This article was last updated on May 20, 2022
By Stephen Pate – In January 2008, the Canadian Transportation Agency gave Canadian airlines a year to carry out policies to allow free attendant travel for people with severe disabilities who cannot travel alone. The CTA policy was called One Person One Fare.
There is the good and bad to this story.
WestJet set up a system that allows free travel within Canada after the person with a disability has filled out a form with certification from their doctor.
Under the heading Additional seating for guests with special needs, WestJet asks a series of questions to decide if the attendant travel is a real need or just a preference. Once the form is filed, a customer specialist who is probably a medical practitioner calls the traveler and reviews the information.
Most people report their contact with WestJet is sympathetic. Approval can mean the person with a severe disability gets free attendant travel for their life. If you change attendants, it’s necessary to tell WestJet.
I found the WestJet process a little daunting but with my doctor’s help we filled out the form and got approved within a month.
Have you applied to WestJet for disability attendant travel? What was your experience?
The process to get approved for attendant travel at Air Canada is a little scary. You have to fill out a form called Fitness for Travel form. Since you must self-identify as a person with a disability, the question for Air Canada is will they consider you fit to travel or not.
There are stories about people with disabilities being refused any travel by Air Canada who have a decades long reputation for indifference to people with disabilities.
The famous violin player Itzhak Perlman was abandoned at Pearson Airport in Toronto by Air Canada. I traveled with Air Canada often and they were the rudest people. Despite ordering special assistance in Toronto at Pearson, on one flight, they refused to help me connect with my flight to the USA. Instead they took a group of teenagers on the special assistance vehicle. Tough luck.
Have you tried to get certified for attendant travel by Air Canada? What was your experience?
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By Stephen Pate, NJN Network