Air Canada accused of ditching passengers in the U.S. after sudden flight diversion
Here's something you'd probably want to know right away if you were flying from Toronto to Vancouver with (a perfectly legal 30 grams or less of) weed in your pocket and got diverted into the States: What in the heck to do with the weed.
It's a valid question. Unfortunately, nobody was around to answer it for the passengers of a flight that did this very thing last Sunday.
Air Canada flight AC125 from Toronto to Vancouver was forced to land in Seattle, WA on the evening of November 3 due to foggy weather conditions.
Upon landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, passengers are said to have started discussing what would happen to people who didn't bring their passports, or who were carrying substances that are legal in Canada but not the United States.
Flight AC125 was supposed to go from Toronto to Vancouver, landing around 9pm last night. The plane made two landing attempts but according to the captain there was fog on the runway, and the software didn't kick in. We pulled up twice, then the pilot headed to Seattle.— Kai Nagata 🇨🇦 (@kainagata) November 4, 2019
Passengers got even more nervous when mechanical issues prevented their plane from taking off again and they were forced to disembark.
"I said to my neighbour, 'I wonder how many passengers on this plane have cannabis or CBD on them and weren't anticipating landing in the United States,'" said one of the flight's 255 passengers, Harold Wax, to CTV News.
"Her eyes literally popped out of her skull and she said 'I have CBD oil on me for my bad joints.'"
With the potential of earning a lifetime ban from the United States for carrying (or even admitting to the previous use of) marijuana, she had reason to be worried — and no one to turn to with questions about what to do with her stash.
"The best practical advice is queue for that washroom and the flight attendant should keep that washroom available to passengers who may need to dispose of any #cannabis product in their possession."✈️— La Feuille Verte (@lafeuilleverte) November 7, 2019
-Richard Kurland, immigration lawyerhttps://t.co/wP1VomEjDW
An Air Canada spokesperson said in a news article published on Thursday that "there were no problems dealing with U.S. customs" and that "extra airline staff members were scheduled to work to help passengers."
Wax says that's not true, alleging that passengers emerged to find nobody waiting to help them after three hours of waiting on the tarmac.
"On the plane they're telling us get off the plane, get off, customs and everything will be ok, there'll be someone waiting for you on the other side – but not only is there nobody there, now you're stuck," he said to CTV.
"You can't get back through security, there's literally nobody there to help us and we're on our own. It definitely felt an abandonment from Air Canada."
The guy doing the processing switched the ID cards of the two people ahead of me, so that added another thirty minutes. They still haven't found the guy who got the wrong card.— Neal Jennings (@nealjennings) November 4, 2019
The airline, Canada's largest, admitted to CTV that only one staffer was in fact present to answer questions, help with customs and handle baggage inside the terminal.
Some passengers opted to carpool from the airport in Seattle up to Vancouver, while others paid for hotels with the promise that the airline would reimburse them later.
Nobody was slapped with a ban, as far as Air Canada is aware.
"Air Canada is handled by a partner company in Seattle," said the airline in a statement. "Special, exceptional arrangements were immediately made for the U.S. authorities to enable all customers to clear customs without the usual documentation."
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