Mohammad Faizal Nawaz, a 30-year-old engineer with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, says the choice between travelling by Air India and Indian Railways is like choosing between the devil and the deep sea. Hailing from Delhi, he has been taking trains to travel between Bangalore and Delhi since May after a traumatic experience with the Air India in April.
Two days prior to travel on April 12, Nawaz was made to cancel his tickets from Bangalore to Delhi and re-book it for April 19 as he was 'late' in informing authorities about his condition. Nawaz suffers from severe respiratory compromise, and has a life-long disability. Despite mailing his certificates to AI, he was asked to personally submit the certificates at their Bangalore and Delhi offices or risk another cancellation. A disability rights activist, he has suffered from kypho scoliosis (abnormal curvature of spine) and polio since childhood. A spinal surgery in 2012 forced him to use BiPap (portable ventilator) and oxygen support.
"I emailed my ticket details and medical certificates to AI reservation managers at Delhi and Bangalore," he says. "I was advised to cancel the tickets and submit a form along with certificates from my physician and AI physician," says Nawaz. He cancelled tickets, filled the medical assistance form, got it certified from his physician at Bangalore, and booked a return ticket from Delhi to Bangalore for May 9. A few days before the departure, he was asked to personally get his documents certified from the medical section of AI as the email copies were of low resolution.
He filled a new MEDA form and sent certified copies to AI's Delhi office two weeks before his return journey. "I got a call from AI saying my certificates were two weeks old and as my medical condition could have changed since then, I had to get myself physically examined again and submit new certificates, else I would have to cancel my tickets."
An AI official in Delhi said, "In case of respiratory conditions, the airline has to ensure the aircraft has enough oxygen cylinders. There is no specific time limit before which the passenger must inform about his or her requirements."