Air Canada Ignores Dying Boy Til He Goes Viral


I was introduced to Tanner via Scott Stratten on Twitter. Tanner is a 10-year-old boy fighting muscular dystrophy. He’s 10 and he’s dying.  I don’t even know how you’re supposed to handle that. However, while the world still has him, Tanner’s aunt Catherine Connors and social media’s own Scott Stratten organized a tweet-a-thon on his behalf. They were raising money to help Tanner live out a few of his dying wishes, including racing through Central Park in a tutu and renovating his house so that he can die at home. Through the tweet-a-thon and the generosity of strangers, more than $25,000 was raised on Tanner’s behalf in just 30 hours. On Wednesday, Tanner and his aunt made their way to NYC so that Tanner could attend the charity event being held in his honor, live out some dreams, and even meet up with many of the bloggers in town for BlogHer.  It was going to be a remarkable trip.

And then Air Canada broke Tanner’s lifeline. His custom electric wheelchair was damaged in the flight, leaving the chair unusable and Tanner immobile and confined to a hotel room bed.   Air Canada said they’d have the chair fixed by Monday…which would have forced Tanner to miss his event.  So, instead of spending her night showing Tanner around NYC, his aunt spent it desperately trying to get Air Canada to step up and provide Tanner a new chair.

Eventually they did, but only after the social Web took them to task.  Loudly.

In social media we talk about a lot about doing right by customers and going above and beyond. We talk about engaging and responding to comments and showing that you care. But there are some situations where you shouldn’t need a social media consultant to tell you how to do the right thing. Situations where if you see that your actions broke a $15,000 wheelchair and hurt a dying child, you instinctively know the right thing to do is drop whatever you’re doing to fix it. Even if it means buying him a new wheelchair yourself.  Even if it means lifting him up and physically carrying him wherever he needs to go.

What you don’t do is ignore him. But, that’s what Air Canada did.

After seeing what happened, Air Canada said they wouldn’t be able to get a chair to Tanner until Monday. That was too late.

Air Canada then promised Catherine that they would have a replacement chair for her nephew by 6pm on Wednesday. No chair arrived.

When Air Canada broke their promise, Catherine tried to contact them to see what happened – all of their offices were closed.

She tweeted at them in case they were listening. Nothing.

She was forced to spend the rest of her evening in 800-number phone tree hell.  Frustrated she asked Twitter for help.

Hours and hours went by and nothing. And that’s about when all hell broke loose on the Internet.

Because so many people had been following the tweet-a-thon  and celebrated the $25,000 that was raised, they felt like they already knew Tanner.  They had rallied for him, tweeted for him and tried to virtually support him.  Hearing that Air Canada had broken his wheelchair and left him confined to a hotel room, they were enraged. The Internet had banded together to help a dying boy…and everything was being taken away from him  as a major airline hid in their hole. At the time, the #tutusfortanner hashtag did a good job displaying the outrage. [Tanner’s event was this morning so it’s full of hugs and love right now.] As did the comments posted on The Globe and Mail’s article on the topic.

Air Canada may have been content to leave a dying child immobile, but the Internet jumped into action. Many people came through to offer manual wheelchairs for Tanner. Unfortunately, they weren’t a viable option for his condition. Hundreds of tweets where shared as total strangers tried to locate a chair for Tanner and do whatever they could to help. In the end, a heroic company called Mobility Solutions donated a new chair to Tanner. Not because they had to or because it was good PR, but because someone needed help. And that’s what you do.

At least from that perspective, the story has a happy ending.

However, it won’t end well for Air Canada.

The outcry over Tanner’s situation could be heard from virtually every corner of the Web. For Air Canada to sit back, say nothing, and, ultimately, do nothing is inexcusable. It’s not about their lack of engagement or being accessible or any of that hand-holding crap. It’s about being a company with compassion toward human life. If, as a brand, you can’t even summon THAT up, especially when you know the whole world is watching, then you deserve the online reputation problem that’s coming your way. You deserve it big time.

