Air­line can’t leave be­hind fly­ers with board­ing passes

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Je­hangir B Gai

Kal­pana and Swadesh Deb­barma and their two mi­nor chil­dren were booked on an Indigo Air­lines flight from Kolkata to Agar­tala. They were is­sued board­ing passes, but the flight took off with­out them.

They ap­proached the air­line with a writ­ten com­plaint, but it was not ac­cepted, and the staff even al­legedly forcibly took away their board­ing passes. Their pleas to put them on some other flight are said to have gone un­heeded. The fam­ily was com­pelled to book a ho­tel room and also spend on food till they could ar­range money to buy fresh tick­ets. Af­ter two days, they fi­nally trav­elled back to Agar­tala.

Due to this, the cou­ple, both of whom are en­gi­neers with the Tripura gov­ern­ment, could not at­tend of­fice for two days, re­sult­ing in loss of salary.

The fam­ily ap­proached the District Fo­rum. The air­lines con­tested the case, con­tend­ing the fam­ily did not reach the board­ing gate 25 min­utes prior to flight de­par­ture so it was con­sid­ered as ‘Gate No Show’ and the board­ing passes were can­celled in ac­cor­dance with the con­di­tions of car­riage. The air­line stated that it had of­fered to ac­com­mo­date the fam­ily on the next flight sub­ject to avail­abil­ity of seats and pay­ment of reac­com­mo­da­tion fees, but its of­fer was turned down. It de­nied li­a­bil­ity to re­fund the fare.

The Fo­rum al­lowed the com­plaint. Both sides ap­pealed. The one filed by the air­line was dis­missed while Deb­barma’s ap­peal was al­lowed by the Tripura State Com­mis­sion. It or­dered the air­lines to re­fund ticket charges of Rs.16,432, re­im­burse Rs10,000 for ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, and also awarded Rs10,000 to­ward com­pen­sa­tion and Rs5,000 to­ward costs.

Indigo then filed a re­vi­sion. The Na­tional Com­mis­sion ques­tioned the air­lines if there was any ev­i­dence to show the board­ing passes were can­celled as the fam­ily could not be lo­cated de­spite sev­eral an­nounce­ments. The air­line was un­able to pro­duce any proof. The Com­mis­sion ob­served that once a pas­sen­ger checks in, move­ment is re­stricted to a very lim­ited area, so it is be­yond com­pre­hen­sion why a pas­sen­ger would not re­port at the gate de­spite an­nounce­ments. The Com­mis­sion fur­ther ques­tioned why the air­line, which takes a pas­sen­ger’s con­tact de­tails, had not at­tempted to tele­phon­i­cally con­tact the fam­ily. The air­lines had no ex­pla­na­tion to of­fer.

The Com­mis­sion dep­re­cated the at­ti­tude of the air­line in snatch­ing away the board­ing passes and in­dicted it for fail­ing to re­duce the in­con­ve­nience to the fam­ily with two mi­nor chil­dren. It also cas­ti­gated the air­line for fil­ing are­vi­sion even though a mea­gre amount of Rs20,000 had been awarded as com­pen­sa­tion.

Ac­cord­ingly, by its or­der of Septem­ber 12, 2018 de­liv­ered by the bench of jus­tice RK Agrawal and M Shree­sha, the Na­tional Com­mis­sion dis­missed Indigo’s re­vi­sion.

Im­pact: If a per­son who has been is­sued a board­ing pass does not re­port at the board­ing gate, the air­line has a duty to tele­phon­i­cally con­tact such a pas­sen­ger in­stead of leav­ing him be­hind.

(Theau­tho­risacon­sumer ac­tivi­s­tand­has­won­theGovt.of In­dia'sNa­tion­alYouthAward forCon­sumerPr otec­tion.His email­is­je­hangir .gai.colum­nist@out­look.in)

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