Singapore Low cost carrier Tiger Airways (TigerAir) charges passengers with reduced mobility an astronomical wheelchair service fee of SGD 50 (£23/$40/€30) per flight.
Charging passengers with reduced mobility for providing wheelchair assistance at airports is illegal in the United States, Europe, Russia, and India. However, this is not the case in Singapore, where passengers can be discriminated because of their physical impairment.
TigerAir wheelchair service fees are 60% higher than AirAsia, currently charging SGD 20 to provide wheelchair assistance at Changi Airport.
"Tigerair charges a total of SGD 50 for providing wheelchair assistance at both the departing and the arrival airports," a spokesperson for the airline confirmed on Wednesday.
Tiger Airways wheelchair service fees are nothing compared to their charges for ambulifts, high loaders used to embark and disembark people with severe mobility limitations. TigerAir ambulift service fee is SGD275 (£130/$220/€160) per segment.
By example, an able bodied passenger flying from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur of 24 June 2014 on flight TR2464, and returning to Singapore on 26 June on flight TR2969 would spend SGD 55.60 (light fare, itinerary checked on tigerair website, total cost shown on 18 June 2014, 9 AM GMT). However, a passenger requesting wheelchair assistance would be charged SGD 155.60 for the same itinerary. A passenger with severe reduced mobility in need of an ambulift to embark and deplane the aircraft would have to pay SGD 605.60, eleven times what an able bodied passenger would spend.
The airline demands passengers requiring special assistance to notify them via the call centre at the time of your booking at least five days before the date of travel. Personal wheelchairs are carried free of charge. However, wheelchairs over 30kgs cannot be carried due to TigerAir Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Exceptions are made if mobility equipment can be dismantled, and each individual component does not exceed 30kgs.
The airline has a limit of two wheelchair users it carries per flight. This cap is illegal in the United States and Europe, and is half the minimum limit currently in force in India.
"There is no charge if a passenger bring his/her own wheelchair. In such a situation, the passenger is able to wheel himself/herself to the boarding gate," a spokesperson for Tigerair told Reduced Mobility Rights on Wednesday. "We will retrieve the wheelchair, stow in the cargo compartment and restore to the passenger at the arrival airport."
"Other airlines may have a different way of charging passengers for wheelchair assistance, for example, the rate may only apply for the departing and not the arrival airport," The spokesperson added. " We are not in position to comment on their charges."
Tigerair Singapore is wholly owned by Tiger Airways Holdings Limited. Singapore Airlines is TigerAir largest shareholder. The Singapore based airline operates a fleet of 27 Airbus A320 aircraft.