An Air Canada passenger was forced to organize her own escape from an empty plane in Toronto after flight crews left her asleep in her seat.
Tiffani Louise O’Brien slept less than halfway into the short 90-minute Air Canada Flight 1799, from from Quebec City to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on 9 June 2019. When she woke up, she found herself alone in the pitch-black aircraft.
“I wake up around midnight (few hours after flight landed) freezing cold still strapped in my seat 💺 in complete darkness (I’m talking pitch black)” O’Brien recalled in her Facebook post.
“I attempt to charge my phone by plugging into every USB port I could find—no luck because when they shut the aircraft down there is no power whatsoever… since I can’t charge my phone to call for help I’m full on panicking because I want off this nightmare ASAP.”
O’Brien said she then made her way to the cockpit, where she attempted to use a radio to call for help, but couldn’t use the plane’s radio without power. She said she eventually found a flashlight and began signaling out of the plane’s windows, hoping to attract attention.
At the same time, she said she found a way to open the plane’s door – but had no way to get down.
“Now I’m facing a 40-50ft drop to the pavement below… I search frantically for a rope so I can climb down to safely. [The] flight attendants seat is right by the door I opened, but the seatbelt is too short to hang from, so back to my distress signals.”
Eventually she managed to attract the attention of a baggage handler who brought a ladder truck to the plane to rescue her.
“He is in shock asking how the heck they left me on the plane,” she wrote.
Air Canada spokesperson declined to share any additional details but said the airline is reviewing the incident.