Air Transat apologizes after losing Ontario woman’s mobility device

Another Canadian airline is under fire after losing a passengers mobility device. Faiza Amin has more on how the family got the company's attention and got the help they needed.

By Faiza Amin and Meredith Bond

A Canadian airline is apologizing after an Ontario woman, who lives with a disability, says they lost her mobility device and left her without a resolution for days.

Angelina Boschin has cerebral palsy and has used a specialized silver walker that allows her to move around freely since she was in grade school.

The Boschin family flew direct from Toronto Pearson airport to Venice with Air Transat last Saturday for a trip to meet their Italian relatives. However, when they arrived at the Marco Polo airport, Angelina’s walker was nowhere to be found.

Since then, her sister Sophie said it’s been extremely difficult to not only get in touch with the airline but receive any answers on to where the mobility device may be.

“So, we finally called Air Transat [Monday], and they directed us to an email, and I was telling them how urgent this situation is like it’s not just a suitcase. This is my sister’s walker, her mobility device, her livelihood.”

Air Transat responded asking what the device looked like, but the Boschins still did not receive a response.

It wasn’t until she made a social media post on Wednesday about their situation that they finally started to get some answers.

The family learned that as soon as the mobility device had been lost, the airline is required to provide the passenger with a temporary replacement mobility aid that meets their needs or reimburse the passenger for the full replacement cost of the mobility device.

“None of these were offered to us. Not when we arrived at Marco Polo in Venice, not when I talked to all these people on the phone and I told them it was a mobility device,” explained Sophie.

Someone from Air Transat also reached out after seeing the post and directed her to the same email Sophie had already used.

“But as soon as I brought that up in the conversation online, all of a sudden, the person told me that they were going to reach out to Customer Service immediately. And within the hour, somebody called us and told us that we could, in the meantime, find a replacement or a rental, and we will be completely compensated for it.”

They were able to find a suitable replacement for Angelina at a cost of 600 Euros, which they’ve been told will be covered by Air Transat once they submit a claim, but it will take another two days to arrive.

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Sophie said they were lucky they had family who could speak Italian, or else their search would’ve been much more difficult.

“If we only spoke English, this would have been impossible to do … There are tons of walkers out there that you push forward, but my sister has a very specific walker for her disability. And it took us five different places until we found someone who knew what she needed and was able to give it to us,” shared Sophie.

In a statement to CityNews, Air Transat apologized for any inconvenience caused by the loss of Angelina’s walker.

“We understand the concerns raised by the family and the frustration they must have experienced. Losing an essential item like a walker is undoubtedly distressing, and we apologize for any inconvenience caused and deeply regret the situation.”

“We deeply regret that the passengers did not receive the proper response and immediate replacement upon their initial report at the airport. We are actively addressing the situation to identify how we can improve our processes,” continued the statement in part.

Because of the loss of her walker, Angelina has been also forced to use a wheelchair, losing her independence and possibly causing damage to the progress she’s made using the walker. “I use a walker, basically because I still want to keep my legs strong, and I also want to get exercise.”

“I have never gone this long without having [my walker] … My legs have never felt this bad. And so, I honestly think that it’ll take five months before I get back to walking like I used to, which will mean a lot of just really having to work myself every day, and it’s going feel pretty upsetting,” explained Angelina.

“It’s kind of been a little hard to enjoy myself because not only have we been wondering what happened and where my walker has been, but it’s also been me constantly dealing with my legs not feeling well. Every time I stand up, I just immediately feel winded, and I have to sit back down and things like that.”

Angelina said she was very disappointed in Air Transat’s response as well.

“[It’s] pretty much like if someone took your legs and said they just don’t want to give it back to you and that they didn’t care what happened to them.”

This is also the first time she’s ever had an issue with her walker while flying. “There’s always that fear you have one travelling with valuable things and things get lost, but especially when you’re paying people you trust that you know they’re going keep your stuff safe, especially if it’s like something that’s not luggage if it’s vital equipment, but we were proven wrong that time and the worst way possible.”

Sophie tells CityNews she was shocked with the way it’s been handled since the moment they landed.

“I think first of all, the second we got to the airport and they noticed we didn’t have a mobility device … I feel like it’s expected that they, right away, should be trying to figure out what to do, like give us something to use.”

As of right now, Angelina still doesn’t know where the walker is or whether it will be found.

“I just don’t feel like I should ever be forced into a situation like that because it’s my right to use what’s most comfortable to me to get around.”

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