Air Canada forgets a passenger’s customised wheelchair causing major issues for both the male passenger and his family.
The male passenger named Jim Hamilton travelled on board an Air Canada aircraft from Toronto on Sunday night to Santiago, Chile, alongside his family. This was the first getaway that Jim Hamilton had embarked on since he suffered from a stroke in 2021. The family plan to travel on a cruise immediately after the trip. At the time of the flight, Jim was escorted by Air Canada directly onto the aircraft in his wheelchair. However, the couple discovered after a 10-and-a-half-hour flight that his wheelchair had not been placed on board and therefore was still in Toronto.
Kathie Hamilton, Jim’s wife, has stressed the impact that this has had on Jim’s mobility whilst on holiday in Chile.
“He needs this chair to get out of bed in the morning, to function throughout the day, to go to the washroom, to have a shower, to get back into bed at night—he needs it for everything, All I want is his chair. I don’t even want a rental. I want his chair because no rental is going to have all the specifications that his chair had.”
The wheelchair, which had cost over $5000, was customised completely to suit all of Mr. Hamilton’s mobility needs. At first, Air Canada offered the Hamilton family a rental wheelchair and a $300 voucher as compensation for their mistake, alongside the reassurance that the wheelchair would be returned to them before their cruise trip. However, a rental wheelchair would not have been of many benefits to Jim, according to the family, as it was not suited to his condition.
Air Canada has since returned the wheelchair to the Hamilton family and released a statement regarding the situation.
“We fully appreciate the importance of mobility devices to customers and have processes in place to ensure they travel safely with their owners, and we are reviewing why that did not occur in this case.”
Is this a common occurrence for less abled passengers when boarding flights?
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a wheelchair user has struggled when travelling airborne. Various passengers who are disabled have shared their experiences of neglect by airlines with the media despite being promised they will be assisted at all times. Last year, Engracia Figueroa, a disabled activist unfortunately passed away from body sores after her wheelchair broke on a United Airlines flight. She was forced to wait for five hours in an airport wheelchair which was not suited to her needs after the incident.
It can be argued that better guidelines need to be put in place by airlines to protect the lives of their customers with disabilities.
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