Toronto

Blind passenger alleges he couldn't get help to get inside Toronto airport

A blind lawyer and disability rights activist has filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency after he was unable to get help to get inside Toronto's Pearson International Airport safely last weekend.

David Lepofsky filed complaint with Canadian Transportation Authority over treatment

David Lepofsky has filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency after he was unable to get assistance to get into Toronto's Pearson International airport on Saturday. (Nick Boisvert/CBC News)

A blind lawyer and disability rights activist has filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency after he was unable to get help to get inside Toronto's Pearson International Airport safely last weekend. 

David Lepofsky has travelled frequently for work and has always relied on the curbside assistance program airlines are required to offer to help those with disabilities navigate from the taxi to the airport counter. 

All a customer had to do was call a central number en route and a staff member would meet that person at a predetermined spot outside the terminal, Lepofsky said. But when he called Saturday, the 59-year-old lawyer said he was told he could no longer access the service through that number and was instead given a number for Air Canada. 

Taxi driver helped

Leopofsky said he called the number given, but the Air Canada representative there told him the airline didn't know of any such service.

It's unclear exactly what happened in Lepofsky's case, because an Air Canada spokesperson said the airline does have staff available to meet people with disabilities outside the terminal. The airline, however, is in the middle of revamping its service, a statement from Air Canada to CBC News said. 

"The service is changing and to improve our special assistance handling even further Air Canada is currently establishing its own centralized area at the airport for special assistance," the statement said. 

That counter would be near the curb so that vehicles could drop passengers just outside it, the statement said.

Lepofsky would normally have assistance getting from the curb of the airport terminal to the counter, but wasn't able to on Saturday. (Nick Boisvert/CBC News)

"People without disabilities, if this was the kind of service they got just to get in the front door of an airport — [they] wouldn't use this airport again," Lepofsky said. "And there's no reason why people with disabilities should be treated like this."

In this case, Lepofsky's taxi driver was the one to help him inside. Cab drivers are not allowed to leave their vehicles unattended and can face steep fines if they do so.

Lepofsky said he has yet to understand why no one was able to meet him from the airline last weekend. 

"I've gotten multiple explanations," he said. "I've gotten all sorts of conflicting advice from good ground people who all just have a different story."

Corrections

  • The airlines at Toronto Pearson International Airport offer curbside assistance and not the Greater Toronto Airport Authority as was reported in an earlier version of this story.
    Oct 18, 2016 12:59 PM ET

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