A disability rights activist has been left in “tremendous” pain after Air Canada damaged her specialized wheelchair “beyond repair” and now the Canadian government says it is watching the situation closely and could take further action.
On Sunday afternoon, Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra told Air Canada that it had failed to “take the necessary measures” to ensure Maayan Ziv’s wheelchair arrived in good condition.
Maayan lives with Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic condition that can cause severe muscle weakness and degeneration. She relies on a specialized electric wheelchair which gives her mobility and which she describes as her “entire life”.
Last week, Maayan flew with Air Canada from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Israel. She placed her electric wheelchair in the care of Air Canada, but ten and a half hours later, Maayan discovered that her wheelchair had been badly damaged.
Ironically, Maayan was travelling to Israel to attend an accessibility conference.
Air Canada initially offered Maayan just $300 in the form of an e-voucher for the damage to her wheelchair before eventually agreeing to cover the cost of repair or replacement.
Unfortunately, the repairs could take weeks or even months, and in the meantime, Maayan has had her “independence stripped” from her. Maayan has been struggling through the conference but says she is “in a lot of pain sitting in my mangled wheelchair, which is an extension of how my body is feeling”.
Thankfully, luggage repair workers at Israel Ben Gurion airport have managed to unbend some of the damage but the seating is “so warped beyond repair” that Maayan has been left in “tremendous numbness and pain”.
“What Ms. Maayan Ziv recently experienced on an Air Canada flight is completely unacceptable,” wrote Alghabra on Sunday.
“This accessibility advocate has taken all necessary measures to prevent this from happening, but Air Canada has not taken the necessary measures on their side to ensure that her wheelchair arrives in good conditions at her destination”.
“Our government is concerned about the situation and we have communicated it to Air Canada,” Alghabra continued.
“People with disabilities have a right to expect that they can travel safely and that is not what happened in this situation. Our government will continue to follow the situation closely.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.