Air Canada says information about mile-high menaces should be shared

Canada's largest airline says carriers should be allowed to share information about unruly passengers to help keep the skies safer.

Legislation does not allow carriers to exchange information about passengers

Air Canada says sharing information could improve safety on flights. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Air carriers should be allowed to share information about unruly passengers to help keep the skies safer, Canada's largest airline says.

A carrier can ban people with a history of disruptive behaviour from taking further flights with that airline, Air Canada notes in a submission to the federal government.

But legislation does not permit airlines to exchange information about passengers, even when they believe them to be a safety risk to others.

In the submission to a federal review of the Canada Transportation Act, Air Canada says safety "should always be first and foremost."

A report flowing from the review — likely to include some recommendations about air safety — is expected to be made public in coming weeks.

An Alberta man was charged in late December after a flight attendant was injured on an Air Canada flight to India. The plane had to turn around and head back to Toronto, where it was met by police.

New protocol 

World airlines reported 9,316 cases of unruly behaviour in the skies in 2014 — or one incident for every 1,289 flights, according to the International Air Transport Association, an industry group.

That same year, more than 100 members of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, adopted a new protocol that would extend jurisdiction over an offence involving an unruly passenger to the destination country, not just the country of aircraft registration.

If the protocol is ratified, this measure would close a loophole that has allowed many serious offences to escape legal action, the air transport association says.

The civil aviation organization has provided airlines with a four-tiered scheme of threat levels to help gauge the seriousness of a disruptive passenger:

  • Level One — Disruptive behaviour (verbal);
  • Level Two — Physically abusive behaviour;
  • Level Three — Life-threatening behaviour (or display of a weapon);
  • Level Four — Attempted or actual breach of the flight crew compartment.

Air Canada says carriers should be allowed to share information with other carriers about travellers involved in Level Three or Four incidents.

"This practice would help to ensure the safety of other passengers and the safe operation of the flight, as well as reduce costs associated with returning passengers with a history of disruptive behaviour," the airline's submission says.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Monday the airline had no additional comment.

The federal privacy commissioner's office said it was unaware of Air Canada's sharing proposal, had not studied the issue and could provide no comment at this time.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.