The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday, 21 July, amended its existing rules to protect passengers with disabilities from discrimination, standardise their travel and ensure they receive all necessary assistance.
The new rules stated that airlines cannot refuse to board passengers because of their disabilities or reduced mobility unless they have taken a medical opinion for the same.
What are the new rules? Why were the old rules amended? Here’s everything you need to know.
What are the new guidelines?
The new rules are supposed to protect the passengers with disabilities from any discrimination and provide them with all required assistance during air travel.
In the new rules, the DGCA has mentioned that an airline cannot bar a passenger from boarding based on their disability or reduced mobility.
They also mention that an airline can only refuse a passenger with disabilities after taking a medical opinion and even then, they will be required to inform the passenger in writing.
The rules also mention that an airline must allow a passenger with disabilities' “assistive aids/devices, escorts, and guide dogs including their presence in the cabin, provided such persons or their representatives, at the time of booking, inform the airline of their requirement.”
A passenger with disabilities or reduced mobility must inform the airlines 48 hours before the scheduled departure time so that they can make all necessary arrangements.
Why were the old rules amended?
The new rules came into place when Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Section-3, Series M Part I “Carriage by Air - Persons with Disability (Divyangjan) and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility" was amended on 21 July 2022.
The change came because of an incident at the Ranchi Airport in May which went viral. Indigo officials refused to board a child with disability and stated that the passenger would have been a threat to air safety at the time.
The incident met with widespread criticism online, also attracting Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia’s displeasure.
The airline later regretted the incident and said that it was the best possible decision in difficult circumstances. They were also fined five lakh rupees after an investigation by the DGCA.
What can a passenger do in case the airlines break these rules?
If a passenger feels that officials have flouted rules, they can bring the matter to the attention of the airlines, and airport operators.
The airlines and operators are required to provide speedy redressal and may appoint a Nodal Officer and/or Appellate Authority for the same.
If a passenger with disabilities is dissatisfied with the working of the operator, they may appeal to other statutory bodies such as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities/Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) of that particular state.
In the Indigo incident, the airline was fined five lakh rupees by the DGCA.