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An elderly couple’s dream holiday in Canada ended in a ‘nightmare’ when they were ordered off their plane by armed police without being given any explanation.
Retired Richard Brailey, 71, and his wife Patricia, 66, were among at least 25 passengers forced to leave the Air Canada flight before it left Montreal.
The couple were given no reason for their ejection, but were later told by airline staff in the terminal that they may have been thrown off for being drunk or not wearing masks.
They were left mystified because they had not been drinking and had been wearing masks constantly in their seats as they waited for the plane to take off shortly after midnight on Monday.
Other passengers thrown off the plane allegedly included a pregnant woman, a couple with two children, at least three members of the Williams Racing Formula 1 team and the doctor for the Aston Martin team who had been in Montreal for the Grand Prix over the weekend.
Mr Brailey insisted that he had not seen any other passengers misbehaving or failing to follow instructions from cabin staff on the plane.
He and his wife were forced to spend the night in the airport as they could not find a room in a hotel.
Meanwhile their luggage which was already loaded on the plane was flown to London’s Heathrow without them, and is still stuck in the logjam of bags waiting for collection at Terminal 2.
The couple were initially told that Air Canada was not responsible for them and that they could not get on another of the airline’s flights for at least 24 hours.
One of their sons spent $2,300 on booking an alternative flight home for them on another airline which was due to leave on Tuesday night.
But Air Canada had a change of heart yesterday and put them on one of its flights to New York, and a connecting United Airlines flight to Heathrow.
The couple who had spent four weeks on a camper van tour of Canada arrived back in Heathrow early this morning, but have not yet been reunited with their luggage.
Air Canada today appeared to admit that Mr and Mrs Brailey, from Hertfordshire, may have been thrown off the plane by mistake.
A statement released by the airline said: ‘We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident involving a group of 25 customers who were removed from our flight from Montreal to London Monday night, due to disruptive behaviour.
‘We understand that there are allegations that in the course of removing these passengers, certain unrelated individuals were deplaned as well.
Retired couple Richard Brailey, 71, and wife Patricia, 66, had their dream holiday in Canada ended in a ‘nightmare’ when they were ordered off their plane by armed police with no explanation. Pictured is the police escorting them off
‘Some of these deplaned customers were rebooked this morning and are on their way to their final destination. Once our investigation is completed, we will follow up with the customers.’
Father-of-three Mr Brailey said he was still feeling ‘shocked and disgusted’ after they were ejected from the flight, despite having done nothing wrong.
The retired surveyor said: ‘We wore our masks all the time in the airport and on the plane after we went on board. The only contact we had with the stewards was when they welcomed us in the normal way.
‘We had waited for about an hour for the plane to take off when a member of staff with a list of numbers came along looking up and down the rows.
Father-of-three Mr Brailey said he was still feeling ‘shocked and disgusted’ after they were ejected from the flight, despite having done nothing wrong. Amongst those escorted off included a pregnant woman, it is reported
‘They started looking at the seat numbers and earlier removed two young girls from three or four rows in front of us.
‘Then they pointed at us, and told the police with them to remove us. We were totally flabbergasted. We had just been sitting in our seats normally with our masks on and looking forward to getting underway.
‘The chap who was sitting next to us was also ordered to leave. He had a blanket over himself and was asleep, but was woken up and told to get off.
‘We were in total shock. I was assuming there must have been a problem with the paperwork or something.
‘I was asking what it was all about and if I could speak to the Captain, but I was told that I would find out later. It was a nightmare scenario.
‘It was utterly bizarre because there was no noise or aggravation on the flight. As far as I could tell everyone was behaving properly, and we certainly were.
‘We were taken off at the same time as three members of the Williams Formula 1 team who had friends left on board.
‘What really annoyed us was the lack of communications and nobody telling us anything as we were led back into the terminal.
‘We had to find our own way back to departures and this woman came down to say that we may have been thrown off for alcohol abuse, not wearing masks or failing to obey regulations.
‘It was all rubbish because we had done absolutely nothing wrong. We asked her for evidence but she could not give any.
‘Nobody was drunk, and we were not aware of anyone abusing anyone or failing to obey instructions. We were treated as if we were terrorists.
‘Air Canada appeared to wash their hands of us. We were not offered a hotel or food. We tried three hotels, but all were fully booked and we had to stay in the terminal.
Mr Brailey said he and his wife would now be demanding compensation for their ordeal and the money spent on the alternative flights which could not be refunded. Pictured is their camper van which they enjoyed before their dream Canada holiday ended in a nightmare
‘Our son booked us the new flights for $2,300 because we thought we did not have any other way to get back home.
‘In the end that money was wasted because Air Canada changed their minds and put us on different flights back home.’
Mr Brailey said he and his wife would now be demanding compensation for their ordeal and the money spent on the alternative flights which could not be refunded.
The couple’s son Patrick Brailey, 36, who works in aviation in Spain, said: ‘I just can’t understand why they were picked on.
‘My parents never drink to excess and are meticulous about wearing masks. They just wanted a quiet flight home.
‘It is disgraceful that they have had no explanation about why they were kicked off. All they were told was that they were on a list from the Captain of people who had to leave.
‘It is clear that some awful mistake was made. The flight had been slightly delayed, but nobody saw any non-compliance with masks.
‘It is a shame because they had a fantastic holiday touring the Rockies and other areas in a rented camper van
‘My dad did plenty of fly fishing, and he saw the Grand Prix before he left.’
Formula 1 journalist Phillip Horton who was on the flight tweeted: ‘Yep, it made no sense. Passenger next to me from an F1 team was removed. They had been compliant, sober, quiet the whole time. Cabin crew had a list of seat numbers and just took people off.’
Jess McFadyen, a director of digital strategy for motorsports publications who was also on the plane, tweeted that passengers were pulled off ‘totally at random’, describing the actions of the airline as ‘absolutely disgraceful’
In an interview with the Toronto Star, she said: ‘There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. They were just randomly selecting and going, right, you have to leave.’
She said the captain on flight AC866 then announced to the remaining travellers that the passengers had been removed for ‘security reasons’ for ‘not following airport instructions’.
Ms McFadyen said that passengers sitting near those ejected were told it had to do with the airline’s mask policy.
A spokesperson for Montreal Trudeau International Airport said only that police responded to ‘a situation on board an aircraft on the evening of June 20 and escorted passengers off the plane, at the request of the flight captain and crew’.
Jay Egan, an engineer for Red Bull racing tweeted: ‘The chief steward was on a power trip! She made out like people were kicking off or getting drunk. Full lies!’ He added: ‘Shocking treatment of many people on AC866’.