A group of Canadian social media influencers and reality TV personalities had their return flight canceled after videos of their party flight from Montreal to Cancún went viral.
In the videos, the influencers can be seen drinking, smoking, dancing and even crowd-surfing, all without face masks, in their December 30 charter flight.
The videos were originally posted by the plane party’s participants, then later deleted. In the posts, the party-goers could be seen passing bottles of alcohol and dancing in the aisles. In response, the charter company, Sunwing, canceled the group’s return flight. Other Canadian airlines have followed suit, refusing to accommodate the group on a return flight.
Sunwing has reported the revelers to Canadian officials, who have opened an investigation. Passengers found to have violated COVID-19 safety regulations could be fined up to CA $5,000 (US $3,900).
Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has weighed in on the scandal, saying he was “very frustrated” with the influencers’ behavior, as Canada faces a fifth wave of the deadly virus.
“It’s a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday.
But the owner of 111 Private Club, the business that chartered the flight, said the group “respected all instructions given by Sunwing” and seemed surprised by the controversy.
“A simple party on a plane did all this buzz … Give me a moment to understand the situation better,” owner James William Awad wrote on Twitter.
He also released a statement on Thursday saying that all passengers were tested for COVID before flying and thus “the whole group was safe.”
Awad added that Sunwing had offered to fly the group back if they had agreed to a number of rules, including providing negative PCR tests, staying in their seats, and not being sold alcohol or food during the five-hour flight. But he objected to the lack of in-flight meals, and the parties were thus unable to reach an agreement.
Montreal, where the influencers hope to return home, is currently an epicenter of the pandemic in Canada. Canadian authorities announced more than 39,000 new cases in the country on Wednesday, but said the number is an undercount because testing centers have been overwhelmed by demand. Officials have asked people with symptoms not to line up to get tested and Montreal implemented a number of restrictions, including a city-wide curfew.
With reports from El Universal