Thursday, February 23, 2012

And now it is Jet Connect discriminating against persons with disabilities

Dear Friends,

Anjlee Agarwal, Samarthyam
The incidences do not stop. On 20th Feb 2012, Anjlee Agrawal faced similar discrimination- this times at the hands of Jet Connect while travelling from Delih to Raipur which went unreport. This confirms that most cases go unreported and while some odd ones surface, the airliners are conveniently happy issuing a public apology and promising that they will take action. However, "the status quo" is maintained- things continue to remain so!

Here are the details of the incidence in her own words:

"Followed by the incident of Jeeja with Spice Jet, the very next day I was harrassed by Jet Connect on 20th Feb. flight 9W 2211 from Delhi to Raipur. At Delhi airport. I was asked by the boarding pass issuer, if "I am fit to fly". When I asked him, "what do you mean", he stared at me and asked me to sign an indeminity bond. When I refused to do that, he said, "its our rule and you canot fly without signing this". I had to sign it, as I could not afford to miss the flight.

At Raipur airport:  Inspite of airlines crew assurance of getting an aisle chair on board, the flight supervisor, Niranjan Sen at Raipur pressurised me to be bodily lifted by four male loaders with the excuse that while deboarding at Raipur- they do not have aisle chairs in smaller cities. Hence I was "ordered" to be bodily lifted till the gate of the aircraft and then transferred to the big wheechair and then carried down the steps.

2. On my protest to the above, he threatened me that they will not de-board me instead will take me back to Delhi as the flight was going back to Delhi and in midst of all this commotion, flight attendants asked passengers to board the flight, before I de-boarded.

3. I kept fighting for making an aisle chair available and I refused to both- "bodily lifting and carried back to Delhi".

4. Meanwhile junior supervisor, started harrassing me by saying that I have not put a request for wheelchair while booking the tickets. When I said that I did made a wheelchair request at The Delhi airport and also while booking tickets, he said that "wheelchairs users cannot book tickets through web booking". This came as a bigger shock to me because I did book tickets online and with wheelchair request.

5. The fight continued for 35 minutes and when they found that I will not give up, a "Jet airways" aisle chair appeared. With ruthlessness and extreme rudeness, I was transferred into the aisle chair and "literally thrown down" the steps, as if they are all trying to get rid of me.

I think, it is quite obvious that what airlines do is book tickets, make money, and treat disabled passengers as "noonincoops" to be loaded by loaders, as if we are "sack of vegetables".

There is no rule, no training and no courtesy for disabled passengers. Private airlines make us sign an ideminity bond, wherein its clearly written that Airlines will not take any responsibility of the passenger.

Now, it is time for the entire disability sector to join hands and stand up aganinst the "airlines" and ask them to come up with uniform and dignified policy/guidelines for disabled passengers and SHOULD pay heavy price for violation.

Anjlee Agarwal
Executive Director & Access Consultant
National Centre for Accessible Environments"

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