Eventually, after a violent 24+ hours of public outcry, nonstop Twittering and the emergence of a viral movement, Air Canada did step up and get Tanner a new chair. They even threw in a trip to DisneyWorld.  But, at least in my eyes, it came far too late.  They didn’t act until they felt compelled to and they didn’t feel compelled too until the Internet made them. There are plenty of situations where sitting back and doing nothing is bad business. However, there are a few where it should be criminal.  I’d argue this is the latter.

Tanner’s aunt tweeted this before Air Canada provider Tanner with a new chair. However, I think it still stands.

Your Comments

  • MaggieS

    I think it’s dangerously naïve and downright manipulative to portray that the “twits” and social media warlords are the reigning heroes in this melodrama. The stories today all seem to be saying that Air Canada only took action _after_ the tweet storm started yesterday morning. But they got the highly specialized wheelchair back to Tanner yesterday afternoon. Any reasonable person should be able to do the math and see that Air Canada must have acted the second they found out about the broken wheelchair, not after the ill-informed and emotional bullying began twelve hours later.

    • Lisa Barone

      I don’t think it’s at all naive or uninformed, TBH.

      Caroline was keeping everyone in the loop via her Twitter stream about what was and was not happening. They couldn’t get a chair til Monday. Then they’d have it by 6pm. And then they fell off the face of the Earth and went radio silent as big companies do. They had her hotel name. They had her room number. They had her cell phone number. No one made a phone call. No one let her know what was happening. All they did was talk to the mainstream press, calling it unfortunate. Why was no one talking to her?

      The fact that the wheelchair finally came late yesterday afternoon doesn’t tell me they sprung into action. It doesn’t tell me that at all, especially since others were able to get chairs there much sooner after only hearing about it hours and hours later through Twitter.

      They stuck their head in the sand and only acted when the noise got too loud.

      • MaggieS

        Speaking of being manipulative… I find it telling that my comment, the first one here and listed at 10:50 a.m. was not approved by the moderator until 11:12, after several other posts made it though, but just in time for you to have a carefully written response ready to go four minutes later. Interesting.

        • Lisa Barone

          Please don’t post conspiracy theories. I posted your comment as soon as I saw it in moderation. We have no problem posting dissenting opinions.

        • Tony Verre


          What’s interesting about that? Lisa could confirm, but I’m sure this is the first time you’ve posted here. Secondly, you sound an awful lot like an “employee” of Air Canada, and even if you’re not, you certainly are making apologist excuses.

          Just relax. Of course she formulated a response, should Lisa just shoot off her mouth and risk giving you ammunition? I don’t think so.

          • Lisa Barone

            I didn’t formulate anything! I approved her comment and then responded to it. I thought that was proper etiquette? :)

          • MaggieS

            Actually I’m not an AC employee although I do fly with them every week. And you’re right, I have not posted here before but I do peruse this site quite often.

            I’m commenting here today only because I think it is a gross distortion of facts to make it out like the Internet, the twitterverse, and social media at large was responsible for making Air Canada do the right thing.

            When you read all the media coverage (enough of it to see both sides), it is clear Air Canada was doing the right thing from the very beginning, even if they mishandled the communication with Tanner’s family. Of course their response was not perfect, and of course Tanner and his entourage were upset. But statements like “Air Canada may have been content to leave a dying child immobile but the Internet jumped into action” are too deceptive to go unchallenged.

            • Lisa Barone

              I take no issue with you challenging the post and opening up a conversation about it. Just that you accused me of holding your comment until I could fancy up a reply. If you’ve spent time on the site, you should know we don’t operate that way and that the accusation is unfair.

              Whether you agree or not (and you’re obviously free to disagree), I did do my research and read up on all sides of what happened. This post simply explains my personal feelings toward it.

        • Chris Miller

          This reply is a little ironic, dontcha think? Air Canada timing is coincidence, but Lisa’s isn’t?

          I pick on Lisa all the time, she always approves my trollesque comments.

          • MaggieS

            I really did not plan to engage in a battle of posts, so this will be my last comment on it. Lisa, whatever your intention, your article does not come across as “personal feelings toward” anything. You make grand statements with or without the facts that either leap to or imply specious conclusions.

