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A woman was booted from an Air Canada flight after the crew wrongly accused her of having a contagious disease Sunday night.

Jeanne Lehman was flying from Halifax (YHZ) to Toronto (YYZ) on Sunday night when she told a flight attendant that she’d like to be seated by a window due to her embarrassment of the rash that had recently developed on her face.

Lehman went to an emergency room a few days before the flight and was told by a doctor she had shingles, a non-transmittable disease. She was prescribed antiviral medication and doctors said it was ok for her to be in public. In some cases, shingles can be contagious if the blisters are open. Those who come in contact with the open blisters would receive chicken pox, the CBC says.

On Sunday Lehman boarded the plane and told an Air Canada flight attendant that she’d like a window seat because she was embarrassed by her rash, adding that her rash wasn’t contagious.

“Please, if you have a seat by the window… I would like please to have that favor to give me that place,”  Lehman told the CBC she recalls saying to the flight attendant. “Because I’m not contagious, but I don’t want people to see this side of my face. It is damaged.”

Lehman took a seat on the aircraft but soon after, the flight attendant came back — donning a mask and gloves. She told Lehman to grab her things and leave the aircraft because she was contagious.

Susan McAlister, another passenger on the flight, said announcements were made that there was a transmittable disease on board and that everyone would need to leave. Passengers saw staff members sanitizing the area where Lehman had been sitting.

Lehman was humiliated by the pilot’s announcement. “I started crying because everyone was looking at me,” Lehman told CTV News. “I was very embarrassed. I never know that this thing could happen to me.” 

Air Canada staff then brought Lehman back to a hospital to inspect her, where doctors gave her the all clear to fly. Air Canada ended up putting her up in a hotel and getting her on a flight the next day.

The entire incident delayed the flight by seven and a half hours, the Boeing 737 MAX was originally supposed to depart at 6:25pm but didn’t take off until 3:02am on Sunday.

We reached out to Air Canada and received this statement:

“On flight AC621 Halifax to Toronto‎ April 22, a passenger was believed to have a transmissible skin condition. After consulting our medical experts, we arranged for the customer to attend a local hospital. Out of an abundance of caution passengers on board were also asked to disembark and a different aircraft transported them later that night. We follow up with customers who have concerns directly.”

Lehman and McAlister were both upset that flight attendants didn’t do more to understand the situation — immediately jumping to the worst case scenario and removing Lehman from the flight.

Featured image courtesy of Air Canada. 

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