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'Air Transat catches flak for letting antimask activist fly uncovered'


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Air Transat catches flak for letting antimask activist fly uncovered — while Air Canada introduces new measures for maskless flyers

Mon., Dec. 14, 2020 - The Toronto Star
By Josh Rubin - Business Reporter

How safe would you feel on an airplane right now if a person sitting near you wasn’t wearing a mask?

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, air safety regulators around the world — including Transport Canada — have made masks mandatory for passengers.

In Canada, that policy comes with a few exceptions — including allowing people who aren’t able to wear a mask for medical reasons to still board.

Antimask activist Chris Saccoccia — better known as Chris Sky — made that point crystal clear this past weekend, tweeting out a video of himself on board an Air Transat flight, maskless.

He also praised the airline for letting him take the flight.

“I would just like to commend you in public for honoring (sic) my face mask medical exemption on my flight today. … Your staff was well educated. Very professional and friendly,” Saccoccia tweeted.

The airline thanked him in a tweet, which was subsequently deleted.

“I am glad we made you feel safe and we are very excited to welcome you onboard soon,” the airline said.

Reaction on social media was swift and predictably divided, with Saccoccia being cheered on by fellow anti-maskers, and many other potential passengers vowing to avoid flying on Air Transat.

“Not cool @airtransat. You’ll lose more customers with this behaviour. I certainly won’t fly with you,” wrote one Twitter user.

“OMG I would demand an immediate refund if I found out Chris Sky was on my plane,” wrote another.

In an email, Saccoccia said he was well treated by fellow passengers.

“Passengers didn’t care at all. I was having friendly conversation with those around me and nobody took the option to move away from me,” said Saccoccia.

Veteran industry analyst Fred Lazar said Transat — and other Canadian airlines — have little choice but to follow Transport Canada guidelines, even if it costs them potential business at a time when they can least afford it.

“They’re caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. This really isn’t making it any easier for them,” said Lazar, associate professor of economics at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

In the fiscal fourth quarter, Air Transat had a loss of $238 million, compared to a profit of a $23 million in the same quarter a year ago. The airline, which has agreed to a takeover by Air Canada, had revenue of just $28.4 million in the quarter, down from $693.2 million a year ago.

An Air Transat spokesperson said the airline found that Saccoccia had a “valid medical certificate signed by a medical professional.”

If you refuse to settle for second hand news and think that your loved ones shouldn’t either, give them the gift of the Star.

“He did meet the requirements allowing him not to wear a mask,” said Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana, who called the deleted tweet “an unfortunate misunderstanding.”

Other airlines say they, too, follow Transport Canada’s mask policies, including medical exemptions.

WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell noted passengers claiming a medical exemption need a note signed by a doctor, nurse practitioner, dentist or physician’s assistant; they can’t just show up and say they’re exempt.

“Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask they are choosing not to fly our airlines,” Bell said, adding that the airline would be flexible about rebooking if a passenger wasn’t comfortable being on a plane with someone else who’s maskless.

On Air Canada starting Tuesday, passengers with a mask exemption must also provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before boarding, the company said in an email.

“They may need another negative COVID-19 test for their return journey if the departure of their return trip exceeds 72 hours from the time the initial test was taken,” the airline added.

Still, the risk might not be as high as you’d think on an airplane, even though passengers are stuck inside a metal tube with strangers for hours on end, said University Health Network infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch.

“The evidence shows that the risk of transmission in airplanes is minimal, whether it’s because of the way air is circulated, or the direction people are facing, or some combination,” said Bogoch, admitting that the low risk from airplane flight is somewhat counterintuitive.

“I think that’s one of the biggest problems airlines will have. We’ve been telling everybody since March to avoid being indoors in a group setting, especially with strangers. That’s exactly what an airplane is,” said Bogoch.

Even though the risk is relatively low, Bogoch would still prefer to see people wearing masks as much as possible.

“Does universal mask-wearing reduce the spread? Absolutely,” said Bogoch.

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Everyone likes to get their panties in a knot when they see something unfair. 

I suggest that everyone just needs to do their best and accept that there are some people out there with exemptions, valid or not, there are some people out there that flaunt their behaviour, and that's just the way it is. 

Shake your head, keep calm, carry on... in the scope of things, this behaviour from a handful of individuals doesn't change anything. If we ignore people like this guy they would cease to exist.

Really, more rules and requirements are not what we need in our society, we need leadership and unity to pull us together on a path for success. Fines and threats only create push back from what we are trying to achieve.

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The other day I had to go in a local grocery store to pick up a few things...I guess I was in there about 8-9 minutes. I pay using APPLE PAY as I like that feature on the iPhone and don't have to worry about where the paper receipt is.

