An 80-year-old man died at Mumbai airport after having to walk for over 1.5 km as there was no wheelchair available.

According to a report in the Times of India, the man arrived in Mumbai with his wife on an Air India flight from New York. The couple had arranged for wheelchair assistance, but due to a shortage, only one assistant was available. The wife used the wheelchair while the husband opted to walk beside her. However, after walking around 1.5 km, he suddenly suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He was promptly taken to the medical facility at Mumbai airport and then transferred to Nanavati Hospital.

The man, an Indian-origin US passport holder, and his spouse had prearranged wheelchair assistance while traveling in economy class on Air India flight AI-116 to Mumbai. Reportedly, the flight from New York to Mumbai was delayed and landed at 2.10 pm instead of the scheduled 11.30 am arrival time.

Sources told the Times of India that there were 32 passengers needing wheelchair aid on the flight, but only 15 wheelchairs and staff were available. However, an Air India spokesperson claimed that the passenger had been advised to wait for wheelchair assistance, but he chose to walk with his spouse. The airline expressed their condolences, stating that they were in constant contact with the bereaved family and providing necessary support.

An anonymous ground staffer said that elderly couples often prefer to stay together when moving from the aircraft to the terminal, especially if they have mobility issues or hearing problems.

It is a known fact in the industry that some passengers request wheelchair assistance even if they do not have mobility issues. In the past, airlines used to charge for this service, and only those with a medical certificate were eligible for free wheelchair assistance. However, this requirement was later abolished due to pressure from various groups, including Air India.

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