Air India directed to pay compensation for harassing passenger

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has directed Air India to pay a compensation of one lakh along with the payment of price of the ticket to a harassed woman passenger, who in spite of having an open air confirmed ticket was not allowed to board a London-Delhi flight on the ground that the validity of her ticket had expired. Earlier, the complainant had purchased an open air ticket from Air India through its agent for Delhi-London-Toronto-London-Delhi and she was given a confirmed status. On November 2, 2001, she informed Air India that she would travel from London to Delhi on December 7, 2001. Confirmation of her ticket for that day was also conveyed to her. But when she was returning, she was not allowed to board the flight on the ground that the validity of her ticket had expired. As she was not having sufficient funds for another ticket, she was forced to borrow the amount from another passenger. Later, she approached Consumer Forum alleging deficiency in service and sought compensation for enduring mental and physical torture. The Forum allowed the complaint awarding compensation and also directed Air India to pay a sum of Rs.40,000/- , the price of the Air ticket, along with interest @ 9% p.a., from 07.12.2001, till the date of payment. An appeal filed by Air India in the matter was also dismissed by State Commission. Before NCDRC, Air India filed revision petition contending that the complainant suffered due to deficiency in service on the part of Air Canada, which is not Air India’s agent and complainant should have made it a party to the proceedings. The commission rejected the said contention and noted that there is always an arrangement between Air India and Air Canada for such like flights and if any omission or commission was committed by Canada Airlines, Air India could claim compensation from Air Canada. NCDRC lashed Air India for its arrogance, highhandedness and despotic attitude and also noted that instead of accepting its mistake, Air India wasted precious time of the parties and fora for more than a decade in pursuing this hopeless case. While dismissing the petition, NCDRC also imposed a costs of Rs.25,000/- upon Air India. (Air India v. Geetika Sachdeva, 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 9, decided on March 9, 2015)

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