Although SpiceJet hasn’t gotten as much press as Ryanair, they both have one thing in common — charging for wheelchair assistance. The difference is that after an extended court battle, Ryanair learned the error of their ways, and no longer charges for wheelchair assistance. And SpiceJet claims to follow Indian law, yet some passengers still end up shelling out the bucks for wheelchair assistance.
Take Mrs. Maldar, who recently flew from the United Arab Emirates to India. Since she was recovering from a recent surgery, her doctor recommended that she use an airport wheelchair; but she was shocked to find out that it would cost her AED260 (approximately $70) to make use of this service.
How can this happen when India has a law on the books that supposedly prevents this? According to Article 6.1 of India’s Air Travel Equality Regulation, “airlines shall ensure that at all stations, for boarding/disembarking purposes, before departure, during intermediate stops and on arrival wheelchairs are available without any extra charge.”
SpiceJet’s position is that it’s not them charging for wheelchair assistance (even though they collect the money), but instead it’s the foreign airports that are levying these charges. That sounds like the failed Ryanair argument.
According to the SpiceJet website, they don’t not charge for wheelchair assistance; but “passengers may however be levied wheel chair handling charges by the concerned airport operator/handling agency at the departing airport of foreign country and you are requested to check the same from concerned airport of embarkation before your travel plans.” [sic]
Did you follow that? Well, you’re not alone if you didn’t
To be honest, this is something that most likely will be adjudicated in Indian courts, should someone decide to bring up the issue. For now, it’s best to avoid this budget Indian carrier if you need wheelchair assistance. Even though some airports do charge for wheelchair assistance, most airlines don’t pass that charge along to their disabled customers. Fly on one of those airlines instead!