Air Canada apologizes to blind woman after refusing her guide dog

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Air Canada apologizes to blind woman after refusing her guide dog

Air Canada says passengers with a guide dog must register it at least 48 hours before boarding, according to its policy.

Dena Wainwright, who is completely blind, says she will “never travel with Air Canada again.” The carrier refused to let her on board with her guide dog last week for a flight between Toronto and Minneapolis.

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

She says that 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 good flight, no hassle, she said.

On the way back, however, Ms. Wainwright says Air Canada employees at Pearson wouldn't let her board the plane with her 5-year-old Labrador, because he didn't. #x27;was not previously registered. She was offered to put it in the hold, but she refused.

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

“It was humiliating, demeaning. »

— Dena Wainwright, blind person

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Dena Wainwright with her guide dog

She accuses Air Canada of treating her like a criminal and claims that the carrier's employees at Pearson airport addressed her daughter rather than her as if I was mentally handicapped.

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

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, qualifies what came to Ms. Wainwright from “regrettable” and claims Air Canada spoke to her to apologize.

“Each year, Air Canada successfully flies tens of thousands of customers with disabilities, but in this case, we did not live up to our usual standards for customer service.

— Air Canada (statement)

Carrier says it is investigating internally to determine why Ms. Wainwright was able to board 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 should not go in the hold, but she recommends travelers check with their carrier in advance to find out their policy.

She also urges carrier employees to treat a blind person like any other passenger. Most of the time, if you're talking to someone who's blind or visually impaired, we want [the employee] to talk to us directly like other customers, she notes.

Based on information from CBC's Trevor Dunn

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