In an appalling incident revealing the mismanagement of in-flight services, a differently-abled woman on-board an Air India flight was made to crawl to the passenger coach after a wheelchair was not provided to her. This happened when she deboarded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Air India has regretted the same and ordered an inquiry into the matter. This incident took place on January 29.
Air India CMD, Ashwani Lohani today spoke exclusively to NewsX and said “I regret the entire incident. We are not happy about it; it’s sad that this happened. We have ordered an inquiry into it to find out what actually happened because we are providing so many wheelchairs to so many passengers, so why has this incident taken place? Normally special requirement are mentioned in the ticket. However, unfortunately due to some reason there was no mention in the particualar ticket about the requirement of a wheelchair.”
“We are also looking into the reasons behind the wheelchair request not having been indicated in the ticket/PNR that you booked for your journey through Balmer and Lawrie. Had the request been made, the timely availability of wheelchair at the ramp could have been ensured and the inconvenience caused to you could have been avoided,” CMD Lohani said in a letter to Ms Ghai.
Lohani further explained that it was an ATR flight and wheelchairs do not go in ATR flight. Also an ATR flight doesn’t come to the aero bridge. Whenever a requirement is specified, it is mentioned where it is required, whether inside a cabin, on the ramp or at the arrival. In this case, the wheelchair was made available at the arrival.
Anita Ghai, an Associate Professor at Delhi University, had boarded the Alliance Air (a regional arm of Air India), flight from Dehradun on January 29.
The victim who was made to crawl to the passenger coach when the airline failed to provide her a wheelchair said, “I am a motorised wheelchair user; on the counter I presented myself as a wheelchair user and I specifically asked them to convey that I would be needing a wheelchair at the Delhi airport on arrival. I am a frequent flyer of Air India and I know all the rules, so why wasn’t I previously informed?”