Air Canada dissassembled dying boy’s wheelchair to ship it, but can’t put it back together

Air Canada found itself in the eye of Twitter storm Thursday after breaking a terminally ill boy’s $15,000 wheelchair on a flight to New York City.

Tanner Bawn, 10, of Vancouver, has muscular dystrophy and is immobile without the electric wheelchair.

…Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline took the chair apart for shipping and couldn’t put it back together again.

He said Air Canada has sent the wheelchair out for repair but doesn’t know when it will be fixed.

— Dempsey, Ann.  “Air Canada breaks dying boy’s wheelchair.” Toronto Star, 5 August 2010.

Smooth, fellas; way to gin up some positive PR for the airline.

I’m a little unclear as to why the wheelchair had to be disassembled for shipping.  If the intact article won’t fit inside one of the standard LD2 or LD3 ULD containers, jam it into a larger one and increase the price accordingly.  If it can’t be accommodated on the airframe coded for that flight, then either 1) refund their money and give your regrets, 2) tell them it will arrive on a later flight with a more capacious airframe, or 3) suggest they ship it FedEx or UPS directly to the hotel at the destination.

You don’t really want to be in the business of disassembling customer goods and then having to reassemble them at point of arrival (and all of this sans original assembly instructions).  It’s an invitation to create hassles.

UPDATE: According to a family friend quoted by ABC News, it looks like the decision to dismantle the wheelchair was an ad-hoc one made on the ramp.

NICE SAVE: Mapleflot has offered to fulfill young Tanner’s number-one wish to visit Disney World with his cousins. Hopefully they’ll avoid breaking his wheelchair on that trip.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.