Man denied flight to Victoria on Lynx Air because of accessibility device
Jaxson Creasey had been looking forward to his flight to Victoria for weeks, but mood quickly changed when he was denied boarding a Lynx Air flight because of his accessibility device.
Creasey moved to Calgary from Victoria in October and was on his way back to the island for a couple of very important reasons.
“I was supposed to pick up a new wheelchair, this was a very important trip, then I had to cancel appointments for two days,” Creasey told CHEK News. “I moved here in October, I haven’t seen my best friends in six months, I was so excited. And that ruined all of that when it was avoidable.”
He arrived at the airport the recommended three hours in advance and immediately had trouble checking in.
“The first issue that came up when we were greeted by customer service was the battery type,” Creasey said. “Their website states that a wet battery, a type of wheelchair battery found in many scooters and standard electronic mobility devices, needs to be removed.”
However, the battery in Creasey’s wheelchair is not easily removed, requiring a lifter, specialized mechanic, and special tools to properly remove it.
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After two hours of negotiations, Creasey was finally allowed to board the plane, but that’s when he encountered the second problem. Because of his disability, he needs a body brace to sit upright without his wheelchair. He says he has flown 20-30 times with this device and it has not been a problem. Transport Canada’s only requirement is that the seat belt can be fastened with an auxiliary device, which Creasey says can be done.
“They defined it as a car seat, not an assistive technology,” Creasey said, noting that car seats can be used on an airplane, but they require a Transport Canada sticker, which aids like its body brace don’t have. “They said it wasn’t safe. So I had to get out and arrange for an attendant to come and pick me up because we didn’t have my vehicle, we had been dropped off.”
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Creasey notes on Transport Canada’s website that assistive devices like his brace don’t need to be approved because they’re all tailored to the person using them, so car seat regulations don’t apply to his body brace.
Since Creasey was unable to board the flight, it will have repercussions on his life, especially not being able to pick up his new wheelchair.
“I needed a new chair for a while. This new one would have improved seating options, which would have improved my overall comfort and quality of life,” said Creasey. “My old chair is quite old and at the end of its useful life, so it has technological failures from time to time that are quite annoying.”
Creasey says he was also looking forward to seeing his friends because although his family was able to visit him in Calgary, he hasn’t seen his friends since moving in October.
“I’ve been talking about this trip for weeks, I really miss my best friends,” Creasey said. “This is my first time living away from home, so not seeing my friends was particularly hard. My family was able to come out, but since I’m in my mid-20s, a lot of my co-workers have full-time jobs that make it difficult to get time off from work, and we were finally excited to have a weekend together that we had all these great ones Plans but we had to cancel them.”
He’s slated to start a new job with Calgary Surge — a new pro basketball team — next week, so he’s not sure when he’ll be able to travel next.
Lynx Air tells CHEK News in a statement that it is conducting an internal review of Creasey’s situation.
“We are currently investigating the situation to understand exactly what happened and to identify any necessary changes to our policies and communications to ensure this does not happen again,” the statement said.
“Safety is our top priority and we are committed to providing a safe and inclusive travel experience for all of our passengers. Unfortunately in this case we have fallen short of our own high standards and we recognize that we need to improve. We will review our Assisted Seating Policy under Transport Canada.”
Earlier in the day, Creasey had tried to ask Lynx Air for a refund but was denied. After CHEK News received Lynx’s statement, Creasey said he received a call from the airline.
“They have refunded the flight and are working to reimburse me for the additional costs I incurred,” Creasey said in a follow-up email to CHEK.
“I have also requested a meeting with the people involved in the processes at the airports. I have asked that another person with my condition who is a community advocate join so we can help the airline really stop this from happening.”
Creasey says he looks forward to speaking more with the Lynx team to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
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