The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday said that no airline shall deny boarding to persons with disability or reduced mobility.
This includes assistive aids, escorts and guide dogs, provided such persons or their representatives at the time of booking inform the airline of their requirements, the aviation regulator says.
Airlines shall incorporate appropriate provisions on their website within three months, so that while making bookings, passengers with disability have the option to select the required facilities, which they require during the journey, says DGCA.
There is a need to standardise the conditions for travel of persons with disability so as to facilitate their acceptance and handling of their carriage by the airlines, airport operators, ground handling agencies, etc., the aviation watchdog says.
This comes two months after a specially-abled teenager and his parents could not board their scheduled flight to Hyderabad from Ranchi after IndiGo staff denied them entry into the aircraft. "Throughout the check-in and boarding process our intent of course was to carry the family, however, at the boarding area the teenager was visibly in panic," IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had said at the time. The aviation regulator later imposed a fine of ₹5 lakh on the airline.
As per DGCA, a person with disability means any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.
"In case, an airline perceives that the health of such a passenger may deteriorate in-flight, the said passenger will have to be examined by a doctor in person - who shall in his/her opinion, categorically state the medical condition and whether the passenger is fit to fly or not," says DGCA, adding that the airline shall take an appropriate decision on the carriage of such a passenger after obtaining the medical opinion. "In case of refusal of carriage by the airline, it shall inform the passenger in writing with the reasons therein immediately."
Airlines including their travel agents shall not discriminate persons with disability or reduced mobility in providing access for internet ticketing, special discounted fares, time limit for holding the bookings, reservations on telephone, the regulator says.
DGCA says it should be the responsibility of the persons with disability to notify their needs at least 48 hours before the scheduled time of departure so that the airline makes necessary arrangements.
"Once persons with disability or reduced mobility report at the airport with valid booking and intention to travel, the airline shall provide assistance to meet their particular needs and ensure their seamless travel from the departure terminal of the departing airport upto the aircraft and at the end of the journey from the aircraft to the arrival terminal exit, without any additional expenses," it notes.