Month: October 2018

Air North employees might not be able to use cannabis 2 months before work

Airline president Joe Sparling says the science is still ‘coming in’ on the effects of cannabis usage

Air North has a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol impairment, which now includes legal cannabis, says president and CEO Joe Sparling. (Air North)

Air North employees in safety-sensitive positions mostly likely will not be able to consume cannabis within 60 days of any shift, says the head of the Yukon-based airline.

The ban is part of Air North’s existing zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol impairment, says president and CEO Joe Sparling.

In an email to CBC News, Sparling said the science is still “coming in” on the effects of cannabis usage.

“With the legalization of cannabis and the significant differences between the characteristics of cannabis and alcohol we know that our current policies with respect to alcohol (no consumption within 12 hours) will not be appropriate for cannabis,” he wrote.

Other airlines, military impose strict rules

Sparling said he understands that the military has employed a 28-day abstention period for cannabis consumption, while some air carriers have imposed bans of up to 45 days for employees.

“In reality, 28 days or 45 days or no use amount to pretty much the same thing for anybody who works with any degree of regularity,” reads Sparling’s email.

“In an effort to provide some reconciliation with the available science we are currently working our way towards a 60-day abstention policy for safety sensitive positions.”

Canadian North has prohibited pilots, flight attendants and others in safety-sensitive positions from using cannabis, even when they’re off duty.

Another northern airline, First Air, says all of its employees must be “fit for duty” at all times. A spokesperson says the definition of “fit for duty” based on Transport Canada guidelines on legal cannabis.

– With files from Alexandra Byers and Meagan Deuling

Just Too Tired

Exhausted workers a danger on land, sea and air

30 OCT 2018: Fatigue is prevalent in rail, marine and air transportation, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board reported on Monday, and it called for “profound change” including to views held by management and workers. Transportation crews often work long and irregular hours, frequently in multiple time zones and challenging conditions, the TSB says.

The federal agency responsible for investigating transportation incidents said Monday that fatigue poses dangers for freight-train, marine and air operations as it released its annual safety report.

The agency has found fatigue to be a risk or contributing factor in more than 90 investigations since 1992 and in its new report it says the US National Transportation Safety Board cited pilot fatigue as a reason why an Air Canada plane nearly landed on a taxiway in San Francisco in July 2017.

Transport Canada, operators, unions, and employees all need to work together to prevent and manage exhaustion at work, said TSB chair Kathy Fox.

“This also calls for a profound change in attitudes and behaviours, both at the management and operational levels,” she said in a statement.

Change will only be possible through awareness training and new fatigue-management plans that encourage employers and employees alike to ensure no one “becomes a casualty of fatigue,” the agency’s report says.

For example, there is a risk crews will work when they’re overtired if marine operators are not required to implement fatigue-management plans, the TSB said, noting the increased likelihood of mistakes when workers are weary.

Managing worker exhaustion in the rail industry has been on the TSB’s list of key concerns since 2016 but the worry has now been extended to include marine and air operations.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Monday he is eager to move ahead on new pilot-fatigue rules. Proposed new regulations will be released soon and a consultation period will follow, he said.

Garneau’s department has also published a notice of intent to change work hours and develop regulations reflecting current science to manage fatigue in the rail industry.

The TSB’s watch list also flags the “disturbing safety record” of the fishing industry. It had 17 workers killed in 2018, an all-time high.

Safety gaps put fish harvesters’ lives at risk, the TSB said, noting challenges will exist until co-ordinated actions by federal and provincial authorities, industry players and safety advocates influence behavioural and attitude changes.

“Developing and sustaining a strong safety culture is required to foster greater compliance with regulations, in particular with respect to vessel stability and the use of life-saving equipment,” the report says.

WestJet to offer non-stop Atlanta service from Calgary

Only airline flying non-stop from YYC to ATL

CALGARYOct. 30, 2018 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced it is expanding choice and connectivity for Calgarians when the airline begins operations between Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) next spring.

