A 49-year old disabled man was forced to drag himself off an Air Canada aircraft when the carrier failed to provide wheelchair assistance.
Rodney Hodgins, a hardware salesman with spastic cerebral palsy, flew from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) with his wife to celebrate their anniversary in August 2023.
In an impassioned social media post, Hodgin’s wife Deanna said that when they arrived in Las Vegas, the flight crew informed them that they had to vacate the aircraft immediately because the crew had another flight to operate.
This meant the Hodgins would have to leave the aircraft on their own because the flight crew was not willing to wait for airport crew to provide wheelchair assistance.
Deanna Hodgins said that when she asked one of the crew how they were supposed to do that, she was told, “Well I don’t know but we need to turn the plane around we have another flight.”
Deanna then said that eight cleaning crew members, two flight attendants, the flight’s pilot and the co-pilot watched as Rodney slowly and painfully dragged his body from Row 12 of the aircraft all the way to the front.
When Rodney reached the cockpit, Deanna said she had to carry him on her back so he could get to his motorized chair. Rodney’s motorized chair is too big to fit in the aircraft aisle. Wheelchair passengers are normally provided with an aisle chair, a smaller device, to get to and out of their plane seat.
Deanna said that Rodney suffered for days during their time in Las Vegas.
The incident occurred in August 2023, and when Air Canada had not reached out to them, Deanna posted publicly on Facebook on October 24, 2023.
Rodney told the Guardian that he was offered a CAD2,000 ($1450) flight voucher byAir Canada, but said that compensation would not “fix the problem” of how the airline failed its disabled passengers.
On October 21, 2023, Canada’s Chief Disability Officer, Stephanie Cadiuex also took to social media to share her disappointing experience after Air Canada lost her wheelchair during a cross-country flight.
Cadieux said airlines do not provide appropriate care and attention to essential equipment like wheelchairs, and leave disabled travelers to fight alone when things go wrong.
Deanna Hodgins said via a Facebook comment that they had been in touch with Cadiuex.