Air Canada Complaint - Not Allowed To Fly - I Am Disabled
VANCOUVER, BC -- AIR CANADA – to Los Angeles – NOT!
Attempt to travel to Los Angeles from Vancouver on New Year’s EVE via AIR CANADA was ended when the pilot had me removed from the plane. It was his decision that I needed a medical certificate to fly after having a coughing reaction to perfume as we just started to back out after the plane loaded. I had fully recovered – was seen to by AIR CANADA STAFF and by ambulance paramedics who agreed that I was fine but the captain of AIR CANADA FLIGHT 554 on December 31, 2005, decided that I would not fly on his plane. That began another host of unfortunate events which saw not only that I did not have my vacation, but that I did not return home until almost midnight without having had any meals or beverages (except a coffee with Danielle, the only saving grace that AIR CANADA can claim), no access to my medications that were in my luggage, and not much empathy from a clearly overworked and very tired staff.
I booked my ticket through Air CANADA’S WEB SITE and since there is no avenue for identifying my special NEEDS, I SPOKE TO A TICKET AGENT by telephone AS I BOOKED IT SO I COULD MAKE SURE I COULD BE SEATED WITH MY ATTENDANT, LET THEM KNOW I USED A WHEELCHAIR FOR MOBILITY, AND THAT I WAS EXTREMELY ALLERGIC TO PERFUME. This information was, as far as I know recorded in my file. When we arrived at the first counter, I again let them know about my special needs and my allergies. I wear a double medical mask to protect myself as best I can from inhaling the particles. At Vancouver Airport all passengers are forced to go through the DUTY FREE store in order to go through Customs where there are many perfume molecules in the air, so this is the first place my lungs became agitated. At the counter at the gate I once again identified my problems and special needs to the agent at the desk who said to make sure to let the purser know. Since I use a wheelchair, I promised I would tell the staff when I was preboarded. I immediately let the staff know and they seemed accommodating. At every turn I was honest and informative with Air Canada staff letting them know what might happen and that I had medication to handle the situation should it arise - and that I may need Emergency Oxygen should the reaction be severe. I even explained a previous experience to one flight attendant. She nodded in understanding. It was not until one of last three passengers boarded that I experienced some respiratory distress, took out my ventolin, coughed (as I do when reacting) and chewed a Benadryl. The flight attendant asked if she could help and I said Oxygen would help (as it clears the chemical from my lungs, and is not the systemic and dangerous jolt that epinephrine –the epi-pen, would provide- which is really more medicine that I needed for that reaction). Within seconds I was fine… but the decision to end my flight was made. My holiday was ruined and the flight of the rest of the passengers was delayed while that poor decision was made.
Danielle, an Air Canada ground employee, decided to try valiantly to save my holiday, but was given wrong information by her own company all along the way. First she was told that my family physician could FAX in a medical clearance so we managed to get hold of the doctor, get her FAXED the necessary forms, which she prepared to FAX to the MEDICAL DESK at AIR CANADA. After wasting my doctor’s time and energy, it turned out she would be required to examine me again at that time to determine my fitness to travel, which was not feasible since I was at the airport and she was a 4 hour round trip away (and it was New Year’s EVE!) Meanwhile, the medical clinic at the airport which had been open when this fiasco began was now closed so that option disappeared while my poor doctor was attempting to get clearance for me. More phone calls were made. A promise was made to let my traveling partner know I would be coming to meet him the next morning – he did not receive any messages from Air Canada when he deplaned in Los Angeles – nor did he get any message on the flight before he deplaned. He had no idea they were working on saving the vacation for me.
By this time all the walk-in clinics in Richmond had closed and I had to go to Richmond Hospital Emergency Clinic to get clearance to fly. I arrived there at 4:30 and saw a doctor at 6:15 and had the needed note in my hand by 6:30. Danielle, from AIR CANADA, had arranged for me to stay for $82.00 plus tax at a nearby hotel so I could fly out in the morning. I agreed that it might be a worthy investment to save my holiday. AIR CANADA did not offer to pay this expense. The hotel was near the hospital but it was raining and cold and dark so I could not wheel myself to this hotel. Wheelchair taxis were averaging over an hour wait. The hotel said they would come and pick me up. I had a contact at the hotel named HAYMAN who kept promising they would pick me up shortly – I communicated several times with him by cell phone – which meant I had to exit the hospital into the cold night air as cell phones are not allowed at Richmond hospital. I also was now unable to get hold of anyone at the MEDA desk number DANIELLE had given me for AIR CANADA – I just got a recording every time I called. (My cell phone records will document all my outbound calls.) If I did fly out, I would have no way of connecting with my partner…I phoned the hotel again -I finally gave them my cell number – still no one came – at 8:30 I called again in tears and was given the hotel manager who said he knew nothing about it and would send someone – I asked them to bring my luggage to the hospital then phoned my son to come and get me and take me home to Anmore. I arrived home just after 11:30 PM.