Guelph senior claims she was left alone on an Air Canada plane
A Guelph woman who is legally blind and needs assistance to walk claims she was left stranded on an Air Canada plane for almost an hour.
“I was very, very scared,” says Pamela Prescod.
On April 6 the 69-year-old was traveling from Barbados to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. The trip was a gift from her children who wanted to thank her for raising all seven of them as a single mother.
When the plane landed, Prescod says she spoke to a flight attendant about signing customs papers. She told the attendant that she couldn’t read the forms and the attendant promised to come back and help her fill them out.
“She never came back,” claims Prescod.
After a while she didn’t hear any other noises.
“So I start yelling: ‘Is anyone on the plane?’ And nobody answered.”
She says she didn’t even have a cellphone to call for help.
Her family also knew something was very wrong.
Michell Knight, one of Prescod’s daughters, says she and her sister were at the airport to pick up their mother.
They were concerned when she didn’t disembark with the rest of the passengers.
“They said she might be taking longer because passengers needing assistance need to wait until everyone else has left the plane,” says Knight. “So we waited a little bit longer.”
After more than 45 minutes Prescod finally heard somebody moving around in the cabin.
“This mechanic came out and he looked at me and said: ‘What you doing on this plane?’ I said they forgot me.”
Prescod claims the man was very upset.
“He handed me his cellphone. He was almost in tears.”
Debbie Louttet, another one of Prescod’s daughters, was waiting for news.
“All of the sudden my cellphone rings. It’s my mom. And I’m like, ‘Mom, where are you? Whose phone is this?’ She says: ‘It’s the mechanic from the plane. They left me on the plane.’ My mom is a strong woman. She’s raised seven kids single-handedly. I could hear the tears in her voice. She does not like to be weak. So that made me angry right away.”
The mechanic allegedly said that he had come on board to retrieve an item.
“He told her if he didn’t find her, the cleaning crew would not have come until 4 in the morning,” states Knight.
“Luck was on my side,” says Prescod.
Prescod suffers from a number of health issues and tried to keep calm.
But in the weeks since the incident she has experienced significant stress and claims she did not get out of bed for a month.
“I was traumatized,” she says.
Air Canada disputes Prescod's claim that she was on the plane for nearly an hour.
They tell CTV News that "we reviewed airport video of this incident and it was approximately 10 to 15 minutes that she was unattended. Understandably, the customer may have felt it was longer and the fact this occurred at all is still very concerning."
They also issued a statement which reads in part: “We were deeply apologetic about this upsetting incident, where our customer did not receive the wheelchair service she had requested and, due to a miscommunication among our crew, the customer waited for her wheelchair on her own.”
They go on to say: "Following this incident, we undertook to review our protocols with respect to on-board service. This involves reinforcing our procedures by more specifically designating responsibilities among crew members to ensure consistent and proper care and handling of all customers, especially those with special needs."
Air Canada is also investigating another incident in which a St. Thomas woman claims she fell sleep on a plane and woke up alone.
They’re also reimbursing Prescod for the fare she paid and giving her a $500 coupon for future travel.
But Prescod says she’s learned her lesson.
“I’ve travelled with Air Canada for years. But I can’t trust them.”
-- With reporting by Heather Senoran