            The title is “Air Canada ignores dying boy til he goes viral” That’s not a feeling. And it’s not even accurate. We knew by the 6 p.m. headlines yesterday that they hadn’t ignored him at all.

            You wrote: “In the end, a ‘heroic’ company … donated a new chair … not because they had to or because it was good PR, but because someone needed help.”

            How do you know why they did it? How do you know that they weren’t grabbing a good PR opportunity? Would you fault them if they were?

            And besides, we knew by 11 a.m. yesterday morning that Air Canada provided at least two different chairs to Tanner long before any other “hero” showed up.

            You wrote: “They [Air Canada] didn’t act until they felt compelled to and they didn’t feel compelled too until the Internet made them.” Really? And you know this how?

            Your statements are emotional and unfounded. It’s inflammatory and biased language to prove a false point.

            That’s my personal feeling. Now over to you for the last word :)

            • Mike

              I am simply amazed that we were able to find such a staunch advocate for Air Canada.

              The bottom-line is that AC is a dinosaur and amped-up the response due only to the level of support for Tanner and his mother expressed on Twitter. AC’s CMO should pay attention to his/her brand and the reputation it is forging in the minds of Air travelers.

              More importantly, I hope Tanner, however long he has left, makes his dreams come true. He’s left a mark on people with this story alone; it’s one I won’t soon forget.

  • Man Ray

    It’s saddens me to see that there are people who still don’t know the worth of people’s lives, and how they can affect it. I wish all the best for Tanner, and for those that are in a similar situation as he is right now. Great and informative article Lisa.

  • David Zemens

    #aircanada { position:absolute-zero }

    Thanks for doing your part Lisa to keep this issue alive and squarely in the face of Air Canada.

  • Christine

    Air Canada has officially lost my business…thank you for sharing this. It probably wouldn’t have gone noticed and is disgusting for a business to do this. I hope he enjoys NYC and fulfills his dreams.

  • Tony Verre


    Thanks for writing this up; makes me feel like there are still shreds of humanity left on the planet. I also have this sensation of being a giant ass for not helping this along on Twitter.

    Without trying to politicize this too much, I’m not surprised by Air Canada’s action in the least. It seems to be the single calling card of big business: “Heartless Greed”. While the web community can celebrate a small victory, it’s more about corporations looking in the mirror, it’s more about ethos than it is response (i.e. Goldman Sachs, BP); the Enron-esque mentality.

    Keep screwing them until they cry uncle. Then screw them harder. I’d be interested to know if you think this will even remotely change their behavior, outside of the warm-fuzzies they’ll attempt to create around this event. What happens in six months?

  • James Svoboda

    Air Canada, My Pregnant Wife and a Trip to Italy

    Thanks for the post Lisa. A really touching story. It seems that I am not the only Air Canada passenger who has experienced first-hand the disinterest from this airline while traveling abroad. AC misplaced my 7-month prego wife’s luggage on our last pre-kid adventure on the way to Rome a few years ago.

    They said it would be delivered the next day… Nothing. They assumed, but did not bother to check if there was actually a flight that day from Toronto to Rome.

    It finally arrived the day after.

    To summarize:
    7 month pregnant wife with only 1 set of clothes stuck in a foreign country that has one of the lowest rates in the world of new births, and thus fewest stores that sell pregnancy appropriate clothing for 2 days.

    My wife was such a trooper. She could have handled it badly, but didn’t. Thus I have not forgotten.

    • James Svoboda

      Sorry Lisa. I didn’t mean to try and start an Anti-Air Canada rant, just post my experiences. I think there can be a lot said for a company’s pattern for handling customer issues…

      I sincerely hope Tanner gets to fulfill his wishes.

  • Roy Reshef

    Lisa, IMO the saddest point was made by Catherine Connors (I think in an interview to The Globe and Mail, I don’t remember exactly where). She said – what if it was another kid, what if Tanner and his mother were not accompanied by me and other social media savvy people; then they would have probably had to wait till Monday for the wheelchair.

    Air Canada (known here North of the border also as “Air Cattle”) is probably the most bureaucratic airline I have ever seen. If you open the dictionary under “bureaucracy” you’ll probably see its logo. They are so bureaucratic and stupid at times, even when it costs them money. When something goes wrong, even the smallest, they are completely helpless.

