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Opinions take flight over smoking Sunwing family

Categories: Canada

A Sunwing plane was diverted en route to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. (Sunwing)

When a family of unruly smokers were dumped from a Sunwing flight to the Dominican Republic Saturday, the community was set alight with both support and criticism.

One member of the family allegedly lit up in the plane's washroom. When confronted by staff and asked as to the whereabouts of the cigarette butt, the family allegedly began to behave in an abusive and disorderly manner.

The flight -- which originated in Halifax -- was diverted to Bermuda where the family was arrested and faced the courts.

The other 170 passengers were put-up overnight at the expense of the airline and put-out for a portion of their holiday.

The result was not a conviction for smoking aboard an aircraft, but charges for egregious behavior.

Strong reactions

The topic of smoking in an enclosed space provoked some strong reactions from CBC readers:

  • "Some nicotine freaks are like heroin addicts, they've got to get their fix one way or the other. They don't care how their smoking affects or endangers other people's health; they're only in it for themselves," said Ground Zero.

  • "If someone lights up a cigarette on a plane, they deserve to be fined and possibly banned from that airline. There is no excuse for it. Abusing flight crew is also not acceptable behaviour. And everyone else on that plane had to be delayed because of selfish and nasty behaviour no matter how it happened.

  • "I hope the MacNeil family has learned a lesson and maybe they can take the fine and possible lawsuit as a sign that smoking is a bad thing and they should quit. At $10 a pack they'll have to in order to pay off the lawyers and the damages," said SAHMWriter.

Smoking in the past

Some community members pointed out facts from the not-so-distant past:

  • "Something odd that the union guy says that smoking onboard an aircraft is an extreme safety issue. When I started flying, meal trays in economy included a small pack of cigarettes varying between 3 or 5 complete with a small book of matches.
    "Don't ever recollect a fire caused by smoking being reported," said Pete Thurlow.

  • "'Smoking onboard aircraft is an extreme safety issue...' Really? A safety issue? Yes, a serious issue - sure, but an extreme safety issue? Come on people, more than half of passengers were smoking on every flight in the world for decades before the very sensible ban on smoking became the norm. It was generally portrayed as a non-smoking passenger health and comfort issue, more than one of safety. I am sure that because it is banned, surreptitious smoking can be more dangerous, but extreme seems a little melodramatic," said sevenbobs

Flight risk

Safety precautions set in place by airlines and airports were questioned.

  • "Inspection should have discovered them carrying a pack of cigarettes on board and should have confiscated them. Like they do with other items they don't want you to have in your possession on board. Lighters and matches are definitely on the list of banned items. How did he light up, by rubbing two sticks together?" said gapper50.

  • "So why don't we just ban cigarettes on planes. I can't take a normal sized toothpaste container into the cabin so why are cigarettes and matches allowed. Solution seems pretty simple. Take away the opportunity!!" said Babaganoush.

But to counter the flood of angry posters, there were those who were supportive of the plight of the Sunwing smokers and rose to their defence.

  • "Guilty before innocent? Seems sensationalism stirs tree huggers like a lynch mob. Be democratic and let them have their say before you condemn.
    "I don't hear anybody saying anything about the endangerment that the pilot put the souls on board through by landing an overweight plane. Was it really that bad that the pilot decided to do this?
    "He/She had better hope so, because if I was on that flight I can assure you I would be seeking the advice of a good litigation lawyer. Otherwise, Innocent until proven guilty!
    "Unbelievable lynch mob mentality here!!!!!!!!!!" said Rocky Hockey Show.

  • "To all the people who posted mean-spirited comments like 'let them swim home', 'charge them for the lost vacation day', and worse.
    "Have you never heard of the old saying, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade'? After all, Bermuda's not such a bad spot to spend a small part of your vacation, is it? I doubt that most of the posters on this site would be fun traveling companions," said cactusflower.

  • "Hope their side of thier story will make Sunwing look like liars," said dippy77.

  • "I hate smoking. Never smoked but grew up around smokers. Sounds to me like the airline overreacted. Considering that smoking used to be allowed on airlines and was very socially acceptable. The airline shouldn't have diverted the plane and ruined the other passengers pre-booked vacation," said ruralbc.

And, a few suggestions were given.

  • "Methinks this family should just do car trips from now on. Stay on the ground and smoke all the way, said TimBitzzz.

  • "Chewing a pack of nicorette would have killed the cravings, and cleared your ears..." said TheNotablePath.

  • "I would have made them walk home..." said cspgsl.

Tags: Canada, Community Reaction

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