Privacy or public health? Air Canada's coronavirus passenger policy is to keep it quiet

Public safety trumps everything... except, of course, the privacy rights of COVID-19 infected Air Canada passengers!

According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Air Canada is failing to inform passengers and staff of those flying with the Coronovirus!

Speaking anonymously, Air Canada employees told a Guardian reporter that at least one Air Canada unknowingly carried an infected passenger and once the flight crew was advised by health authorities of the situation, only those passengers seated three rows behind and three rows ahead of the infected person were informed. As well, only the staff working in that particular section of the plane were informed.

Flight attendants were told that privacy regulations prevented Air Canada from informing all passengers onboard the flight, according to internal communications obtained by the Guardian. When asked for comment, Air Canada told the Guardian:

“In Canada, it is not the airline but the Public Health Agency of Canada that contacts passengers. This is a clearly delineated public process. It is not the role of the airline.”

Yet, the paper notes that WestJet, the company’s main competitor, has publicly announced the flight numbers and seat assignments of COVID-19 infected passengers in an effort to prevent further transmission of the virus.

I went to Pearson International Airport in Toronto to ask Air Canada passengers about the privacy policy. Most were not happy with the lack of transparency.

Meanwhile, Air Canada employees declined to be interviewed on camera. I was eventually told to reach out to the company’s media relations department (which I did) only to be directed to the airline’s website (which does not address this issue.)

Bottom line: at Air Canada, public safety during this time of a global pandemic crisis is paramount... except when it isn’t. And this just in: four Air Canada employees have so far tested positive for COVID-19...


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