Monday, May 21, 2012

Indigo also sings the same song after harassing a passenger with disability

Dear Colleagues,

Another tale, however it is surprising to see that it is coming from Indigo this time which is considered by the disability sector to be a sensitized air carrier! It is disappointing and calls for urgent action on the part of the senior management team. And training not only for the Indigo staff but also for the security officials posted at the Airports. Here is the news from the Times of India.

Prerna Sodhi, TNN May 19, 2012, 01.41AM IST

NEW DELHI: A day after wheelchair-bound Shuaib Chalklen alleged harassment by IndiGo staff, the airline responded to TOI's queries on Friday afternoon, saying the personnel checking in the passengers inadvertently wrote paralysed on the boarding card of the special rapporteur on disability with the UN Commission for Social Development.

The email received from the airline says, "The IndiGo staff checking in the passengers inadvertently wrote paralysed on Mr Chalklen's boarding card which is NOT the usual process that IndiGo follows. We are taking serious action against the IndiGo staff. We regret the inconvenience caused to Mr. Shuaib Chalklen and hope he will see this experience as an aberration and not the rule at IndiGo."

Chalklen, who has been wheelchair-bound for 35 years, said he had received no word from the airline. He said the airline was avoiding the basic issue. "The basic issue is that they do not have a trained staff or the necessary equipment. How do they plan to take care of passengers with disability in future?" he said.

The email claimed Chalklen was offered the airline wheelchair at the check-in counter on Thursday afternoon as his wheelchair was slightly larger and could not pass through airport security. "Mr. Chalklen was requested to move to the 'IndiGo wheelchair', however, Mr. Chalklen chose to use his own wheelchair and this was refused by CISF at security area."

It added: "IndiGo wheelchair was shadowing the passenger. The staff at once provided the wheelchair (not an aisle wheelchair) and the passenger's wheelchair was sent back to the check-in counter to be tagged and sent through the in-line screening."

On Chalklen's allegation about the confusion over seat on the Mumbai-Delhi flight - he had said that after a passenger refused to swap seats, he was asked thrice if he could move slightly, stand or walk to another seat - the airline said, "Mr. Chalklen was originally assigned seat 3C, however, the assistant manager requested passenger seated on seat 1D to move to 3C. This took few minutes."

Echoing Chalklen, activist Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People said such an incident was not new and the airlines were avoiding the basic issue. "The airlines have to answer where are the aisle wheelchairs, the wheelchairs. We are going to follow it up with the authorities concerned as these incidents are happening repeatedly," he said.

The chairperson of Svayam, Sminu Jindal, said that taking action against or dismissing the employees at the lower strata was not the solution. "The top notches have to understand that the policies have to percolate down to the lowest level," she said.

She added, "Apologizing and issuing public statements is not enough. The need of the hour is clear-cut instructions on things that are non-negotiable and this has to go down to the bottom-most level."


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