A son is frustrated after Air Canada misplaced his senior parents’ luggage, which contained essential medication, and treated his parents with a “lack of service, compassion, and understanding.”
Andy Ma and Anita Lee, both in their early ’70s, boarded a flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong on November 2.
Cody Ma told Daily Hive that the chaotic and frustrating process of flying started when his parents checked in when they were not able to sit in the seats they had booked.
“The counter agent informed us that seats can change all the time,” he said.
Ma added that when his parents purchased their tickets, they selected an aisle seat for Anita because she is mobility impaired.
“She has to [walk] at a very slow pace and take frequent rests. She also cannot sit for long periods of time, otherwise, her legs, hips, and ankles get very stiff,” Ma explained. “With her being in the middle seat, it limits her opportunity of being able to freely get out of her seat to walk around and move.
“As she is very cumbersome getting out of her seat, she feels that it is very inconvenient and bothersome to the people beside her (hence my father was supposed to sit with her to assist her).”
Despite explaining the reasoning in the “Notes” option when purchasing their tickets, Ma said his parents were told his father was on standby and won’t be able to assign him a seat until later in the evening, let alone sit him with his wife.
Expecting to board as a priority because Anita is disabled with rheumatoid arthritis, Ma told Daily Hive his parents were not given extra time to board.
“Boarding agents refused them and told them to line up at the back to wait for their zone number.”
When the couple boarded the plane, they were seated separately in middle seats, which resulted in Anita being in “immense pain” by the end of the flight, he said.
Ma wrote in an email that his mother was eventually wheelchaired out of Hong Kong due to her lack of mobility, “hence her requesting, and being confirmed for an aisle seat.”
Air Canada’s response to Daily Hive said, “we regret these customers were dissatisfied with their travel experience.” However, to offer a more pleasant flight for future travellers, it is recommended that passengers with special medical situations contact Air Canada’s Medical Desk before travelling to discuss available accommodations.
Air Canada added specific seats can be booked ahead of time, but when flights are full, it is not always possible to re-seat passengers, “as many have already pre-purchased specific seats.”
The airline explains this can happen when many people have already pre-purchased specific seats.
“We make every effort to seat customers travelling together with each other but regrettably, it may not always be possible,” the statement reads.
To add to the stress of the flight, Ma said his parents waited three hours at the luggage carousel in Hong Kong for their bags that didn’t arrive.
“We constantly called Air Canada for the whereabouts of the luggage for this direct flight, and we’re told it’s being traced on high priority.”
Ma said it was troubling to know his parents’ medication was lost because it was essential for his mother’s pain and inflammation management, as well as her rheumatoid arthritis and heart medication.
Medication for Andy helps with his high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, among others, Ma added. “His conditions are less life-threatening and more manageable, it is still a very much added stress.”
“I recognize that it is never a good idea to leave medication in checked luggage, and had I known my parents did that, I would have advised them against it,” Ma admitted.
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Air Canada does advise on its website that all valuables like medication should always be carried in the customer’s carry-on bag.
“We make this very clear on our website and when bags are checked in. Passengers are also required to acknowledge this during the bag check process,” the airline told Daily Hive.
“My mother luckily had a full list of her medications in her purse, while my father had his list in the checked luggage. I had to figure out which pharmacy my father had a record at and had to request a list to email him. They promptly checked into a hospital clinic in Hong Kong to have their prescriptions filled.”
Four days after the hope of receiving their bags diminished, Andy and Anita replaced most of the items.
On their fifth day in Hong Kong, a luggage carrier in Hong Kong delivered Ma’s parents’ bags and said over 300 pieces of luggage were missed from that flight.
“What an utter disaster of an airline,” Ma said.
Air Canada did not confirm whether or not 300 pieces of luggage didn’t make it onto the plane.
After their stay in Hong Kong, Ma said his parents are highly considering flying back with a different airline.
Ma said he is appalled at the service from the airline and added, “It was an unfortunate series of mistakes, one after another, that no passenger should be subjected to, particularly the elderly and those mobility impaired.”
“I am angry that this has happened to them and frustrated that we had to be the ones and not the airline to follow up on lost luggage.”
Ma said an apology from the airline would be “meaningless without proper reflection and action,” and Air Canada ought to assess its internal protocols and communications.
Ma does hope the airline will compensate his parents for expenses caused by the delayed luggage and because their confirmed seats were not honoured.
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