Passenger Compelled to Self-Exit Air Canada Flight Due to Lack of Wheelchair Assistance

According to CBC News, a British Columbia man using a wheelchair was compelled to drag himself off an Air Canada flight in Las Vegas when the airline failed to provide the necessary assistance. 

Rodney and Deanna Hodgins flew to Las Vegas to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. 

Rodney Hodgins
Rodney Hodgins

Rodney, who has spastic cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair, typically receives assistance to exit the plane. 

However, this time, the airline did not provide an aisle chair. Rodney was told to get to the front of the plane by himself, despite being unable to walk.

The Hodgins found this suggestion absurd and eventually decided to move themselves to avoid inconveniencing others. Rodney, in severe pain, dragged himself from row 12 to the front of the plane while Deanna crawled behind to help. The airline crew, including the pilot, co-pilot, flight attendants, and cleaning staff, watched but did not intervene.

Air Canada stated that they use a third-party wheelchair assistance specialist in Las Vegas and are investigating the service lapse. The experience was described as “dehumanizing” by Deanna. Upon reaching the front of the plane, Rodney could access his motorized wheelchair, but the pain persisted for several days.

After their return, Air Canada offered a $2,000 flight voucher, but the Hodgins are more concerned about changing policies to ensure assistance is always available for passengers with disabilities. They hope for a formal apology from Air Canada.

The incident followed a high-profile story of Canada’s chief accessibility officer, Stephanie Cadieux, who experienced similar issues with Air Canada, emphasizing the need for improved services for travellers with disabilities. 

The Hodgins believe that someone should acknowledge the service failure and work to prevent it from recurring.

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