Airline Aisle Chairs to Become Mandatory in India

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If this regulation is implemented correctly - that is with industry-standard, safely-constructed equipment sized to accommodate international passengers, and operated by trained staff - then this development is one of the most important in recent years for travelers with mobility impairments.

Rather than shortsighted resistance the industry should now become proactive - in partnership with the Indian Ministry of Tourism - about the market that this progress will open to them.

From the Times of India via Disability News India:

NEW DELHI, 31 Mar: In order to make flying a comfortable experience for disabled people, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made it mandatory for all airlines to carry aisle wheelchairs by July 31.

Aisle Wheelchair
This chair will be used for taking physically disabled passengers from their seats to toilet during flight or for being wheeled around on long or ultralong sectors.

Interestingly, the DGCA had prepared its civil aviation requirement (CAR) for providing certain minimum facilities to the physically challenged last year but it remained a draft so far. Recently the court of chief commissioner for persons with disabilities pointed out that the DGCA had prepared a draft CAR but without the power to enforce the same, it may serve little purpose.

The directorate then sought time to change its rules and has now amended them. The CAR for persons with disabilities is going to be strictly implemented. If the things this rule provides for like having aisle wheelchairs on all flights by July 31 are not adhered to, action will be taken against airlines,Esaid a senior official.

In the past, there have been several instances where airlines have refused to take physically challenged passengers on their flights. Now under CAR, airlines will be able to do so only in extreme cases where safety of aircraft or fellow passengers could be endangered. In fact, airlines can refuse an assistive device or even guide dog if the passenger has told them that he or she would be using them at time of booking. It also lays stress on training employees to take care of special needs of the physically challenged, including at the airport.

The DGCA has also addressed airline industry objections to the provision of providing all assistance to disabled people free of cost contained in the original draft CAR. The carriers said that charging for assistance should be left to them alone. So under CAR, airlines are allowed to charge for stretchers and any extra material that it provided to the passenger. In fact, the DGCA has in recent past made several draft rules for passengers convenience.

But the economic slowdown has meant that the aviation ministry has given higher priority to saving airlines and airport developers.

As a result, CARs on passenger rights have taken a backseat. A case in point is a draft that provides compensation and penalty to passengers in case of deficiencies in service to passengers like being wrongly denied boarding to a confirm ticket holder or an inordinately long delay not caused by natural reasons. This draft CAR is yet to be finalised and issued. If this draft is issued, airlines will have to pay for deficiency in service. They have cited poor financial health and the draft has not been finalised and issued to date, said a senior official.


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