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$97.5K was fined by Air Canada for neglecting to assist passenger in wheelchair

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The Canadian Transportation Agency has fined Air Canada $97,500 for forcing a wheelchair-using passenger to drag himself off a plane in Las Vegas.

The airline is required to pay for “several violations of the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations,” according to a statement from the CTA.

The Air Canada crew in Las Vegas informed Rodney Hodgins, a resident of Prince George, British Columbia, who has spastic cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair, on August 30 that no assistance was available to help him get off the plane.

As his wife crawled behind him to assist, Hodgins got to his knees and used his arms to drag himself from Row 12 to the front of the aircraft. He called the experience “dehumanizing,” and it hurt him for days after.

Air Canada failed to assist a wheelchair user to disembark its aircraft,” the CTA statement said “… In addition, while the passenger was waiting in the terminal, Air Canada failed to ensure that their personnel periodically inquired about his needs.”

Air Canada has thirty days to file a request for review with the Canadian Transportation Appeal Tribunal.

The CTA website also lists an October 2023 incident for which the airline was fined. On Dec. 12, Air Canada was ordered to pay $52,500 for “[failing] to permit a person with a disability to board in advance of other passengers,” and “not returning the mobility aid to the person on arrival at the destination without delay.”

After a CBC News report, the CTA opened an investigation into the Las Vegas incident. Following allegations that Air Canada staff had abandoned a second passenger during a flight to Vancouver, the airline was called to Ottawa to meet with the transportation minister.

Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau issued an apology on November 9 and announced several internal improvements to the airline’s handling of disabled passengers.

On Thursday, the airline announced that it would expedite plans to modernize the wheelchair storage system, update the boarding process, and update employee training materials for thousands of workers. In order to make sure the plan is implemented correctly, the airline added that it would appoint a new senior position.

 

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