    I’ll give you a recent example: last weekend we flew back from Maui via Vancouver to Toronto. Due to Canada’s Customs regulations we had to pick up our luggage in YVR, clear customs, then recheck it for our connecting flight. The luggage belt in YVR had some electronic, or mechanic, problem. Luggage didn’t come out for nearly an hour. Instead of using another belt (there were 10 or 15 of them in that hall, and as it was Sunday 7am no other belt was in use!), Air Canada insisted on fixing the issue. We – and tens of other passengers – missed our connection and had to be put on other flights.

    All the Air Canada’s rep in the hall could say was “someone will pay for that failure”. I don’t want to see anyone paying, I just want to catch my connection on time, having to fly some 13 hours in total! But that’s how they think in Air Canada, even when it costs them I don’t know how much money.

    I had to be quite assertive in order to get a seat next to my wife in the new flight, and was given by Air Canada people a patronizing attitude of “behave yourself and don’t talk to me in that tone” and “next time you can fly with Westjet to Maui, they’d surely do better” (that’s a Canadian low-cost airline).

    Air Canada? Customer care? Don’t make me laugh. They deserved a new “United Breaks Guitar” song for what they did to Tanner (some people, including me, even urged Dave Carroll to come up with a sequel, but he didn’t want to).

    • MaggieS

      Dave Carroll did blog about it though:

      “Considering the nature of Tanner’s illness and his dependence on this unique chair, Air Canada did the only thing they could do: apologize, repair it immediately and make a meaningful gesture as compensation for the trouble.”

      • Lisa Barone

        I’m so glad Dave Carroll took time away from his touring schedule to lend his thoughts.

      • Melissa

        “…repair it immediately…”, I think it is proven that it was not repair immediately. That is the problem. It isn’t like they didn’t have enough money to buy the kid a new one!

        I am absolutely shocked that AC and you Maggie can’t put yourself in this kid’s shoes, and the family’s, and understand why this is an issue. The fact that neither of you can saddens me because I wonder what people are becoming.

  • Marc Seyon

    Sadly the dominant theme in this whole story, and in many other social media feel good stories, is that you still need to be some level of popular to reap the benefits.

    Tanner is almost certainly not the only person who’s had airlines damage his stuff, just as Kevin Smith isn’t the only person removed from a flight because of his size.

    But where’s the trickle down effect of these outcries?

    I’m not talking about the companies. We know their raison d’être – being nice isn’t it.

    I’m referring to the social media outcryers? Do you support and champion causes so vociferously if you don’t “already feel like you know him”? If it isn’t already being championed by someone with 50,000 followers? If it hasn’t already warranted a tweet-a-thon in a dying kid’s name?

  • Dominic Litten

    Lisa, social media FAILs aside, you’re a great writer, thanks for the complete round up of what happened. I’m glad you use your powers for good.

  • Rebecca

    Somehow I had completely missed this story so thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. This story really touched my heart just because so many people ended up caring and helping. I think that’s the real power of social media. It’s a form of community that allows strangers the opportunity to help those who need it. Thanks for a great post.

  • Joe Hall

    This issue is bigger than AC or Tanner…it happens everyday to countless chair users.

    • Lisa Barone

      Understood. There was actually a story 2 months or so ago about a chair user who had a problem receiving a wheelchair after putting in a request and she was basically told not to fly if she can’t get on/off the plane on her own accord. After a whole lot of Internet hubbub, the airline finally apologized.

  • Dawn Wentzell

    Sadly, Canadians (or those traveling in or to Canada) can’t even reasonably boycott Air Canada. They’re part of the Star Alliance, so any flight booked with one of their members to Canada could end up being an AC flight.

    And while WestJet certainly has much better customer service, they don’t fly as many places as Air Canada. And we only have a handful of other small, regional airlines.

    Regardless of how Air Canada acts or reacts to situations like this and in the future, they’re still going to be making money. What incentive is there for them to improve?

