flight passenger speaking with caption 'she told me that my wheelchair is a dangerous good' (l) flight passenger speaking with caption 'and it can't be stored in the closet on the plane in the cabin' (c) flight passenger speaking with caption 'closet was filled with her suitcase and purse' (r)

@maayanziv_/TikTok

‘She told me my wheelchair is a dangerous good’: Disabled Air Canada passenger says flight attendant refused to accommodate her wheelchair

‘I’m tried of being treated like I’m the problem.’

 

Braden Bjella

Trending

While many airlines claim to be accessible to wheelchair users, in practice, this isn’t always the case.

For years, wheelchair users have rallied against airlines for their mistreatment of disabled passengers. This can include everything from leaving their wheelchair behind to breaking their wheelchair — something that happens with alarming frequency.

“In 2019, the first full year of reporting, 10,548 wheelchairs or scooters were lost, damaged, delayed or stolen” during air travels, notes the Washington Post. “That amounts to roughly 29 a day.”

This is why wheelchair users are especially conscious of their chairs during air travel. Now, a user on TikTok has gone viral after sharing their experience traveling with their wheelchair on Air Canada.

In a video with over 809,000 views as of Saturday, TikTok user Maayan (@maayanziv_) says she argued with a flight attendant after asking to have her wheelchair placed in the cabin’s storage (which Maayan says was being occupied by the flight attendant’s own baggage). 

When Maayan explained her concern that her chair could be broken if it were stored elsewhere, she says she was allegedly told that the company would “just pay for it.”

“Thanks, Air Canada,” Maayan says. “Real nice.”

@maayanziv_ Tired of being treated like I’m a problem. People with disabilities deserve equal #RightsOnFlights ##wheelchairtravel##disabilitytiktok##fyp ♬ original sound – Maayan Ziv

“Tired of being treated like I’m a problem,” Maayan adds in the caption. “People with disabilities deserve equal #RightsOnFlights.”

Maayan’s fear of a broken chair is completely reasonable given the frequency with which wheelchairs are broken by airplanes — and the fact that Air Canada had previously broken one of Maayan’s chairs.

“Air Canada broke my wheelchair in September, and I have spent months advocating for my mobility, and still building that wheelchair,” Maayan details in a follow-up video. As many wheelchair users differ in their needs, building a new chair can take anywhere from 11 weeks to six months or more.

@maayanziv_ What happened with Air Canada. I answer your questions. #RightsOnFlights #wheelchairtravel #disabilitytiktok #fyp ♬ original sound – Maayan Ziv

In this video, Maayan also explains that she had a wheelchair specifically designed for travel that could be easily packed away onboard. Although the chair is not particularly comfortable, it eases the process of boarding and lowers the risk of employees damaging the chair.

She continues that multiple flight attendants have argued with her about storing her wheelchair in the cabin. This is despite the fact that, as Maayan says in the video, wheelchairs like hers are legally required to take priority in loading.

“…Wheelchair stowage takes priority over all other items, including crew luggage; and it’s the crew’s responsibility to move their luggage and clear the space,” writes Candy B. Harrington for Emerging Horizons.

“These are the types of experiences that people with disabilities are having in air travel every day,” Maayan concludes. “But we can make a difference — by advocating, sharing our stories, we can create a change, and make rights on flights for people with disabilities.”

Since the events of the initial video, Maayan says she has filed a formal complaint against Air Canada.

In the comments section, users supported Maayan and called out Air Canada. 

“I can’t understand why people say stuff like this to those who clearly have disabilities,” wrote one user. “HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO GET AROUND WITH A BROKEN WHEELCHAIR?”

“Even if they did pay for it promptly and fully what they expect you to do when you get to your destination and don’t have it?” asked a second.

“How in 2023 we can’t figure out [wheelchair] seating on board is shocking,” stated a third. “Ableism. [Air Canada] is the WORST!”

While Maayan shared in another video how her chair ended up fine, it was still a valid concern, writing in a comment, “My wheelchair is like my legs. Without it, my life basically stops.”

We’ve reached out to Maayan and Air Canada via email.

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