“WestJet is proud to expand on vital trade and tourism linkages between Western Canada and the southeastern United States,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Non-stop, year-round flights from Calgary to Atlanta connect two major markets in North America and grow opportunities for trade and tourism.”

“Being able to access the world’s busiest airport direct from Calgary is a strategic advantage that will allow our guests more access to the U.S. and connect to more places in the world,” said Bob Sartor, Calgary Airport Authority’s President and CEO. “We thank WestJet for this further investment and for providing another way to travel to and from Canada.”

WestJet is the only airline flying non-stop from Calgary to ATL, the world’s largest airline hub – home of Delta Airlines, a WestJet codeshare partner since 2011. Together with Delta, via HartsfieldJackson airport WestJet will offer codeshare access to an extensive list of U.S. destinations including the southeastern United States and Gulf Coast and cities such as Memphis, Tenn.Charleston, S.C.New Orleans, La.Savannah, Ga.Pensacola and Panama City, Fla.

Starting March 3, 2019, WestJet will fly six times weekly between Calgaryand Atlanta, moving to daily on April 7, 2019. WestJet serves more destinations from Calgary with more flights than any other airline. This this new route is another investment in the airport, city, and region.

Route

Frequency

Departing

Arriving

Effective

Calgary –  Atlanta

Six times

weekly*

9:55 a.m.

4:08 p.m.

March 3, 2019

Atlanta – Calgary

Six times

weekly*

5:00 p.m.

7:39 p.m.

March 3, 2019

*Daily starting April 7, 2019

For more information, please visit WestJet.com.

WestJet to launch seasonal, non-stop service from Toronto

WestJet to launch seasonal, non-stop service from Toronto

CALGARYOct. 30, 2018 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced it will be adding Barcelona to its growing presence in Europe with three-times weekly, non-stop service between Toronto and Barcelona starting May 24, 2019 through October 21, 2019.

“In summer 2019 WestJet will provide even more access between Canadaand Europe as we continue to expand our international network,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “The addition of flights to Barcelona, an important European cruise hub, offers our business and leisure guests convenient flight times and one-stop flight connections from Canada via our Toronto hub.”

“Next spring, Toronto Pearson passengers will have another option for non-stop travel to Europe with WestJet’s upcoming service to Barcelona,” said Kim Stangeby, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “International destinations continue to be in high demand for travellers in the region and we’re excited to be able to provide additional connectivity to this vibrant city.”

“For Aena and for Barcelona-El Prat Airport it is a pleasure to welcome WestJet to our facilities,” said Sonia Corrochano, Barcelona-El Prat Airport Director. “I am sure that this new service WestJet offers from Toronto to Barcelona will further increase the links between Spain and Canada, and will place Catalonia among the favourite destinations for Canadians, and as their gateway to the Mediterranean.”

“The Spanish Tourism Office is very happy about the new flight,” said Laura Pena Alberdi, Spanish Tourism Office Director. “This new destination non-stop from Toronto will give WestJet’s clients the possibility of visiting this beautiful Mediterranean and cosmopolitan city, with its rich history and art marvels. We are certain Canadians will also enjoy Barcelona as a gateway to other incredible sites and cities in Spain.”

WestJet’s TorontoBarcelona service will be operated on its Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft, seating 262 guests and featuring the airline’s Premium and Economy cabins. Flights are timed to optimize connectivity to and from flights within Ontario and Eastern Canada at WestJet’s Toronto hub. All flights provide for WestJet Rewards accumulation and redemption along with additional benefits for WestJet Rewards top tier members.

For summer 2019, WestJet will operate the following European service: London (Gatwick) service from VancouverEdmontonWinnipeg and Toronto, service from Halifax to GlasgowLondon and Paris and service between St. John’s and Dublin.

The announcement of Barcelona service comes on the heels of WestJet’s recent announcement of its first Dreamliner routes to ParisLondon(Gatwick) and Dublin from Calgary.

