Disabled man claims septic injury after staff used food trolley to disembark him

CBC Vancouver TikTok/ Shutterstock.com

A disabled man claimed that he developed a septic injury that almost required his foot to be amputated after he was stranded on a plane and staff used food trolleys to help him exit the aircraft.

On July 25, 2022, 63-year-old Geoffrey Schneiderman, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, flew with British Airways from London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for a family vacation.

However, when Schneiderman’s flight landed in Vancouver he was advised that the airport did not have an eagle lift, a device used to transport a disabled person from the seat to the aircraft door and then to a wheelchair.

Schneiderman waited on the plane for two hours while airline and airport staff figured out a solution to transport him to the aircraft door. 

Eventually, paramedics used two food trolleys from the airline to transport Scheniderman.

According to a report by Canadian media outlet CBC, paramedics used a clamshell backboard, a rigid stretcher that snaps in half down the middle and can be wedged under a person from either side of their body.

The backboard was slid under Schneiderman, then paramedics lifted him onto the top of the two trolleys. Schneiderman’s head and legs hung off either end of the trolleys. 

In the process of rolling the carts towards the aircraft door, the trolleys began to separate.

“The carts started separating — that was the point when my partner said he nearly had a heart attack, because he could see what was happening and heard them call that the trolleys are coming apart,” Schneiderman told CBC. “Food carts are just not designed to transport people.”

When they reached the connection bridge, Schneiderman said that he was dragged to his wheelchair, causing his shoes to come off. 

The incident, Schneiderman said, led to a pressure sore on his foot, which became septic and nearly led to amputation. He said he was bedridden during his month-long vacation.


Warning: This story contains graphic images of an injury. A British Airways passenger with multiple sclerosis who uses a wheelchair says he is still recovering from what he describes as a dangerous and dehumanizing ordeal at Vancouver International Airport, where he was stranded on a plane for hours because crews said they lacked the equipment to remove him. Geoffrey Schneiderman, 63, says he almost lost his foot to a septic injury and was only able to exit the plane after paramedics loaded him onto two airline food trolleys. Michelle Ghoussoub reports on the latest in a series of disturbing stories about a lack of accessibility on airlines. #inaccessibility #airport #yvrairport #vancouver #britishairways #britishcolumbia #cbcnews

♬ original sound – CBC Vancouver

British Airways eventually offered Schneiderman compensation in the amount of GBP 500 ($638), which was negotiated up to GBP 1,500 ($1,900).  

According to Wheelchair Travel publication, several wheelchair travelers reported that Vancouver Airport has eagle chair lifts. The media outlet denounced Schneider’s experience, saying the manner in which he was deplaned was “negligent, unnecessary, and unacceptable”.

Interestingly, in 2019, Vancouver Airport even blogged about having eagle chair lifts available for wheelchair/disabled passengers on its website.

“​​At YVR, accessibility and inclusion are top priorities for us,” the airport stated. “We believe that anyone who wants to fly should be able to fly.”

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