Thursday, August 5, 2010

As the wheelchair breaks : Air Canada and Tanner

Those of us who travel with wheelchairs know that airlines sometimes show a cavalier attitude when our wheelchairs are lost or broken.

Air Canada is facing Twitter rage after breaking beyond repair a 10 year old boy's wheelchair.

According to news reports, Tanner, who has muscular dystrophy, was sent to NY for a trip with his aunt through a twitter-organized fundraiser. When they arrived at LaGuardia, his $15,000 wheelchair was broken beyond repair. They were told they would be given a temporary wheelchair on Wednesday, but that didn't happen- they've been told they would get a loaner on Monday. So Tanner is spending his visit to NY in a hotel bed, without any wheelchair or hope that his own wheelchair can be fixed.

A charity run for Friday is planned called Tutus for Tanner, which he was supposed to attend. A private company is trying to get him a wheelchair and, according to this article, Air Canada has no comment.

UPDATE AirCanada had Tanner's wheelchair repaired and has returned it to him, also offering him a trip to Disney.


yasmin said...

Twitter never ceases to amaze me.
Oh, and snazzy new layout. :)

Ruth said...

Twitter is amazing...and thanks :)

Greg said...

when will people start thinking wheelchairs mean mobility? Great new blog style!

Ruth said...


You're right. Unfortunately, without the amount of media attention this situation received, these incidents have not-so-happy outcomes.

Glad you like the blog style- thanks!

Matthew Smith said...

I remember reading a heartbreaking story about a woman with a cello she needed to get back from wherever she had been, and the airline initially agreed to let her take it on with her but reneged on it when she arrived (they can do that as they are a law unto themselves). Perhaps it was partly her fault for not putting it in a hard-shell case (perhaps she couldn't afford one), but the staff chucked it around a few times, perhaps imagining that there were clothes inside that cello-shaped case, and it came out smashed to pieces.

Matthew Smith said...

Sorry, I left the first part of that comment out (Google had one of its outages in between my starting that comment and finishing it, so I couldn't posted it and tried to copy-paste the whole thing but obviously managed only paragraph 2). What I said was that the problem with wheelchairs is that they are insufficiently like suitcases full of clothes, which is what airline staff tend to treat all packages like - they just throw your things around at each step of the way without considering that things inside it might break. The companies have not bothered to train people in such matters, in large part because the laws covering them are so different from those covering pretty much every other industry.