From Halifax to London - by mistake
She slept through St. John's stop, woke up on the way to England
By The Canadian Press
St. John's, Nfld. - A Newfoundland woman is demanding answers from Air Canada after her 90-minute flight home became a 15-hour odyssey to England and back.
Catherine Coyle, 39, who moved to Halifax about 10 years ago, was flying home to the Newfoundland capital late Thursday to be with her ailing mother. She fell asleep shortly after the flight left Halifax, tired after days of not sleeping and worrying about her mother. When she woke up several hours later, she sensed something was wrong.
"I woke up about 1 a.m. and noticed that there was a different person sitting next to me," she said.
"Then the pilot announced the possible arrival time and that the flying time would be four-and-a-half hours. I was shocked."
Coyle approached a flight attendant for an explanation and was told the flight was almost 30 minutes out of St. John's and headed to London.
"I told him my family, my luggage, my medication, my clothes . . . is back in Newfoundland. And I said, 'I've got to get off this plane.' "
Air Canada officials denied her request to turn the plane around.
Back in St. John's, her sister Linda and their mother were waiting at the airport. They had her luggage, but there was no sign of Catherine. They eventually called the RCMP.
Sitting in an aisle seat in the middle of the plane, Coyle said she can't understand how the flight crew didn't notice her or ask to see her ticket before leaving for England.
"I asked about head counts, and the steward said he did, and it worked out perfect," she said.
"But apparently, they only counted the boarding passes or something, not the individual passengers."
Coyle spent only two hours in London before boarding a return flight to St. John's, which she didn't have to pay for.
"Whoever was on that plane is going to get a blast," Coyle said. "It must even be illegal or something for them to take me to another country with no passport, nothing."
Air Canada officials could not be reached for comment.