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Porter Airlines pilot blocked disabled man from boarding flight, claimed he was ‘dangerous threat’ due to wheelchair batteries

A Canadian airline pilot falsely told a man using a power wheelchair that he could not board the plane because the battery connected to his mobility aid posed a “dangerous threat,” according to reports.

Ken Harrower said a Porter Airlines pilot asked about his power chair and stopped him from boarding at Calgary International Airport on his way to Toronto on Sunday.

“[He] “Is it okay to remove the battery?” I asked. I told him no. And then…he said I was a dangerous threat and walked away, leaving us on dry high ground. ” he told CBC News.

Oddly enough, Mr Harrower had just been booked on another flight by airline staff, leading him to believe that pilots had their own rules.

“I felt discriminated against because I was sitting in a chair,” he told the magazine. “My power chair is my legs and the means by which I get around. Since I can't stand or walk, [it]”


Ken Harrower said he was denied boarding a Porter Airlines flight at Calgary International Airport because of a battery in his wheelchair. Facebook

The airline admitted the pilot made a mistake.

“The captain who decided to deny boarding did so based on his knowledge of Transport Canada regulations regarding batteries,” the airline said in a statement to CBC News.

“In some situations, it may be necessary to completely remove the battery from the wheelchair, but in this situation that was not necessary.”


Porter Airlines has acknowledged the pilot's failure and should have allowed Mr. Harrower to board the flight to Toronto.
Porter Airlines has acknowledged the pilot's failure and should have allowed Mr. Harrower to board the flight to Toronto. Getty Images

Mr Porter explained that in wheelchairs like the Harrower, the battery does not need to be removed completely, just disconnected, which can be done by ground staff.

The company said its CEO would contact Mr. Harrower directly to offer a refund, pay any costs incurred as a result of the delay, and provide additional flight credits.

Harrower and Erin Brandenburg, who work on theater together, said on another flight two weeks ago that his power chair was safe to fly because it had gel batteries, the newspaper reported. He was told that this was the case.

“Mr. Porter sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience and personal impact this incident has caused Ken,” the airline said in a statement.

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