With the pandemic one always has to use their "secret" access code to get the payment to activate as "facial recognition" doesn't work with a mask on. I had less than 16 items and went to the EXPRESS lane. The lady that works that lane knows me. I went through the Apple Pay procedure but before I could punch in my security code the phone dinged and the payment was approved. I was confused and was staring at the phone when the lady asked me what was wrong. I explained how Apple Pay normally worked and she just smiled and said the payment went through.....and she kept on smiling......and then I looked at her and said " I'm not wearing a mask am I ? !!"

She laughed and said I better leave before the "mask police" got there.

I exited quickly but what amazed me was that I probably passed 8-10 people in the store and no one commented that I did not have a mask on...

I know there are medical exceptions but if I saw someone in the store with no mask on and they passed me I would at least courteously ask if they had "forgotten" their mask...

 

PS..the EMOJI page would not load..(twice)

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37 minutes ago, conehead said:

:) Worked for me.

I'm on Cogeco (Ontario) and I think the ISP may be "crowded" as Xmas nears or they have "throttled back" their system. Did a speed check and I am not getting what I pay for so will make a tel call.

Update.....Cogeco did "something during my call and I have my normal fast speeds now.

Edited by Kip Powick
updated info
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3 hours ago, j.k. said:

... in the scope of things, this behaviour from a handful of individuals doesn't change anything. If we ignore people like this guy they would cease to exist.

I guess you aren't familiar with the concept of superspreader events.

Ignore people like Mr "Sky" and we end up with more of our population on ventilators.

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5 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

 

I know there are medical exceptions but if I saw someone in the store with no mask on and they passed me I would at least courteously ask if they had "forgotten" their mask...

 

 

OK Karen.  😉

PS, emoji page seems to work  - let me know if problem continues.

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3 hours ago, FA@AC said:

I guess you aren't familiar with the concept of superspreader events.

Ignore people like Mr "Sky" and we end up with more of our population on ventilators.

Are you saying this instance is a superspreader event?

You don't know that.

In fact that's hyperbole and as you say only a concept.  A small fraction of a percent of people are Covid infected. The risk from this one attention seeking individual is still statistically minimal. So much as that is not worth society's attention.

Take away the guys notoriety and you take away his power. 

Shake your head, keep calm, carry on... everybody does their best.

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1 hour ago, j.k. said:

Are you saying this instance is a superspreader event?

You don't know that.

In fact that's hyperbole and as you say only a concept.  A small fraction of a percent of people are Covid infected. The risk from this one attention seeking individual is still statistically minimal.

No, I'm not claiming to know whether the nutter actually infected anyone during his travels.

Likewise you have no idea whether the risk from this idiot is minimal or significant so I'd rather he either wear his mask when he flies or be banned from flying until he does.   I understand that WestJet has banned him.  Air Canada might have too.

I don't know where you get your figures on what percentage of the population is infected, but you're probably aware that the number is growing and that it is believed to be much higher than the reported number in most jurisdictions since many infected people have mild or no symptoms and are never diagnosed.  It is likely that the infection rate among covidiots like Mr"Sky" who refuse to take precautions is higher than among the general population who are mostly sensible.

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1 hour ago, Kip Powick said:

????????????????????

A "Karen" in the current day memes is a middle-aged woman who can't resist sticking her nose into other people's business - especially to chide them over breaking some sort of minor rule or law.  So, when you said that if you saw someone without a mask you'd feel the need to point it out and (mildly) chastise/shame/confront them over it it reminded me of the same thing.  I know - not much of a joke - kinda weak, but it's all I had.

All meant in good fun.  I don't really think you're a Karen - just a friendly poke-in-the-ribs.

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10 minutes ago, seeker said:

A "Karen" in the current day memes is a middle-aged woman who can't resist sticking her nose into other people's business - especially to chide them over breaking some sort of minor rule or law.  So, when you said that if you saw someone without a mask you'd feel the need to point it out and (mildly) chastise/shame/confront them over it it reminded me of the same thing.  I know - not much of a joke - kinda weak, but it's all I had.

In my parts a "Karen" is usually demanding, entitled, self-centred, snobby, the-rules-don't-apply-to-me type.  In news clips those dragged off planes for non-compliance with mask rules are almost immediately called "Karen" by fellow pax.

The precise definition must be a regional thing. :)

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Went to Costco the other day,  there was a sign stating that all customers were required to wear a mask.  All customers not able to wear a mask are required to wear a face shield. 

 How does a person even get to the airplane without a mask?  I can't get in here without one 🤔

 If I was on the airplane,  either he is getting off., or I am. 

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15 minutes ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

 

 If I was on the airplane,  either he is getting off., or I am. 

