Air Canada under fire after wheelchair breaks on flight from Toronto

A Toronto woman is speaking out after her wheelchair was damaged this week while traveling with Air Canada on a flight to Tel Aviv.

Toronto entrepreneur and activist Maayan Ziv, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy, told CTV News Toronto on Thursday that she left Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Sept. 7 to attend an accessibility conference at Tel Aviv the next day.

“I arrived four hours early to make sure I have enough time because I know a lot of things take longer and I have to pack my wheelchair first and get on the plane,” Ziv said. .

She says she submitted the dimensions of her wheelchair to Air Canada before arriving and wrapped the chair in bubble wrap before handing it over to airline staff.

When she arrived in Tel Aviv, she found that her wheelchair had nevertheless been damaged.

« I arrived in Tel Aviv at 10 a.m. and found my wheelchair broken, » she said. « No one told me about it, I had to report it myself. »

While Air Canada has now offered to pay Ziv the full cost of the damage, she says she was initially offered a $300 voucher from the airline.

The wheelchair after the flight (Provided by Maayan Ziv)

« I felt insulted and furious, » she said. “They finally said yes, they would cover the cost of the repair, but…this damage cost me a whole work trip, my health (I’m in pain), emotional trauma and probably months of waiting to get my repaired. Wheelchair. «

When contacted for comment, Air Canada told CTV News Toronto that it carries « tens of thousands of customers who use mobility aids [each year]and that « they have processes to make sure those trips go smoothly. »

“Unfortunately, in this case, we did not meet our normal service levels. We immediately responded to this customer’s concerns at the airport, including arranging a specialist wheelchair service to repair the damage. We gave the customer a voucher as a sign of goodwill,” the company said.

Air Canada says it is working to « ensure the device is fixed. »

Last year, Toronto resident Anthony Tompros was shocked to learn that Air Canada had shipped his custom wheelchair to the wrong country. Instead of being sent back from Greece to Canada with him, he was shipped to Germany.

When it was returned five days later, it was damaged.

A recent report published by the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies invites Canadian airlines to reflect on their wheelchair practices.

While the report emphasizes that personal safety and cost are paramount issues, it states that « clients’ personal dignity would be enhanced, and injury and discomfort reduced, if a traveling wheelchair user were permitted to remain in their own wheelchair for the duration of the flight. »

Ziv echoed the calls made in the above report.

“What I’m asking for is a complete overhaul of how airlines treat people with disabilities. We are customers. And we deserve equal rights. There must be a fair process for traveling with a disability.

She also says customers who use wheelchairs should be allowed to stay in their mobility devices on board.

« As we already do on all other modes of transport. »


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