Calgary woman’s motorized wheelchair severely damaged on Flair airlines flight

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Calgary woman’s motorized wheelchair severely damaged on Flair airlines flight
WATCH: A woman who recently moved to Calgary from Ontario has been waiting nearly four months for her airline claim to be resolved. It didn't involve a lost bag, but rather a damaged mobility aid that's essential to her getting around. Jill Croteau reports. – Jan 30, 2023

It was the first time Mary St. Onge flew with the ultra-low-cost carrier Flair. She saved some money on a cheap one-way ticket from Toronto to Calgary. But she said the savings weren’t worth it as the trip ended up costing her dearly.

“I am astounded as to how irresponsible, how insensitive and how much they just disregard their passengers who are disabled,” St. Onge said.

She lives with a neuro-muscular tremor that impacts her entire body and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. But ever since her October 1  flight, her chair has never been the same.

The damaged footrest on her wheelchair. Jill Croteau/Global News

“When this chair boarded that plane it was in brand new condition and now it’s wrecked,” St. Onge said.

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“I really feel a great sense of injustice because I feel like I trusted them with a piece of equipment that’s important to me.”

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It went into the cargo area during her flight and she believes it was tossed around and not secured.

Her chair has a rip in the armrest and the other one is locked in place and doesn’t move.

Torn armrest on her chair. Jill Croteau/Global News

The back support is warped and several pieces are cracked. One of the foot pedals is bent upwards and she can’t use it and neither of the leg rests lock into place.

“This is dangerous,” St. Onge said.

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Damages are estimated at nearly $1,500. She said she filled out a claim and attached the estimate.

“Flair offered me $250 and told me they were not obliged to offer me that because the wheelchair is a ‘courtesy item.’ I wrote them back and said this isn’t a courtesy, this is a necessity and I never heard back from them,” St. Onge said.

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After Global News reached out to Flair, the team looked into the file. Spokesperson Mike Arnot apologized on behalf of the company.

“Flair Airlines wants every passenger to have a seamless and positive travel experience and we fully appreciate how distressing a damaged wheelchair would be to her — and any delay in having it repaired,” Arnot said.

“We’re sorry it was damaged in the first place. In these instances, the airline replaces or repairs the mobility aid and here Flair Airlines will make it right by paying for the estimated repair costs.”

St. Onge is relieved but said they’ve already lost her as a customer.

“I will never fly with them again.”

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