An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 parked at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in May 2018. (Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

Experts question security, passenger safety after sleeping woman left on plane

Tiffani Adams fell asleep on a quick flight from Quebec City to Toronto and woke up in the dark

Aviation experts are raising security and passenger safety concerns after a woman was left sleeping on a parked Air Canada aircraft with the lights turned off and crew gone.

“It was just a total screw up,” said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts and a former airline captain, of the woman’s ordeal.

Tiffani Adams fell asleep during a roughly 90-minute Air Canada flight from Quebec City to Toronto, according to a friend’s recounting of the experience in a Facebook post on the airline’s social media page.

When Adams woke up a few hours after the flight landed, she realized she was alone on a dark plane. Her phone died shortly after, so Adams found a flashlight in the cockpit and attempted to send an SOS signal through one of the plane’s windows.

She then unbolted three latches on the main door, opened it and flagged down a nearby baggage cart operator, who rescued her.

Aimer, who has roughly four decades of aviation service, said he’s never heard of such a situation and that multiple errors would have to be madeto overlook a passenger during disembarking.

It’s likely the flight crew was on the tail end of a multi-day set of flights and were anxious to get home as soon as possible, he said.

Typically, crew must look up and down the cabin as they leave the plane, checking for people or any items passengers may have left behind, he said.

Sometimes the crew will do a cursory clean, as well, he said, or a cleaning crew will arrive to do a more thorough job before a morning flight.

Neither of those things seem to have happened here, Aimer said, and it’s possible the crew failed to check all the seats in their excitement to leave.

“So, it was kind of multiple screw ups that caused this.”

Air Canada, which has confirmed the incident happened, did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Aimer said a cleaning, catering or flight crew would have discovered Adams in the morning had she not been so proactive, but it’s possible someone with malicious intent could hide on a plane in this manner.

“It’s much easier to miss a person that is basically hiding under the seats,” said Aimer.

In that scenario, a person who is trained to fly planes could possibly attempt to hijack the aircraft, he said, pointing to a recent incident out of Seattle.

In 2018, a 29-year-old airport worker named Richard Russell stole a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 plane and took it for a 75-minute flight that ended with his death in a fiery crash. While Russell’s joy ride didn’t hurt anyone else, there was a nearby sold-out Pearl Jam concert that could have been a potential target.

However, other airport security measures, like a constant police and security presence monitoring the grounds, would likely hinder a hijacking, said Aimer.

Adams’s experience is a freak accident, said Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights activist.

His biggest concern would be if the airline had left an ill or otherwise incapacitated passenger behind, who could be much more vulnerable in that situation.

The frequent airline industry critic said he appreciates Air Canada’s willingness to assume responsibility and wishes they were more forthcoming in other situations.

— With files from The Associated Press

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Missing 100 Mile House teen found deceased

The teen was last seen heading towards Centennial Park in 100 Mile House around 5:30 p.m.

Motorcyclists making their way to 100 Mile House

A weekend of riding, rallying and activities

At Educo, everything is an adventure

Somewhere between climbing high and holding on for dear life, I let my worries go

Unheard of sports

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

From volunteer to site manager, Educo veteran reflects on summer camp’s impact

“You get to teach a lot of skills that you wouldn’t in regular schools”

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read