Air Canada apologizes to blind woman after refusing her guide dog

The 49-year-old Canadian, who works in the United States for the firm Fidelity Investmentshad come to Toronto to celebrate her birthday with her daughter.

She says she had traveled with Air Canada without problems from Minneapolis to Toronto.

While checking in to the US city, she was asked if she also filled out a form for her pet, Milo. She said no and the employee just wished her a safe flight, no hassle, she said.

On the way back, however, Ms. Wainwright says that Air Canada employees at Pearson airport did not want to let her board the plane with her 5-year-old Labrador, because he had not been registered beforehand. They offered to put it in the hold, but she refused.

She adds that staff told her she could have her guide dog with her if she could “prove” she was blind by showing a card from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). However, she did not have such identification as she resides in the United States.

It was humiliating, degrading. »

A quote from Dena Wainwright, blind person

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Dena Wainwright with her guide dog

Photo: Provided by Dena Wainwright

She accuses Air Canada of treated her like a criminal and claims carrier employees at Pearson airport were talking to her daughter instead of her as if I was mentally handicapped.

Ms Wainwright eventually decided to take a train with her dog to Windsor only to cross the border in a taxi and catch a flight from Detroit to Minneapolis, which cost her $2,000, she says.

Air Canada explains

According to Air Canada, the owner of a guide dog must register it at least 48 hours before the flight.

A spokesperson for the carrier, however, calls what happened to Ms Wainwright “regrettable” and says Air Canada has spoken to her to apologize.

Each year, Air Canada successfully flies tens of thousands of customers with disabilities, but in this case, we failed to live up to our usual standards of customer service. »

A quote from Air Canada (statement)

The carrier says it is investigating internally to determine why Ms. Wainwright was able to take the flight from Minneapolis to Toronto with her guide dog without completing the required form.

Larissa Proctor of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind says guide dogs shouldn’t go in the hold, but recommends travelers check with their carrier ahead of time to find out their policy.

It also invites carrier employees to treat a blind person like any other passenger. Most of the time, if you talk to someone who is blind or partially sighted, we want [que l’employé] speaks to us directly as for other customersshe notes.

Based on information provided by Trevor Dunn of CBC

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