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Without Scooter Batteries, Vacation Was 'Humiliating'

Passenger unable to use scooter seeks damages
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2019 6:45 AM CDT
Updated Apr 29, 2019 6:45 PM CDT
Calgary International Airport.   (Getty/ronniechua)

(Newser) – Stearn Hodge was on his way to a vacation celebrating his 43rd wedding anniversary in 2017, he says, when a security agent at Calgary International Airport stopped him from taking the batteries for his scooter with him. Stearn Hodge lost his left arm and right leg in a workplace accident in 1984, Newsweek reports, and uses the scooter to get around; he has a prosthetic leg that he can only wear for short periods. Lithium-ion batteries can start fires, but they're allowed to be carried onto flights under certain conditions, and Hodge had received clearance in advance from United Airlines. An airline employee was called, but Hodge still had to surrender the batteries before flying to Tulsa. The British Columbia man spent much of the three-week vacation in bed: He can't operate a wheelchair, and his wife can't push him in one. To get to the bathroom in their room, Hodge had to crawl.

Now, Hodge is trying to get the Canadian Human Rights Commission to hear his case, per CBC. Canadian law permits as much as $20,000 in damages for each count of pain and suffering, and another $20,000 if the discrimination is "willful or reckless." Hodge did receive an emailed apology "for the inconvenience" from United and an offer of an $800 travel certificate for him and his wife. "It appears we were in violation of federal disability requirements," the email said. "Having to crawl across the floor in front of my wife is the most humiliating thing that I can think of," Hodge said. "It unmasks how real my disability is. … I haven't been the same since." (Read more airport security stories.)

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