Details of WestJet’s service between Toronto and Barcelona:

Route

Frequency

Departing

Arriving

Effective

Toronto –  Barcelona*

Three times
weekly

9:00 p.m

10:42 a.m. +1

May 24, 2019

Barcelona – Toronto*

Three times
weekly

12:30 p.m

3:25 p.m

May 25, 2019

*Subject to government approval

WestJet warms up winter for St. John’s

Airline providing limited-addition, non-stop service to Fort Lauderdale

WestJet-MaxCALGARYOct. 30, 2018 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced the addition of non-stop service from St. John’s to Fort Lauderdale this winter. Service is available on a limited basis and starts March 11, 2019 through May 13, 2019.

“WestJet knows that the community of St. John’s embraces Florida in the winter,” said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning, Alliances and Corporate Development. “Along with our seasonal service to Tampa and Orlando, we are pleased to provide convenient, non-stop service to sunny Fort Lauderdale for those looking to jet south for warm air, beaches or cruising this winter.”

“We’re delighted that WestJet is expanding its service to the sunny south with a direct seasonal service to Fort Lauderdale,” said Keith Collins, President and CEO, St. John’s International Airport Authority. “Florida is one of our top sun destinations and having a greater capacity for our travellers, in addition to Tampa and Orlando, will be well-received.”

This winter, along with Fort Lauderdale, WestJet will operate 29 weekly departures from St. John’s including non-stop to OrlandoToronto and Halifax.

Details on WestJet’s service between St. John’s and Fort Lauderdale:

 Route

Frequency

Departing

Arriving

Effective

St. John’s –  Fort
Lauderdale

Once
weekly

2:30 p.m

6:44 p.m

March 11,
2019

Fort Lauderdale – St.
John’s

Once
weekly

7:30 a.m

1:38 p.m

March 11,
2019

For more information, please visit westjet.com.

WestJet reports third quarter net earnings of $45.9 million

WESTJET- an Alberta Partnership-WestJet unveils global future- nCALGARYOct. 30, 2018 /CNW/ – WestJet (TSX: WJA) today announced its third quarter results for 2018, with net earnings of $45.9 million, or $0.40per fully diluted share. This result compares with net earnings of $135.9 million, or $1.15 per fully diluted share reported in the third quarter of 2017. Year-to-date, WestJet recorded net earnings of $62.3 million, or $0.54 per fully diluted share.

“We are pleased to return to profitability in the third quarter,” Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “We have achieved this result despite continued downward pressure from the dramatic increases in fuel price and competitive capacity, along with the lingering impact of the threat of industrial action. We now look forward to the delivery of our first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in late January, and starting direct services in Spring 2019 from Calgary to London (Gatwick), Paris, and Dublin. I would like to thank every WestJetter for their focus on delivering award-winning service to our guests.”

Operating highlights (stated in Canadian dollars)

Q3 2018

Q3 2017

Change

Net earnings (millions)

$45.9

$135.9

(66.3%)

Diluted earnings per share

$0.40

$1.15

(65.2%)

Total revenue (millions)

$1,260.9

$1,214.6

3.8%

Operating margin

6.2%

16.3%

(10.1 pts)

ASMs (available seat miles) (billions)

8.880

8.077

9.9%

RPMs (revenue passenger miles) (billions)

7.516

6.922

8.6%

Load factor

84.6%

85.7%

(1.1 pts)

Segment guests

6,940,569

6,530,873

6.3%

Yield (revenue per revenue passenger mile) (cents)

16.78

17.55

(4.4%)

RASM (revenue per available seat mile) (cents)

14.20

15.04

(5.6%)

CASM (cost per available seat mile) (cents)

13.32

12.58

5.9%

Fuel costs per litre (cents)

85

62

37.1%

CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share (cents)*

9.36

9.29

0.8%

 *Refer to reconciliations in the accompanying tables for further information regarding calculations.

Dividend declaration
On October 29, 2018, WestJet’s Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.14 per common voting share and variable voting share for the fourth quarter of 2018, to be paid on December 28, 2018, to shareholders of record on December 12, 2018. All dividends paid by WestJet are, pursuant to subsection 89(14) of the Income Tax Act, designated as eligible dividends, unless indicated otherwise. An eligible dividend paid to a Canadian resident is entitled to the enhanced dividend tax credit.

