Rodney was left in pain during his anniversary trip following the humiliating treatment (Picture: Deanna Hodgins)
A man’s trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his wedding anniversary got off to a poor start when he was forced to crawl off the plane.
Rodney Hodgins, who has cerebral palsy and uses a motorised wheelchair, flew with Air Canada in August to celebrate his anniversary with wife Deanna.
The couple had been planning their trip for eight months in advance and say they took care of all requirements on their end to ensure he could receive the support he needs.
But when the plane landed Rodney, 49, was told there wasn’t time to get a wheelchair on board before the plane had to prepare to take off again.
The attendant then told Rodney he would have to drag himself off the plane – and the couple thought she was joking until she repeated the request.
He was forced to use his upper body strength to drag himself past 12 rows of seats, while Deanna held his legs.
The couple say they were ‘devastated’ and that ‘Air Canada failed us in every sense’. The airline has since apologised.
In a Facebook post, Deanna said: ‘The crew didn’t want to wait for the team to come assist in getting him off the plane. The flight crewman said to us that we would have to “get to the front of the plane” because “they had to turn the plane around”.
Rodney was forced to drag himself off the plane (Picture: Deanna Hodgins)
He and his wife flew to Vegas to celebrate their wedding anniversary (Picture: Deanna Hodgins)
‘I looked stunned at the crewman and said he can’t walk, how are we supposed to get up there – he replied “well I don’t know but we need to turn the plane around, we have another flight”.
‘I was so mad at watching him fight to drag his uncooperative body so slowly and painfully. I fought his muscle spasms dragging and pushing his legs and feet to try and help.
‘Finally at the cockpit he got on my back and I dragged him while he helped take some weight with his stiffened legs (in full spasm) so I could get him in his chair.
‘He suffered for days after while we were in Vegas, I felt so bad for him, but he’s so tough and determined, he fought through the pain so we could enjoy our anniversary there.
‘Eight cleaning crew, two flight attendants, the captain and the co-captain watched as my husband dragged his uncooperative body from row 12 to the front of the plane.
‘As he dragged his body I could see bits of his dignity and strength slowly fall.
‘My husband’s human rights were trampled on and Air Canada won’t respond to us, and never did reach out like they promised.
‘Rod is the most beautiful human on the planet and didn’t deserve this at all.’
Air Canada offered a C$2,000 flight voucher in compensation (Picture: REUTERS)
Rodney says he was offered a C$2,000 flight voucher by the airline, the Guardian reports, but said compensation would not ‘fix the problem’, adding: ‘I just wanted to make a difference for somebody else so they don’t have to experience that again.’
In a statement, a spokesman for Air Canada said: ‘We use the services of a third party wheelchair assistance specialist in Las Vegas to provide safe transport on and off aircraft.
‘Following our investigation into how this serious service lapse occurred, we will be evaluating other mobility assistance service partners in Las Vegas.’
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‘Eight cleaning crew, two flight attendants, the captain and the co-captain watched as my husband dragged his uncooperative body from row 12 to the front of the plane.’