Is SpiceJet's apology to a differently-abled passenger enough?

GN Bureau | February 20, 2012



SpiceJet pilot Utprabh Tiwari deplaned a woman with cerebral palsy from a Goa-bound flight deciding all by himself that the woman couldn't fly alone. Ironically, Jeeja Ghosh, a 42-year-old teacher at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, was on her way to a conference on mainstreaming the differently-abled.

The airline personnel, who refused to give Ghosh a written explanation for deboarding her, said that they had failed to convince Tiwari to let her fly. Spicejet issued an apology later and said it was conducting an internal investigation.

However, the question to ask is why hasn't the airline suspended the prejudiced pilot pending inquiry?  The civil aviation authority rules state that medical clearance must not be sought from a passenger unless he or she is known to be suffering from a contagious disease or is in no condition to fly unattended. Tiwari's insistence on deboarding Ghosh smacks of poor understanding of disabilities and normative prejudices. The struggle of the differently-abled citizens to be treated on a par with the general population is undermined by such incidences. So, SpiceJet has not only wronged Ghosh, it has set the cause of the mainstreaming the differently-abled back by leaps. A mere apology does not suffice. SpiceJet and other airlines should consider sensitising their staff to the differently-abled.

Considering this broad argument and any that you may have, do you think that more than an apology, a visible action against the pilot and maybe against the airline would set the right precedent? Is there a need to go beyond words in this case? Post your thoughts.

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