Monday, December 18, 2017

Wheelchair-bound researcher not allowed on flight to Kolkata

Bengaluru: A wheelchair-bound passenger travelling by Air India from Bengaluru to Kolkata was not allowed to board the flight on Sunday morning.

Kaushik Majumdar, a researcher at Indian Statistical Institute here, alleged harassment by the airline’s ground staff just before he was to board the flight.

Mr. Majumdar, recounted the incident to The Hindu. “I use a electrical wheelchair which runs on a dry battery. After taking my boarding pass and clearing the security check, I took the bus to the aircraft. Right before entering the plane, the ground staff stopped me and asked me to shift to a non-electrical wheelchair, which I agreed to. But despite disconnecting the battery of the wheelchair, which was to go inside the cargo hold, the staff said that all the wires connected to the battery had to be removed. I did not agree to that as it is a complex mechanism and neither I nor the ground staff at the destination airport would be able to fix it back. I am completely dependent on the wheelchair,” recounted Mr. Majumdar who has 85% orthopaedic disability.

In July this year, Mr. Majumdar said that he had faced a similar situation, but the staff at that time had let him travel. He added that though he travelled regularly by air from 2009, he had never faced such humiliation.

“I wanted to go home to get some rest as I have not been keeping well for sometime now. But, I was not allowed in the flight. It was a harrowing experience for me,” he said.

However, the Airlines refuted his charges. A spokesperson from Air India said that the passenger was clearly told at the time of checking in that the battery-operated wheelchair will not be allowed on-board the flight.
18/12/17 The Hindu

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