Canadian influencers who partied maskless on plane stuck in Mexico after airlines refused to fly them
César Rodriguez / Bloomberg via Getty Images
A group of Canadian influencers are currently stranded in Mexico and being denied return flights by three airlines after videos showed them partying without a mask and refusing to follow COVID-19 protocols during a December 30 flight from Montreal to Cancun.
The flight to Cancun was chartered through Sunwing Airlines, a Canadian airline based in Toronto, by a man named James William Awad, who hosted the event as part of his company 111 Private Club. , which is described on his Instagram profile as an “Exclusive Private Group (by invitation only).”
Videos posted on twitter of the December 30 flight show the maskless passengers – many of whom are social media stars and Canadian reality TV personalities – dancing in the aisle and in the seats, drinking and passing a bottle of vodka and vaping on board .
A report in Canadian media indicates that the group became so loud that flight attendants tried to avoid the main cabin for their own health and safety.
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As previously confirmed by Sunwing Airlines and extensively documented in videos online and on social media, a group of passengers on a recent private charter flight exhibited unruly behavior and did not follow airline regulations. ‘aviation or public health,’ Sunwing told PEOPLE in a statement.
The airline also explained why it had decided to cancel the group’s return flight, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, January 5: “The incident sparked an immediate internal investigation, and Sunwing Airlines made a solid plan to do so. risk mitigation to bring passengers back to Montreal. while ensuring the health, safety and security of crew and passengers, which is always our top priority. “
But, according to Sunwing, the group refused to accept directions for the return flight.
The airline’s statement continued: “Our decision to cancel the return flight was based on the group’s refusal to agree to all the terms and on our safety team’s assessment that the non-compliance would likely be based. on their previous disruptive behavior on board. “
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In a statement posted on Twitter, Awad claims that he and the group have agreed to all of the conditions set out by the airline – including maintaining masks at all times, no alcohol, all passengers to “board in sober conditions” and more – to the ‘Exception of one: there was no meal service for the flight.
“We were unable to come to an agreement as Sunwing refused to provide meals for the group for a 5 hour flight,” he wrote.
Two other Canadian airlines, Air Transat and Air Canada, subsequently refused to bring the group back to Montreal, each publish statements on the issue citing their obligation to ensure the safety of their crew and other passengers.
At a press conference this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the group’s actions “utterly irresponsible” and “a slap in the face” for those who have followed the protocols amid the recent surge in cases of COVID-19 due to the omicron variant.
Media and Media / Getty A beach in Cancun in April 2021
In the province of Quebec, from where the group traveled, all public places – including schools, bars and workplaces – have been closed since December 20, and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. was implemented on December 31.
“Like the Canadians who have seen these videos, I am extremely frustrated,” Trudeau said. “This is a situation that Transport Canada takes extremely seriously and we are monitoring it. “
On Tuesday, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety of Canada issued a statement noting that Transport Canada has been in contact with the airline about the incident and that “fines of up to up to $ 5,000 [CAD] by infringement could be issued to passengers.
In Awad’s Twitter statement, he notes that this was his “first travel event” for 111 Private Club, and he believed he was doing all he could to keep his group safe. , like doing COVID testing for the group before their flight “even though the Mexican authority doesn’t require a negative PCR test to enter.
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“I have learned a lot and am still learning from this experience,” he wrote, noting that he is working to get everyone “home safely as quickly as possible”.
Rebecca St-Pierre, a 19-year-old Quebec student who was on the flight to Cancun, told Canada Global News that she won the trip in an Instagram contest and wasn’t expecting the party atmosphere on the plane. She claimed that not everyone was engaged in this loud behavior, adding that two girls next to her “were trying to sleep”.
According to the report, St-Pierre has since tested positive for COVID-19 and is in quarantine in Tulum, Mexico. No information on the state of health of the other passengers was disclosed.