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Post Info TOPIC: For the disabled, flying in India is an ordeal


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For the disabled, flying in India is an ordeal
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For the disabled, flying is an ordeal
Problems start much before boarding a plane for passengers on wheelchairs 
Lekha Agarwal
Mumbai, December 3: Social worker Natwarlal Worah (95) and wife Pushpa (90)—both wheelchair users—-travel to their hometown Bhavnagar at least four times a year. The recent boom in low-cost airlines encouraged the couple to swap the 14-hour-long train journey for an hour-long flight.

But their first flight turned out to be such an ordeal that the couple don’t want to fly again.

“The airline told us that there would be an additional charge for the wheelchairs, since it was a low-cost airline,’’ says Worah. The couple shelled out Rs 400 and expected “fabulous service” in return, but were shocked when confronted with the realities of traversing the Indian skies as wheelchair-bound passengers.

Domestic airlines in India restrict the number of wheelchair travellers to only four per flight and bookings are done on a first-come-first-serve basis. Most carriers also require passengers to check in their own wheelchair and utilise the one provided by the airline.

* Wheelchair charges: Low-cost-carrier (LCC) Air Deccan charges Rs 200. SpiceJet did away with the fee in April, when the Air Passengers Association of India—an NGO dedicated to passenger welfare—raked up the issue

* From the terminal to the aircraft: Majority of domestic flights in Mumbai airport use passenger coaches to transfer the passenger from the terminal building to the aircraft due to the lack of nose-in bays and aerobridges, there are only five at the domestic terminal. The passenger coaches are not equipped with ramps, necessitating manual lifting of passengers in wheelchairs While Indian has a special handicap-friendly van, a spokesperson for Air Deccan said: “We push the wheelchair across the tarmac as far as possible.’’ Only Jet Airways and Air Sahara coaches have kneeling facilities

* Escorts: Abroad, there are specially-trained escorts to carry disabled passengers. In India, airlines use their loaders to do the job. Except Air India, airlines do not have the Passenger Aid Unit (PAU), which can be aligned to the aircraft height in the absence of aerobridges so that disabled passengers don’t need to be manually hauled up the step ladder. The problem is more acute for female wheelchair users, since escorts are usually male

* On-flight facilities: Not a single airline Newsline spoke to has collapsible wheelchairs for domestic flights. Such wheelchairs enable disabled passengers to address basic needs like lavatory usage

* Armrests: Armrests of wheelchairs and in-flight seats are not movable in most carriers. “Transferring the passenger from the wheelchair to the aircraft seat becomes very difficult, since the armrests are fixed. With movable armrests, as used in international carriers, I can just slide onto the seat from my wheelchair, instead of someone having to physically lift me’’ says Rustom Irani (26), a wheelchair use.




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I remember seeing a 'special report' on one of the news channel in which a young boy confined to a wheel chair and with some mentl problems also was not allowed to fly...

He was supposed to be flying 9W but the security personal did not let him go (his parents were allowed) because they felt that kid could "affect" the security issues.

They wanted him to fly with a doc...

Light travels faster than sound...thats why people appear bright, until you hear them talk!
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