Thereafter, things moved swiftly as an airline staff escorted the passenger travelling alone on the trip to Kolkata, checked her into a hotel and then put her on a flight later in the day. She finally reached Kolkata 14 hours after she was due to arrive.
Mohini Chandiramani landed in Mumbai at 4am en route to Kolkata on fligth AI 130 on Wednesday morning. She had a connecting AI flight to Kolkata at 6.10am but missed it after a delay at the Customs. She was then told that she would be put on the 8pm evening flight before the airline staff disappeared. With her London phone connection not in service, she sat helplessly till she managed to draw the attention of a passenger of another flight passing by and used his phone to call her realtives in Kolkata and inform them of the situation.
According to her nephew Kushal Sengupta, the airline domestic manager and international manager tried to shirk responsibility, each pointing to the other. “The airline’s domestic manager at Mumbai airport refused help and in fact asked us to tell my aunt to come to his desk to report despite us telling him repeatedly that she is immobile and has no phone on her to even inform us of her whereabouts,” he said.
According to Chandiramani, she was initially told that she had to wait in the terminal for the evening flight after the airline was unable to put her on a Jet Airways flight to Kolkata.
Sengupta alleged that till he contacted an airline senior official at 9.15am, she was left to languish in the terminal. “No one even had the courtesy to ask her if she needed help or offer her a phone to call us. A wheel-chair bound passenger is usually speedily cleared but in this case, she was delayed so much that they could not wheel into the flight to Kolkata on time,” he said.
The airline has denied allegations of negligence, pointing out that it had gone out of the way to accommodate the passenger. “Since we have an agreement with Jet Airways, we can endorse a passenger on that airline. But there was no seat on the Jet flight. Usually, accommodation is provided only when a passenger has a night-long layover due to the airline’s problem. In this case, she missed the flight due to delay caused by the Customs. However, considering her age and condition, we made an exception. She was personally attended by senior officials and accommodated in a hotel near the airport,” an AI spokesperson said.
He further said the airline was trying to arrange things for the passenger all through and had even managed to retrieve her walker that had been checked into the Kolkata-bound flight so that she could be at ease. Chandiramani was finally put on the 8pm flight and she reached Kolkata at 11.15pm. “Whatever has happened is unfortunate. But AI did its best to help her,” the official added.
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