Problems between airlines and passengers with disabilities continue in India as another wheelchair passenger was recently denied boarding. According to a PTI report, an award-winning artist with physical disabilities claimed that she was banned from boarding an Alliance Air flight from Bengaluru to Kochi. The incident comes to light after numerous cases of this type have been reported from around the country. Mishandling of passengers with disabilities has become a challenge not only for airlines, but also for the DGCA, which recently issued guidelines for such incidences.
Sarita Dwivedi, said she was not allowed to bring her battery-operated wheelchair on the Alliance Air flight and was asked to leave the wheelchair or book a flight on another airline. She further stated that Alliance Air did not even refund the amount of approximately Rs 8,000 she had spent on tickets for herself and her friend who had come from Kochi to Bengaluru to bring her here. She also accused a staff member of hostile behavior towards her.
Alliance Air has yet to release a statement on the matter. Dwivedi said she subsequently had to shell out around Rs 14,000 to travel on another private carrier to get here with her friend. The airline also transported her wheelchair into the plane’s cargo without a hitch, she said.
However, what happened on Saturday at the Alliance Air counter at Kempegowda International Airport was a bad experience, he said. Asked if she intends to sue the airline or take any other action, she said she wasn’t sure how to proceed.
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Giving details of his ordeal, Dwivedi said he reached the check-in counter around 8:00, an hour before the flight’s departure, respecting the time rule. “Seeing me, the first thing the airline person said was that if you are traveling in a motorized wheelchair, you should come a little earlier. Then I got a little angry and said I was on time. I told him to take the scanning person to scan the wheelchair so that I can go. Again he said I was late. Then he said “lady can’t travel with the motorized wheelchair because it ran on battery”.
Asked if the airline official had provided a reason not to allow the wheelchair, he said that “they said there are some guidelines against it. But these guidelines are present in every airline.”
“They said given the guidelines, I couldn’t take my wheelchair. So either I had to leave it behind or I couldn’t travel on the flight. That’s how they talked to me. I felt so bad,” she said. She had previously tweeted about the incident, tagging Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiradita Scindia.
Asked if the airline offered alternatives, she said, “they weren’t willing to do anything for me. I was ready to leave the wheelchair there, provided they could ship it to my home in Kochi. I’m not from Bangalore. I’m a humble person. I didn’t want to argue, so I asked them what they can do to help me, “he said. They said they can’t do anything but they can refund the amount of your ticket.
However, “they did not refund the amount of the ticket. I had spent around Rs 8,000 for two tickets for me and my friend. My friend also could not travel as I was not allowed to travel. Not only did they not reimburse l ‘amount, I later had to spend around Rs 14,000 for two tickets to Kochi, “he said with another airline.
Dwivedi reached Kochi on Saturday afternoon instead of in the morning as he had originally planned. Asked if Alliance Air contacted her later to refund the amount, Dwivedi said, “Nothing. They don’t have facilities. They don’t know how to talk to people. They keep arguing and screaming. It was annoying.”
He stated that the airline initially did not allow them to get boarding passes and then they said their manager was on his way and to wait for him because after his arrival, only they can do anything.
After a long wait, a person arrived who was a senior supervisor at Alliance Air and not the manager. “So I asked the person at the counter who stopped me from boarding earlier if she was the same person he was talking about. But he didn’t give an adequate answer.”
She said the man started yelling at her that he was the person in charge and that he would make the decisions in the absence of the manager who wasn’t here. Dwivedi said she asked him why she was forced to wait so long at the airport if the manager wouldn’t come.
“Later I calmly asked them to send me to Kochi. I said I didn’t want a refund … They said we can’t do that and I can only get a refund. They said I should book a flight on another airline. That’s how they answered. Then they said I could travel with their airline, but the wheelchair can’t be taken with you, “he added.
For Dwivedi who had traveled the long distance from Indiranagar to Bangalore at the airport, everything had been “ruined” at that point and she subsequently asked the airline to provide in writing why she was not allowed to board her flight. .
“After traveling so far alone and handling everything physically, mentally and financially, they ruined everything for me. For a person like me it is difficult. It is in my nature that I softly talk to people and talk to them calmly at the airport to find a solution. They are the ones who started arguing and then yelling at me, “he said.
Indian Airport Authority staff were present there and provided her with food and water and comforted her. They even tried to reason with the airline official, but in vain. “So I asked him to give me in writing why I missed my flight, why I wasn’t allowed to board,” he said.
Later, for the sake of formality, the official wrote about why she was not allowed to board and also agreed to get a refund for booking tickets on another flight as she was delayed, Dwivedi said. However, when the official realized that he would be flying on another airline, he said he would not give anything in writing and walked away with the document, he claimed.
About what the experience was with the other carrier she flew with afterwards, she said: “They never bothered me. They were fast and they provided great service. My wheelchair has a battery. dry. The rule is you can’t travel with a wet battery on an airline. ”
“I just removed the battery and gave it to the airline and they put the wheelchair in the luggage,” he said. “I travel a lot and wherever I go, I have never encountered this problem. This time the travel agent booked the tickets on Alliance Air. He did not mention that I was disabled or in a wheelchair when booking the ticket. This is necessary if I need a wheelchair. But I bring my own wheelchair, so where is the need to put it (when booking a ticket)? ”
“Even otherwise, imagine if I travel with a prosthesis and suddenly something happens to me and I can’t walk. I will definitely be carrying my wheelchair without any information. Are they so unprofessional that they can’t handle such a situation?” asked.