Woman left stranded in Montreal due to broken equipment at Charlottetown airport

Teresa Wright
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The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities is crying foul over the treatment of an Air Canada passenger with mobility issues after she was left stranded at the Montreal airport.

The P.E.I. woman, who has muscular dystrophy, was not allowed to board her flight home to P.E.I. because a special chair Air Canada uses to disembark passengers with major mobility issues at the Charlottetown airport was out of order.

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, says the woman, who did not want to be identified, had to call her daughter in Toronto to come and pick her up in Montreal.

“I feel it’s negligible at the very least and criminal at the worst,” Carroll said.

“She was left, at 11:30 at night, in the Montreal airport. It’s horrible. … If you didn’t have family or that kind of support, what would you do?”

An official with Air Canada did confirm Monday the chair, known as a Washington chair, at the Charlottetown airport has been out of order for the last couple of weeks.

The Washington chair is used to transport passengers who require the use of a wheelchair to transition from the aircraft door to their seat on the plane.

Manon Stuart, manager of corporate communications and linguistic services with Air Canada Jazz, said arrangements are now being made to have a new Washington chair brought to Prince Edward Island.

“In the meantime, we have arranged to borrow a Washington chair from another operator at the Charlottetown Airport should the need to use this chair arise,” Stuart said in an email to The Guardian.

“It’s something they should have a backup for at least. If it breaks, you can’t just say, ‘Oh well it’s broken, you can’t come home.’” Paul Cudmore, executive director of Spinal Cord Injury P.E.I.

But Paul Cudmore, executive director of Spinal Cord Injury P.E.I., said that’s not good enough.

“It’s something they should have a backup for at least. If it breaks, you can’t just say, ‘Oh well it’s broken, you can’t come home.’”

Cudmore was shocked to learn of the woman left stranded in Montreal.

“I haven’t talked directly to this person, but that would be awful,” he said.

Carroll says she has spoken to several Islanders with mobility issues who have told her they do not fly Air Canada due to the fact they must use a Washington chair.

They prefer other carriers who have aisles large enough to wheel themselves to their seat on a plane.

“Being able to use the transportation systems in this country we believe is a human right and that you should be able to use any form of public transit and any form of private if you’re a paying customer,” Carroll said.

“If they’re advertising that they are accessible, then they should be accessible, and that’s not what’s been happening.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Air Canada, P.E.I. Council of People, Charlottetown Airport

Geographic location: Montreal, Washington, Charlottetown Toronto Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Pete
    January 09, 2014 - 07:45

    Time for a follow-up story. Did the woman eventually get back home to PEI? Has Air Canada apologized to the woman and/or offered her compensation, or are they really the ogres they appear to be?

  • nitpicker
    January 07, 2014 - 19:33

    Equipment breaks down..can't help that. But this is very typical of Air Canada's service. No one "owns" the problem. And most don't seem to care. That's been my experience (not that I claim to have been inconvenienced like this lady was). But the attitude I have always gotten was one of indifference.

  • SLIPPY
    January 07, 2014 - 11:40

    She should be thankful she wasn't given the wrong type of soda, like a poor Ottawa man was, that was a real travesty. Seriously though, this is ridiculous, no one had enough common sense to come up with a plan to help this lady out?

  • Joe Rogerson
    January 07, 2014 - 11:10

    " BIGGER IS NOT BETTER" as Air canada brags about it"s great service awards,as you sit on their aircraft ,going nowhere soon, as they messed up on our Ireland trip ,in Sept 2013 Four (4) flights 15 days apart plus lost luggage for 3 days of our 14 day tour. After several attempts for some compensation the final amazing offer was 5 percent disc on our next flight ,which will NOT be with Air Canada. Oranges or Lemons Guess which one J & S Rogerson

  • Islander
    January 07, 2014 - 09:51

    Air Canada at the least could have had this lady picked up and taken to a hotel over night PAID FOR BY THEM until they could arrange for the Charlottetown airport to borrow a Washington chair to assist her. This is just unbelievable to leave someone in a wheel chair stranded and having to call a family member to come that long distance to help this poor lady "A DISGRACE" if there ever was one shame on you AIR CANADA!!!!!!!!!

  • C Dubs
    January 07, 2014 - 09:27

    Ok, so seriously. Who cares...this dispute is between the woman and the company she choose to do business with.

    • Dot
      January 08, 2014 - 13:01

      This has to be made public, so that others with disabilities aren't put in the same predicament (hopefully by booking with WestJet). What happened here was absolutely inexcusable. There's no excuse for leaving a chair in disrepair for that amount of time.

  • UPWESTER
    January 07, 2014 - 07:34

    That is absolutely disgraceful! Charlottetown wants to handle international flights and a chair is broken for 2 weeks and they don't bother to fix or replace it?Air Canada had better pull up it's socks or they won't have any business left to run. It's the little things that make your company shine, and AC had better learn that lesson.

    • huh
      January 07, 2014 - 09:50

      As indicated in the story, its got nothing to do with the Charlottetown airport. Its the airline.

  • Pete
    January 07, 2014 - 06:57

    Unbelievable! Bad enough to not have a backup chair or take so long to replace the broken one, but to simply strand a disabled person in a major airport in the middle of the night without making any effort to assist that person goes beyond belief.

  • Marie
    January 07, 2014 - 06:53

    Whoever left this lady in the Montreal airport at 11:30 p.m. needs to lose their job! "Had to call her daughter in Toronto" 500 KMS AWAY "to go pick her up". Boys, I hope there's a good lawsuit here!!! A big "SHAME ON AIR CANADA"...we KNOW WestJet helped you! ha

  • don
    January 07, 2014 - 06:28

    i'm sure if that was a government big wig they would not have been left. or an air canada big shot. we need to force these so called big shots in a wheel chair etc and duct tape them in and give them a day as to what it is like. but then most needs a heart to feel or even have an idea what hell the Disabilities are like. now what is air canada going to do for this lady? nothing i bet cheap butts.