Pilot blocked disabled man from boarding flight, claiming he was ‘dangerous threat’ due to wheelchair batteries

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
 – A Canadian airline’s pilot told a man who uses a motorized wheelchair that he couldn’t board a flight because the batteries connected to his mobility aid presented “a dangerous threat,” according to a new report.

The disabled man, Ken Harrower said a Porter Airlines pilot inquired about his power chair and then stopped him from getting on the flight at Calgary International Airport that was travelling to Toronto on Sunday, January 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 CBC News.

Harrower was then booked onto another flight by airline staff, which made him believe the pilot had his own set of rules.

“I felt I was being discriminated against because I’m in a chair,” he told the outlet. “My power chair is my legs, it’s how I get around. I cannot stand, I cannot walk, so I have to have [it].”

Following uproar from the report, The airline admitted the pilot messed up.

“The captain who made the decision to deny boarding did so based on his knowledge of Transport Canada regulations related to batteries,” the airline said in a statement to CBC News.“While there are some circumstances that batteries need to be fully removed from wheelchairs, it was not required in this situation.”

Porter explained wheelchairs similar to Harrower’s don’t need the batteries fully taken out, but only disconnected, which ground handlers are capable of doing.

The airline said its CEO was in touch with Harrower to personally offer a refund, pay for any expenses caused by the delay and dole out further flight credit.

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

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