-changing" incident on a flight from Kelowna to New Brunswick. Ellen Flemming was returning home with her husband and two grandsons when she got into an argument with a flight attendant over some garbage that was left in the seat pocket.
“I went to put my water bottle into the pouch in front of me, and I put my hand in and pulled the pouch out, and my hand, my fingers went into this wet garbage,” she said.
Flemming asked a member of the flight crew to take the trash away and he told her: "I'm a flight attendant, I don't do garbage."
Flemming held onto the garbage until the flight attendant returned with the drink cart, which she says had a bin for trash. When she tried to place the garbage in the bin, Flemming claims that the flight attendant slapped her hand away causing the trash to go flying everywhere.
Frustrated by her treatment, Flemming decided to use her foot to move the trash into the aisle, hoping that somebody from the flight crew would come by and clean it up. That set off the flight attendant who reportedly became "irate" and started screaming at Flemming.
Eventually, Flemming had enough so she just ignored the flight crew when they tried to speak to her. At that point, the pilot decided to divert the plane around and landed in Toronto, which was the nearest airport at the time. Flemming was removed from the plane by local police officers, while her husband and grandchildren returned home.
After speaking with authorities she had to book another flight, but was told by a manager that "You’re not ever flying Air Canada again.” She booked a trip on another airline and thought the ordeal was over. A few weeks later she received a letter from the airline accusing her of causing the incident.
The letter claimed that she “exhibited aggressive behavior towards a crewmember; threw garbage on the food trolley; kicked a crewmember when requested to wait until the member could come back and pick up the garbage as he was serving food.”
Flemming says that is not what happened and has a sworn statement from another passenger detailing what transpired. She said that she is considering legal action against Air Canada.
“There needs to be some accountability. Accountability for that flight attendant’s behavior, for his actions, accountability for being the cause of a flight getting turned around,” Flemming said.