Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Wheelchair-bound Presidency professor raises harassment plaint against airline

Kolkata: An assistant professor at Presidency University with cerebral palsy disability has alleged harassment before and during travel on the national carrier. The airline, while regretting the inconvenience she had faced, refused to alter its position on the issues.

Priyanka De, who teaches philosophy, flew to Delhi by Air India on February 17 and returned by the same airline on February 25. Prior to travel, she had a trying time availing of a concession that the airline offers to persons with locomotor disability. Discounts under various categories, including students and the ones in Armed services, can be availed while purchasing tickets online. But De, who is completely wheelchair-bound and has a disability certificate from the chief medical officer, was unable to avail of the discount online.

It was only when she wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office that the airline reached out to her and took the necessary documents over mail to approve the 50% discount on basic fare.

“On my return, I wrote to the airline, asking it to ensure that others with similar disability get the discount while purchasing tickets online at a time when Covid is on the rise. But in its reply, the airline has expressed its inability to do so without physically verifying the extent of disability at the airline’s city or airport counter. Why can’t a passenger upload the disability certificate at the time of purchasing the ticket and show it at the time of travel,” De argued.

The second issue that she faced was on the return journey when she was not allowed to carry her foldable wheelchair in the cabin, despite the airline website clearly stating that collapsible wheelchair and pair of crutches or braces for passenger use, if dependent on these, are allowed in the cabin.

07/04/21 Times of India

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