Africa World Airlines (AWA) on Saturday, 5 May 2018 prevented Rita Kriba, a person with disability, from boarding their flight because of her condition.
Ms Kriba, who walks with the aid of crutches, missed her flight to Kumasi from Accra as staff of the airline said the company’s policy does not accommodate persons who cannot board their planes without aid.
Attempts by a passenger to convince authorities to permit Ms Kriba board the flight proved futile.
An official of the airline caught on tape during a conversation with another passenger who attempted to understand the policy, said: “Every aircraft and its configuration. There are aircraft that accept passengers who are unable to walk and [they are aided with their walking apparatus into their seats directly]. There are also other aircraft who will only take you to the stairs and you have [to find yourself a seat.] we, our aircraft, we will not accept passengers who cannot board their seats on their own.
“If you cannot board your seat by yourself, we can’t accept you. If you can’t walk a long distance, we only help you with a wheelchair to the stairs, from there, you have to be able to climb the stairs and be able to walk to your seat. If you can’t do all these things, then it’s unfortunate we cannot accept you.”
The AWA official, after he was pushed to allow Ms Kriba on the flight, quizzed: “In case of emergency, how does she come out?”
Ms Kriba told ClassFMonline.com that she got the ticket through her travel agent and did not know the airline had that policy but the AWA official insisted such information was available on their website.
The airline has captured under the Reservations, General Conditions of Carriage, Article 7, Refusal and Limitation of Carriage regulation, among others that: “We may, at our discretion, refuse to carry you or your baggage if the person has disability.
“Acceptance for carriage of incapacitated persons, persons with illness or other people requiring special assistance is subject to prior arrangement with us. Further details can be found in the rules and regulations which are posted on our website or are available on request. Passengers with disabilities who have advised us of any special requirements they may have at the time of ticketing, and been accepted by us, shall not subsequently be refused carriage on the basis of such disability or special requirements.
“184.108.40.206 Wheelchairs will be provided without charge. The number of wheelchair passengers may be limited from time to time. For further details see the rules and regulations which are posted on our website or are available on request.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Africa World Airlines will ensure that customers with disabilities are treated with equal rights and duty of care as all passengers and that enjoy their flight with us. We provide assistance to customers with questions regarding the process of reservations, checking-in, emplaning and deplaning, in-flight and upon reaching their destination. Information can be found by calling our representatives at our ticket offices or at the airport.
“If a passenger purchases a ticket from an external source and fails to inform the airline about their condition we will endeavour to do all we can to assist at the airport within our guidelines and policies. We will ensure provision of the following:
“220.127.116.11.1 Transport of persons with disabilities (termed PWD) or persons with reduced mobility (termed PRM) of any kind unless there is a specific safety-related regulation that requires us not to do so.
“18.104.22.168.2 Transport of Wheelchair customers specifically passengers who are able to ascend/descend the aircraft steps and make their own way to the cabin seat but cannot walk long distances. THIS IS CODED WHCR PASSENGERS.
“22.214.171.124.3 Transport of wheelchairs and other assistance devices for personal use at no charge. We also offer enplaning, deplaning and changing flights. Attention should be brought to our representatives of the persons’ condition upon ticket purchase.
“126.96.36.199.4 If the passenger has not given prior notice to the airline the airline will still endeavor to ensure that all possible arrangements are made to assist the passenger.
“188.8.131.52.5 Pre-boarding to allocate a suitable seat. Customers with disabilities are NOT allowed to sit at the emergency exit rows.
“184.108.40.206.6 Receipt of checked wheelchair or other assistance device upon disembarking or at baggage claim.
220.127.116.11.7 Emplaning and Deplaning of passenger: While we go to great lengths to properly train all our staff, we must be available to help people with disabilities board and exit the plane. However, at this stage, our staff are not permitted to hand-carry passengers on and off aircraft, i.e., to directly pick up a passenger’s body in the arms of airline personnel.
“18.104.22.168.8 AWA is not equipped to transport medical oxygen or other hazardous materials and/or contained gas either in the passenger cabin or as cargo or baggage.
“22.214.171.124.9 AWA is not insured, permitted or equipped to hand carry any passenger that is unable to assist themselves on board an AWA aircraft, even if they are able to walk but need a trained and accredited bearer. THIS IS CODED WCHC OR WCHS passenger
“126.96.36.199.10 AWA personnel are not insured, permitted or equipped with an ON BOARD WHEELCHAIR to be used to take passengers with disabilities to the lavatory.
“188.8.131.52.11 Due to the size and category of our EMBRAER 145 J aircraft we are not permitted to carry MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIRS with dry or wet-cell batteries.
“184.108.40.206.12 AWA is not equipped to transport customers who require stretchers, incubators, respirators, or other devices that may rely on aircraft power supply.
“7.2.2 Medical / Health
“220.127.116.11 Passengers with broken limbs, who are unwell or injured or suffering from chronic illness, will require a certificate from their doctor, confirming that they are able to fly. Passengers will not be permitted to fly without the correct documentation.”