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    We, the people of India...We, the people of India...

    I believe I can fly ! believe I can fly !

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    On Accessible Air Travel...

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    On Nightmare Trips...

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    In 2006, while traveling from Chennai to Kolkotta by AirDeccan (now Kingfisher Red), myself and my colleague wereforced to sign an indemnity bond stating that Air Deccan isnot responsible for any mishap to the person or belongingsduring air travel.

    On our return from Kolkotta, both of us wanted to sittogether - this which was refused by the pilot who insultedme in front of other passengers and said that he would off-board me from plane.!In August 2011, while traveling back from Delhi to Chennai byAir India, myself and my colleague were refused ambu-liftservice at Chennai airport and after an hour's argument, theservice were provided to us.

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    It was my first air travel experience. I was accompanied withmy husband and son. We needed to board the Air IndiaExpress flight from Mumbai to Kochi. The airport attendantwas taking me through the terminal to the air craft.He said no need to go by lift and we can use escalator. I wasapprehensive and told him wheelchairs cannot be taken on aescalator but he insisted telling he has taken it many a timesand no need to worry. The moment we stepped on theescalator we had a disastrous fall and I rolled down all theway from it !To my luck I had a miraculous escape else theintensity of the fall was enough fatal. The assistant pleadednot to complain and we didn't.But ignorance prevails in airports and life of wheelchair usersis in the hands of completely untrained personnel. Every timeI board a plane I am lifted and the aisle chair tilts & shake toa dangerous extend where only your fortune can spare you afall ...

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    My sister ( a person with Autism) has a very visible tremoras a result of her anti-epilepsy medication.The person handing out boarding passes took ours back andrefused to give them back till her boss gave permission tookay my sister's boarding the flight.

    We were stared at, checked out by about 4 Spicejet peopletill someone came and said it was okay for her to board.

    I was told by Indigo Airlines that because I was blind, I wouldnot be permitted to travel alone without a guide dog or anescort.This happened at the booking process step itself!

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    I was operated on my spine for gross scoliosis and use calipers.But standing and walking short distances are also highlydifficult for me. At the security point, I am first checked they make me stand, and then my travel wheelchair is takento different area to get it security checked. This processtakes from 20-45 minutes at a stretch.So I always have difficulty in standing and I can't sit andtransfer from and to the airport wheelchairs, that aren't ingood condition. Every time I have to argue and convinceauthorities to have my wheelchair as cabin luggage. Rarely myrequest was obliged - Mostly it is denied.While, lifting off/on manually to the aircraft steps, theassisting team members almost dropped me two times!

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    At which stage were there issues ?

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    What were the issues faced?

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    Some zero-cost unmet requirements ...

    Help carrying luggageAccommodate to use accessible toilets once every hour within the air port and air craft..

    Provide adjustable arm rests at seatsAllocate seat with ample leg space

    Allow customized wheelchair check-in as Cabin LuggageProvide Aisle Chairs in working condition!

    I use calipers AND carry crutches so prefer to

    use on-board wheel chair. Sometimes the

    problem is when you arrive early and the airport

    escort takes you to waiting room and vanishes.

    If you are travelling alone and you hearannouncement of change in gate no you become

    anxious, wondering when the escort will come.

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    Customer Feedback Listen Up!

    BOOKING : Airlines should make it clear what is included in their airline policy.Provision on booking form to indicate person with disability's specific requirements - egWheelchair check box is needed

    AIRPORT ARRIVAL : Auto Rickshaws shall be allowed till the departure terminal insideall airports, as all disabled people or people with reduced mobility or people carryingheavy luggage may not be able to hire or use a cab.

    Priority alighting point provided near entry gateAppropriate screening equipment adjacent to the security check to be providedCHECK-IN : WHEEL CHAIR to BE TAKEN AS CABIN BAGGAGE.While check in, disabled people shall be treated with dignity and shall not be asked tosign any indemnity bond.

    SECURITY : PERSON WITH DISABILITY BE FRISKED WHILE SITTING ON THEWHEEL CHAIR. DO NOT ASK TO REMAIN STANDING.

    Toilet - Provide more toilets at short distances inside the airport. Disabled people shallbe allowed to access the toilet at the shortest distance irrespective of the Class(business/economy).

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    Departure Area: From the entrance of departure terminal to the check in counter,wheel chairs shall be provided at the entrance as disabled people would need themfrom the point when and where they are dropped outside the terminal.

    Counter: Priority Boarding

    Boarding Transit: Trained ground staff and right use of available infrastructurefacilities (for ex. use of foldable ramp fixed to the bus)

    Seating: Disabled People shall be provided a comfortable and accessible seatingaccording to their choice. Lifting & transferring to the seat- Female guests to be helped

    by female attendants. Allocation of seat with ample leg space

    Cabin Baggage- Proper assistance

    INFORMATION/SAFETY COMMUNICATION: prominently displayed and effectivelycommunicated as per type of disability

    Disembarking: Ambu-lift services shall be provided in all airlines for diembarkingpassengers with reduced mobility.

    Baggage Carousel: Assistive devices should not be put on carousel

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    "Rosa Parks sat in 1955.Martin Luther King walked in 1963.

    Barack Obama ran in 2008.That our children might fly !"