Tag Archives: Wheelchairs

Passengers with Wheelchairs Kicked Off Flight

Kevin Smith isn’t the only type of person made to leave an aircraft they have already boarded. Last Friday I took a flight to Moncton New Brunswick and disabled people were kicked off the flight.

First the Air Canada Jazz flight was late, we were to leave at 4:20 and it was delayed over an hour. I don’t mind too much about that as the winter weather wasn’t good and I’d rather be delayed than dead.

Finally we all got on the flight, including four disabled persons whose motorized wheelchairs had to go into the hold. Everyone got settled on the flight including the four disabled and their attendants.

Another hour passed, then a flight attendant came on the speaker and apologized for the delay, saying to the full plane that the baggage handlers couldn’t get the wheelchairs into the baggage compartment. Time passed.

The attendant then came on and said the disabled people had to get off the plane as their wheelchairs didn’t fit in baggage. So we waited another hour while the disabled people and their attendants were taken off the plane and also their luggage.

I overheard one of the attendants for the disabled on her phone saying, “We have to find another flight.”

The other people on my plane were very upset but not so much from the delay but the fact that the disabled were forced off the plane! The guy sitting beside me who apparently used to work in baggage handling was livid and the flight attendant spent time trying to calm him down.

The staff on the plane gave us free headsets and apologized for the three hour delay, totally missing the point.

Later in the week I attended a conference and coincidentally at my hotel I found a ballroom full of disabled people in wheelchairs cheering up a storm. A grandmother came out with a fussy baby and I asked her who they all were, as I was on the plane that kicked off the disabled.

They were athletes from across Canada competing in the National Cerebral Palsy Athletics. Some play wheelchair basketball and some do a type of lawn bowling. Those who are severely disabled use a special mount to throw the ball in the lawn bowling. They were giving out gold, silver and bronze medals.

The grandmother’s daughter is a referee. Apparently, even though they have a travel agent who specializes in disabled travel, flights on any airlines are difficult. Sometimes they miss connections due to problems like the baggage. One group coming to the games didn’t make it until Monday because they had to rent a van in Montreal and drive to Moncton due to lack of a flight. They then got stuck in Fredericton when a blizzard came in on the Saturday. Moncton was a venue because the University has great facilities for the athletes.

It is very hard for the disabled to travel at the best of times. Rail and Intercity buses are mostly inaccessible (See my post on the great accessible buses GO bus has come up with) 

How are the paralympians getting to Vancouver from around the world? Beats me.

Franklin Boulevard up for some pedestrian/cyclist friendly Changes

In the fall, the Regional Cycling Advisory Committee of which I am the Regional Council rep, went out and looked at Franklin Road. Franklin is a very busy road corridor in Cambridge. It will be upgraded to a four lane road (yes, I know it is already four lanes, bear with me here) with 11 roundabouts, some two lane roundabouts and some three lanes. This is between the 401 highway and Myers Road (2 lane between Champlain and Myers)

Obviously this busy road and the roundabouts are a concern for those using alternate transportation.  The committee looked at it and recommended having an mixed-use trail (3 metres) instead of sidewalks. Staff has made this their recommendation.

So pedestrians, disabled and cyclists will have a safer place to go along Franklin.  It’s a great step forward.

The downsides? Cyclists will have to dismount and cross at the roundabouts like pedestrians. Though the cars are supposed to yield for pedestrians. Bart Forwell suggested that staff look into the way cyclists are accomodated in Scandanavian countries with a separate lane at roundabouts. Staff are looking into it.

The second downside? When you get to the 401, it is almost impossible to cross to Hespeler unless you are a car. Cambridge is considering a temporary pedestrian bridge (steel span that can be moved when a permanent bridge is build by the MTO).