The Bangalore Urban District Consumer Forum has directed Air India to compensate a NRI couple to the tune of Rs. 2 Lakhs as the couple and their infant child missed their flight to Los Angeles due to ‘Misconnect of flight’ on part of Air India.
Mahesh Angadi, a native of Bangalore, was in the city for the naming ceremony of his son and had booked three tickets with Air India to travel back to LA via New Delhi, by another private airline. They however had to spend their New Year in Lucknow though they were to catch a connecting flight to Los Angeles from New Delhi airport, on December 31, 2006.
Five years later, on December 31, 2011, the Consumer Forum directed Air India to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation, including Rs 50,000 towards mental agony and hardships faced by the trio, while catching a flight to LA.
The court said that this was a clear case of deficiency in service in not making alternative arrangements for Angadi and his family to board the immediate flight available to LA, after they missed the scheduled flight due to fog. “The complainant, with a small kid of four months (then) was forced to stay back in New Delhi for two nights,” remarked the court.
But at the same time the court ruled out the Rs 10 lakh compensation claimed by Angadi saying the figure as exaggerated. The Rs. 2 Lakh includes Rs 1.27 lakh they spent to buy Air France tickets to travel back home and Rs 22,500 spent in Delhi for two extra nights.
Mahesh, Bharathi and Aaryan who were scheduled to return to LA on December 31, 2006, by Air India boarded another private airline to connect them to the AI flight at New Delhi International Airport. Instead of reaching New Delhi, the flight was diverted to Lucknow due to bad weather in the capital. AI had assured Angadi that they would be put on the LA flight in time the next day.
They reached Lucknow around midnight and boarded a flight to Delhi at 8am the next day, but the flight to LA had already taken off by then. Angadi, in his complaint, alleged that AI staff did not cooperate with them in a professional manner and he had to purchase fresh tickets on Air France to travel back home after spending two extra days. He also alleged that the entire family fell sick after this incident and sought compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
Air India argued that the private airline flight was diverted to Lucknow due to bad weather conditions at Delhi airport. AI also stated: “Since the complainants did not choose to travel by the next available Air India flight on which space was available, they became disentitled to avail of facilities, including hotel accommodation and subsequent travel at AI’s cost.”
The court agreed that AI could not be blamed for diversion of flight due to bad weather conditions, but ruled that the airline was at fault by making the complainants suffer mentally and physically due to misconnect of the flights.
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