Sunday, November 26, 2017

Amenities at airports are your right

Airports around the country are being modernised and expanded to cater to the increasing number of travellers. Many of them today look very good, but lack some basic amenities. For example, I need to walk long distances to reach the boarding gate with my hand baggage and being a 76-year-old man, I find that tough. How do I ensure better facilities for myself and others like me?
I would like to quote for your benefit, a recent circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on this issue. Titled “Facilities/courtesies to esteemed travelling public at airports” and dated August 31, 2017, the circular, addressed to all airlines as well as airport operators, says: “Airline/airport operator shall ensure provision of automated buggies free of charge for all senior citizens, expectant mothers and disabled passengers in the terminal building to facilitate their access to boarding gates located beyond reasonable walking distance at all airports having annual aircraft movement of 50,000 or more. This facility may be extended to other needy passengers on demand basis free of charge.”
The circular also says: “Airport operators shall provide small trolleys after security check for carriage of hand baggage permitted as per regulation, up to the boarding gate. Airport operators shall adequately display information regarding availability of automated buggies and small trolleys in the terminal building at prominent locations…” So please demand that the airport or the airline provide you with automated buggy. Of course, these instructions are not new. They were also in a similar circular issued in 2014 (the recent one supersedes the 2014 circular). So, airlines and airport operators cannot say that they need time to comply.
The circular categorically tells these service providers: “It is imperative to strengthen customer service skills at airport level, especially in areas of courtesy and behaviour by all stakeholders to mitigate passenger inconvenience and make air travel a pleasant experience.” It directs airlines and airport operators to ensure that their ground staff engaged in passenger handling “extend an extremely polite and courteous behaviour towards the travelling public” and ask them to ensure that the ground staff engaged in passenger handling “undergo periodic soft skill training for sensitisation, courtesy, behaviour and procedures for assisting passengers.”
Where can I complain about these issues?
Please remember that you have a right to a buggy to travel long distances at airports and the service providers have to provide this facility. Failure to do so constitutes negligence on part of the airline/airport operators. You can seek compensation from the consumer court for such negligence in service. The failure of the airport authorities to provide automated buggies as directed by the DGCA also constitutes violation of the mandate of the regulator and, therefore, constitutes deficiency in the service provided by them.
I would suggest that you first seek redress of your grievance through the regulator. In fact, the circular that I mentioned earlier also asks airlines and airport operators to have a proper system of passenger grievance redress. It says service providers should immediately acknowledge all complaints and resolve them at the earliest, but not later than a month.
26/11/17 Pushpa Girimaji/Tribune