    • Roy Reshef

      Dawn, you have unfortunately a point here, however not all is lost. There are other (non-Star) airlines flying to at least some popular destinations in Canada, and others are joining (e.g. Virgin America lately).
      Many Torontonians/GTA inhabitants fly to US destinations from Buffalo, NY anyway – usually because it’s much cheaper. If that becomes a real trend, then maybe AC will get the message.
      I saw yesterday a comment (on Globe and Mail article) of someone who demanded to involve the Canadian government/parliament to force Air Canada remove the country’s name from their name. They are supposed to be the national carrier, which in a way represents the country too, yet they act (e.g. in this case) like complete greedy idiots. If such an initiative gets going, maybe that’d be an incentive for AC to improve their ways.

  • tobs

    Wow, Air Canada really came through for this kid, regardless of his crazy parents. His parents keep referring him as “dying”. That must make him feel great when he wakes up in the morning. Second of all, you guys are aware that baggage handlers arent Air Canada employees right? Also, who is to say what condition the chair was in when AC got it. Sounds like his parents are broke and relying on charity so they probably had no $$ to fix his chair, so why not come up with this scam to get it fixed. The whole thing is crazy, I feel bad for this kid but more so, I feel bad for Air Canada. A rational corporation having to deal with irrational parents with a “dying” (ya right) child.

    • Lisa Barone

      It sickens me to have even approved this comment, but I guess you’re entitled to it. I wouldn’t want to live in the world you see.

    • TLColson

      tobs – REALLY?

      “What condition the chair was in?” – I’d say it was “usable” since it got him to the plane. Once arriving in NYC, it was “unusable”, and therefore damaged. The airline had the responsibility for that.

      I sincerely hope you never have to cope with the loss of a child due to an illness that has no cure. Do your research dude. Its not like Tanner’s illness is in any way secret. That’s just callous.

      • tobs

        Coltron, Like I said, you do realize its airport personel who handle baggage that go onto a plane and not the carriers employees? Of course you wouldnt know this cause you consider social media as fact. Try researching this stuff for yourself.

        • James Svoboda

          nobs, the last couple of times I flew, I recall the airline charging me for getting my bags to the final destination. I would think that by way of the flier paying the air carrier for the transportation of the baggage, that the responsibility for the condition and delivery of the items would fall to the airline. The same way that a general contractor is held responsible for the work of their employees and sub-contractors.

          • tobs

            I never said Air Canada wasnt responsible, they obviously took responsibility. I said it may not have been their employees who caused the damage, but because they are an honest company, they took responsibility anyway. If anything, they went above and beyond what they had to do.

  • Suthnautr

    I know the odds in gambling are always with the house – but even gambling establishments know “you win some and you lose some” – a thing so widely seen as immoral – The bean counters in control over at Air Canada quite obviously think that losing some (losing anything) just shouldn’t be a part of their brand of business at all.

    Whoever got the call passed the ball instead of hanging on and following it up the line to the top and seeing to it that it was handled right – an emergency – a dying child’s last wishes and a broken machine and crushed dreams. I had a job like that once in NYC working for the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum. The Fallen Heroes Fund email system didn’t work for months and hundreds of thousands to millions in donations to the fund were being lost – I stayed with it, I stuck my neck out, I got the email system working by calling the 3rd party contractor at his home on his cell after hours and telling him that if he couldn’t get it fixed to give me the password to the account and it would be fixed by me personally. The fallen heroes fund (linked to on @Sugarrae’s web site) had its email system back again by the following day – and I was out of a job by the end of that week. I took it to court and won and you know what? Even if I hadn’t won I’d do it again. Take care of sick and dying people if you screw up their stuff so it doesn’t work, Air Canada – make it a policy – it’s just the right thing to do!

  • Melinda

    All I have to say is that when I read this blog this morning, there were only 9 posts at the time, and Lisa hadn’t responded to any of them yet. Maggie’s was the first post.

  • James

    Looking at the timescales, I’m not sure I agree with the notion that AC didn’t act until the internet attacked. Tell me if I’m missing something.

