Air Canada flight diversion to Winnipeg leads to charges against Nunavut woman

A 24-year-old woman from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, has been charged with assault following a disturbance aboard an Air Canada flight from Ottawa to Vancouver that had to be diverted to Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Passenger, 24, was 'intoxicated and violent' on flight from Ottawa to Vancouver, say RCMP

Air Canada Flight 189 passenger removed from plane (Video courtesy Michelle Howe)

7 years ago
Duration 0:22
Air Canada Flight 189 passenger Michelle Howe recorded this video of police escorting another passenger off the aircraft at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on July 1.

A 24-year-old woman from Nunavut has been charged with assault following a disturbance aboard an Air Canada flight that had to be diverted to Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Air Canada Flight 189 was en route from Ottawa to Vancouver when it was forced to land at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson Airport around 7 p.m. CT.

The airline confirmed that the flight, which had 118 passengers on board, stopped in Winnipeg because of a disruptive passenger.

RCMP said the passenger, who was from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, was "intoxicated and violent." She has been charged with assault causing bodily harm and mischief.

Michelle Howe, who was on the flight, told CBC News the woman was screaming even before the plane departed.

"I turned to my friend and said, 'It sounds like a banshee screaming in the back.' It's really weird," she said Thursday.

The woman's behaviour escalated to kicking, yelling and spitting once the plane was in the air, and other passengers had to be moved away from her, according to Howe​.

"She was uncontrollable, and that's what made me nervous," Howe said.

"She didn't see anybody. She was totally gone, whatever had happened."

RCMP said the passenger assaulted one of the flight attendants trying to restrain her. The male attendant suffered minor injuries that required medical attention, according to police.

No other injuries to crew members or passengers were reported, according to police.

When the plane landed in Winnipeg, four RCMP officers handcuffed the woman and escorted her off the plane, said Howe, who recorded video footage of that moment.

Security questions raised

Howe said she wonders how the woman was able to pass security and get on the aircraft.

An Air Canada spokesperson told CBC News it cannot comment on the specifics of the incident, but says airline agents are trained to handle disruptive behaviour to determine if a passenger should be prevented from boarding a plane.

The Airbus A320-200 left Winnipeg at 9:22 p.m. CT and landed in Vancouver at 10:23 p.m. PT, according to the airline's website.

Howe said when the flight resumed, the Air Canada crew tried to make it up to passengers by offering them food and alcohol.