- Air Canada is introducing new measures to improve accessibility after a CBC documentary criticized its treatment of passengers with disabilities.
- CEO Michael Rosseau said the airline plans to improve its boarding process, ensure mobility aids are stored properly and increase staff training.
- The revelations follow several high-profile failures in safety and support measures for disabled travelers, which Transport Minister Pablo Rodríguez described as “appalling”.
Air Canada will overhaul its current accessibility measures to support passengers with disabilities following the release of a hard-hitting CBC documentary.
Canada’s flag carrier came under fire earlier this week following a CBC Marketplace report that highlighted serious safety flaws in the airline’s boarding process for customers with disabilities.
“I didn’t feel safe.”
Toronto-based Alessia Di Virgilio was accompanying Marketplace on an Air Canada flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Charlottetown Airport (YYG) when she was approached by airline staff. Marketplace investigators captured shocking footage of Virgilio accidentally removing his ventilator while struggling to board the plane. In another accident during the trip, an elevator fell on top of a power wheelchair user.
In an interview with CBC, Virgilio expressed how the poor treatment had put him at risk, especially when Air Canada employees revealed that they had been poorly trained on the equipment, which they claimed had not been used in seven years. He emphasized how overwhelmed and frightened he felt.
Air Canada did not directly address Virgilio’s case in a statement shared Thursday. However, the company said it would introduce a series of new measures, including improving boarding procedures, ensuring mobility aids are available during travel, and increasing staff training with a focus on customers with disabilities. A new Director of Customer Accessibility position has been added to the airline’s senior team to oversee the implementation of a three-year accessibility strategy. CEO Michael Rosseau added:
“Air Canada recognizes the challenges that passengers with disabilities face when traveling with us and accepts our responsibility to provide convenient and consistent service to make their travels more comfortable. We apologize for the inconvenience that sometimes we are unable to fulfill this promise.” People with disabilities teach us that the most important thing is continuous improvement into the future. ”
Cautious optimism about change
In addition to the new measures, the company also met with Transport Minister Pablo Rodríguez and Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities Kamal Kela to discuss its current approach to accessibility. Rodriguez claimed in a statement that he was horrified by the spike in incidents on Air Canada and urged the airline to adjust its policies.
“All Canadians must be treated with dignity and respect. To the best of our ability. Canadians must present a plan to deal with this. Canadians must be treated with dignity and respect. Canadians must be treated with dignity and respect. I look forward to doing that.”
Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
Passenger Rodney Hodgins was traveling with his wife when he was stranded by an airline at Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas in August. Hodgins, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, had to pick himself up and crawl along the plane’s aisle because flight attendants were unable to provide him with a wheelchair, the Daily Mail reported. Air Canada said it is using a third party for accessibility work in Las Vegas. However, the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) has launched an investigation.
In another incident in May 2023, British Columbia-based cartoonist Ryan Lachance was left bedridden for several days after being lifted from his seat into a wheelchair by an untrained staff member.
AccessNow CEO Maayan Ziv’s wheelchair broke after an 11-hour journey between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) and Toronto in 2022. In a post shared on social media site X (formerly Twitter), disability advocates condemned the airline’s decision to strip people of their wheelchairs. her independence. Speaking to CBC after the Marketplace revelations, Ziv expressed cautious optimism about the airline’s admission of failure.
“Today is the first time we’ve heard any kind of acknowledgment or accountability or any kind of apology, and while it’s vague, this is hopefully the start of many more.”
What do you think of CBC’s findings? Let us know in the comments.
- IATA/ICAO code:
- Airline type:
- full service carrier
- Calgary International Airport, Montreal Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport
- Year of establishment:
- star alliance
- Michael Rousseau
- North America