An investigation has been opened against the airline Air Canada after a passenger in a wheelchair testified that he was forced to drag himself out of a plane due to the company’s lack of assistance.
Last August, Rodney and Deanna Hodgins boarded a plane in Vancouver headed to Las Vegas to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, the BBC reported.
When getting off the plane, Mr. Hodgins – suffering from spastic cerebral palsy and using a motorized wheelchair – did not receive any help from the crew to disembark, his wife explained to the British media .
While airlines usually provide aisle chairs to assist passengers with limited mobility, that was not the case this time. The crew would have told the couple to manage on their own to reach the front of the plane, according to Ms. Hodgins.
“At first we thought it was a joke, but then we were stunned,” she told the media.
“I was so furious to see him struggling to drag his uncooperative body so slowly and painfully,” she said, adding that her husband was in spasms while moving.
Mr Hodgins also suffered pain several days after disembarking the plane.
“We had to fight, in front of a dozen people, while some looked away and others looked at him with shame, to get him off that plane,” added his wife.
Ms. Hodgins said Air Canada has since apologized. “An apology is good, and we appreciate it,” she said. “We want to make sure this never happens again.”
The airline said in a statement to CBC that it is using a third-party wheelchair assistance specialist in Las Vegas.
“As a result of our investigation into how this serious service failure occurred, we will evaluate additional mobility assistance service partners in Las Vegas,” the company reportedly wrote.
For its part, the Canadian Transportation Agency is investigating the incident, she confirmed to the BBC.
This is not the first time that the Canadian airline has been accused of mistreatment of a passenger. A few weeks earlier, the principal director of the Accessibility Office of Canada, Stéphanie Cadieux, had become angry with the carrier who had forgotten her wheelchair more than 4,000 km from its destination.