On Wednesday, employees of IndiGo Airlines allegedly forced a 57-year-old disabled passenger out of the wheelchair belonging to the airline because the man was flying with a different carrier. Despite help from family members, Gopal Dey arrived late at the gate and missed his flight. A representative from IndiGo Airlines confirmed this incident but said that it was due to the lack of wheelchairs available for use.
Mr. Dey is paralyzed due to a car accident five years ago and struggles with movement in his left leg. Ground staff of IndiGo Airlines allegedly forcibly removed him from the wheelchair he was in because he was bound to fly with another airline, Go First, to Kolkata, India, where he was headed to attend the funeral of a close family member.
"My mother and I had no choice but to carry him through security and all the way up to the gate," says Rajiv, Mr. Dey's son who also missed the flight after being delayed trying to assist his parents during the eventful trip together.
There are no airport wheelchairs available at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru so passengers have to rely on those offered by airlines.
Sources who work for IndiGo Airlines confirmed the incident. They said the wheelchair was meant for passengers who had reserved it in advance and due to wheelchair shortages, ground staffers were forced to seize it.
Last May, IndiGo ground staff at Ranchi airport came under fire for not allowing a disabled teenager to boarding his flight. The incident caused a great deal of public outcry, and IndiGo was forced to issue an apology. However, the damage was already done, and the company's reputation took a hit. IndiGo was later fined by India's Civil Aviation Authority for breaching the country's anti-discrimination legislation protecting the rights of disabled passengers traveling by air.