Ontario mother wants answers from Air Canada after daughter left unaccompanied on flight from U.S.

An Ontario woman says an oversight by Air Canada could have ended tragically after her 12-year-old daughter, who has a medical condition, was forced to fend for herself on a flight from the U.S. to Toronto’s Pearson airport on August 18th.

“My husband and I were waiting where you receive people who are arriving into Canada, and Ema came through the gates and basically started crying,” said Sarah Hodgkinson who paid a $210 fee for Air Canada to chaperone Ema on the flight. 

Ema Air Canada

Ema Hodgkinson, 12, was left to fend for herself after her mother says Air Canada partially ignored an unaccompanied minor service request. (Submitted by Sarah Hodgkinson)

Ema had been attending a summer camp in Harrisburg, Pa. for children with special needs.

“She had found her own luggage, she had filled out immigration by herself, she had manuoeuvered the Toronto airport by herself,” Sarah Hodgkinson said.

Daughter easily overheats 

Ema was born with a form of Ichthyosis, a rare skin condition, and easily overheats. Her mother said she informed the airline and had assurances her daughter would be cared for.

The biggest problem came however, when Ema’s return flight to Toronto was delayed, said Susan Hodgkinson.

“Unfortunately, they had turned off the air conditioning on the plane, and sat on the runway for an hour. So Ema, with her skin disorder, doesn’t have the ability to sweat, and she easily could have overheated. She definitely was overheating,” she said adding her daughter could have suffered a stroke or a heart attack.

Sarah Hodgkinson believes Air Canada agents should have pulled Ema off the plane and had her wait in the air conditioned terminal.

“It was very hot and all the people around me were also overheating. But for me, I just kind of felt overwhelmed and it was just kind of tiring and draining,” said Ema.

Air Canada


‘My kid could have died’

Since the incident, Ema’s mother has complained to Air Canada more than once, and has filed a refund form. She said the airline told her she’d receive a response within five business days.

It’s been more than a week and so far Susan Hodgkinson has not received a response.

“It angers me because my kid could’ve died on the plane. I’m entrusting Air Canada with my child and they didn’t do what they promised me.”

An Air Canada representative saidWednesday morning: “We have reached out to the customer to arrange for a refund and to apologize for this siutation. We are also reviewing this matter internally to understand what occurred.” 

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