Disabled ticket row: Indigo apologises

No-frill carrier Indigo said the executives of its "outsourced" call centre had been suspended for denying tickets to a visually-impaired passenger and apologised to him.

New Delhi: No-frill carrier Indigo on Monday
said the executives of its "outsourced" call centre had been
suspended for denying tickets to a visually-impaired passenger
and apologised to him for repeated denial of air tickets,
terming the incident as "shocking and unacceptable".

A visually-challenged student of Mumbai`s Tata Institute
of Social Sciences, Tony Kurian, was denied tickets repeatedly
by Indigo because of his impairment since late last year.

In a statement, IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said, "Our
outsourced call centre executives, who repeatedly denied
facilitating Mr Kurian`s travel with IndiGo on grounds of
passenger being visually challenged, have been suspended."

He said the airline had "no such policy that discourages
visually challenged passengers from traveling with us or
insisting that visually challenged passengers are accompanied
by guide dogs.

"It is indeed a shocking incident and this kind of an
unacceptable behavior does call for an immediate action,
including a training intervention. Hence, we have internally
circulated an email reiterating the DGCA guidelines to our

The incident came to light in the wake of similar
instances of discrimination against differently-abled persons
by Spicejet and Jet Airways.

Kurian was quoted as saying in a report that he had first
tried to book tickets last October flight to Cochin on June
22, 2012.

"I was refused a ticket. The airline told me that a blind
passenger may not avail of their services unless accompanied
by an escort or a guide dog. I tried to point out that this
was in violation of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation
(DGCA) guidelines, but they were adamant about what they
called their airline policy."

Following reports about visually-impaired persons being
denied tickets, the DGCA had last year written to the CEOs of
all airlines directing them to adhere to its rules --
`Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability and/or Persons
with Reduced Mobility.

Maintaining that "no airline shall refuse to carry
persons with disability or persons with reduced mobility",
DGCA`s Deputy Director General Lalit Gupta had then said "it
may be stated that blind passengers fall in the category of
incapacitated passengers who do not require any medical
clearance or special forms and only require special assistance
at the airport or in embarking/ disembarking."

The guidelines clearly state that "many persons with
disabilities do not require constant assistance for their
activities. Therefore, if the passenger declares independence
in feeding, communication with reasonable accommodation,
toileting and personal needs, the airlines shall not insist
for the presence of an escort."

It further states "all airlines shall provide necessary
assistance to persons with disabilities/impairment who wish to
travel alone without an escort".