IndiGo is being investigated by India’s aviation minister after they refused to let a disabled teenager board a flight.

Public Outrage

Indian domestic airline IndiGo has been under fire this week following an incident in which a disabled passenger was prohibited from boarding a flight. The issue has caused outrage online, with IndiGo receiving accusations of discriminatory behaviour. The airline denies these allegations.

IndiGo ATR 72-600
IndiGo has received allegations of discrimination | © Maxime CAMOU-JUNCAS

The incident has now come to the attention of India’s Minister for Aviation, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, who has vowed to investigate the matter personally.

Denied boarding

The incident, which occurred on Saturday, was bought to the public’s eye after fellow passenger Manisha Gupta posted about it on Facebook. Ms. Gupta noted that the teen was highly distressed at the check-in gate:

“By the time he had gone through security check and reached the gate (almost an hour ahead of boarding), he seemed to be in the throes of hunger, thirst, anxiety and confusion.”

IndiGo A320s parked at IGIA
IndiGo A320s at Dehli Airport | © Livemint

The parents managed to calm him down with other passengers also offering help; however, when IndiGo staff saw him, they warned the family that they would not be allowed to board “if the child did not quieten down and become ‘normal’.” Ms. Gupta continues:

“Then we witnessed the full display of brute authority and power. The Indigo staff announced that the child would not be allowed to take the flight. That he was a risk to other passengers. That he would have to become ‘normal’ before he could be travel-worthy,”

She adds that other passengers stepped in, insisting to staff that the child would not be a problem for them. A group of doctors on the same flight even offered to support the teen in the event of any health difficulties during the flight. Regardless, the airline stood its ground, labelling the child “uncontrollable” and “in a state of panic,” Ms. Gupta reported.

IndiGo’s Response

IndiGo released a statement saying that they stopped the child from boarding for the safety of its passengers. It notes that the family was given a new flight the next day and a hotel stay so that they were comfortable in the interim.

“We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers. IndiGo prides itself on being an inclusive organisation, be it for employees or its customers; and over 75,000 specially-abled passengers fly with IndiGo every month,”

The airline said.

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