    From the ‘AC broke the chair tweet’ to the ‘Got the Chair back’ tweet, looks like 21-22 hours all told. That is a pretty short window to:

    – Find someone who can fix the chair
    – Get the chair to fixer
    – Get the chair fixed
    – Get the chair back to Tanner

    From what I can tell, their biggest crime (other than breaking the chair in the first place), was not keeping in touch with the family throughout those 22 hours – They promised to find a stand in chair, but they didn’t tell the family when they dropped it off at the hotel, who then couldn’t tell them that it was inadequate; they didn’t provide the family with a means of contacting the right people at AC, instead leaving them to deal with standard customer service reps, who wouldn’t know the specifics; they didn’t contact the family via twitter until a couple of hours before the chair was returned.

    I have no trouble imagining a lot of AC people working their butts off to make this right during those 22 hours, but because they failed to communicate their progress, they’ve come out of it looking far worse than they needed to.

    • Rhea Drysdale

      Heh, I was typing when you published this. I agree with the timeline and the lack of communication being the biggest failure. It’s amazing what poor vs good communication can do for a brand!

    • Suthnautr

      It’s a short time frame if you’re talking about a piece of busted luggage, but a deathly long time if you’re talking about a broken pacemaker. I’d put this one in the middle between emergency room and get up off your ass and get it fixed right now – even if your only motivation is EXCELLENT P.R. as in “Miracle on 34th Street” where it all turns out just right for Tiny Tim in the end because he can now walk (and yes, I know I’m mixing plots and would even mix metaphors if I could to make this point). The POINT is that if it weren’t for social media and the immediacy of getting word out world-wide this boy would be moth-balled away STILL and only a volley of legal letters would be the result – the boy and his dream would be buried in paperwork, drowned in tears and swept under a carpet – good night.

      Social media is the hero here. Social media saved the day. Social media once again fired a huge warning shot out to all the giant companies out there in the world who have ignored the man on the street long enough, deeming him powerless and disorganized and splintered and unfocused and incapable of uniting quickly enough in any cause to influence day to day operations and policy. THAT’S the point here. Once again the mighty collective “WE”, whether that be “the people” or “John Q. Public” or just plain “Concerned Citizens” have found, through social media, the power to unite our voices as one and DEMAND and get satisfactions… for one small boy. One small helpless, crippled, dying boy.

      • tobs

        I complete disagree. The danger is here is that social media ate up one persons versions events of the story without checking the other side, and then that person got a trip free trip to Disneyland. The days of people looking into the facts are going, we may as well just follow the crazy guy on the street with the cowbell screaming “The time is near, you must repent!”

      • James

        Without knowing exactly what was broken, it is impossible to say when exactly Air Canada reacted, however, speaking as an Engineer, I can say that unless the damage was superficial, ~20 hours is rapid turnaround to get a piece of specialist equipment repaired.

        Social Media-ites are very keen to take the credit here, but I don’t think the evidence bears that out. If Social Media has to take credit for something, let them take credit for the huge amount of money that was raised in the hours before this drama even took place.

  • Rhea Drysdale

    I wasn’t aware of this issue until Lisa so passionately called it to our attention. I’m glad that she did because I think it’s a positive example of the power of social media. I was especially moved by Tanner’s story in general. As for Air Canada, I feel like they did do everything they could to get the chair. HOWEVER, they failed to communicate that story. This is a powerful case for better corporate crisis communication and the apparent need for a social media manager. Without someone communicating the actions Air Canada was taking, they looked really bad to the community. I’m glad they were able to get the job done, but to Lisa’s point it’s appalling that the parents were left out of the loop and scrambling for a replacement through other means.

    One of my favorite recent posts from Lisa is Small Thinking = Social Media Success. I loved the point about small businesses being nimble. Big business needs to learn from this and put procedures in place in an increasingly social world so that they CAN respond to issues quickly when they arise. I don’t think anyone is surprised by the fact that a piece of luggage was damaged. It was how the situation was communicated (or the lack thereof) that was the real issue. Great breakdown of the events Lisa and tobs, you’re an idiot.

  • Ross Hudgens

    This was a really good post, Lisa. I wish the title wasn’t misleading as I first thought Air Canada like watched the kid die on the tarmac, but clearly that wasn’t the case. Otherwise well summarized and I didn’t even know about it until reading this, so it was especially powerful.

