An Ontario woman has launched a formal complaint against Air Canada after she says the airline humiliated her during her trip to Alberta.
Christine 'Coco' Roschaert was travelling from Ottawa to Edmonton when the airline kicked her off the flight after she wasn't cleared to fly alone. Roschaert, who is born deaf, also has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that has stripped her of peripheral vision and eventually will leave her blind.
The 33 year old said her job as the director of Nepal Deafblind Project and a motivational speaker, has her travelling around the world and this was the first time in years of flying that anyone has stopped her from travelling due to her medical conditions.
"I want to share my story of the events of the day that transpired, and it is a formal complaint against Air Canada because not only were my rights stripped, it was my pride and ability taken away from me as well," Roschaert wrote in her note which she posted on Facebook.
According to Roschaert 's account of the incident, she had cleared security and boarded her flight at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport, only to be pulled off her flight by manager with Air Canada 20 minutes later. Roschaert was told she could not fly to Edmonton since she did not have medical clearance to travel alone.
Air Canada's policy has long maintained customers with severe audio and visual impairments travel with an attendant so passengers and airline staff can communicate clearly.
In a statement to CTV, the airline said, “Air Canada can carry a passenger who is deaf and blind without an attendant if it's determined that passenger has sufficient hearing or vision to understand safety instructions during all critical phases of the flight."
Roschaert says she's flown on Air Canada many times in the past without an attendant as the service would forfeit her right to travel alone. She was eventually let on another flight with a stopover in Calgary where Roschaert says she was greeted with attendants who weren't trained to help those with disabilities.
"So, all in one day, I was kicked out of a plane, rendered speechless when I was allowed on the next one, uninformed as to why it happened, then was guided by someone untrained to guide a blind person...," wrote Roschaert.
This isn't the first time Air Canada has had an incident with a member of Canada's deaf-blind community. Back in 2009, Air Canada had to pay a Vancouver man who was deaf and blind in one eye $10,000 after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the carrier had discriminated against him by demanding he fly with an attendant, according to Canada.com
Roschaert, for her part, said she'll continue to travel alone, just not with Air Canada.