- An Air Canada passenger complained after a flight attendant failed to serve him in French.
- Jean-Pierre Beaudoin was told he’d have to take another flight if he wanted a French speaker.
- Air Canada told TVA Nouvelles two of its three attendants on the flight could speak French.
An Air Canada passenger filed a complaint with language authorities after a flight attendant was unable to serve him in French.
Jean-Pierre Beaudoin told the Canadian French language channel TVA Nouvelles he was flying in business class last month on a flight from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he was served by a flight attendant who only spoke English.
He asked to be served by a bilingual flight attendant so he could speak in French.
Beaudoin told TVA the crew member spoke to a colleague and then told him “in English, ‘sir, this is my section. You have the right to leave the plane or I will serve you’.”
He said a man, who was either an Air Canada employee or airport agent, came on to the plane to tell him he would either be served by an English-speaking attendant, or would have to leave the aircraft.
Beaudoin said: “It made my blood boil. I was thinking, ‘We’re in Quebec. The flight originates from Quebec.’ It wasn’t a choice for me to leave the plane.”
Beaudoin, who speaks both French and English, told TVA he decided to stay on the plane and only reply in French when spoken to in English. He described the act of rebellion as a “matter of principle.”
He told the outlet he’d filed a complaint with the Quebec Office of the French Language after the flight. Beaudoin said he didn’t complain to Air Canada as he didn’t trust their process, instead escalating the matter to language authorities.
Air Canada is subject to Canada’s Official Languages Act, which gives equal status to both English and French. The airline was fined $15,700 in 2019 after a couple complained that some signs on a domestic flight were only in English, BBC News reported.
In a statement to TVA, an Air Canada representative said two of the three cabin crew on the flight could speak French.
“Therefore, service in the two official languages was available and offered. In this regard, it is false to claim that the only solution was to ask him to leave the aircraft since French-speaking staff members were able and available to serve Mr. Beaudoin in French,” the airline added.
Air Canada and the Quebec Office of the French Language didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.