Wheelchair-bound passenger drags himself off plane after airline fails to help him

With no help in sight, Rodney was forced to drag himself from the back to the front of the plane with Deanna holding his legs up


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Published: Tue 31 Oct 2023, 3:47 PM

Air Canada has come under severe criticism after it failed to provide a wheelchair to a person of determination suffering from spastic cerebral palsy.

Rodney Hodkins and his wife, Deanna Hodgins, flew to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary. After they landed in Vegas, a flight attendant informed the couple that they did not have time to provide a wheelchair inside the flight.

In a scathing Facebook post shared last week, Deanna said that when she explained that her husband could not walk, the crew member acted unhelpful and said, “Well, I don’t know but we need to turn the plane around, we have another flight.”

With no help in sight, Rodney was forced to drag himself from the back to the front of the plane with Deanna holding his legs up.

Speaking of her ordeal, Deanna wrote, “8 cleaning crew, 2 flight attendants, the captain, and the co-captain watched as my husband [dragged] his uncooperative body from row 12 to the front of the plane.”

“It took us struggling, in front of a dozen people as some looked away and others looked on with shame, to get him off that plane,” she added.

Deanna’s Facebook post has gone viral with many recalling similar experiences with the airline.

Speaking to CBC News, Rodney said that the incident caused him immense pain for four days and affected his much-awaited vacation. The couple added that the airlines offered them flight vouchers but they refused to accept them. They want the airlines to be more accessible to other people of determination.

In response to the incident, Air Canada released a media statement acknowledging its shortcomings and promised to investigate the matter.

In a statement, Air Canada said, "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."

This was not the first instance Air Canada received flak for failing to provide mobility assistance services. On October 21, the airline misplaced the wheelchair of Canada’s chief accessibility officer Stephanie Cadieux.

In a LinkedIn post, she spoke about the incident and advocated for better accessibility. She wrote, “I want everyone to understand that when a person’s wheelchair is lost, so is their independence, safety, mobility, and dignity. Yet, airlines do not treat these pieces of medical equipment as the essential extensions of individual’s bodies that they are.”


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