Disability Rights Alliance


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

2012, Jeeja Ghosh

Differently-abled woman offloaded from SpiceJet flight


KOLKATA : A woman suffering from cerebral palsy was offloaded from a SpiceJet flight at the Kolkata airport on Sunday as the pilot reportedly found her unfit to fly on her own. An airline source said the pilot mistook the passenger for a mentally challenged patient.

The incident occurred soon after Jeeja Ghosh, 42, a teacher at Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, boarded the flight. Ghosh was on her way to Goa to attend a conference where she was to deliver a lecture on mainstreaming the differently-abled.

Ghosh said she reached the airport at 7 am, checked in and was escorted to the flight by an assistant. She was seated in the plane when a flight assistant reportedly asked for her boarding pass and then told her to leave her seat and accompany them. Ghosh was made to deboard the flight, put in a car and taken back to the airport.

According to Ghosh, she was taken to the airport office, where she learnt that it was the pilot, Utprabh Tiwari, who wanted her offloaded. The assistant manager and other personnel reportedly said they were helpless and had failed to convince the pilot.

Ghosh said the airline staff refused to give her a written statement stating the reason for de-boarding her. “It is painful to see the attitude of the airport personnel. Perhaps they thought that I am mad, and that is why they did not allow me to board the flight,” she said.

While the airline later apologised and offered to fly her to Goa the next day, Ghosh has filed a complaint with the authorities.

In a statement, SpiceJet regretted the incident and said it has apologised for the inconvenience caused to the passenger. “We are investigating the matter internally and action will be taken,” the airline said.

As per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s guidelines, airlines cannot refuse to carry a differently-abled passenger. In fact, they have been advised not to insist on medical clearance or special forms unless they have information that the passenger either suffers from some contagious disease or would require attention during flight to maintain their health.