When the plane was finally aloft – about 15 to 20 minutes late, both Neary and her son say the pilot came on to announce that he was sorry for the delay, but there was a “medical emergency” he had to deal with on the ground.
While Air Canada would not comment on any details, Fitzpatrick did confirm that “the pilot is in charge of the aircraft and the safety, the health, and the comfort of all the passengers are ultimately his responsibility.”
Anaphylaxis Canada expressed concern about what took place on that flight. “This unfortunate incident raises concerns about the need for clear and consistent airline policies for people with severe allergies,” said spokesperson Beatrice Povolo.
At home in St. John’s, Neary sees bigger issues from the experience for those traveling with medical conditions. “What if it wasn’t a peanut allergy? What if it was somebody with a pacemaker. Are you going to say, ‘I’m afraid for you to fly because you might have a heart attack in the middle of the flight?’”
She also has concerns that this experience may make her son less likely to speak up about his allergy: “He’s 17, he’s going to be traveling his whole life.”
For those with allergies, the issue always arises in difficult in-flight situations: Is there a ‘right’ to travel?” Neary is unequivocal that there has to be. “I think everybody has a right to travel. I mean, we live on an island, how else are we getting off it?”
See also these Gwen Smith posts:
Air Canada’s Chilly Response to the CTA Ruling
What Teachers and Parents Should Know About Allergies: article for the CBC