An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 parked at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in May 2018. (Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

Experts question security, passenger safety after sleeping woman left on plane

Tiffani Adams fell asleep on a quick flight from Quebec City to Toronto and woke up in the dark

Aviation experts are raising security and passenger safety concerns after a woman was left sleeping on a parked Air Canada aircraft with the lights turned off and crew gone.

“It was just a total screw up,” said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts and a former airline captain, of the woman’s ordeal.

Tiffani Adams fell asleep during a roughly 90-minute Air Canada flight from Quebec City to Toronto, according to a friend’s recounting of the experience in a Facebook post on the airline’s social media page.

When Adams woke up a few hours after the flight landed, she realized she was alone on a dark plane. Her phone died shortly after, so Adams found a flashlight in the cockpit and attempted to send an SOS signal through one of the plane’s windows.

She then unbolted three latches on the main door, opened it and flagged down a nearby baggage cart operator, who rescued her.

Aimer, who has roughly four decades of aviation service, said he’s never heard of such a situation and that multiple errors would have to be madeto overlook a passenger during disembarking.

It’s likely the flight crew was on the tail end of a multi-day set of flights and were anxious to get home as soon as possible, he said.

Typically, crew must look up and down the cabin as they leave the plane, checking for people or any items passengers may have left behind, he said.

Sometimes the crew will do a cursory clean, as well, he said, or a cleaning crew will arrive to do a more thorough job before a morning flight.

Neither of those things seem to have happened here, Aimer said, and it’s possible the crew failed to check all the seats in their excitement to leave.

“So, it was kind of multiple screw ups that caused this.”

Air Canada, which has confirmed the incident happened, did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Aimer said a cleaning, catering or flight crew would have discovered Adams in the morning had she not been so proactive, but it’s possible someone with malicious intent could hide on a plane in this manner.

“It’s much easier to miss a person that is basically hiding under the seats,” said Aimer.

In that scenario, a person who is trained to fly planes could possibly attempt to hijack the aircraft, he said, pointing to a recent incident out of Seattle.

In 2018, a 29-year-old airport worker named Richard Russell stole a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 plane and took it for a 75-minute flight that ended with his death in a fiery crash. While Russell’s joy ride didn’t hurt anyone else, there was a nearby sold-out Pearl Jam concert that could have been a potential target.

However, other airport security measures, like a constant police and security presence monitoring the grounds, would likely hinder a hijacking, said Aimer.

Adams’s experience is a freak accident, said Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights activist.

His biggest concern would be if the airline had left an ill or otherwise incapacitated passenger behind, who could be much more vulnerable in that situation.

The frequent airline industry critic said he appreciates Air Canada’s willingness to assume responsibility and wishes they were more forthcoming in other situations.

— With files from The Associated Press

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New system to keep Nakusp-area snowmobilers, caribou from meeting

GPS tracking keeps caribou safe while opening up the backcountry for sledding

Nelson police searching for missing woman

Heather Gunderson hasn’t been seen since Sunday

Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute ends with ratified agreement

The deal was approved by 83 per cent of members

Weather warning for West Kootenay passes

Up to 20 cm expected to fall at higher elevations

Two accidents block Hwy 3 east of Christina Lake

Fire chief: pregnant female in vehicle that rolled off the road was headed to Trail to have her baby

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Trustees ask for more help after tearful meeting on B.C. school’s ‘toxic’ stench

Enforcement has ‘no teeth,’ school trustee says, while kids become sick

Most Read