Free Press Journal

Bengaluru: Not allowed to board aircraft, alleges wheelchair bound passenger   


Bengaluru: A wheelchair-bound passenger today alleged he was not allowed to board an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata on December 17 as he had declined to “remove wires” from the battery of his wheelchair.

Kaushik Majumdar, an Associate Professor at Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), told PTI here that the battery is disconnected every time the wheelchair is loaded in the aircraft and this time too he disconnected it. “Some weird staff, however, insisted on removing all the wires from the battery, which would have completely ruined the equipment, on which I depend,” he said, adding, he declined to do so.

Majumdar said he never faced this type of a “weird” situation since he started travelling by Air India after joining the ISI as a faculty member in 2009. “My electric wheelchair is always loaded in the cargo hold and this time too it was to be loaded there.I never asked for its loading inside the passenger area,” he said.

In all airlines including Air India, disconnecting the battery from the wheelchair joystick controller is enough, Majumdar said. “Why then an exception was made in AI 776 on December 17? Who are responsible? I want an answer,” he said.  Even the CISF smoothly cleared the chair, but right before boarding some Air India staff raised security issues with the battery, he said.

Responding to the charge, Air India General Manager for Corporate Communications G P Rao said no passenger can violate the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms and safety of passengers was very important. The passenger had promised to remove the battery at the boarding gate, but refused to do it when he reached there, he said. Subsequently, the pilot was informed about it and he took a call not to allow the passenger in the aircraft, Rao added.