Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Aircraft cleaners aren't perfect.

They often have a very short amount of time to clean a plane before it's on to its next flight.

Sometimes they miss things.

And so it was that when Ellen Flemming, flying last August on Air Canada from Toronto to New Brunswick in Canada, noticed a wet piece of garbage in her seat pocket.

As she explained to Global News Canada

I went to put my water bottle into the pouch in front of me, and I put my hand in and pulled the pouch out, and my hand, my fingers went into this wet garbage.

The logical thing, many might think, would be to ask a Flight Attendant to remove it. 

This, says Flemming, didn't go so well: 

He just stood up tall and said, 'I'm a flight attendant, I don't do garbage.'

Oh, but of course. 

When Flight Attendants go down the aisle asking to collect your garbage, they're not doing garbage. They're merely removing the garbage you've done.

What was Flemming to do? 

Her next idea, she says, was to pick up the garbage and put it in the garbage bag on the food cart as it went by.

This was destined to head south, wasn't it? According to Flemming, the Flight Attendant wasn't pleased: 

He swiped my hand away, and the garbage, and so my hand came back and hit something on the way, and the garbage flew all over.

She says she then kicked the garbage into the aisle.

Let's cut to the chase. Or, rather, the part where Flemming was chased off the plane.

She says the pilot announced that the plane was returning to Toronto "for the safety of the passengers." There, she was asked to leave, while her husband and their grandsons stayed on board.

Worse, she claims that an Air Canada agent told her she'd never fly on the airline again

In such incidents, I find that it's the eyewitnesses who often reflect the truth. 

Global News spoke to passenger Helen Hollett, who said that Flemming did nothing wrong, while the Flight Attendant behaved like a haughty horror.

Naturally, I contacted Air Canada for its view and will update, should I hear. 

It seems odd, though, that something so small could escalate to this. Flemming says Air Canada wrote to her and insisted: 

[You] exhibited aggressive behavior towards a crewmember; threw garbage on the food trolley; kicked a crewmember when requested to wait until the member could come back and pick up the garbage as he was serving food.

Oh, perhaps I forgot to mention, but Flemming is 71. I can find no record of a professional soccer career.

It's well-known in the airline business that some Flight Attendants believe going to the captain in order to get a passenger thrown off is their one superpower. 

They can, on occasion, turn to it when they just don't like someone.

I should also add that Air Canada has a little previous, as they say in British detective shows.

A few months ago, I wrote about a passenger who claims that an Air Canada Flight Attendant told him her job wasn't customer service, but safety. 

This led, says the man, to him being kicked off the plane and spending $10,000 to get to his destination. 

For quite a while now, airlines have driven Flight Attendants to be law enforcement agents, rather than offering customer service.

Some airlines are now claiming they're changing this attitude. United Airlines, for example, because, Lord knows it had to.

You'll be stunned into seeking a job as a Flight Attendant when I tell you that Flemming is now exploring her legal options. 

Published on: Oct 13, 2018
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