Flying with special needs

Buddha Air makes flying more accessible to passengers needing special assistance


Most frequent fliers within Nepal will have noticed that aviation also serves as a medical evacuation service for passengers travelling for hospital treatment in the cities.

This is especially the case in flights from remote area airports in western Nepal. But often, domestic flights on trunk routes also have patients or expectant mothers flying to or from Kathmandu. Aside from this, there are also many passengers with special needs who may find airports, ramp buses and getting in and out of planes not wheelchair friendly. 

Getting on planes requires waiting in numerous lines, check-in, and security procedures. This creates a challenge for persons with disabilities, pregnant women, seniors or minors. 

Now, domestic carriers like Buddha Air provide special assistance to passengers needing medical equipment and support while traveling such as wheelchairs, seniors with movement difficulties, pregnant women. 

“Special assistance in airlines is necessary so travel is convenient to all passengers regardless of their age, medical condition and or mobility impairments,” says Dipendra Karn of Buddha Air. “Providing special assistance promotes inclusive and accessible air travel to all passengers and  prevents discrimination.”

Buddha Air is the first airline in Nepal to replace steps with ramps so wheelchair passengers can board planes without having to be physically carried on and off the cabin. Passengers have to make a request with necessary documents laying out their mobility restrictions. The carrier also requires a personal attendant to accompany such passengers and an Indemnity Bond from next of kin.

Passengers also have to fill out a Medical Information Form (MEDIF) so that the airline can determine whether the passenger is fit to fly. Special seating arrangements can also be made for passengers requiring stretchers or Portable Oxygen Cylinders (POC). The captain is notified if there is a passenger carrying POC onboard, as well as the nature of the passenger's oxygen needs.

Passenger stretchers are placed in the last three rows of the ATR-72 or -42 aircraft and are required to be escorted by qualified medical personnel as per the doctor’s recommendation.

Pregnant women can get special assistance if they are from 29-36 weeks and must present a medical certificate stating that she is fit to fly. Women less than 28 weeks pregnant do not need to submit any documents. Women are not allowed to fly if they are more than 37 weeks pregnant. 

Infants less than 7 days are not allowed to fly. Babies between 7 days to below 2 years are charged 10% of fare, child passengers between 2 to under 12 years pay 33% of normal fare, and young passengers between 12 to 16 years can travel unaccompanied. Children between 5-12 can be unaccompanied minors and will get help in check-in and disembarkation. 

Buddha Air's Special Assistance can be requested through the website and mobile app.

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