Air Transat Deplanes Family With Coughing Infant Over Coronavirus Fears

A family was removed from an Air Transat flight bound for Paris this week over suspected Coronavirus fears. After their daughter was heard coughing, Mrs. Ferraton and her family were told that they would not be able to fly. The decision was made despite two doctors giving the all-clear. Air Transat issued a full ticket refund for the passengers but the family is still looking for answers.

Air Transat on runway
Air Transat refused passengers flight amid coronavirus fears. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

What happened?

On Sunday 23rd February, a family was escorted off an Air Transat flight due to coronavirus fears. The family was due to fly to Paris, France from Quebec City, Canada however they never took off.

Earlier that day, the family had been worried about their daughter’s illness and sought medical advice prior to their flight. The girl, who was suffering from a fever and cough, was given the all-clear by a local doctor. As a result, the family arrived at the airport and was not expecting any trouble when proceeding to their flight. However, when the family boarded the crew had some concerns.

Passengers reported hearing a child coughing and so a member of the crew approached Mrs. Ferraton and her daughter. They asked whether the family had the correct medical documentation for the child to fly. Mrs. Ferraton replied that she did not and so a doctor was found to examine the girl.

Despite initial fears, the onboard doctor said that the child was fine. However, Air Transat was not satisfied with this verdict. The airline then called its medical advisory company who believed that the child “posed a significant, potential risk to passengers and crew”, according to a statement made to CTV News. As a result, the family of five was asked to leave the aircraft.

Air Tansat take-off
The Air Transat flight left for Paris without the family. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

Air Transat responds

As expected, Mrs. Ferraton was frustrated by Air Transat’s management of the situation. On Facebook, Mrs. Ferraton wrote:

“It’s important to show judgement and discernment in such situations. […] Why don’t we trust the TWO doctors who saw my daughter in person and found her condition good? Why do we question our ability as parents to evaluate the condition of our child?”

Undoubtedly, the frustration was further provoked by mounting anxiety regarding the transmission of the coronavirus. Mrs. Ferraton believes that her family faced discrimination because of fears around the virus.

In response to the Ferraton family’s situation, Air Transat offered a full refund. This was helpful to the family in some regard, however Mrs. Ferraton is still searching for answers.

The airline refused to respond to additional undisclosed questions that the family made via the complaint portal. What’s more, it was unable to provide financial reimbursement for the other costs that the family accrued.

Was Air Transat right or was this discrimination?

Coronavirus airport departures
Was this a case of coronavirus anxiety gone wild or was the airline justified? Photo: Getty Images

Whilst it might seem like a situation brought on by the mounting worry surrounding the coronavirus, Air Transat was simply following protocol. In fact, it is only speculation that the family was deplaned due to coronavirus fears. The airline never suggested such a thing.

In a statement obtained by CTV News, a spokesperson for Air Transat said that correct paperwork must be provided by passengers with a contagious illness. This includes for instances such as the symptoms that the Ferraton’s daughter exhibited. Debbie Cabana told CTV News:

“The only case where a passenger, showing obvious signs of a contagious disease, could be accepted onboard would be when he or she provides the appropriate documentation, completed by a qualified doctor. This document should certify that the passenger is no longer in the contagious phase of the disease and can fly without endangering the health of passengers or crew.”

Whilst this may be true, in a coronavirus-free world would the same have happened? Airlines routinely allow passengers onboard without any prior health checks for illnesses such as the common cold.

We contacted Air Transat for its comment but it was unavailable at the time of publication.

Do you believe Air Transat’s response was just? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.