Lighter, News

Man Kicked Off WestJet Flight For Being Asleep Before Takeoff

West Jest. Image: Eddie Maloney
West Jest. Image: Eddie Maloney

A British Columbia man was made to leave a flight because he was asleep right before takeoff.

Stephen Bennett, his wife, Josefa Sapelino, and their son, were taking a WestJet flight from Toronto, Ontario to Cuba on Oct. 13. (They had already flown from Burnaby, BC to Toronto.) Bennett took a sleeping pill which he had been given by a doctor. The flight attendants couldn’t easily wake him up as the plane was preparing to take off. They became worried there was something medically wrong with him, according to CTV News.

Sapelino was eventually able to wake her husband up. That’s when he discovered that the flight attendants wanted him to get off the plane.

WestJet requires all passengers to be awake during takeoff. That is in case something like an accident happens; all passengers need to be alert for their own safety, according to regulations. The regulations also say that airlines can refuse anyone they feel may pose a “safety risk.”

Bennett suffered a stroke two months ago. He hadn’t slept well the night before on a flight from Burnaby to Toronto so he took a sleeping pill in order to get some sleep. Bennett was one of the earliest passengers to board the plane, and immediately fell asleep, according to an article on the BBC News website.

Paramedics examined him after he was off the plane and said he was medically fit to fly. Bennett also got an email from his doctor saying he was okay to fly.

However, WestJet would not allow him to board and said he needed to take the next available WestJet flight, which wasn’t until the following week.

The flight from Toronto to Cuba was part of a holiday package Bennett and his family had purchased. Instead of waiting for another WestJet flight, the family paid more than $2,000 to buy a plane ticket from another airline. They had to cut their vacation short by two days.

Bennett told reporters he was embarrassed by the incident and that he plans to sue WestJet, according to CTV Vancouver.


Related Links

CBC news article about Stephen Bennett’s ordeal.

BBC News article about Stephen Bennett’s flight troubles.

CTV article about Stephen Bennett.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Bennett told reporters that he plans to sue WestJet. Do you think the airline was wrong to refuse this passenger? Why or why not?

Reading Prompt: Responding and Evaluating Texts
A “fair” article portrays both sides equally–it provides support to both sides. Reread today’s article and decide whether you believe both sides were treated fairly. Provide evidence from the text to support your answer.

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views  (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Language Feature: Opening Lines
The first sentence of a story is often called an “opening line.” It has this special name because the first sentence of a story creates the first impression the reader will get. For this reason, a good opening line will grab the reader’s attention and encourage the reader to continue. Here is today’s opening line:

A British Columbia man was made to leave a flight because he was asleep right before takeoff. 

This opening line gives information, but leaves enough questions to draw the reader in.

Write your own replacement opening line for today’s article. Aim to make your sentence punchy and evocative.