An Ontario man and his wife say their recent cruise in Europe became a nightmare after Air Canada lost his portable dialysis machine.
Tom and Jane Jakobszen were on a flight from Windsor to Copenhagen on June 24 en route to a 10-day cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
After the plane landed in the Danish capital, the couple went to baggage claim and everything seemed normal — until they opened the suitcase that was supposed to be carrying the machine.
"It was empty. I don't think I can express the words. Shock, anxiety, anxiousness, distress," said Jakobszen, who needs to be on dialysis nine hours a day due to kidney failure, and also has bone cancer.
He had the machine on loan from a Windsor dialysis clinic, which purchased it from manufacturer Baxter.
The clinic has since replaced his machine, which Jakobszen said was waiting for him when he came home from abroad.
Dialysis unit was given 'priority' check-in
While it may have been better to bring the machine as a carry-on, the couple said it was too big and heavy to be stowed in the cabin, considering it's "about the size of an old, manual typewriter."
According to Jakobszen's wife, the airport employee who checked them in assured them the machine would make its way to Denmark.
"[The employee] put Priority on there and Fragile, and said it goes into a special area of the plane."
CBC News contacted Air Canada for comment. The company said it was "unable to determine why it [the machine] did not arrive" in Copenhagen.
Husband had to use a 'slower' machine
After landing in Denmark, Jakobszen missed a day of dialysis before another unit, which was provided by Baxter through a hospital in the city — not a perfect solution for Jakobszen, as each machine is programmed to meet the needs of each individual.
"I was now using chemical fluids that were slightly different in makeup … And the machine was a little bit slower. It took me a long time to learn how to get used to it," he said.
He also said he lost about "two or three days on the trip" bedridden due to exhaustion.
According to Air Canada's statement, customers should contact the company's medical desk "with respect to travelling with medical devices as each situation is different."
Jakobszen said that's exactly what he did.
"I did prepare by notifying Air Canada [that] I was bringing a machine with me. And they said it'll be safe as can be on the airplane."
'Major financial settlement'
Regardless of the issues, Jakobszen and his wife did not cut short their cruise. But he said he was unable to enjoy it as he felt unwell while aboard the ship.
After their trip, the couple went back and forth with the airline company to arrive at an appropriate settlement. The exchanges went on for almost two months, said Jane Jakobszen.
On Aug. 20, Air Canada sent her an email saying it would be reimbursing the cost of the machine to the manufacturer.
"We're in the process of settling the claim directly with Baxter Corporation, therefore you may now consider your file as closed," baggage claims representative Elliott Vez said.
Air Canada has offered them a $ 1,000 travel voucher, which they have not accepted. Tom Jakobszen said they would have to use the voucher within a year and it's not an acceptable form of compensation.
He was "in a rough state" during the trip, and even though he's not looking for the entire cost of the vacation — $ 10,000 — but he would like a "major financial settlement."
"A good half of [my trip] was destroyed," he said. "I've never felt like this in my life, because I depend on that machine."
"It's just that I feel they've really mishandled this whole thing. They've considered it a piece of lost luggage without thinking of all the anxiety that went with it."