WestJet Flight Diverts When Passenger Smokes, Refuses to Wear Mask

By Paul Riegler on 18 June 2020
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A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Toronto was forced to divert earlier this week when an “unruly” passenger both refused to wear a mask during the flight and also smoked a cigarette.

WestJet Flight 706 had taken off at 9:49 a.m. local time and diverted to and landed in Winnipeg at 2:43 p.m.  After 52 minutes on the ground, it departed for its final destination, Toronto, where it arrived at 6:36 p.m.

Transport Canada has required all passengers to have face coverings on during flights since April 20, 2020.

A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that the man, identified as Balvir Singh, of Surrey, British Columbia, lighted a cigarette and then refused to follow directions from the flight crew to extinguish it and to wear a face mask during the flight.  The incident took place on Sunday.

As a result of Singh’s actions, the flight diverted to Winnipeg.

“We sincerely apologized for the delay and interruption to our guests travel plans who were affected by the diversion and unfortunate situation,” a spokesperson for the airline said a statement. “The flight refueled before departing again for YYZ.”

Singh was charged with mischief over five thousand Canadian dollars ($3,678) and two offenses under Canadian Aviation Security Regulations, namely smoking on an aircraft and failing to comply with the instructions of the flight crew, which carry maximum fines of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively. Singh was also charged with failing to comply with crew instructions to wear a face mask under the Interim Order to Prevent Persons from Boarding Flights in Canada due to Covid-19, an offense that also carries a fine of $5,000.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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