Flight attendants say Sunwing’s party flight shows what industry is facing amid Omicron
Following a party on a Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico, flight attendants are calling for tougher government and carrier measures to ensure onboard health and safety amid the wave of Omicron.
Videos from the December 30 flight shared on social media appear to show passengers wearing no masks as they congregate nearby, singing and dancing in the aisle and on the seats.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on Wednesday, saying he was “extremely frustrated” by the actions of travelers, some of whom appear to be Quebec social media influencers.
“It is a slap in the face to see people put themselves down, put their fellow citizens, endanger airline workers by being completely irresponsible,” he said at a press conference in Ottawa.
“I can assure you that this is a situation that Transport Canada takes very seriously and that we are definitely monitoring this situation.
Wesley Lesosky, president of the airlines division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents some 15,000 employees, said governments should work to speed up access to booster injections for crews and that airlines should cut aisle service to limit the flights caregivers’ exposure to the virus.
Rena Kisfalvi, who heads the local union representing about 1,000 Sunwing flight attendants, says Sunwing is the only major Canadian airline that does not offer rapid tests for cabin crew, a measure she says should be obligatory.
Half have made themselves sick since December
Up to 50% of his colleagues have had to become ill in the past month due to potential symptoms of COVID-19, Kisfalvi said.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and three other cabinet members said in a statement Tuesday that officials will open an investigation into the Sunwing incident and that failure to comply with the regulations can result in fines of up to 5,000. $.
Sunwing said its security service investigated the Dec. 30 trip and the company reported it to Transport Canada.
“The health and safety of our employees and passengers is our top priority at Sunwing Airlines,” the company said in an email.
Kisfalvi called the behavior of the passengers “unacceptable” and expressed his sympathy for the crew of the Cancun flight.
“There comes a time when if you lose control you can’t get it back sometimes,” she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Compliance with mask rules has been a “massive problem” over the past year that has “caused a tremendous amount of aggressive behavior” from passengers towards cabin crew, she said.
“I don’t know where Transport Canada is on this. Why haven’t you done more? Kisfalvi asked, around the same time Alghabra post a message on twitter saying he asked Transport Canada to investigate the Sunwing affair.