KEY POINTS

  • Indigo airlines claimed the child was in a "state of panic" and posed a risk to passengers
  • Indian aviation minister condemned the incident and said it would be looked into
  • The airline expressed its regret and offered to purchase an electric wheelchair for the boy

An airline in India has been slammed for banning a child with disabilities to board an aircraft claiming that the teen boy would pose a risk to fellow passengers.

The incident occurred at the airport in Ranchi, a city in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, on Saturday. The staff of Indigo airlines told the child's parents that the boy would not be allowed on a 2-hour flight to Hyderabad as he was in a "state of panic" and posed a risk to other passengers, First Post reported.

The case came to light after Manish Gupta, a passenger on the flight, witnessed the family's ordeal at the airport and described the incident on social media.

Gupta said the child was in distress after an uncomfortable car journey but his parents managed to calm him down at the airport. However, the airline staff announced that the young teen would not be taken on the flight until he is "normal" despite several co-passengers trying to convince them that they have no objections to the boy and his parents' boarding.

"The Indigo staff announced that the child would not be allowed to take the flight. That he was a risk to other passengers. That he would have to become 'normal' before he could be travel-worthy. And the staff then went on to state something on the lines of 'behaviors such as this, and that of drunk passengers deems them unfit to travel," Gupta wrote on social media.

Some doctors who were traveling on the same flight requested the staff to check with the airport doctor to see if the child was fit for the journey. However, the airline staff kept shouting: "The child is uncontrollable. He is in a state of panic," Gupta wrote.

Since the child was not taken in, his parents also decided to not board the aircraft.

Aviation minister Jyotirada Scindia condemned the incident saying no human being should be put through an ordeal like that, adding he would be looking into the case himself, The Times of India reported.

After the incident created an uproar on social media, Indigo airlines expressed its regret and apologized for the unfortunate experience the child had to go through. The airline explained that they took "the best possible decision under difficult circumstances," as per the outlet.

"We offer our sincere regrets to the affected family for the unfortunate experience and as a small token of our appreciation of their lifelong dedication would like to offer to purchase an electric wheelchair for their son," the company's CEO said in a statement.

IndiGo Airlines A320 Representation. An IndiGo aircraft. Photo: Reuters/Vivek Prakash