June 20, 2007

Violation in Chennai: Air Travel Denied Disability Activist

Let me state my bias from the outset, "I support Rajeev Rajan and his discrimination complaint against SpiceJet and JetLite." Further, I find it very encouraging that the government of India has taken swift and forceful action on his behalf. I have asked Rajeev to send in his own account of what occurred for publication in the Rolling Rains Report.

Here's a point under debate. Were the airline personnel malicious? Insensitive? Ignorant?

On the one hand, none of that is important in light of the abuse of Rajeev's rights and dignity.

On the other, locating the source of the problem may illustrate that we have further evidence supporting the California SEIU's claim that airline workers, who often have the best of intentions, are placed in impossible situations through lack of training. If that is true, then we have the opportunity for a truly global movement of solidarity in which both consumers and service providers are passionatelys striving for the same outcome.

My observation is that, for all the promise of this encouraging convergence of goals the cause of the problem lies in the failure to design transportation systems around the principles of Universal Design. And, that failure of imagination points to systemtized injustice embedded in travel industry business practices and resulting in lost revenue. The cause of the problem lives in managerial suites far removed from the site of the conflict.

Monday, June 18, 2007 (Chennai, New Delhi)

Rajeev Rajan is someone who fights for the rights of the disabled worldwide but Air Sahara denied him a boarding pass to fly from Chennai to Delhi...

The government has reacted strongly to NDTV's report of a disabled person who was not allowed to board an Air Sahara flight on Monday evening in Chennai without first getting a fit-to-fly certificate.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a notice to the managements of SpiceJet and JetLite (Air Sahara's new name) asking for an immediate explanation. The airlines could face action if the DGCA is not satisfied with its reply.

The article by Sam Daniel and Sandeep Phukan goes on further to explain:

Rajan says the airline authorities insisted on an escort and a fitness to fly certificate and called the police to evict him.

His repeated pleas that he is a frequent flier and ought to be treated with dignity went unheard.

When Rajeev contacted another airline, SpiceJet, they too refused him a ticket.

All of us with disabilities know that we are too often called upon to provide the sort of "just-in-time" training at the point of service that Mr. Rajan attempted. I suggest that we start billing for these services.

There is a predictable frequency to the ignorance about our comunity by those we have paid to serve us as passengers. The cure for ignorance is education. Are they being educated by anyone besides passengers? To what management level within the air transportation industry must this ignorance be eradicated before the policy of pervasive underpreparedness of front line professionals is eliminated?

I applaud Mr. Rajan's decision to take this incident to consumer court.

This ia a generous act of public education on his part. He is uplifting the ignorant from their moral confusion about the rights and realities of the disability community.

As a point of law, I hold that he is entitled to compensation for providing these educational services. He ought to be compensated at the rates customary for any professional educator. He has spent a lifetime mastering the content he is imparting to his student. His compensation ought to include the "course development time" he has invested -- a lifetime of becoming an expert on living with cerebral palsy.

Full article:

DGCA issues notice to Air Sahara

Posted by rollingrains at June 20, 2007 04:58 PM