Sri Lankan Airlines Passenger Alleges Mistreatment of Autistic Child by Airline Staff At Bangalore Airport

A Sri Lankan Airlines passenger has come forward with a distressing account of alleged mistreatment by airline staff towards her autistic son at Bangalore airport. The incident marred what was supposed to be a joyous family vacation to the Maldives.

The passenger, Smrithy Rajesh, had meticulously planned a three-night, four-day trip to the Maldives, including her son Advaith, who has autism. The family had informed the Bangalore (BLR) Airport in advance about their need for assistance due to their differently-abled child. Rajesh claims that the terminal manager had notified Sri Lankan Airlines of their situation, with no special demands being made by the airline.

However, upon arriving at the check-in counter, Rajesh alleges that two male Sri Lankan Airlines staff members began scrutinizing her excited and happy son. They allegedly questioned whether Advaith had ever been on a flight before, despite Rajesh confirming that he had flown multiple times. When shown Advaith's disability card, the staff members reportedly concluded that his presence on the flight would pose a risk to the crew and other passengers.

Rajesh explained calmly that autism is not a disease requiring treatment and that Advaith was not under the care of a doctor nor on any medication. Nevertheless, the staff members displayed a lack of empathy and common decency, according to Rajesh. When her husband attempted to film the incident, the staff members became angry and demanded the deletion of the video, which they eventually did.

Adding to the ordeal, the staff members claimed that Advaith's helmet, to which he was emotionally attached, would not be allowed on the flight. Despite previous experiences where security checks had permitted the helmet, the staff members insisted it was prohibited. Furthermore, they raised concerns about potential disruptions during take-off, citing the need for pilot permission. Rajesh found these allegations baseless, emphasizing that her son had never caused any issues on previous flights.

The family was then made to wait for nearly one and a half hours for an email approval, confining Advaith unnecessarily and disregarding the challenges faced by a child with autism in such situations. Rajesh stressed that Advaith remained calm throughout, demonstrating that the actions of the two staff members were unwarranted.

Eventually, the approval was granted at 1:22 a.m. Rajesh expressed gratitude to the terminal manager at BLR airport for her support and commended the cooperation received from staff at the Colombo and Male airports. However, she called for strict action against the two Sri Lankan Airlines staff members involved, demanding an explanation for their discriminatory behavior.

In response to the incident, Sri Lankan Airlines is urged to investigate the matter thoroughly and take appropriate corrective action. Rajesh hopes her complaint will prevent other parents from facing similar challenges while traveling with their children.