It’s been a while since we heard of a fiasco like this!
COVID super spreader parties thrown by influencers used to be a hot button issue earlier in the pandemic. But we’ve got all kinds of fatigue going into year three of this thing, so it would take some pretty extreme circumstances to get our attention now.
Enter: Canada’s 111 Private Club party flight fiasco. If you haven’t already heard, an event organizer invited a bunch of influencers and Canadian reality stars for a “free trip” to Cancun, Mexico on a private chartered flight via Sunwing Airlines on December 30. The group came under fire after videos from the flight, in which passengers recklessly flouted mask mandates while singing, dancing, drinking, and vaping in the aisles of the plane, went viral.
Not only did the partiers face outrage from the public — even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called them “idiots” and “barbarians,” according to the Associated Press!
But here’s where it becomes a complete debacle: their flight home was canceled by Sunwing. Air Transat and Air Canada have also refused to allow anyone from the group on board. (An investigation has also been announced by Canada’s Federal Transport Minister, Health Minister, and Public Safety Minister.) So now all these Canadian internet stars are STRANDED!
Organizer James Awad released a statement on Thursday that was not quite an apology (nor really an adequate explanation of the situation). He wrote about the delay getting the stars home:
“I appreciate your patience. As I thoroughly reviewed the current situation, I understand why many fellow citizens are upset about the current situation. As someone who enjoys bringing people together, I committed to hosting a private and safe event in Cancun with my group from the 111 private club. I chartered a private aircraft and private transportation to ensure everyone’s safety. We also took additional steps by getting everyone tested before leaving Montreal to make sure the whole group was safe and thus even if the Mexican authority does not require a negative PCR test to enter.”
Seems like he thought through half of this…
Awad has now reportedly met with representatives from Sunwing to negotiate bringing the passengers home, listing the airlines’ various conditions (masks on at all times, no alcohol, no standing in the aisle, etc). He stated:
“I agreed to every demand, including multiple In-Flight Guardians, I assured them every measure would be followed, but we couldn’t conclude an agreement because Sunwing refused to Provide Meals to the group for a 5h flight.”
Confusingly, a later tweet (below) contradicted the fact that the in-flight meal was responsible for the disagreement.
We do have an idea about the actual cause of the disagreement. One of the airline conditions was a valid PCR test, and according to passenger Rebecca St-Pierre, an estimated 30 members of the group (including herself) have tested positive for COVID-19. The 19-year-old, who won the “free” trip via Instagram, is now isolating in Tulum at her own expense.
She told The Canadian Press:
“I was expecting a relaxing week, where I was going to be careful. But this turns out to be an expensive trip for something that was supposed to be free.”
“The organizer just left everybody. I don’t know who’s still here. All the flights have been cancelled.”
As for Awad, the Fyre Fest 2.0 organizer has not abandoned his vision. He concluded his faux-pology:
“At this time, the 111 private club is working tirelessly to get everyone back home safely as quickly as we can. The 111 private club is a dream and a vision that I poured my heart and soul into creating. This was my first travel event. I have significantly learned, and I am still learning from this experience. Learning from them is what makes the difference.”
“Still learning.” Not sure it makes a difference to all those influencers stranded in Mexico, or any of the many outraged Canadians, but at least he didn’t completely disappear on everyone? We guess? OK, yeah, hard to give credit for that…
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