Faisal Nawaz, a 30-year-old engineer at Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bangalore and a disability activist who writes Ability Khabarnama has accused the only government airliner - Air India of discrimination after the airline repeatedly ordered him to cancel his booking several times.
Faisal, lives with a medical condition termed Kypho Scoliosis and Polio since childhood. In April 2013 he booked a return flight from Bangalore to New Delhi.
Faisal’s doctors advised him to make use of BiPAP equipment and oxygen support as he is likely to experience respiratory problems in a pressurized cabin. The BiPAP machine is a relatively small device that pushes oxygen into the lungs and holds them inflated.
Air India asks passengers with special requirements to complete all details of MEDIF (Medical Information Form). Faisal, who made his booking online, followed the airline procedure to the letter.
"I sent Air India reservation centres the Medical Information Form, as well as my doctors' certificates and ticket details," the man said.
Two days before his departure date Air India’s medical team called Faisal. “They ordered me to send them the MEDIF again and to reschedule my flight as I would not be allowed to travel.”
Faisal’s ordeal was far from over. “Few days away from my rescheduled departure Air India medical team called me again,” the unlucky engineer recalls. “This time they told me one of the documents was not readable and I had to show up in person to the Air India office to be certified as fit to fly by and Air India doctor.” Needless to say, Faisal was once again ordered to reschedule his flight as he would not be allowed to board the aircraft.
At the third attempt Faisal was finally cleared to fly. However, the young man was told he would have to fill in and submit a new MEDIF prior to his return flight.
Following instructions, Faisal sent a new MEDIF to Air India’s medical team two weeks before his return flight. Two days before his return flight the man received a call from Air India who ordered him to once again reschedule his flights. “This time I was told my two week’s old MEDIF was too old, and I had to go in person to see an Air India doctor or I would not be allowed to fly.”
Faisal showed up at Air India’s medical team in Delhi and was declared fit to fly. Once declared fit to fly, passengers are “not required to provide the same information again and again” according to India’s Civil Aviation Requirements for transport of passengers with disabilities.
However, Air India seems to have a different opinion. "In case of respiratory conditions, Air India must ensure the aircraft has enough oxygen cylinders on board,” a spokesperson for Air India said.
Air India requires passengers with disabilities to notify the airline of their special requirements. However, the airline systematically fails to forward the information to airports outside the Republic of India, causing its most vulnerable passengers unnecessary humiliation and stressful wait for assistance.
Source: Reduced Mobility Rights