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Air Canada pilot tells passenger to ‘shut it’ on Twitter; Internet cheers

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, June 17, 2008.


An Air Canada pilot spoke for many of us when he reportedly told a whiny, impatient passenger to "shut it" last week.

Freshly arrived to Toronto from Vancouver during last Friday's heavy-duty thunderstorm, the passenger took to Twitter to complain about a minor delay on the tarmac: "yvr to yyz – stuck on tarmac no updates for 20 mins. What the hell hurry up," tweeted the passenger, who has the handle "Raff" and boasts all of seven followers as of Friday afternoon.

An Air Canada representative dutifully replied, "Pls let us know your flight number and we'll provide you with the information we have."

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But Yannick Charland, the plane's pilot, wasn't having it. Charland decided to remind Raff that he'd just enjoyed the miracle of flight, tweeting back: "It's a red alert. Ground staff not allowed to work due to lightning in the area. You just flew across the country in four hours. Shut it."

Ten minutes later, the flight reached a gate. Raff thanked Air Canada for the company's "Twitter magic" but continued being a brat, ribbing airline reps for not tweeting back in both French and English.

Charland's Twitter account, which previously identified him as an "international airline pilot with a soft core and a penchant for rich mahogany" has since been deleted.

We hope he isn't in trouble. After all, his retort was a far cry from Steven Slater, the JetBlue attendant who lost it, reportedly after passengers clambered for their luggage while the plane was still taxiing, a classic bonehead move. Screaming over the intercom that he was bailing after 20 years of service, Slater activated the inflatable evacuation slide, rode down and ran through secure zones in between planes with his luggage before being apprehended by police at his home.

Slater became a folk hero, striking a nerve with not only abused airline staff but many working in the service industry.

In the current case, just a handful of commenters believe Air Canada should have communicated more clearly to all the passengers aboard. Most readers are siding with the pilot on this one.

"Airline employees are the target of a disproportionate amount of nonsense and entitlement from their customers," wrote one commenter at the National Post. And another: "You just flew through the air in a giant metal device, miraculously depositing you across the country while watching a movie and eating lunch. Oh, so strenuous. 80 years ago this passenger would have been in a horse drawn carriage, covered in mud and flies."

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Another was more succinct: "Good for the pilot having some balls."

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