October 03, 2006

The Saga Continues

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to not let Air Canada explain their side of the story, so I have posted their response below. Following that, you can find my reply to their response as well as an update on my Granny.

To all those who have shared your concern for my Granny's health and your hopes for her recovery, thank you.

Air Canada's response to my previous letter.

Discussion Thread
Response (Twyla Robinson) - 09/27/2006 02:03 PM
Dear Mr. Pealow:

Thank you for your email.

We are sorry to learn of your grandmother's sudden illness. We can appreciate how upsetting this was for your family and we apologize for disappointing you.

Air Canada is committed to providing safe, comfortable travel to all of our passengers. In doing so, we must ensure customers with certain known illnesses or injuries be approved for travel by an Air Canada medical officer before they will be accepted. This requires a minimum of 24 hours.

Medical approval is not done to inconvenience customers. It is done to ensure a customer is fit to travel and if in the event of an on-board emergency, we are aware of the situation and prepared to deal with it.

We regret you feel the airport agent was unsympathetic. Please be assured our employees are caring and compassionate. When you told her about your grandmother's health concerns, she had no option but initiate MEDA proceedings not only in accordance with our policy but more importantly for your grandmother's well-being.

We are sorry we could not provide the clearance to confirm the flight requested. Our Refund Services Department will review the unused ticket portions and refund any value to the original form of payment.

We hope, Mr. Pealow, you understand our position and thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Twyla Robinson
Customer Solutions

My Response to Air Canada's Letter (currently waiting for a reply)

Thank you for replying to my previous correspondence and thank you for refunding the unused portion of my grandparent's tickets.

However, please understand that I am NOT assured that Air Canada employees are "caring and compassionate". Not only was the airport agent unsympathetic, she was inconsiderate and rude. While I'm sure she was just following Air Canada policy, it is a policy that does not allow employees to use their brains (discretion), nor their compassion.

And I fully understand Air Canada's reasons for having medical clearance (both legally and for passenger comfort), but what I do not agree with is:
  1. The fact that passengers who have or need medical clearance are not given priority access on flights, especially when the flights are full and the next available flight is several days away.
  2. The fact that passengers (especially on your northern flights) may be STRANDED in an unsafe situation because Air Canada chooses not to fly them.
  3. The lack of support or advocacy to help us through the medical clearance process. "You have to do this... Now you have to do that..." There were other things I would have rather been doing than worrying about how to get my Granny home and making sure Air Canada got its paperwork done; like spending what little time I had left with her during her abruptly shortened visit. Once she "needed" her medical clearance, it felt like nobody wanted to have anything to do with her. Forget about actually helping.
  4. It was a medical doctor who decided it was necessary for her to FLY home, and that his decision wasn't good enough for Air Canada. Not to mention the fact that he had to spend the time filling out Air Canada's paperwork on his time off work.
So, what I want to know is, what changes will be made to ensure that what happened to us does not happen to other people in similar situations?

  1. That the agents take the time to understand the condition before blocking a passenger from a flight (which, in my case, seemed to be very confrontational). While the agents are not licensed medical doctors, it couldn't hurt to have the proper information/risks on file.
  2. The patient's doctor's clearance is acceptable, accompanied by a waiver, signed by the passenger or guardian, stating that they are aware of the risks of travel.
  3. *** Priority access to flights, including fully booked flights ***
  4. Full support and advocacy from the medical centre, including making flight arrangements.
  5. NO transfer fees if flights are being changed for medical reasons.
  6. Free upgrades for passengers requiring medical clearance, especially if they are going to be forced to take a red-eye flight.
  7. 24-support from the medical centre to ensure that approvals can be completed in a short time frame (and 24 hours is NOT a short timeframe).
I look forward to your reply.

Granny Update
Even though there are fears that there is a secondary tumour somewhere else, they decided to operate on the brain tumour anyways.

Spending some pre-operation time looking at a photo album of their trip that Fawn made for them. Note the nifty doo-dads stuck to my Granny's head that will help them find the tumour.

They used a local anaesthetic and kept her awake for most of the surgery. How strange would that feel, with someone poking around in your brain while you lay there talking to them? She was nervous before and during the surgery but, true to form, she had the staff in stitches. And she got staples.

That's one heck of a battle scar!

I'm told there were a rough couple of nights in the hospital, but now my Granny's home, getting around a little with the assistance of a walker.

Who knows what will happen next? We'll just have to wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank heavens we have Air North!