Drunk Passengers Force Canada Flight Divert Back to Toronto

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 29, 2014 11:51 AM EST

A Canadian flight, heading to Cuba, had to return to Toronto on Wednesday, Aug 27, due to passenger disruption.

Reuters/Aaron Harris/Files
Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner lands at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, in this May 18, 2014, file photo. Air Canada posted a quarterly profit, driven by aggressive cost-cutting, fuller planes and a C$41 million ($37.5 million) tax gain, August 7, 2014.

The Sunwing Airlines flight was apparently disrupted by a couple of female passengers who got significantly drunk. The allegedly "consumed a significant quantity of their duty free alcohol purchase in the plane's lavatory," the official statement of the airline said. The flight was forced to change its travel plans while it was in U.S. airspace and fly back to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Vice President of Marketing Janine Chapman said that those passengers also lit a cigarette which triggered the smoke detector. The passengers eventually got involved in a "physical altercation with each other." They also "made a threat against the aircraft, which was considered non-credible given their condition," the statement said. The incident was reported to North American Aerospace Defence Command by the pilot who said that the passengers were disruptive "in a serious manner."

A couple of Canadian Forces CF-18 fighters were sent to escort the Sunwing Flight 656 back to Toronto. The flight crews reportedly followed "the appropriate procedure" to divert the aircraft back to Pearson. The disruptive passengers were handed over to police as soon as the plane landed. Peel Regional Police started the investigation to learn about what had happened in the flight. Police have been speaking to witnesses who were on-board. The female passengers, both in their mid-20s, are expected to face charges as soon as the investigators finish talking with the witnesses.

It was the second occasion within the last 35 days that a Toronto flight was forced turn back before reaching its destination. Another flight which was scheduled to fly to Panama was diverted back to Pearson when one of the passengers reportedly made threats while staying on-board. The incident, which also happened on a Sunwing flight, took place on July 25. The accused was later charged with counts of mischief, uttering threats and endangering safety.

The Flight 656 is scheduled to fly again at around 11 pm local time on Wednesday. Detained passengers, meanwhile, were given meal vouchers. Sunwing Airlines authorities apologised to its customers for the inconvenience.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: Reuters/Aaron Harris/Files / )
Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner lands at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, in this May 18, 2014, file photo. Air Canada posted a quarterly profit, driven by aggressive cost-cutting, fuller planes and a C$41 million ($37.5 million) tax gain, August 7, 2014.
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