A Toronto man is accusing Canada’s national airline of the most blatant discrimination he’s ever experienced, saying reps even compared him and his wheelchair to luggage.
Tim Rose had plans to fly to Cleveland this September, but on Sunday, he says Air Canada told him his flight would be refunded because he couldn’t fly on the plane due to his wheelchair being five inches too tall for the cargo area.
“I felt like an oversized piece of luggage,” he told CityNews. “They even said to me at the time if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit – it’s like an oversized piece of luggage.”
The 31 year old was born with Cerebral Palsy and has been in a wheelchair his whole life, it’s something he’s proud of.
Ironically, he was on his way to Cleveland to speak at a disability forum in September.
“The biggest thing is if Air Canada cannot accommodate a person of a certain disability on a plane, they should not be flying that plane,” he said.
Rose claims the airline didn’t offer any alternative solutions, and so he took his battle against Air Canada to social media, using the hashtag #Wheelchairsarentluggage.
In a Facebook video that’s already been viewed more than four thousand times, Tim says “I, like every other Canadian with a disability, want equal treatment on the same bases as everyone else.”
“What I’d like people to know the most is how far we need to go to make this a truly inclusive country, because it certainly isn’t right now,” he adds.
In a statement to CityNews, an Air Canada spokesperson said “this is an unfortunate circumstance that has arisen due to the type of aircraft that we use on this route. It has a cargo hold door smaller than the height of the chair the customer uses and we are working to see if there is a way to safely carry this particular sized wheelchair without causing damage.”
The whole ordeal has been shocking for Rose and his wife Natalie, who say they’ve boarded the same AC flight to Cleveland in previous years, including just last spring.
“Air Canada is a multibillion company, are they trying to tell me that they can’t accommodate me for two flights, one there and one back, with a different airplane on that route for that day,” Rose said.
After he announced his story would be airing on CityNews Monday, Air Canada reached out to Rose over Facebook, telling him in a post, “we’ll be in touch separately to ask for some more information so we can conduct a test tomorrow to determine whether it can be safely loaded at an angle and stored.”
CityNews followed up with Rose hours later and he said the airline has yet to follow-up on that testing.