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Updated January 24th, 2024 at 14:19 IST

Canada: Pilot Sees Disabled Passenger As ‘Dangerous Threat’, Blocks Him From Boarding Flight

Canadian airline pilot wrongly barred a passenger in a wheelchair, citing battery safety concerns, preventing boarding.

Manasvi Asthana
Pilot blocked disabled man from boarding flight, wrongly claimed he was ‘dangerous threat’ due to wheelchair batteries
Pilot blocked disabled man from boarding flight, wrongly claimed he was ‘dangerous threat’ due to wheelchair batteries | Image:Twitter
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A Canadian airline's pilot mistakenly informed a passenger using a motorised wheelchair that he could not board a flight due to perceived safety concerns related to the batteries connected to his mobility aid, as reported. Ken Harrower recounted that a Porter Airlines pilot inquired about his power chair and subsequently prevented him from boarding the flight departing from Calgary International Airport bound for Toronto on Sunday, Jan 21.

“[He] asked me … ‘can the batteries be disconnected?’ I told him no. And then … he said I am a dangerous threat, then he walked away and left us high and dry,” Harrower told a local news outlet.

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In an unusual turn of events, Harrower was promptly rebooked onto another flight by airline staff, leaving him with the impression that the pilot may have been applying his own set of rules.

“I felt I was being discriminated against because I’m in a chair,” he told the outlet. 

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“My power chair is my legs, it’s is how I get around. I cannot stand, I cannot walk, so I have to have [it],” he added.

The airline acknowledged that the pilot made an error in judgment. In a statement, the airline stated, "The captain who made the decision to deny boarding did so based on his knowledge of Transport Canada regulations related to batteries."

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Porter clarified that wheelchairs similar to Harrower's only require the batteries to be disconnected, a task that ground handlers are capable of performing. The airline's CEO reached out to Harrower, personally offering a refund, covering any expenses incurred due to the delay and providing additional flight credit.

Harrower and Erin Brandenburg, who have been collaborating on a play had been informed two weeks prior on another flight that his power chair was deemed safe for flying due to its gel battery, as reported by the outlet.

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“Porter offers our sincere apologies for the inconvenience and personal impact this has caused Ken,” said the airline. 

 


 


 

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Published January 24th, 2024 at 14:04 IST

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