Air Canada is apologizing after a video purporting to show a baggage handler dropping luggage from roughly six metres off the ground hit social media.
The video, taken by a passenger on board a plane, shows a baggage handler dropping bags from a boarding gate to a luggage bin.
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The video posted April 18 on YouTube is titled "How Air Canada Handles Your Baggage," but it doesn't say where or when the incident occurred.
The airline responded to CBC News Saturday, saying the incident in the video is under investigation and would not go unpunished.
"We apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers' baggage captured on video," said Angela Mah, a spokesperson with Air Canada.
"We are in the process of identifying the employees involved whose employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation. Their actions clearly contravened our standard baggage handling procedures which require gate-checked bags to be hand carried to the ramp."
The video is generating a wide range of comments both on the video site and Twitter, with some people lambasting Air Canada and saying they won't fly on the airline again.
@roachjames The actions in the video don't represent our procedure. We are disappointed & sorry about what happened. We're investigating.— Air Canada (@AirCanada) April 19, 2014
Others were more charitable saying the airline should not be judged by the actions of one baggage handler.
In Twitter posts on Saturday, Air Canada says it has launched an investigation and is "very disappointed & sorry about the actions in the video."
"The actions don't reflect our procedure. We apologize for this," the airline said in another tweet.
From gate check to 'gate toss'
The short video was shot on Thursday by Dwayne Stewart of Vancouver while he was waiting to fly home on Flight AC137 from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
Stewart told CBC News the flight was crowded and, because the storage bins in the cabin were full, some passengers had to check their carry-on luggage at the gate.
Stewart said his seatmate then pointed out what was happening outside.
@smithgeo Hi Geoff, we're sorry to hear this! We are investigating as bags are supposed to be carried by hand to bag carts. /nm— Air Canada (@AirCanada) April 19, 2014
“The gate check, unfortunately, turned into a gate toss,” Stewart said.
The video runs a little over a minute and shows a baggage handler dropping items from the top of a movable staircase into a bin, which a second handler then moves into a nearby vehicle. The staircase looks to be about six metres high.
“We were so shocked we had to laugh ... it looked comical, it looked like it wasn’t real,” said Stewart.
Stewart said he feels bad for the baggage handlers because they were in a difficult position — "walking dozens of bags down a steep staircase" — that required more staff or better equipment.
He said he was told gate-checked baggage is usually sent down chutes.
"They [were] looking for the faster, most efficient solution,” he said. “I understand why they would do that, from a workplace safety point of view, but that doesn't help passengers whose baggage they don't want to have treated in that fashion."