A 71-year-old grandmother claims she was kicked off an Air Canada flight after getting into a dispute with a flight attendant over garbage, calling the ordeal “life-changing.”
Ellen Flemming was flying home with her husband and two grandsons from British Columbia to New Brunswick on Aug. 18 when she discovered a piece of trash left behind in her seat back pocket. But when she called one of the flight attendant’s over to clean it up, she claims he told her, “I don’t do garbage,” Global News reports.
Flemming said she didn’t know what to do, so she decided to wait until the cart came by to dispose of the trash. When she went to throw it away, the flight attendant wouldn’t allow it.
“He swiped my hand away, and the garbage, and so my hand came back and hit something on the way, and the garbage flew all over,” she said.
She eventually shoved the trash into the aisle with her foot since the crew member refused to take it.
The situation quickly escalated when the flight attendant “got really mad” and became “irate,” “screaming” at Flemming, according to another passenger, Helen Hollett, who was seated nearby.
“She just asked him to take the garbage and she was very nice about it,” Hollett said.
“I was in a perfect position to see what was happening, and what was happening was wrong…I mean, we pay good money for these seats. I do not think that Air Canada should treat people that way,” she said.
Soon after, the plane reportedly turned around to head back to Toronto, claiming it was “for the safety of the passengers.”
Upon landing, two Peel Regional Police officers and an agent with Air Canada boarded the plane and asked Flemming to leave, telling her she’d need to book another flight.
The Air Canada flight then left, with her husband and grandkids still on board. When she tried to rebook with Air Canada, she claims the manager behind the desk told her, “You’re not ever flying Air Canada again.”
Flemming eventually made it home on another airline, but later received a letter from Air Canada corporate security stating that she had “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.”
In a statement from the Peel Regional Police to Global News, the spokesperson said that police determined “no criminal offenses were committed” and that it was “determined that both parties were involved in a loud verbal dispute.”
Air Canada did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, but did confirm to Global News that Flemming was removed from the flight in August. They released the following statement:
“We strive to provide a safe and comfortable flight for our passengers and a safe working environment for our employees. Our crew members are professionals who are well-trained to handle challenging situations. We are unable to provide further details or discuss individual passenger files or incidents for reasons of privacy. We encourage customers to contact Air Canada Customer Relations directly with any concerns.”
Flemming is reportedly “exploring legal options” with an air passenger rights advocate who thinks she is entitled to “significant compensation.”
“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.