Passenger denied boarding Indigo ordered to pay compensation

Recently, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi (the Apex body for deciding consumer cases) upheld West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commision’s order on Indigo to pay compensation for denying boarding of passenger who failed to produce copy of credit card used for booking while the passenger had used debit card to booking the ticket.

The Complainant purchased confirmed Air Tickets for his journey from Kolkata to Chennai by flight No. 6E 271 on 16.12.2012 at 6:30 a.m. and Flight No. 6E 277 from Chennai to Kolkata on 18.12.2012 at 8:30 p.m. These tickets were purchased by using International Debit and Shopping Card of State Bank of India and an amount of 9,140/- was debited from the Complainant’s account. On the scheduled date of journey i.e. 16.12.2012, the Complainant had reported in time at the check in counter of Indigo at Kolkata Airport, produced the relevant journey ticket together with his photo ID card for issuance of the boarding pass. But Indigo personnel did not issue the boarding pass for flight No. 6E 271 on the ground that in addition to the mandatory requirement of Photo ID Card and the journey ticket, he had to produce his credit card by which his ticket was purchased. Though the Complainant requested that the tickets were purchased through debit card and hence cannot produce a credit card, which he did not possess, Indigo personnel did not adhere to his request and insisted that he should produce a credit card which he did not have. They did not consider the debit card, which was placed before them by the Complainant and did not issue the boarding pass. Hence the Complainant was forced to stay back at Kolkata and his return journey had to be cancelled.

The Complainant first filed a complaint in the District Consumer Forum who dismissed the complaint. Aggrieved by this, the Complainant filed an appeal in the State Commission. State Commission, after going through the records, allowed the appeal and ordered Indigo to pay compensation of 50,000/- and refund of the cost paid.

The State Commission made the following observations while delivering its order:

“No doubt, airline officials are mandated to implement airline/aviation rules to their true perspective. However, in the name of implementing such rules, if on resorts to excesses, thereby cause inconvenience to bona fide passengers, that is not acceptable.”

“The question survives, whether such rigidity on the part of airline officials was all that so necessary. We do not think so. The ticket was purchased nearly a month ago. In case requisite money did not reach the airline’s coffers, it would certainly be detected by then resulting in cancellation of the tickets and system information got updated accordingly. That the system did not denote any adverse remark itself was testimony of the fact that payment was successfully made by the Appellant through his debit card. That apart, merely by having a glimpse of the credit card or photocopy thereof, one cannot instantly figure out, whether payment had been successfully made or not. There was virtually no need to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Debarring a passenger from boarding aircraft is a serious matter, which requires extreme caution and sensitive handling of the matter. One cannot be debarred from boarding a flight at the drop of a hat.

It was a confirmed ticket. From the voter I-Card, the identity of the Appellant got established. Since there was no adverse remark in the system, it was obvious that payment was not an issue. Despite all these, such inflexibility on the part of airline officials was totally uncalled for.”

“As it turns out, because of the irrational attitude of the officials of Respondent, a bonafide passenger was deprived of this legitimate due. The Respondent, thus, cannot shrink its responsibility for the harassment, mental stress and agony, financial loss of the Appellant.”

IndiGo filed a Revision Petition in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi which dismissed the petition and held that Indigo personnel refused to consider the debit card, which the Complainant had with him and had unfairly not allowed him to board the flight whereby, causing mental agony and inconvenience to the Complainant, who wanted to fulfil his commitment of going to Tirupati at a particular auspicious time to complete his ‘Mannat”, for which the State Commission has rightly awarded a reasonable compensation of 50,000/- and refund of the amount paid. We do not see any illegality or infirmity in the order of the State Commission and hence this Revision Petition is dismissed with cost of 10,000/- to be paid to the Complainant.

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