A discouraged Sarita Dwivedi then booked her ticket with another airline and traveled to Kochi smoothly and in her wheelchair.
An award-winning artist with physical disabilities said she was recently interrupted from boarding an Alliance Air flight from Bengaluru to Kochi because she was unwilling to leave her battery-operated wheelchair.
The only option the airline gave Sarita Dwivedi was: leave the wheelchair or book a flight on another airline, she said speaking to PTI on Monday (June 20).
Alliance Air did not even refund the amount of approximately Rs 8,000 it had spent on tickets for itself and for her friend who had come from Kochi to Bengaluru to bring her here. She also accused a staff member of hostile behavior towards her.
A statement from the airline on the matter was expected.
Dwivedi said she later had to shell out around Rs 14,000 to travel on another private carrier to reach Kochi 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.
Read also: DGCA imposes Rs 5 lakh fine on IndiGo for denying boarding to a child with a disability
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 with a motorized wheelchair, you should arrive a little earlier. Then I got a little angry and said I was on time. I told him to get the person doing the scan to scan the wheelchair so I can go. He again he said I was late. Then he said madam that you can’t travel with a motorized wheelchair because it runs on battery ”.
When asked if the airline official had provided a reason not to allow the wheelchair, she said that “they said there are some guidelines against it. But these guidelines are present with every airline ”.
“They said given the guidelines, I can’t take my wheelchair. So either I should leave it behind or I can’t travel on the flight. So they spoke to me. I felt so bad, “she said.
He previously tweeted about the incident, tagging Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiradita Scindia.
Asked if the airline offered alternatives, he said, “they weren’t willing to do anything for me. I was ready to leave the wheelchair there, as long as they could ship it to my home in Kochi. I’m not from Bangalore. I am 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 his ticket.
However, “they did not refund the ticket amount .. I had spent around Rs 8,000 for two tickets for me and my friend .. even my friend could not travel as I was not allowed to travel. Not only did they not refund me the amount, but I later had to spend around 14,000 rupees on two tickets to Kochi, “he said on 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 it was the same person he was talking about. But he did not 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 don’t want a refund … they said we can’t do that and I can only get a refund. They said I should have booked a flight with another airline. So they replied. Then they said I could travel with their airline, but the wheelchair cannot be taken with you, “she 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 this 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 speak softly to people and calmly talk to them at the airport to find a solution. They are the ones who started fighting and then yelling at me, “she 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 into afterwards, she said, “They never bothered me. They were fast and they provided great service. My wheelchair has a battery. The rule is that you can’t travel with the wet battery on an airline. “” I just removed the battery power 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 faced this problem. This time the travel agent booked the tickets on Alliance Air. She 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’m traveling with a prosthesis and suddenly something happens to me and I can’t walk. I will definitely take my wheelchair without any information. They are so unprofessional that they can’t handle such a situation, “she asked.
(With input from agencies)