The apex consumer commission has asked the central government and the aviation regulator to formulate a rational policy to prevent harassment of passengers left out from over-booked flights.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) bench presided by B C Gupta also directed Jet Airways to pay a compensation of 600 Euros (around Rs 42,000) to Kolkata resident Radha Kinkari Kejriwal, who was not allowed to travel in a New Delhi-bound flight from London by the airline staff who said she was late.
The commission also observed that airlines do indulge in over-booking so as to ensure that seats in the flights do not go vacant in the event of certain passengers not showing up at the appointed time.
"This practice causes a lot of hardship and inconvenience to the passengers who are left out from their scheduled flights, despite the fact that they had confirmed reservation for the flight," the bench said.
"The matter needs to be studied in detail by the Aviation Regulator, that is, the Director General, Civil Aviation, Government of India, and a rational policy needs to be evolved so that the harassment/inconvenience to the passengers left out from the over-booked flights is reduced to the minimum possible," the bench added.
"A copy of this order be therefore, sent to the Secretary, Department of Civil Aviation, Government of India as well as the Director General of Civil Aviation to hold deliberations on the issue and evolve a set of policy guidelines, so as to prevent avoidable harassment to the passengers/consumers in future," the bench said.
According to the complaint filed by Kejriwal, she was supposed to board the New Delhi-bound flight from London on December 9, 2009.
It said that the woman reached the airport 70 minutes prior to departure but was denied the boarding pass saying she was supposed to report 90 minutes prior to departure.
It further said that she was asked to wait near the counter and during that time, five other passengers were given boarding passes. She had to book another ticket for an Air India flight next day by paying Rs 83,292.
The airline, however, claimed there was no deficiency in service on their part.
The district forum allowed the complaint and asked the airline to refund the value of the Jet Airways ticket of Rs 62,178 and also to pay the amount of Rs 83,292 spent by her on the Air India ticket, as well as directed the company to pay a compensation of Rs eight lakh and litigation cost of Rs 5,000.
State commission allowed the appeal of the airline and dismissed the complaint.
The woman challenged the state commission's decision before the NCDRC which noted that the flight was over-booked.
The apex commission directed the airline to pay 600 Euro compensation as per the guidelines applicable for the European Union, an amount to be given in a 'Denied Boarding' case if the distance to be covered is more than 3,500 kms.
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