1. Antara Telang, a Mumbai-based director at a startup, was recently held up at Mumbai airport because security would not allow her to proceed without having her remove her prosthetic leg.
Telang was scheduled to fly from Mumbai’s CSIA, to Bangalore on an early morning flight on January 30. “I reached the security check at 5 A.M. and was asked to remove my prosthetic leg,” she told BuzzFeed. She further explained that she is a below the knee amputee and her prosthetic extends up to her thigh, and had asked them to check her with an ETD machine.
2. Telang told BuzzFeed that she travels frequently, within India and outside, and she has never been asked to remove her prosthetic.
“I frequent Delhi and Bangalore airports. I have never been asked to take off my leg there - they use a hand held ETD machine (to detect explosives) as well as doing pat down checks (to detect any hidden item). Similarly, I have visited airports in the capital cities of Paris, Madrid, Budapest etc, where I was never asked to take it off.”
3. “I asked them to check it with an ETD machine (which detects explosives) or do a pat down check, which are the procedures followed at most other airports I’ve been to.”
“They not only refused, but challenged me by saying things like “Can you tell us the full form of ETD first?” and “don’t tell us how to do our job”. According to Telang, a senior official was called after a while, and then an airline representative.
4. “After spending 40 minutes pleading with them, I had no choice but to go to the ‘private room’ they directed me to, take off my jeans completely, and take off my leg,” she said.
She continued to explain that the way the room was built, the chairs were on the side opposite to the door. “So I literally had to hop on one leg holding my 6 kg prosthetic in my hand to give it to them. After this, they didn’t even allow me to stand outside saying ‘people will see you’. This coming after they’ve made me strip and are passing my body part through a public scanner. Finally it was given to me and I was allowed to board my flight after the 45 minute ordeal.”
5. She explained that she’s had this experience before at the Mumbai airport, but this time she was “actually crying by the time I took my boarding pass from them”.
6. After the incident, Telang tweeted about the incident, and was met with a lot of positive support from people.
8. A Mumbai airport helpline explained to BuzzFeed that all prosthetics are scanned before boarding a flight. The procedure requires the prosthetic limb to be placed on the scanning machine.
They also added that airport personnel will help in the case of an amputee not being able to place the prosthetic on the belt themselves.