68-Year-Old Amputee Trapped in Hotel for 3 Weeks After Scooter Battery Was Confiscated

Stearn Hodge uses a scooter to get around, but when the battery was confiscated by authorities, he was left trapped in his hotel room while on vacation.

A Canadian man said the battery for the scooter he uses to get around was confiscated by air officials, leaving him stranded. 

Stearn Hodge, 68, and his wife said they were flying to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for an anniversary vacation in 2017 when the Canadian Air Transit Security Authority confiscated the lithium ion battery that powers his scooter.    

He said he had all of the proper documentation for the battery when he and his wife arrived at Calgary International Airport. But they were told by a representative from United Airlines that it was unsafe to fly with the battery and it was taken away, Hodge said. His spare battery was also confiscated, he added.

Hodge, who lost a leg and an arm in a workplace accident 35 years ago, said his scooter is the only way he can get around. 

"I still remember the CATSA agent saying, 'Well, you could get a wheelchair.' How's a one-armed guy going to run a wheelchair?" Hodge told the CBC. "How am I going to go down a ramp and brake with one hand? But that shouldn't even have to come up."

Lithium ion batteries do pose a potential fire risk, but the International Air Transport Association allows the batteries in carry-on luggage for passengers with disabilities.

When his $2,000 battery and its spare were confiscated, he was left basically trapped in his hotel room for three weeks, Hodge said.

"An anniversary is supposed to be all about remembering how you fell in love ... and keeping that magic alive," he told CBC. "And those things were denied. I'm crawling across the floor and it is pathetic."

"The experience described falls far short of our own high standard of caring for our customers. We are proud of the many steps we have taken over the past few years to exhibit more care for our customers and we are proud to operate an airline that doesn't just include people with disabilities but welcomes them as customers,” United said in a statement. 

The Canadian Air Transit Security Authority has not commented on Hodge's case. 

Hodge said he is taking legal action.