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Passenger on plane to Toronto given wipes to clean up carpet left blood-soaked by person on previous flight

Air France passenger Habib Battah cleaning onboard the Toronto-bound flight. (Twitter/@habib_b) Air France passenger Habib Battah cleaning onboard the Toronto-bound flight. (Twitter/@habib_b)

An Air France passenger says he had to clean up a blood-soaked carpet with wet wipes onboard a Toronto-bound flight after he crawled on his hands and knees to discover the source of a foul smell.

Independent journalist and founder of Beirut Report, Habib Battah, said he and his wife were onboard a flight from Paris to Toronto Pearson International Airport on June 30. Battah said they brought their two cats with them, and it was the first time they were travelling with their pets.

“I was a bit anxious about the whole thing,” Battah told CTV News Toronto, adding their trip started in Beirut.

When they landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Battah said his flight was delayed by about an hour. As soon as he boarded the plane, arrived at their seats at the back, and stowed his cats in their carrier underneath the seat ahead of him, Battah noticed something was off.

“I started smelling something, and my immediate thought was, ‘Oh, no the cats, they had an accident. How am I going to clean this up now?’” he said.

“I thought it could have been something else, I thought it could have been a passenger who had body odour, or something. I don’t know what it was, but I knew it smelled like sh*t.”

Battah said he didn’t initially notice anything after he pulled the cat carrier out from underneath the seat, on his hands and knees, due to the poor lighting onboard the aircraft. As he went to put the carrier back, however, and touched the floor – Battah said it was wet.


Battah said he started to wipe the floor, thinking it was “some random stain,” but every tissue he used turned blood red. Then he saw the cat carrier’s strap was severely stained.

After about 15 minutes of him attempting to clean the floor with tissues, Battah said one of the flight attendants handed him some wet wipes to use. Then, he says another flight attendant told him a previous passenger suffered a “hemorrhage.”

“He said, ‘You better go wash your hands,’” he said, adding after he did so, they gave him latex gloves and more wet wipes.

“They were basically telling a passenger to handle a biohazard with his bare hands, and encouraging me to do so, by giving me wet wipes.”

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Air France confirmed a customer travelling on the same air carrier the day prior had “soiled his seat.”

“Following a satellite call and the crew’s description of the passenger’s condition, the emergency medical service (SAMU de Paris) did not recommend any specific measures to isolate the passenger or divert the flight,” the statement reads, adding medical teams in Boston assisted the passenger when the flight landed.

“As per procedure in this type of situation, a complete clean-up of the area was requested upon arrival in Boston, and the row of seats was made unavailable on the return flight.”

Battah said a passenger, who claims to have been on board that flight, told him there was “vomiting, diarrhea and blood.”

Air France did not detail the passenger’s symptoms to CTV News Toronto, but said he had become “unwell” on the flight.

As for Battah’s flight, Air France said residual traces of blood were reported to them.

“The crew immediately took action to clean the carpet and installed blankets on the ground to avoid any further contact with the stain, while assisting the passenger in the cleaning of his belongings, providing him with suitable equipment such as sterile gloves and disinfectant wipes,” the statement reads.

“As the flight was fully booked, it was unfortunately not possible to move the passenger.”

In a viral Twitter thread, Battah claimed staff “crowded around, shocked because they claimed a cleaning crew had removed the seats after the sick passenger incident, but apparently not cleaned the floor.”

It was an unhygienic and “hazardous” situation to be in, Battah said.

“Millions of travellers travel to, from, and within Canada each year. Given the close quarters travellers share for extended periods, environmental sanitation practices are especially important to reduce the risk of spreading communicable diseases,” a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CTV News Toronto.

Under the Quarantine Act, PHAC said air carriers are obligated to notify the health agency when a person, cargo, or something else onboard the flight could cause “the spreading of a communicable disease that poses a risk of significant harm to public health.”

Body fluids like blood, vomit and diarrhea may contain microorganisms that cause disease, PHAC said. If something is soiled by these fluids, the health agency said it “should always be considered contaminated” and handled carefully so disease does not spread.

The health agency noted it has published sanitation guidance for airlines to follow during these type of public health events.


After Battah landed at Toronto Pearson – with the cat carrier still reeking – he said he contacted the airline for answers about what happened to that passenger who fell ill on the flight.

“I didn’t know. I was, for three days, wondering what I was exposed to and if I exposed my wife to that, or my family here in Toronto,” he said. “They get back to me, and they said, ‘Oh well, you know, an older patient had a colon problem or something.’”

Battah said he was offered a $500 voucher, which he says hardly covers the cost of his about $2,500 trip.

“I told the guy at Air France, ‘Would you take a 20 per cent discount [after sitting] in blood and sh*t?”

Air France confirmed it offered Battah compensation, and that an internal investigation has been launched “to understand the series of events leading this situation.”

PHAC said it’s aware of what happened on this flight, and has also launched an investigation into the matter. Top Stories

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