Caution regarding forward-looking information
Certain information set forth in this news release is forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. By its nature, forward-looking information is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond WestJet’s control. The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on WestJet’s current forecasts and strategy, the expected demand environment, the utilization of our fleet, the forward-curve for jet fuel price, the expected exchange rate of the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar, agreements and bookings, but may vary due to factors including, but not limited to, changes in guest demand, changes in fuel prices, delays in aircraft delivery, general economic conditions, competitive environment, ability to effectively implement and maintain critical systems and other factors and risks described in WestJet’s public reports and filings which are available under WestJet’s profile at sedar.com. Readers are cautioned that undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking information as actual results may vary materially from the forward-looking information. WestJet does not undertake to update, correct or revise any forward-looking information as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable law.

Non-GAAP measures
This news release contains disclosure respecting non-GAAP performance measures including, without limitation, CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share and return on invested capital. These measures are included to enhance the overall understanding of WestJet’s current financial performance and to provide an alternative method for assessing WestJet’s operating results in a manner that is focused on the performance of WestJet’s ongoing operations, and to provide a more consistent basis for comparison between reporting periods. These measures are not calculated in accordance with, or an alternative to, GAAP and do not have standardized meanings. Therefore, they may not be comparable to similar measures provided by other entities. Readers are urged to review the section entitled “Reconciliation of non-GAAP and additional GAAP measures” in WestJet’s management’s discussion and analysis of financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018 which is available under WestJet’s profile on SEDAR at sedar.com, for a further discussion of such non-GAAP measures and a reconciliation of such measures to GAAP. The financial information accompanying this news release was prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards unless otherwise noted.

Management’s discussion and analysis of financial results and consolidated financial statements and notes for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018, are available through the Internet in the Investor Relations section of westjet.com or under WestJet’s SEDAR profile at sedar.com.

Jetlines Prepares to Soar with Cossette

Jetlines_LogoPNGVANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada Jetlines Ltd. (JET: TSX-V)(the “Company” or “Jetlines”) is pleased to announce that it has selected two-time Agency of the Year winner, Cossette, as its marketing agency of record. Known for its bold, creative-first approach, Cossette will be charged with developing all of the Company’s marketing and communication initiatives.

Cossette’s expertise in strategy and branding, traditional and digital communications, design, CRM, and performance media will be invaluable in creating a brand Canadians can rally around. Cossette’s ability to understand Jetlines’ unique market, combined with its speciality in disruptive thinking and culture-shifting content creation, will help realize Jetlines’ mission to be Canada’s ultra-low-cost airline of choice.

With offices nationwide, Cossette’s thorough understanding of Canadian culture will help Jetlines attract a diverse array of cost-conscious travellers.

Cossette will work collaboratively with Jetlines to create an impactful campaign for Jetlines’ initial launch and provide ongoing insight and input for future marketing initiatives.

“Jetlines is not meant to be just another airline,” stated CEO, Javier Suarez. “We’re here to challenge the way things have been done in the past and introduce Canadians to a new way of flying. Canadians have been overpaying for airfares for far too long but next summer 2019, things are going to change. We’re beyond excited to have Cossette join us in our rebellion against high airfares!”

“It’s rare—and exciting—to partner with a client who permits you the opportunity to truly test the boundaries of customer experience,” noted Nadine Cole, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cossette. “Javier is pushing us to imagine how the airline industry can be completely reinvented. A natural strategic thinker—he doesn’t stop the process, he builds on it and makes it better.”

LCC Norwegian takes off from Montreal, gets ready for Dublin ex YHM

LCC Norwegian takes off from Montreal, gets ready for Dublin ex YHM
Monday, October 29, 2018 Posted by 

MONTREAL — Norwegian’s first flight out of Canada takes off today, from Montréal to Guadeloupe, to be followed a few days later with Montréal to Martinique.

