Airline Disconnecting Woman’s Ventilator Is Mic Drop Moment That Proves Flying Has Become a Nightmare

Airline Disconnecting Woman’s Ventilator Is Mic Drop Moment That Proves Flying Has Become a Nightmare

Imagine depending on a ventilator for your life, only to have it pulled away from you when being assisted in boarding a flight. Alessia Di Virgilio doesn’t have to imagine it.

Di Virgilio is reliant on both a wheelchair and a ventilator, and her shocking experience with an Air Canada crew was caught on film, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. This was after the same helpful crew dropped a lift on her head.

“‘It was just such an overwhelming experience … I just kind of shut down from there,” Di Virgilio said.

It is just one of the many reports that forced the heads of privately-owned Air Canada to face the Canadian federal government recently. They have been called to answer a copious number of claims in the mishandling of disabled passengers. Some of the most severe of these spanned well past Di Virgilio’s complaint. One even resulted in death.

Harish Pant, 83, boarded an Air Canada flight in Delhi. During the flight, he fell severely ill — experiencing chest and back pain, vomiting, loss of bowel control, and the inability to stand. When his daughter, Shanu Pande, told the cabin crew and begged them to divert the plane, they seemed to choose only to divert their attention and concern. They stayed the course, landing nine hours after Pande reported the issue. Paramedics met Pant at the plane, but he died in their care.

Pande told Go Public, as shared by the Daily Mail, “He was at the mercy of the pilot and Air Canada people. They were inhumane and callous.”

She blames the airline for the death, which Air Canada representative Peter Fitzpatrick vehemently denied, despite his expressed sympathies. Pant’s family is now pursuing legal action against the airline. According to the Daily Mail, “the incident was investigated by Canadian Transportation Agency and … the airline said it violated Canadian disability regulations in his case.”

Answering to the numerous disgruntled claims against his airline from the disabled community, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau recognizes that he has failed many of these customers. He promises to do better, citing changes ahead in both equipment and practices. While at it, he should also consider halting his use of vouchers to make things right, especially since the monetary value attached to them is rather insulting — $500 to $1,000.

This is how he compensates people like Rodney Hodgins, who suffers with cerebral palsy, yet was forced to drag himself down the aisle of an Air Canada plane when no assistance was provided by the crew.

Canadian Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez agrees with Rousseaux, citing Air Canada’s need to do better with all passengers.

“All Canadians must be treated with dignity and respect. Full stop,” he said.

His sentiments seem to run consistent with last week’s ratings of the airline by Skytrax and Trustpilot. Gauging “airline quality,” Skytrax gave the airline 4/10 based upon 2,309 reviews. Trustpilot wasn’t as generous, giving them 1.4 based on 593 reviews. Plenty cite the airline staff as being rude and poorly trained.

Neither warrants any awards. Let’s be real, however. Is Air Canada behaving any different than so many of the other airlines?

Flying has become a nightmare. Gone are the days when it was glamorous or exciting to do. That is especially true during the holidays. And here we are again, all dreading the inevitable if we want to spend them with our families.

Expanded competition and lower ticket prices benefited travelers for a while. It invited new travelers into the mix, making it affordable to travel. Then the tipping point showed up, bringing with it an intolerable decline in services, fees attached to every courtesy once comped, ticket prices that soared astronomically (8-11 times according to CuencaHighLife), a great deal less legroom, excessive delays, overbooked flights, missed connections, relentless cancellations, pilot shortages, lost luggage, worn-out planes, unkept and rude flight staffs and airport personnel, and dirty, dilapidated airports.

Demand outpaced ability. Airlines stretched dollars erroneously, including on top heavy salaries.

The majority of the cost of this mismanagement in dollars and “sense” is borne by the consumer. And if you buy insurance to mitigate your loss, the coverage is limited while the caveats are extensive. It’s a crap shoot if you will ever get anything back when submitting a claim.

The bottom line seems to be the only factor dictating the conduct of the airline industry. Airlines seem to bank on the fact that consumers will continue to accept what they dish out because we have no other choice. So if they set record highs for delays in 2023 (well beyond a million in eight months of counting as the Bureau of Transport Statistics noted, according to the Daily Mail), so be it. It doesn’t matter that nearly a quarter of all U.S. flights have been delayed this year.

They know consumers will fly anyway. Think back to last year at Christmas-time, specifically regarding Southwest Airlines. Flights were being canceled by the droves. And yet, today, Southwest remains one of the four dominant airlines next to Delta, American and United.

In other words, arrive to the airport four hours in advance now, plan for security to pat you down like a terrorist while they walk through unscathed down at the border, and pray you arrive at your destination within a 24 hour window noted on your ticket. Avoid connections at the very least. And if you are disabled and your life depends on a breathing aparatus, make sure you file your will away where you loved ones know to find it. Better yet, we should all do that before boarding.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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