Bengaluru

Wheelchair-bound professor denied boarding on Air India flight

Prof. Kaushik Majumdar said he had been travelling on Air India using the electric wheelchair for many years now.

Prof. Kaushik Majumdar said he had been travelling on Air India using the electric wheelchair for many years now.

A senior professor suffering from post polio paralysis was denied boarding on a Kolkata-bound Air India flight at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Monday morning, over his wheelchair. “Even after security clearance, I was denied boarding the flight with my wheelchair, because runs on four batteries instead of two, which is claimed to be the DGCA requirement,” Prof. Kaushik Majumdar, with the Indian Statistical Institute said. 

Prof. Majumdar said he had been travelling on Air India using the electric wheelchair for many years now. “I had faced a similar problem in 2017, but even after that I have travelled many times without any hassles. I contacted the Air India office on Friday, where employees recognised me as I fly frequently. They said there won’t be any problem, but that was not the case on Monday. The captain of the flight Mr. Sandeep Marwah declined to allow the wheelchair to be loaded in the aircraft (in the cargo hold as usual), for the four batteries were too dangerous. The wheelchair is designed to travel by air without removing the batteries. The batteries were maintenance free dry lead-acid cells (sealed),” Prof. Majumdar said. 

“I was made to wait for over an hour and finally was denied boarding and my boarding pass was taken away. As all others were allowed to board, I was made to wait and finally denied boarding,” Prof. Majumdar complained. “There is ambiguity in the rules on the batteries aspect, leading to different people interpreting the rule differently,” he said. 

However, in a statement they released Monday evening, Air India said: “When he was asked to dismantle the batteries of his wheelchair conforming to DGR regulations regarding carriage of restricted items, he could not remove the same and insisted on having the wheelchair with the batteries with him in the cabin, flouting all laid down rules, clearly documented in our website and explained to him repeatedly. As there was no other alternative, the passenger had to be disembarked to adhere to safety requirements,” it added, denying any ill treatment or harassment on their part. “It may be noted that there was an identical situation involving the same passenger at Bengaluru airport in 2017, wherein the rules prohibiting his battery operated wheelchair from being taken inside the aircraft were explained to him,” Air India further said. 


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Printable version | Mar 8, 2022 7:20:48 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/wheelchair-bound-professor-denied-boarding-on-air-india-flight/article65202225.ece