Denial of tickets to visually-impaired youth:Indigo apologises

Denial of tickets to visually-impaired youth:Indigo apologises

No-frill carrier Indigo today 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 staff."

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".