After hosting her elderly mother for “an amazing three-week visit in Squamish,” Celine Cantin says the trip home for 84-year-old Louise Plamondon, turned into a nightmare.
“I’m disgusted. I’ve used Air Canada all my life” said Cantin.
Plamondon was booked on an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Montreal on Nov. 20. She walks with a cane and suffers from a foot condition so Cantin requested wheelchair assistance from the airline. When they checked in, Plamondon’s daughter says Air Canada staff told them there were no wheelchairs available. They said they then waited for a golf cart, only to be told none of those were available either.
Cantin says Air Canada told her and her son to walk Plamondon to the security gate. Once there, Cantin claims she again requested the airline agent find a wheelchair for her mother before saying goodbye.
“I felt at that point I had no choice. I was told numerous times they had no wheelchairs or golf carts and we were not allowed to go through security so that’s why when I let her go, I said ‘I’m nervous, Please don’t let her fall. Keep an eye on her,'” recalled Cantin.
Minutes after crossing the security gates, Plamondon fell flat on her face and cut her nose. Fellow passengers alerted Cantin and her son and together, they attended to Plamondon until paramedics arrived. While the fall did happen in the security area, Cantin and her son were still able to reach Plamondon and help as it was very close to the beginning of the secure area, but before the body check and security screening.
Although injured, the senior wanted to go home and was eventually cleared to fly. Cantin says this time Plamondon left the security area in a wheelchair. She wanted to make sure her mother boarded the flight but claims she had trouble initially reaching Air Canada for confirmation.
Cantin says confusion ensued until airport security checked surveillance cameras and determined Plamondon did get on the plane.
In a statement, Air Canada says it is now reviewing Plamondon’s entire journey.
“We are very concerned to hear what happened at the airport prior to Mrs. Plamondon’s departure. In addition to wheelchairs, we provide mobile cart service to transport customers within the airport. In this case, our staff made arrangements for our mobile cart service to pick up Mrs. Plamondon as soon as she completed pre-flight security. While within the security area, she unfortunately fell, sustained an injury and was attended to by paramedics. To ensure our teams continue to provide the best possible customer service, we are reviewing Mrs. Plamondon’s entire journey further. We will also be in touch with Mrs. Plamondon and her family.”
Air passenger rights advocate Dr. Gabor Lukacs said the service provided by the airline is troubling.
“Air Canada was required by law to provide that kind of assistance to the passenger in question. Air Canada failed to fulfill its legal obligations as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Travel experts say while sad, Plamondon’s case highlights an important issue.
“I think it’s a reminder to consumers who have people that they love who are elderly and wanting to travel to make sure that they actually are able to get around on their own even for short distances,” said Claire Newell, a travel consultant and president of Travel Best Bets.
Cantin insists her mother is still mobile enough to travel without a companion. She says she’s frustrated and hurt over Plamondon’s recent travel experience and fears it may deter the senior from visiting B.C. again.