The incident happened with Anjalee Agarwal, who is suffering from Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy - a progressive neurological condition in which a person is unable to stand or move and has to be confined to a wheelchair, on a Jet Connect flight (9W 2211) from Delhi to Raipur on February 20.The incident came a day after differently-abled woman Jeeja Ghosh was offloaded from a SpiceJet flight.
"My ordeal started from Delhi airport. When I was asked by the boarding pass issuing staff, if 'I am fit to fly'. When I asked 'what do you mean', he stared at me and asked me to sign an indemnity bond.
"When I refused, he said 'it's our rule and you can't fly without signing this'. I had to sign it, as I could not afford to miss the flight," alleged Agarwal, who is a frequent flyer and also executive director of an NGO that works on creating accessibility awareness.
In a statement, Jet Airways said the guest travelling by 9W 2211 reported at the check-in counter at Delhi with a fractured leg which had a plaster on and explained it was due to a recent surgery.
"As per standard procedure, the check-in staff got the guest to sign an indemnity bond. Also she was informed there were no ambulifts at Raipur," the statement said. "The guest boarded from Delhi with the help of a wheel chair," a Jet Airways spokesperson said.
When she reached Raipur airport, Agarwal alleged that inspite of airlines crew assurance of getting an aisle wheelchair on board, flight supervisor Niranjan Sen pressurised her to be bodily lifted by four male loaders with the "excuse that while deboarding at Raipur they do not have aisle chairs in smaller cities.""Hence I was ordered to be bodily lifted till the gate of the aircraft and then transferred to the big wheelchair and then carried down the steps," Agarwal, who has filed a complaint with the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disability, the Director General of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Civil Aviation, said. When Agarwal protested at being bodily lifted by male loaders above, "Sen threatened me that they will not deboard me instead take me back to Delhi as the flight was going back to Delhi," Agarwal alleged.
The airline allegedly allowed boarding of passengers in midst of all this commotion and even before she deboard the plane.
"I kept fighting for making an aisle chair available and refused to both - 'bodily lifting and carried back to Delhi." she said.Meanwhile, junior supervisor allegedly told her that she had not put a request for wheelchair while booking the tickets.
"When I said, I did made a wheelchair request at Delhi airport and also while booking tickets, he said, 'wheelchairs users cannot book tickets through web booking'. This came as a bigger shock to me because I did book tickets online and with wheelchair request," an agitated Agarwal said.
Finally, after 35 minutes of her protest, a "Jet airways" aisle chair appeared. "With ruthlessness and extreme rudeness, I was transferred into the aisle chair and literally thrown down the steps, as if they are all trying to get rid of me," she alleged.
Agarwal said, "I think, it is quite obvious that what airlines do is book tickets, make money, and treat disabled passengers as "noonincoops" to be loaded by loaders, as if we are "sack of vegetables".
Jet Airways further said that Agarwal was brought up to galley area from where she walked up to her alloted seat in the aircraft.
On arrival at Raipur, Jet Airways staff met the passenger and offered her wheel-chair assistance.
"She was requested to walk up to the galley and avail the wheel chair which was kept there for her," the spokesperson said.
The guest was reluctant to allow the Jet Airways to assist her from her seat to the wheelchair. Ultimately, Jet Airways staff persuaded the guest to use the available facilities at the airport and helped her de-plane, the statement said.
The DGCA has issued guidelines about the Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability or Reduced Mobility, under the provisions of Rule 133 A of the Aircraft Act 1937. Section 4 of the CAR says that no airline should refuse to carry persons with disability or reduced mobility and also incorporate appropriate provisions in online form for booking tickets so that required facilities are made available to such passengers.