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Disabled man forced to drag himself off Air Canada flight after airport failed to provide special assistance

A disabled passenger says he was left in “significant pain” after being forced to drag himself to the front of an Air Canada plane to disembark a flight due to the absence of a narrow aisle chair.

Wheelchair user Rodney Hodgins, 49, said he wants Air Canada to change its policy so that someone is always there to meet a person with a disability when the aircraft lands after his ordeal on a flight from Vancouver to Las Vegas in August 2023.

Mr Hodgins, from British Columbia, has spastic cerebral palsy and said he is accustomed to wheelchair travel, and had even altered his motorised wheelchair to fit in the cargo area in advance of the flight.

He and his wife, Deanna, were told when they landed in Las Vegas to celebrate their wedding anniversary that no help or aisle seat – a narrower wheelchair used to transport passengers to and from their seats – was coming to help Rodney off the plane.

The couple said that, as they did not want to delay other passengers, Rodney dragged himself 12 rows to his wheelchair, with Deanna behind him for support.

Mr Hodgins told CBC News“It was quite painful for me to do that in the first place.

“It hurt my legs. For three days I felt terrible on my holiday.

“I thought, they don’t care about me, they just want me to get off this plane.”

He said he has been contacted by Air Canada customer service offering a $2,000 flight voucher for future travel.

The airline said in a statement: “We use the services of a third-party wheelchair assistance specialist in Las Vegas. Following our investigation into how this serious service lapse occurred, we will be evaluating other Mobility Assistance service partners in Las Vegas.”

The Independent has contacted Air Canada for further comment.

It’s not the first time a wheelchair user has been left stranded on an aircraft by an airline.

In May 2023, Adrian Keogh was left “humiliated” after he was forced to crawl off a Ryanair flight and down plane steps following an “unacceptable” delay in assistance.

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