Indian para swimmer Shams Aalam blamed India state-run airline Air India for not cooperating with him in getting his aisle wheelchair at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
In a tweet, he said, “Dear Air India, I landed with AI-309 at 5pm at Delhi Airport.”
Shams said he was a wheelchair user and he informed the cabin crew of flag carrier airline of India Air India that he needed his wheelchair at the gate.
“After an hour I am still waiting and have not received my personal wheelchair. I need to use the washroom and no one is supporting me.”
Shams got many medals for India at international platforms but the way he was treated at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, it angered many.
Shams was named among the 300 Most Influential People in Asia.
Indian netizens urged Air India to show some decency and professionalism to passengers.
After his tweet, Air India claimed that a wheelchair was provided after a due security check at the international airports.
However, Shams later said, “Thank you twitter family for your support. I received my wheelchair. However @airindiain kindly conducted a sensitization program to handle persons with disability (PwD). If a PwD asks for his wheelchair don’t force them to sit on your XL size uncomfortable wheelchair.”
Thank you twitter family for your support. I received my wheelchair. However @airindiain kindly conduct sensitization program to handle PwD. If a PwD asking for his wheelchair don't force them to sit on your XL size uncomfortable wheelchair.
— Shams Aalam (@IamShamsAalam) June 6, 2022
Amid the pressure from the Twitter users, Air India said,” We understand it took some time to deliver your personal wheelchair as it got delayed due to airport security reasons. We hope you will give us another opportunity to make things right.”
It is worth mentioning that Air India was headquartered at New Delhi and if PwD is treated with such lack of professionalism at New Delhi then how persons with disability are being treated at other international airports in India.
How India becomes foreign flight attendants ‘worst nightmare’?
In 2016, an episode of hard landing of an Emirates flight at Dubai airport that later caught fire caused an uproar on the internet, when the flight attendant of the same flight used racist slurs—f*cking rats and an ‘untameable bunch’—for Indian passengers that prioritised their luggage over their lives safety amid he dangerous situation.
All the passengers and crew were safely evacuated except over a dozen passengers suffered minor injuries. Reportedly, a firefighter lost his life while saving others.
The racist’ terms for any nationality should be condemned in strongest possible words.
According to a 2016 report by Maria Thomas at Quartz India, the problem was not the panic rush of passengers in such situations but it lies at frequent flyers from India who do not understand the flight travels rules.