07 July 2019
Bhubaneswar: Special needs children like those on autism spectrum can feel uneasy in an unfamiliar, crowded surroundings like airplanes and require special care. While wheelchairs are available for the physically disabled, what facilities do the airlines offer for people and children with intellectual disabilities?
The answer is DPNA code- The disabled passenger with intellectual or developmental disability needing assistance is a Special Service Request (SSR) code defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Introduced in 2008, the DPNA code is applicable to IATA member airlines like Air India, Vistara and SpiceJet. While booking a flight with these airlines, you can add the code “DPNA” in the free-text box if your child has intellectual disabilities.
Once the code has been confirmed by the airline and applied, the following facilities will be made available- priority check-in, boarding first, meals served first, seats in front of plane for getting off quickly. The attendants will also check in on the passenger every couple of hours and make sure everything is alright.
In India, however, awareness about this code is little. Activists believe that it is not followed here by the airlines in truest sense. To raise awareness, several well-wishers and activists are training the airline staff as well as the airport staff and CISF personnel at security checks to help persons with disabilities. But, there is still a long way to go.
In the meantime, parents of special needs children have to be calm and comfort the child instead of scolding them for their behaviour in airplanes. Parents should not get into a fight with others and should ensure that their child is not discriminated against in any way.