Senior citizen accuses Air Vistara of wheelchair mismanagement, airline reiterates it was following SOP

Chandrika Bhaskar a 60-year-old wheelchair customer, who travelled on September 14 from Bengaluru to Mumbai by Vistara flight made a series of allegations against the airline.

Bhaskar stated that despite making all the necessary bookings, including a window seat, which she was denied, even though the aircraft was almost empty; she made another request for a wheelchair being a senior citizen and having a problem in her knee, given the fact that she has availed the same facility in the past, and received a confirmation too.

However, Bhaskar asserted that the airport staff made her wait for almost 15 minutes after being repeatedly badgered for her need of the wheelchair facility.

She added that one of the Vistara officers also demanded a medical certificate.

Bhaskar further claimed that after the wheelchair was arranged, and headed for security clearance, another staff member who called himself a “Santosh Nair” mistreated her and said that she need not fly Vistara if their services did not meet her expectations.

Bhaskar shared her ordeal in a blog on Asian Coverage. She said, “Another staff member of Vistara, named Santosh Nair, walked up and asked me why I needed the wheelchair. When I protested at this constant questioning, he told me rudely that I need not fly Vistara if I felt that their services did not meet my expectations. When I mentioned that I would take this matter up with higher authorities, he encouraged me to do so, and taunted me to go ahead and complain. His tone throughout his interaction was both loud and abrasive.”

“I am shocked at this absence of basic courtesy and politeness on the part of Mr. Santosh Nair. This is not what I have experienced with Vistara in the past, and I would like to know if I should discontinue flying with you as exhorted by your officer Santosh Nair. In most of my previous trips I chosen Vistara over others. Should I revise my choice? Courtesy and politeness in your industry are not only desirables, but even required by law. I am shocked that your officer has been disdainful of both,” she added.

Prior to making her statement public, Bhaskar told The Free Press Journal that she wrote to Vistara regarding the incident twice in September.

A senior executive of Vistara replied to the mails and asked for all the details, which were sent by Bhaskar.

After receiving no explanation for over a month, she wrote back stating that she will share her ordeal on social media with all the receipts attached.

The blog post was shared by Chandrika’s husband RN Bhaskar on October 5.

Vistara responded in a tweet, “Dear Mr. Bhaskar, we are concerned to note this and this isn’t certainly the experience we wanted you to have with Vistara. Please DM your booking details and allow us to investigate this further. Thanks, Jasneet.”

In an official statement, Vistara told The Free Press Journal: "It is a standard operating procedure (SOP) to reconfirm the reason for wheelchair requirement, especially if it is not directly attributable to an externally visible factor. This is done purely with the intent of providing the most appropriate handling and care to the customer during the entire journey.’

They added: “Our staff respectfully followed the procedure in this incident as well, however we regret that it appears to have been misunderstood. We have provided a detailed clarification to the customer in this regard and apologised for any inconvenience that may have caused to the customer. Vistara has a thought-through SOP for handling of passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) and the airline's top-most priority is to ensure everyone's safety."

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