Once again the National Commission has passed an order in favour of consumers where IndiGo Airline did not function its basic duty. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), hearing a review plea of IndiGo Airlines against the Tripura state commission's order, asked IndiGo to pay Rs. 20,000 to Kalpana Rani Debbarma and her family, who failed to board the flight due to a deficiency in the Airline's services.
Kalpana Rani Debbarma was travelling along with her husband and two minor sons from Kolkata to Agartala on an Indigo flight in 2017. The said Airlines had issued boarding passes to all of them. Kalpana Rani Debbarma asserted that the Airlines left her family at Kolkata Airport without informing despite of them being within the premises of Airport. She also claimed that the airport staff snatched away the tickets from her when she went to the airline office staff to file a written complaint.
Kalpana Rani along with her family had to stay in a hotel by paying an amount of Rs. 4,500/- per day for accommodation, Rs. 3,000/- per day for meals and had to stay at Kolkata on 08.01.2017 and on 09.01.2017. The shocking part being that there was absolutely no offer made by the Airlines and she was forced to purchase tickets from Kolkata to Agartala on 10.01.2017 by spending an amount of Rs.16,432/-.
For all the deficiency on part of Indigo, they had the audacity to contend that numerous announcements were made at regular intervals and that the passengers did not report at the boarding gate on time.
Frustrated with the attitude of the Airlines, Kalpana Rani approached the District Forum and based on the evidence adduced Indigo Airlines was asked to pay 16,432/- which was the cost of tickets incurred by Kalpana Rani, hotel expenses of 10,000/-, 10,000/- towards compensation and 5,000/- towards costs. However, aggrieved by the said order, appeal was filed in the State Commission while concurring with the finding of deficiency of service and partly allowing the appeal, the State Commission enhanced the compensation to be paid by Indigo Airlines from 10,000/- to 20,000/- while confirming the rest of the order of the District Forum. The IndiGo knocked the door of National Commission.
The National Commission on observing the facts stated above said that the basic duty of care for a passenger who has been left behind despite issuance of the boarding passes, when admittedly boarding passes were issued well ahead of the boarding time and the baggage was also boarded on to the Airlines, is to provide meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation in cases where stay of one or more nights is necessary and the operating carrier should also pay particular attention to the needs of the accompanying family. The Commission further said that it is not in dispute that the passengers were put to lot of mental agony and inconvenience as they had to stay in a hotel for two days and once again travelled by Indigo Airlines after two days after having had to purchase fresh tickets by spending an amount of Rs 16,432, however, even when the passengers chose to fly again by the Airlines after two days there was no concession made by way of "compensating for the inconvenience caused". The airline should have taken care to see that the passengers boarded the plane especially when the baggage was also checked in. Further, the attitude of the Airlines in snatching away the boarding pass is deprecated.
It’s very apparent that once the passengers checked in, their movements are restricted to a very limited sensitised area and it is beyond anybody’s comprehension not to report at the gate and hence the assertion that the announcements were made does not hold any water. More so, when it is not a silent Airport, the announcements should be made at least in the sensitised waiting area. The Commission said that it is very disappointing of Airlines as to why the Airlines did not make any effort to make a phone call to the passengers when the boarding passes had already been issued.