"I looked stunned at the crewman."
Talk about flying the not-so-friendly skies: a disabled man had to literally drag himself off an Air Canada plane because flight attendants didn't provide him a wheelchair, highlighting airlines' long-running troubled record on accommodating disabled passengers.
The fiasco occurred in August, according to The Guardian, when 49-year-old Rodney Hodgins — who has spastic cerebral palsy — and his wife Deanna were getting ready to disembark a British Columbia-to-Las Vegas flight for their anniversary when a crew member informed them there wasn't time to wait for a pre-requested wheelchair.
In a Facebook post dated October 23, Deanna Hodgins recounted the situation.
"I looked stunned at the crewman and said he can’t walk," she wrote, adding that "he replied 'well I don’t know but we need to turn the plane around we have another flight…'"
As crew members watched, Rodney Hodgins dragged himself past rows of seats while his wife held up his legs, which were spasming from the strain, according to his wife. During their Las Vegas trip, she said, he suffered pain from the ordeal.
His wife wrote that he "hurt his legs and I hurt my back — emotionally a lot more was hurt …. my husband's human rights were trampled on and Air Canada won’t respond to us, and never did reach out like they promised."
After the post went viral, Air Canada apologized, according to The Guardian, with a statement that read: "We use the services of a third party wheelchair assistance specialist in Las Vegas to provide safe transport on and off aircraft. Following our investigation into how this serious service lapse occurred, we will be evaluating other mobility assistance service partners in Las Vegas."
This isn't Air Canada's first time bungling its treatment of a person with a disablity. Canada’s chief accessibility officer Stephanie Cadieux posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, about how the airline left behind her wheelchair in Toronto on October 21.
"I’m now without my essential equipment," she wrote. "Independence taken away. I’m furious. Unacceptable."
It's not just an Air Canada thing. Other airlines have been dinged for not doing enough for disabled passengers, who have complained about lost and broken wheelchairs — or even suffering brain damage, as in the case of quadriplegic Nathaniel "NJ" Foster Jr, who suffered at the hands of callous United Airlines crew members who "violently" removed him from a plane.
Though the US Department of Transportation issued a "Bill of Rights" for disabled passengers last year, the document doesn't have an enforcement component, which pretty much guarantees the problem will persist without further action.
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