Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dr Anita Ghai, a fellow disability activist and Associate Professor made to crawl by Alliance Air in absence of wheelchair at Delhi Airport

Dear Colleagues, 

Here is a shocking case of apathy revealed by our fellow disability activist Dr. Anita Ghai, an associate professor about the treatment meted out to her by the Alliance Air - a regional carrier operated by Air India at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Dr. Ghai - a passenger with disability was denied a wheelchair while de-boarding from an Air India flight.
picture of Dr. Anita Ghai
Dr. Anita Ghai, Associate Professor & a wheelchair user

Dr. Ghai was forced to crawl off plane and onto tarmac after airline failed to provide a wheelchair for her' 

  • Dr Ghai claims she waited 30 minutes for a wheelchair that never arrived
  • She said she crawled down the steps and onto a bus bound for a terminal 
  • India's Alliance Air has denied the claims and said it offered a wheelchair

Anita Ghai said she was left shocked and embarrassed by the way she was treated by Alliance Air, a regional carrier operated by Air India, at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The 53-year-old claims she had to crawl off the plane and onto a bus that took her to the terminal after she waited half an hour for a wheelchair that never arrived.

Ghai, who uses a wheelchair after suffering polio as a child, told DNA India she stayed behind after the other passengers had disembarked.

She said: ‘They [the flight attendants] told me that the wheelchair will come, but it did not. The door of the plane is narrow so I knew the chair could not be brought inside, but they did not even have an aisle chair.

‘I can’t stand as I have polio, so I crawled down the steps waiting for the chair.’

Ghai, a disability rights advocate and associate professor at Delhi University, said a wheelchair was provided once she reached the arrival hall after the bus ride.

She said the incident occurred after she arrived in New Delhi from Dehradun on Saturday night. She said she told staff before arriving that she would need a wheelchair.

In a statement given to India’s national press, Air India denied the woman’s claims.

The airline said: ‘Since the flight was parked at a distant bay it took some time to bring the wheelchair. Since passengers were getting down from the aircraft, our support staff actively helped the passenger to come out of the aircraft ensuring any inconvenience and the wheelchair was provided at aircraft doorstep.

‘We deeply regret any inconvenience caused to the passenger. However, we strongly deny the statement appearing in media. ‘We at Air India give utmost importance to passenger safety and comfort.’

Dr. Ghai shot back at the airline, refuting the claim of the airline saying that it was ‘blatantly lying’ and she is considering legal action.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

United Airlines fined $2.75 Million over failure to provide fliers with disabilities prompt & adequate assistance in enplaning & deplaning

United Airlines fined $2.75 million over treatment of disabled fliers and tarmac delays

The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined United Airlines $2.75 million over the carrier's treatment of disabled passengers and for stranding passengers on delayed flights for more than three hours.

The federal agency said an investigation of United Airlines' treatment of disabled passengers was sparked by "a significant increase in the number of disability-related complaints."

"A review of these disability-related complaints revealed that United failed to provide passengers with disabilities prompt and adequate assistance with enplaning and deplaning aircraft," the  Transportation Department said in a statement.

Those complaints included an incident in October when a passenger with cerebral palsy was forced to crawl out of a United flight because airline crew failed to provide him with a special wheelchair that he requested. The airline publicly apologized to the flier a week later.

In an employee newsletter Thursday, United Airlines said it had begun testing a new smartphone app and other technology so that passengers and crew members can more quickly order wheelchairs on planes and in terminals.

“We expect this to greatly improve our ability to have wheelchairs where they need to be, when they need to be there, so that our customers can get on their way home or to their next destination with ease,” said Jon Roitman, senior vice president of airport operations at United.

Of the $2-million fine assessed over the violations against disabled passengers, United has agreed to spend $150,000 to improve audits of its wheelchair vendors and $500,000 toward developing the technology to make it easier for passengers to request wheelchairs.

The remaining $750,000 of the fine was because of five lengthy delays that stranded passengers on the tarmac at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Dec. 8, 2013, plus another lengthy delay at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport on May 20, 2015. All six delays kept passengers on the planes for more than three hours because of severe weather.

Under a 2010 rule, commercial airlines are prohibited from holding passengers on a delayed flight for more than three hours without giving them the option to leave the plane. The time limit extends to four hours for international flights.