The low-cost carrier’s Canadian routes so far include:

  • Montréal to Guadeloupe starting Oct. 29. Three times a week service (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) until end of March 2019 (winter season only)
  • Montréal to Martinique starting Oct. 31. Three times a week service (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) until end of March 2019 (winter season only).
  • Seasonal winter service from Guadeloupe and Martinique to Cayenne, French Guiana, which will allow for connections to Montréal flights. Service will commence end of October 2018.

Next spring Norwegian plans to launch daily service from Hamilton/Toronto to Dublin, with onward connections to Scandinavia and Finland. Service starts March 31, 2019.

Norwegian announced in June 2018 that it was coming into the Canadian market, after much speculation.

The low-cost carrier has been on an aggressive expansion track. After launching long-haul flights in 2013 Norwegian has more than 500 routes servicing a network of 150+ destinations, with long-hauls operated through fully-owned subsidiaries.

The uptick in LCC travel has coincided with the decision by legacy carriers to develop low-cost subsidiaries of their own, and add basic economy fares to their mainline service.

Norwegian recently indicated that its rapid rate of expansion will slow down. Norwegian’s net profit for Q3 was up 18% compared to Q3 2017, with 11 million passengers for the quarter and a load factor at 90.5%.

The airline’s CEO Bjorn Kjos said that going forward “the growth will slow down, and we will begin to reap the large investments we have made over the years … however there is no doubt that tough competition, high oil prices and a strong dollar will affect the entire aviation industry, making it even more important to further streamline our operations and continue to reduce costs.”

High operating costs are partly to blame for the failure of two low-cost carriers in recent weeks. LCC Primera, which offered transatlantic flights out of Toronto and was about to start service out of Montreal, abruptly halted flights on Oct. 2. Meanwhile Cobalt Air, a Cypriot airline in business for two years, shut down operations on Oct. 17.

Like just about every LCC and ULCC Norwegian Air doesn’t pay commission but COO Thomas Ramdahl has said the carrier is looking at setting up volume-based incentives for the trade. Norwegian’s travel agent portal is https://agent.norwegian.com.

“Agents are important to us,” says Ramdahl. “Especially coming into new markets, agents are really important.”

Air Canada Inaugurates Two New Transborder Routes From Alberta

  • EdmontonLas Vegas 
  • CalgaryPalm Springs

MONTREALOct. 28, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today launched two new daily, seasonal transborder routes.  Celebrations were held prior to the departure of the inaugural flights from Edmonton to Las Vegas and from Calgary to Palm Springs.

“We are delighted to offer more travel options to Albertans with the addition of daily, seasonal services from both Calgary and Edmonton, which means golf, entertainment and the desert sun are a short flight away every day this fall and winter. With our flexible and diverse North American fleet, we are continuing to strategically add services to popular destinations,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning at Air Canada.

“EIA is very excited to welcome Air Canada Rouge to the Edmonton Metro Region with their inaugural flight to Las Vegas,” said Tom RuthEdmontonInternational Airport President and CEO. “We know Las Vegas is a popular destination for both leisure and business travellers and the addition of this service will increase options for passengers and support strong business ties.”

“Sun-seekers travelling from YYC Calgary International Airport are excited to have another direct link to Palm Springs, California,” said Bob Sartor, the Calgary Airport Authority’s President and CEO. “Working with our partner, Air Canada, we’re creating effortless ways to enjoy the stunning Coachella Valley.”

The Edmonton to Las Vegas and Calgary to Palm Springs flights are onboard Air Canada Rouge A319 and Air Canada A320 aircraft respectively, both offering premium and economy cabins.

Flights are timed to connect with Air Canada’s extensive domestic schedule, provides for Aeroplan accumulation and redemption, Star Alliance reciprocal benefits, and for eligible customers, priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounge access at Canadian airports, priority boarding and other benefits.

