Disabled passenger says Air India made her 'crawl'

Published: January 31, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: A disabled passenger said Sunday she was forced to crawl on New Delhi airport’s tarmac after Air India failed to provide a wheelchair when her plane landed, an allegation the carrier denies.

Anita Ghai, 53, a leading disability rights activist, said she was left stranded after arriving in Delhi from the northern Indian city of Dehradun on Saturday evening.

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After being helped down steps from the plane by airline staff and a friend, Ghai said no wheelchair was available for her to reach the terminal-bound bus several metres away.

“We were kept waiting on the tarmac for half an hour before a passenger coach came to pick me up. I had to crawl on the tarmac to board the coach,” Ghai told AFP.

“I kept on reminding the staff to arrange a wheelchair throughout the journey but to my shock when we landed there was none and all they said was there were security reasons.”

Ghai, who is confined to a wheelchair after suffering polio as a child, described the incident as shocking and embarrassing.

Air India denied the incident, saying there was a delay in bringing the wheelchair because the plane was parked in an outlying bay.

“We strongly deny the statement… We at Air India give utmost importance to passenger’s safety and comfort,” it said in a statement, according to the Press Trust of India.

It is not the first time India’s state carrier, which has not made a profit since 2007, has been in the news for the wrong reasons.

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Last month, a London-bound flight with more than 200 passengers was forced to return to Mumbai after three hours in the air over a suspected rat sighting in the cabin.

A plane carrying 160 passengers was forced this month to return to Delhi almost 30 minutes into a Milan-bound flight after smoke was detected in the cabin.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • JC
    Jan 31, 2016 - 4:38PM

    I am shocked by Air India attitude. It has been in loss for many years and clearly it provides no service. Thank God we have PIA! We may have our problems, but since 1947 Air India cannot compare with PIA. Not even close. Recommend

  • Samuel J
    Jan 31, 2016 - 5:35PM

    Inspite of air india having a huge number of useless manpower and high aircraft to manpower ratio.This shameful incident occured.The woman is right in condemning it.Now, I hope that the minister identifies the culprit and release him from the services of air india.Atleast the public will not have to bear the cost of this airlines.Modi government is just talking big and filling empty gas.It is going to the dumps.I doubt if it is fit for any further vote.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Jan 31, 2016 - 7:44PM

    Modi should resign taking moral responsibility.Recommend

  • Timorlane
    Jan 31, 2016 - 8:30PM

    What else can you expect from indiaRecommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 31, 2016 - 8:46PM

    Made her crawl ?! Must be a caste thing as usual….Recommend

  • John B
    Jan 31, 2016 - 11:10PM

    This incident has a drama all over it. Wheel chair was arranged and she has to wait patiently. Things won’t work like a clock work, even if it was requested ahead. The passenger only has to wait a bit longer. Encountered this all the time in air travel. On a counter side, how many times when she had travelled previously the wheel chair was made available at the earliest?

    Whenever a leading activist becomes the center of a story there is always a skepticism at my end. Recommend

  • An Indian
    Feb 1, 2016 - 12:52AM

    Shameful incident. Air India sucks. It should be privatized and not bailed repeatedly with tax payers money. At least, when it’s private, incidents like this can be avoided as private companies care about their image. Also, if the accusations of the Ms. Ghai are true, the responsible staff should be severely reprimanded or fired.Recommend

  • buba
    Feb 1, 2016 - 1:38AM

    Why would a passenger lie about something like this? Shame on Air India. A good PR person would have admitted an unfortunate error – apologized – and refunded airfare or provided future free tickets.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 1, 2016 - 4:12AM

    @Samuel J:
    High aircraft to manpower ratio or rather the reverse? Anyway, must be some caste thing having her crawl..Recommend

  • An Indian
    Feb 1, 2016 - 5:40AM

    @Samuel J:
    I agree with everything you said except your statement about Modi government. People like you expect wonders from a party which has in power for 2 years, but never demanded accountability from a corrupt government which destroyed India for over 60 years. Reforms have been implemented under this government (even though very slowly). However, if this government is voted out, India can kiss any chance of growth good bye. Reading your comment, I’m always reminded of Alexis de Tocqueville famous quote, “People get the government they deserve”.Recommend

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