Really?  You'd get off an airplane if any other passenger at any other seat wasn't wearing a mask?  Are you aware of how the ventilation systems on airplanes work?  Air does not "flow" through an aircraft  - air comes in at the ceiling and exits through the floor - someone directly behind you may be able to get droplets on you if they sneeze forcefully - across the aisle or in front of you or any other place on the airplane and I'd bet it's virtually impossible.

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17 minutes ago, seeker said:

Really?  You'd get off an airplane if any other passenger at any other seat wasn't wearing a mask?  Are you aware of how the ventilation systems on airplanes work?  Air does not "flow" through an aircraft  - air comes in at the ceiling and exits through the floor - someone directly behind you may be able to get droplets on you if they sneeze forcefully - across the aisle or in front of you or any other place on the airplane and I'd bet it's virtually impossible.

You obviously haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mr "Sky" and hearing him run his motormouth while his "Ms Jenny" looks on.  There can be no doubt that the droplets spread far and wide!

https://www.instagram.com/realchrissky/

Edited by FA@AC
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1 hour ago, seeker said:

Really?  You'd get off an airplane if any other passenger at any other seat wasn't wearing a mask?  Are you aware of how the ventilation systems on airplanes work?  Air does not "flow" through an aircraft  - air comes in at the ceiling and exits through the floor - someone directly behind you may be able to get droplets on you if they sneeze forcefully - across the aisle or in front of you or any other place on the airplane and I'd bet it's virtually impossible.

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

No seriously Seeker,  I would not get off. Obviously this guy is an attention whore. And a stupid one at that. There are two answers for him. Wear a face shield,  or stay home. 

 Why are flight attendants and gate agents fighting this battle 🤔 You need a mask to go through security. Enough said. I don't get in here without one,  you don't either. 

 Can't handle it stay home. We are supposed to be under lock down anyway. 

 The broken up tears of laughter are about your description of aircraft air conditioning systems 😂😂😂😂

 

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6 hours ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

 

 The broken up tears of laughter are about your description of aircraft air conditioning systems 😂😂😂😂

 

I'm not sure why you think that's so funny?  Obviously it's a generalization because not every aircraft works like this but it's essentially correct.  Air is distributed from the top, collected at floor level, through the HEPAs, heated, cooled etc, and repeat.

This article from Airbus backs me up: 50 million data points

The simulations, based on a typical A320 economy-class configuration, model the ‘top-to-bottom’ airflow (an integral design feature of all Airbus cabins)

I do agree with the rest of your post.

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I am sorry Seeker. You are absolutely correct. The theory is there anyway. I signed in to remove that part of the post before you saw it, but I was too late. 

 To me the air conditioning system in an airplane is much like the lav on a Dash 8. Ever looked down the hole when you flush it ? The shoot just keeps going round and round. 

 I would rather not be in a crowded airplane right now.  Let's start with crawling over each other to stow carry ons......

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12 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

yes.  if you have ever seen someone, loudly, state that they want to speak to the manager...That's a Karen

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12 hours ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

No seriously Seeker,  I would not get off. Obviously this guy is an attention whore. And a stupid one at that. There are two answers for him. Wear a face shield,  or stay home. 

 Why are flight attendants and gate agents fighting this battle 🤔 You need a mask to go through security. Enough said. I don't get in here without one,  you don't either. 

 Can't handle it stay home. We are supposed to be under lock down anyway. 

 The broken up tears of laughter are about your description of aircraft air conditioning systems 😂😂😂😂

 

Like it or not if you have the appropriate paperwork you don't have to wear as mask. Some people do have legitimate health issues and yes they do still have the right to essential or non-essential travel. Canadian human rights law makes that clear. The transmission risks are extremely low in an airplane already. Not everyone is Mr Sky and if he has the paperwork you're kinda F$$%#d. You can't expect a front line employee to know who the anti-maskers are.

A plastic shield does nothing to prevent me from spreading these type of droplets. Wear one and then sneeze or cough. Little to nothing on the mask and lots on my hand/elbow, etc.

Refusing to board someone with a legitimate health concern and the appropriate paperwork is a legitimate human rights violation and a HR nightmare. Not everyone can drive or is living in a road accessible community and if you refused to board my grandma who's flying to go to a health care specialist appointment I'd eat you for lunch. 

You can get off if you have a problem.

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37 minutes ago, Bobcaygeon said:

Refusing to board someone with a legitimate health concern and the appropriate paperwork is a legitimate human rights violation and a HR nightmare.

Therein lies the rub. Given his behaviour and public statements re masks, there is every reason to question the legitimacy of his medical exemption. Before anyone accuses me of questioning the professionalism of the doctor who signed it, I've seen my share of doctor's notes that were complete BS. Call me cynical, but if his exemption was real, he would quietly show it when required and otherwise keep his trap shut. He hasn't done that at all, so it is absolutely reasonable to question it.

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