From

To

Frequency

Aircraft

Effective

Edmonton

Las Vegas

Daily

Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319

Oct 28/18 – Apr 30/19

Calgary

Palm Springs

Daily

Airbus A320

Oct 28/18 – Apr 30/19

 

What’s the dirtiest surface on an airplane? The result may surprise you

Marketplace analyzed over 100 samples on 18 flights, finding mould, staph and potentially harmful pathogens

Marketplace tested more than 100 samples collected on 18 Porter, Air Canada and WestJet flights, swabbing the seatbelt, tray table, headrest, seat pocket and washroom handle on each trip. (Charlsie Agro/CBC)

Used tampons, sandwiches, loose condoms, smartphones, dirty diapers. What do they all have in common?

Flight attendants tell Marketplace they’ve all been found in the seat pockets of airplanes.

Marketplace’s latest investigation reveals that the surfaces on a plane you’re likely touching most often might not be as clean as you think, and some are contaminated with bacteria and other pathogens.

Marketplace staff took a total of 18 short-haul flights between Ottawa and Montreal, flying with Canada’s three major airlines — Air Canada, WestJet and Porter — at various times throughout the day.

On each flight, the following surfaces were swabbed: seatbelt, tray table, headrest, seat pocket and washroom handle. In total, Marketplace collected more than 100 samples.

Microbiologist Keith Warriner tested the samples gathered by the Marketplace team on 18 short-haul flights between Ottawa and Montreal (Norman Arnold/CBC)

Those samples were then analyzed at a lab at the University of Guelph by microbiologist Keith Warriner, who tested the samples for a number of different types of bacteria, as well as yeast, mould, E. coli and other pathogens.

“I was really amazed about how much we actually recovered from them,” said Warriner.  “Some of them more scary than others.”

Nearly half of the surfaces swabbed contained levels of bacteria or yeast and mould that could put a person at risk for infection, Warriner said.

Yeast and mould were detected on the majority of the 18 flights, which Warriner said suggests that the surfaces were either not cleaned well or often enough.

The most contaminated surface on the plane was the headrest.

The most concerning finding for Warriner was E. coli bacteria detected on both the seat pocket and the headrest. The presence of E. coli indicates fecal contamination, and the bacteria can cause intestinal infections, with symptoms that can include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

“We’ve got to try and think how would fecal contamination get inside [the seat pocket],” said Warriner.

#

‘It’s mostly for esthetics’

Connor Remus has a pretty good idea how a seat pocket might have come into contact with feces. The former Porter employee said he has found used diapers and other trash in seat pockets before.

“Everything goes in there; everything from the paper-thin vomit bags, to used wrappers…. I found used tampons in seat pockets before.”

Marketplace spoke to more than a dozen former flight attendants and customer service representatives about their experiences working on airplanes. Most said it was their responsibility to clean the planes between flights, but that there simply wasn’t enough time to properly disinfect an entire aircraft.

Former flight attendants describe a few reasons to avoid the seat pocket on an airplane:

Marketplace
Beware of dirty diapers: Former flight attendants share secrets from the sky
 WATCH

00:00 01:00

Three former flight attendants describe a few reasons to avoid the seat pocket on an airplane. 1:00

The reality, said Stéphane Poirier, who previously worked for WestJet, is that staff typically have less than 15 minutes to turn a plane around. “We had no time to wash the table or clean everything perfectly.”

There’s also no time between flights for staff to use cleansers or antibacterial spray, he said, noting cleaning solutions are often not allowed on board.

“We don’t have rags, we don’t have spray on board,” said Poirier. “Lots of [cleaners] are a dangerous good … so it’s either water from the aircraft, or a napkin.”

Any cleaning that does happen, said Remus, is often totally superficial. “It definitely was not a huge priority. And when it was a priority, it wasn’t necessarily for cleanliness, it was for an esthetic purpose.”

Bacteria found on contact surfaces

The levels of staph and mould Marketplace found on tray tables is evidence that the surface hasn’t been cleaned for some time, according to microbiologist and self-proclaimed “germ guy” Jason Tetro.

