An IndiGo airline staff, on May 7, denied boarding to a specially-abled child at the Ranchi airport. While the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a show-cause notice to Indigo, the airline, in its defense, said the boy was denied boarding as he was “visibly in panic.”
However, this is hardly the only instance of insensitivity toward neurodiverse people. But now is the time to understand them and their requirements.
Here are some recommendations for a comfortable journey for neurodiverse people from Mugdha Kalra, an autism activist and co-founder of Not That Different:
– Allow people to mention that they are travelling with a person with special needs. Blocking the seats of the family together to avoid any anxiety.
– Airlines and airports can have a Disability Assistance Officer for priority check-in and boarding. At times, the single counter has a long queue of senior citizens, families needing medical assistance, and pregnant women.
– At the time of check-in, a tagged wrist band or lanyards can be issued with the person’s name on it so the staff can identify them and assist the family at priority.
– Priority check-in to reduce the wait time that can cause anxiety.
– Allowing families to clear security together as children and people with special needs get anxious if they are separated from their families.
– Need for family restrooms at airports. When older children are travelling with their mother or father alone and the restrooms are gender-based it poses difficulties in staying together. While parents at bigger airports use the restrooms made for people in wheelchairs, the facility is not available at all airports.
– Priority boarding and exit to reduce time in public spaces.