A family traveling from Toronto to Melbourne has been unable to fly because of the Hong Kong carrier’s policy on their son’s specialist medical seat.
They were meant to leave Toronto for Australia on Wednesday, but a Melbourne-bound family has been unable to board their flight due to Cathay Pacific’s policy toward the seat used to support their child, who has cerebral palsy.
Since mid-week, the Sharp family, and their son, seven-year-old Sebastian, have been staying at a hotel near Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ). They are currently waiting for approval from the carrier to take Sebastian’s supportive medical seat on board their flight to Melbourne via Hong Kong.
Sebastian’s mother, Kara Sharp, has said that she received a verbal approval of the use of this chair when booking the family’s tickets on 10 December 2015. Unable to support himself, Sebastian’s chair, which cost CAD 4,000 ($3,154), enables the child to sit upright.
Despite this initial approval, the Sharps were told that they still needed consent from Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong headquarters to take the chair on board. This, unfortunately, did not come through in time for their 3:30 p.m. flight to Hong Kong on Wednesday. The family was then told that they would be granted approval for a later flight, scheduled to leave in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Despite considerable assistance from the cabin crew as well as the flight’s pilot, who attempted to contact the management team on behalf of the family, approval still was not forthcoming.
Sharp told CityNews that the carrier has now told her that, because her son is seven, he must use one of their pre-approved seats rather than his chair. However, she commented that “Sebastian is the size of a four- or five-year-old.”
Additionally, it’s been revealed that one of the devices which could be used first needs to be flown from Hong Kong. While Cathay Pacific has called other airlines for assistance, it has advised that it may take up to a week for these carriers to approve a device.
Cathay Pacific has not commented to CityNews, but Sharp has said, “We feel that they’re not interested in showing that people with disabilities can travel like everyone else.”
[Screengrab via CityNews]