D.N.I.S. News Network – An undercover audit of services for disabled passengers offered by Jet airways, conducted jointly by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) and New Delhi Television (N.D.T.V.), has revealed a glaring lack of awareness among airline staff on the need for access.
Aqeel Qureshi of the N.C.P.E.D.P. Access Unit reached the Indira Gandhi Airport and requested for assistance for a wheelchair user in boarding 9W 0306 from Delhi to Mumbai at Jet Airways check-in counter.
“Despite being informed before hand about my disability and need for assistance during travel, the airline did not provide either an ambulift or an aisle chair. Instead, untrained porters physically carried me onto the flight. I felt very vulnerable and unsafe as these four strangers carried me like a load. The onboard restrooms were also inaccessible,” said wheelchair user Qureshi, while recounting his experience during the travel.
“Though I had booked a seat close to the restroom, the cabin crew changed it. They asked ‘Can you walk?’ This is humiliating for a wheelchair user. There is an obvious lack of coordination between cabin crew and airport staff. It exposes Jet’s poor management practice and attitude,” he added.
The process of being physically carried by strangers in absence of an ambulift was repeated at the Mumbai airport.
As per a 1998 Supreme Court judgement, both the airports at Delhi as well as Mumbai should have the services of an ambulift. However, it seems that private airlines are not availing this facility, putting their disabled travellers to considerable embarrassment, discomfort and even a certain degree of risk.
The audit was later aired by N.D.T.V. on its news channel.