A British couple’s dream holiday in Canada ended in a “nightmare” when they were ordered off their plane by armed police without explanation.
Retired surveyor Richard Brailey, 71, and his wife Patricia, 66, were among at least 25 passengers who were forced to disembark the Air Canada flight before it left Montreal for Heathrow.
The pair were not given a reason for their ejection, but were later told by airline staff in the terminal that they may have been ejected for being drunk or missing masks.
They were confused because they hadn’t been drinking and constantly wore masks in their seats as they waited for the plane to take off just after midnight Monday.
Other passengers who were thrown from the plane were said to be a pregnant woman, a couple with two children, at least three members of the Williams Racing Formula 1 team and the Aston Martin team’s doctor, who was away for the weekend’s grand prix had been to Montreal.
Mr Brailey insisted he had not seen any other passengers who misbehaved or failed to follow instructions from cabin crew on the plane.
He and his wife had to spend the night at the airport because they couldn’t find a room in a hotel.
Meanwhile, her luggage, already loaded onto the plane, was flown to Heathrow without her and is still stuck in a backlog of bags awaiting collection at Terminal 2.
The Hertfordshire couple were initially told Air Canada was not responsible for them and they would not be able to board another flight on the airline for at least 24 hours.
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One of her sons spent £1,300 booking an alternative flight home for her on a different airline, due to depart on Tuesday night.
But Air Canada had a change of heart yesterday, putting her on one of their flights to New York and a connecting United Airlines flight to Heathrow.
The couple, who had spent four weeks on a motorhome tour of Canada, arrived at Heathrow earlier today but have not yet been reunited with their luggage.
Air Canada appeared today to admit that Mr and Mrs Brailey may have been accidentally thrown from the plane.
A statement released by the airline said: “We are currently investigating the circumstances of this incident involving a group of 25 customers who were removed from our Montreal to London flight Monday night for disruptive behaviour.
“We are aware that there are allegations that in the process of removing these passengers, certain unrelated persons also disembarked.
British couple Richard Brailey, 71, and his wife Patricia, 66, had ended their dream holiday in Canada with a “nightmare” when they were ordered off their plane by armed police without explanation. Pictured are the police escorting them
“Some of these departed customers were rebooked this morning and are on their way to their final destination. Once our investigation is complete, we will be in touch with customers.’
Father-of-three Mr Brailey said he still felt “shocked and disgusted” after they were thrown from the flight despite doing nothing wrong.
He said: “We wore our masks all the time at the airport and on the plane after we boarded. The only contact we had with the stewards was when they greeted us quite normally.
“We had been waiting for the plane to take off for about an hour when a staff member came by with a list of numbers and looked up and down the rows.
Father-of-three Mr Brailey said he still felt “shocked and disgusted” after they were thrown from the flight despite doing nothing wrong. It is said that a pregnant woman was among those taken away
“They started looking at seat numbers and previously removed two young girls from three or four rows in front of us.
“Then they pointed at us and asked the police to remove us. We were totally stunned. We had just been sitting in our seats normally with our masks looking forward to getting started.
“The guy who was sitting next to us was also asked to leave. He had a blanket over him and was asleep, but was woken up and told to get out.
“We were totally shocked. I figured there must be some paperwork issue or something.
“I asked what it was about and if I could speak to the captain but was told I would find out later. It was a nightmare scenario.
“It was absolutely bizarre because there was no noise or hassle during the flight. As far as I could tell, everyone was behaving decently, and we certainly were.
“We were dropped off at the same time as three members of the Williams Formula 1 team who had friends on board.
“What really annoyed us was the lack of communication and nobody said anything to us when we were shown back to the terminal.
“We had to find our own way back to departures and this woman came down to say we may have been kicked off for drinking alcohol, not wearing masks or not following regulations.
“It was all crap because we had done absolutely nothing wrong. We asked her for proof, but she couldn’t give it.
“No one was drunk and we were not aware of anyone abusing anyone or disobeying orders. We were treated like we were terrorists.
“Air Canada seemed to be washing our hands. We were not offered a hotel or food. We tried three hotels but they were all booked and we had to stay in the terminal.
Mr Brailey said he and his wife are now seeking compensation for their ordeal and money spent on the alternative flights, which cannot be refunded. Pictured is their motorhome, which they enjoyed before their dream vacation to Canada turned into a nightmare
“Our son booked us the new £1,300 flights because we thought we had no other way of getting home.
“In the end, that money was wasted because Air Canada changed their mind and put us on other flights home.”
Mr Brailey said he and his wife are now seeking compensation for their ordeal and money spent on the alternative flights, which cannot be refunded.
The couple’s son Patrick Brailey, 36, who works in aviation in Spain, said: “I just can’t understand why they were chosen.
“My parents never drink too much and are very careful about wearing masks. They just wanted a smooth flight home.
“It’s a shame they didn’t have an explanation as to why they were kicked out. All they were told was that they were on the captain’s list of people who had to go.
“It is clear that a terrible mistake was made. The flight was slightly delayed, but nobody saw a non-compliance with the mask requirement.
“It’s a shame because they had an amazing vacation touring the Rockies and other areas in a rented RV
“My dad did a lot of fly fishing and watched the Grand Prix before he left.”
Formula 1 journalist Phillip Horton, who was on the flight, tweeted: “Yeah it didn’t make sense. Passenger next to me from an F1 team has been removed. They had been docile, sober, and quiet all along. The cabin crew had a list of seat numbers and just took people with them.
Jess McFadyen, a director of digital strategy for motorsport publications who was also on the plane, tweeted that passengers were being ripped off “entirely indiscriminately” and described the airline’s actions as “absolutely disgraceful”.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, she said, “There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for it. They just randomly picked and left, right, you have to go.
She said the captain of flight AC866 then told the remaining travelers that the passengers had been removed for “security reasons” because they “failed to follow airport instructions”.
Ms McFadyen said passengers who were seated near the outcasts were told it had to do with the airline’s mask policy.
A spokesman for Montreal Trudeau International Airport said only that police “responded to a situation on board an aircraft on the evening of June 20 and, at the request of the captain and crew, escorted passengers off the aircraft.”
Jay Egan, an engineer for Red Bull Racing, tweeted: “The Chief Steward was on a power trip! She acted like people were running away or getting drunk. Full of lies!’ He added: “Shocking treatment of many people on AC866”.
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