On Aug. 29, passenger Susan Benson wrote about the incident in a post on Facebook. She explained that, before her five-hour flight from Las Vegas to Montreal on the morning of Aug. 26 took off, she and two of her fellow travelers "struggled to get seated" because of a rancid smell coming from their seats. (Related: Hawaii closes state's largest airport due to infestation of bed bugs, thanks to "robocleaners.")
"There was a bit of a foul smell but we didn't know at first what the problem was," wrote Benson. "Apparently, on the previous flight, someone had vomited in that area."
Benson added that the flight attendants attempted a quick cleanup before boarding by placing coffee grinds in the seat pouches and spraying perfume in a failed attempt to mask the smell.
"When the clearly upset passengers tried to explain to the flight attendant that the seat and seatbelt were wet and there was still visible vomit residue in their area, the flight attendant was very apologetic but explained that the flight was full and there was nothing they could do," wrote Benson. "The passengers said they couldn't possibly be expected to sit in vomit for five hours."
This argument reportedly went on for several minutes until the flight attendants brought out their supervisor, who reiterated that there was nothing the flight crew could do. The crew once again tried to alleviate the situation by giving the passengers blankets, wipes and more vomit bags.
But then the situation culminated when the pilot of the aircraft himself came down and ordered the passengers to leave the plane.
"Next thing we knew the pilot came down the aisle and very calmly knelt down and told the two ladies that they had two choices: They could leave the plane on their own accord and organize flights on their own dime, or they would be escorted off the plane by security and placed on a no-fly list," wrote Benson.
When the two passengers asked why they were being unceremoniously kicked off the flight, the pilot accused the women of being rude to the flight attendant.
"They were certainly not rude," wrote Benson. "They were upset and firm, but not rude."
Another passenger – an off-duty police officer – even tried to argue in defense of the two passengers, explaining to the pilot that they had literal vomit in their seats. But at this point, the pilot had already made up his mind and refused to argue any further.
"The pilot got up and walked to the front of the plane. Next thing we know security comes down the aisle and escorted the two ladies off the plane," wrote Benson. "For what? Refusing to sit in vomit for five hours. Air Canada literally expects [passengers] to sit in vomit or be escorted off the plane and placed on a no-fly list."
"I am ashamed to be a Canadian and ashamed of Air Canada," concluded Benson. "I hope they find a good lawyer and sue the pants off Air Canada… Shame on you!"
When asked for comments from Canadian media outlets, Air Canada confirmed Benson's story and claimed that it was "reviewing this serious matter internally and [had] followed up with the customers directly."
"Our operating procedures were not followed correctly in this instance," wrote Air Canada, which added that it had already apologized directly to the passengers involved.
"They clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled," added the airline. "We remain in contact with them about this matter."
Air Canada has not confirmed whether or not it has provided any refunds or credit to the affected passengers.
In an interview with Canadian news outlet CTV, Benson said she feels like "it [deserves] more than an apology… I mean, they were embarrassed and escorted off [the plane]."
In a short statement to CTV, Gabor Lukacs, president of the air travelers' advocacy group Air Passenger Rights, noted that the pilot's alleged behavior constitutes intimidation and making serious threats to the passengers, especially when he allegedly claimed the two passengers would be put on a no-fly list.
"That's a form of bullying. That's a serious threat," said Lukacs." The no-fly list is made for terrorists, not for someone the pilot doesn't like."
Watch this short clip of what happened when a pilot for Air Canada suddenly became "incapacitated" mid-flight, likely due to vaccinations.