  • Alicia

    Great post!
    It is sad how companies do not pay attention until things go viral. I had a very bad experience at the Westin Providence and it took them 2 months to answer me, this was after emailing 3 different people, including the company that owns them, having to remind two different people to check on what was happening, and all I got was a sorry, so I wrote another email and never got a response. Bad customer service these days.

  • YM Ousley

    I thought I had a crappy 24 hours with a non-communicative airline, but this certainly takes the cake. I love how callous airlines are about leaving people stranded for any number of reasons. It’s just too bad more cases aren’t made public

  • Dan Connolly

    The people who are chiming in defending AC are forgetting something, yeah maybe 22 hours later they delivered a fixed chair, but during that whole time the boy was left in his hotel room thinking it probably wouldn’t come until Mon after the festivities were over, ruining his weekend and his trip to NY.

    A simple phone call saying they found a repair man, had the chair delivered to him and were hoping to have it turned around today, would have let the boy relax and enjoy his 22 hours in the hotel room. Maybe you don’t think that’s such a big deal and feel entitled to get hot and bothered because Lisa dared to criticize the airline for it’s lack of common courtesy, but in a world where she doesn’t get to criticize the airlines, you don’t get to criticize her.

    • Cindy

      The other side of the story, from the airlines, is that they tried two chairs, a manual and then an electric, and that Connors found neither acceptable.

      The airline also states (in the article on Daily Mail) that they tried numerous times to get in touch with Connors via email, Twitter DM’s, and phone calls and that contact with her was difficult. Apparently they connected enough for her to tell them that the electric chair provided was unacceptable.

      In the interim, over $25K was raised by those who were outraged by Connors story as it was posted on Twitter.

      The airline is now being told to “shut up” by Connors pal @unmarketing on Twitter, because their defenses seem to call some of Connors claims into question. PR-wise, Canada Air is an the unenviable position of facing the wrath of an unquestioning, lopsided internet or trying to explain their side of the story. It seems like the internet would have them lose either way.

  • Grey

    Hi Dan,

    Good Points. Is it just me or are the issues are getting clouded? Unless I missed something (there are a lot of posts to keep track of!) it does not look like anyone is against Lisa criticizing the airlines. The criticism is about giving Twitter credit for solving the problem.

    It turned out very well for the sick boy in the end, especially wiht the free trip to Disney thrown in, and now it seems like twitter and the online community had almost nothing to do with it. But yes, Air Canada should have done better with the communication. You’re right, a phone call would have a made a big difference. I don’t think anyone, even the Air CAnada employee on here, would deny that. But some of the posts here make good points that the blog was mis leading (Like Ross Hidgens thinking the kid died on the tarmac while Air Canada stood there and watched. I thought that too at first!)


  • Marjorie Clayman

    Boy, there is so much that breaks my heart here.

    I was contemplating doing a post today about the fact that Scott’s Tweet-a-Thon and all of the people who contributed were still very much on my mind. However, my blog is primarily marketing oriented, so I decided not to stray on this particular day.

    I don’t like online arguing in this kind of context. I wouldn’t engage in real life, I don’t like to do it online. So let me just say a few things, and do with them what you will.

    1) I don’t really understand where the attacks on Lisa are coming from. Maybe I’m slow. I don’t know Lisa personally, but what I have come to know via Twitter and here, is that she is as transparent as they come (hence the Outspoken Media that hangs above this post). A transparent person does not play games with when to moderate comments, how to conspire to make commenters’ lives miserable, or other such things. Or if the choice was made to do those things, there would be no doubt. I understand that it’s exciting to make a comment and then see who, if anyone, responds, but putting a stopwatch on it in these busy times is sad to me.

    2) If you were not part of the movement that happened on Twitter last week, I can understand how it might seem like folks have had some big gulps of the tasty purple punch. For those of us who do use Twitter and who did witness this thing, it was truly amazing. To see how nervous and stressed and anxious and excited Scott was the night before and during the day made the whole thing much more personal and real. What really impressed me, and I commented on this at the time, was that even though Scott was offering prizes for people who contributed (and really good prizes at that), I did not see a single post that said, “Hey, contribute to this cause so you have a chance to win an iPad.” Rather, I saw posts that were intended to motivate others. “I just donated, have you?” I know it sounds sappy, but truly, it was a really beautiful thing to watch throughout the day.