Travellers should pay particular attention to the tray-table result, he said, because it likely includes a kind of staph that may cause skin and soft-tissue infections, such as boils.

A sample shows the presence of mould, which was found on a blanket. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

“If you’re coming into contact with high levels of staphylococcus aureus, such as what you’re seeing here, then you definitely are at a higher risk of having something go wrong,” Tetro said.

Tetro suggests air passengers avoid putting their faces down on the tray table to sleep, and never placing food directly on the table surface before putting it in their mouths, as ingesting or inhaling staph can be especially harmful.

Even ‘germ guy’ went ew!

For Tetro, who works in infection control, the headrest results were the biggest surprise.

“I was shocked. Honestly, I have looked at planes, and I travel so much on planes, I’m aware of so many of the different places [where germs could be found],” he said. “But then I saw what you showed me with the headrest. And even I, the germ guy, went ‘ew.'”

The levels of staph and mould Marketplace found on tray tables is evidence that the surface hasn’t been cleaned for some time, according to microbiologist Jason Tetro. (Dave Macintosh/CBC)

Hemolytic bacteria, mainly associated with strep throat, found on one headrest was especially concerning for Tetro, as was the presence of staph on that surface.

“It really is about ingestion or inhalation,” said Tetro. “If you happen to have this on a headrest, and you’re moving your head back and forth, then there’s a very good likelihood that you could potentially be inhaling this or getting it into close enough contact that it could get into you.”

Tetro added that it can also get into wounds. “If you have acne and you’re touching your face all the time, you could get something called impetigo, you could get cystitis,” he said.

Marketplace’s samples were analyzed at a lab at the University of Guelph. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

And it’s important to note that if staph and mould is found living on these surfaces, other microbes can live there too, he said.

“It tells you that there’s not a sufficient amount of cleaning going on; yeast and mould are tougher to clean than bacteria,” Tetro said.

Marketplace also tested the blankets offered to passengers from two of the carriers: Air Canada and WestJet. (Porter didn’t offer a blanket.) The yeast, mould and high counts of bacteria on the WestJet blanket surprised Warriner.

Lab testing on this WestJet blanket showed yeast, mould and high counts of bacteria — surprising as it came in a cellophane wrapper. The airline said it was concerned by the finding, as all of its blankets are sold new and come sealed, straight from a distributor. (Andy Hincenbergs/CBC)

“What was worrying was this was in a cellophane wrapper,” he said. “It shouldn’t have been used.”

When Marketplace reached out to WestJet about these results, the airline said it was concerned by the findings.

“We are looking into this matter further, as all blankets sold on our flights are new (not previously used) and come sealed straight from the distributor,” the company said in an email.

Airlines respond

The only time a plane gets a proper cleaning is when it is not in service, according to the former airline employees.

All three airlines declined to be interviewed but did respond to emailed questions. Air Canada, WestJet and Porter all said they follow Canadian and international cabin-grooming rules.

These samples show the presence of E. coli, which was detected on both the headrest and the seat pocket. The presence of E. coli indicates fecal contamination, and the bacteria can cause intestinal infections. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

In its response, Air Canada pointed to a study that it says proves hygiene on airlines is dirty, but no more dirty than any other public space. The study was funded in part by Boeing, the world’s largest airplane manufacturer.

WestJet said it was concerned by the findings, but that staff do their best, given the fact that planes are public spaces. The company said its planes are cleaned daily, noting that aircraft are given a light groom after every flight, a full groom every 24 hours, a complete interior detail monthly, and an enhanced, hyper-focused groom every year.

Porter said the company is confident about its efforts to keep passengers and staff safe. Porter also said that when an aircraft is done flying for the day, teams clean the interior from nose to tail, as well as carry out an intensive cleaning every three weeks.

Tetro advises that airline passengers need to take cleanliness matters into their own hands. He suggests travellers wipe down the surfaces they’re going to touch and always carry hand sanitizer with enough alcohol to actually kill germs.

“Fifteen seconds on your hands, 30 seconds on surfaces, and you’re good to go,” said Tetro.