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Devanahalli, Bengaluru 560300, KA


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Airports, Airlines and Air Heads
May 10, 2022 10:15 AM 255 Views (via Mobile)
(Updated May 10, 2022 02:25 PM)





Airlines and Airports in India have a lot of catching up to do w.r.t senior and special care.

Travelling with my 83 year old dad recently was a huge challenge.

And the fact that our recent flights got both cancelled as well as inordinately delayed, didn't make it any easy!

For an airport that has plush lounges and great shopping, it's high time seniors are included in the pleasures of the airport experience.

Having established themselves as places for experiencing beyond travel, it's time for airports to acknowledge the spending power of seniors. They may be in a wheelchair, but definitely yearn to dine at a privilege lounge, shop at the book store, browse through the shopping aisles, pick up travel accessories as well as trendy clothes, sip some coffee on the go and wait comfortably at the gate pouring over their messages and saying goodbye to loved ones, just like the rest of us.

However, the Airlines and Airports seem to believe that all senior citizens are sick people, who need to be belted to their wheelchairs and carted from one place to another, like a piece of luggage which got forgotten to be tagged fragile.

Yes, they are fragile. And airports seem to make it a point to shatter them and break their hearts and will, by treating them with lackadaisical negligence, enormous ignorance and determined stupidity.

The opportunities that smart airports have in tapping this source of revenue seem to be lost to the fairly apparent myopia that the flight carriers seem to boldly display.

A few small changes can go a long way towards mutual benefits:

1. Seating: low seating at lounges & gates and no seating in most other places is a joke! While we have high chairs for babies, we can have senior seating for those in their second childhood, perhaps! Minimum 18" off the ground is an international rule; 21" is safer.

2. Wheelchairs: Those sorry looking, rusted fella's are downright scary! And the staff who are assigned the job of pushing the chair are in a perpetual hurry thanks to some high-level resource optimisation strategy that has them zipping through from gate to security to gate, like marathon runners! Forget shopping or experiencing the airport, the poor guy /lady in the chair may get dizzy and may never get to use the washroom either. They are being carted by busybodies you see!

3. Dining: Senior citizens also eat food! And sometimes it is a must, given that they need to take medication on a fed tummy.

Some friendly seating area that allows for wheelchairs to slide under a table(that's a bit higher than normal) will do the trick.

The premier lounge at the airport we went to, insisted that the wheelchair should deposit the senior and be hidden somewhere in another floor! I am not sure how it is possible when they neither boast of any senior-friendly arrangements nor seem to understand the difficulty that someone in a wheelchair faces to shift seats!

4. Shopping: Senior citizens carry purses and they are most-times bulkier than that of gen z! They may not have the swagger to go with it, but they have a higher spending quotient and are discerning when it comes to lifestyle products.

Let's get this straight. If they can afford their flight fare(without the help of a corporate employer), they surely are capable of more. Moreover, typically, they are not travelling on work and can therefore take time off to luxuriate and indulge.

The wheelchair pusher who can respect this need would be a boon.

5. Travelling Alone: Most seniors hate to be a bother to their busy families. They may choose to have an attender/ caregiver or none at all. Airports can surely give them that freedom? Even if they are with family, why are they expected to have a family member who supervises their travel and every challenge that seems to accompany it, like conductors of a tuneless and tone deaf, orchestra? Not all family members are so smart! They would like the airports and airlines to behave smart!

These are just Five Points for an easy High Five. Of course, airports and airlines are free to aim for the sky and all the rating stars that it carries!

Airports & Airlines today have enough intelligent solutions that are holistic, automated, agile, scalable and responsive. Can they be inclusive please?

Any smart port of call, that's listening?

End Note: This is not just an imaginary ramble. The writer has experienced this agony, in person, over real airports and real flights. Flight numbers, PNRs, Airport names and Airline details have been withheld to make it less of a complaint and more of an appeal.

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