    3) As far as referring to Tanner as a dying boy, well, he is. It is not a secret to him or to his family. He doesn’t have much time. The amazing thing about this young man is that he has accepted, to some level, his fate, and rather than just focusing on how unfair it is, he has put out a list of really fun things that he wants to accomplish, and then he has issued a request to be able to die at home, in familiar surroundings, with people he loves. If Extreme Makeover Home Edition had run with the story, it would have been an amazing episode. Unfortunately, that miracle did not work out. Another one took place. Yes, I believe that the fact that complete strangers from around the world raised $25,000 is a miracle, brought forth by a great deal of hard work from Scott and Tanner’s family.

    4) Whether or not “Social Media” got Air Canada to correct their mistake really is inconsequential, as far as I’m concerned. Social Media is putting the spotlight on that failure now. If there is some extra bitterness because the event almost ruined something amazing that happened through Social Media, then perhaps you can fault those individuals a bit for investing a great deal of their hearts into the issue. We are all only human. I think a lot can be learned from the mistake, as many people have pointed out. Air Canada should have customer service available via Twitter. Many airlines are well ahead of them in that regard. Airlines should be more careful with things, especially things on which people depend for a quality of life. What could have been done to protect the wheel chair better?

    5) It’s always dangerous to paint with a broad brush, especially when it comes to humans. Are there some people out there who are probably posting, “Wooooo we showed Air Canada!!!” Probably. Are there people who are latching on to this issue because Alyssa Milano retweeted the cause? Most likely. There was a really eye opening sense of accomplishment when the $25,000 was raised. There was a feeling that people could gather together to get something done. If that meant using that new-found power to get a wheel chair to Tanner, that’s what it was going to mean.

    I do not try to change peoples’ minds. If you want to believe that the whole thing was a publicity hoax, I guess you’ll keep believing that. If you want to charge Social Media experts with being conniving when they don’t answer a post or comment in twenty minutes, you’ll probably keep doing that.

    There are 3 things you won’t change my mind about. Lisa is not a jerk. There was too much effort and heart put into the effort to shove it aside as nothing. And it was a real bummer that Tanner and his family had to jump through yet another hurdle.

  • Cindy

    Lisa, I’m disappointed in how this story is being portrayed, and believe that Air Canada is being crucified on the internet by people who are only listening to one side of the story.

    This is NOT to say that I do not feel for Tanner and Catherine’s predicament, however I DO believe that this is a case of things being blown out of proportion and then carried forth by an internet that does not do its research and does not know all the facts. Air Canada claims to have sent two other wheelchairs to the family, a manual and an electric, and says Catherine said neither were suitable. They found someone in NYC to fix it overnight. The question is what else could they have done?

    The wheelchair Tanner uses weighs 300 pounds. By her own account, three people from the airport could not lift it. There was no way to fit it on the plane. It had to be somewhat dismantled in order to fit into the cargo area. Catherine knew this. Now it’s a shame that when it was put back together, it didn’t properly work, but it seems to me that Air Canada was making an effort.

    This controversy helped raise that $25K. In fact, donations went from 3K to 25K in the first 30 hours of @herbadmother and @unmarketing’s Twitter pleas. In addition, there were more donations to the other fund raisers Catherine has been promoting. She and Tanner received free air fare to NYC, and a free family trip to DisneyWorld, and the publicity keeps pouring in — and now I hear that Air Canada has also offered to help with the cost of remodeling the basement — a fundraiser that has already exceeded its goal.

    • tobs

      Well spoken Cindy. It’s unfortunate that all the facts you list are conveniently overlooked by Lisa when writting this blog. She selectively grabbed the pieces which would make AC look like the bad guys and social media the heroes. People must pay attention to what they read and realise that sites such as this only server the the self-righteous opinions of the publisher.

  • mikwillson

    That is to be expected in a long-term, high-risk project like ours. So, we turned to the blogging community for help – and got it! We have published our problems, and the community responded with results!