Court orders travel agency to pay customer Rs 39K


A The Chandigarh Consumer Court recently ordered an Indian travel agency to reimburse Rs 39,000 to a customer whose flight was canceled without notice.

The case, filed by Rajat Sharma of Chandigarh, came to light when the state’s Consumer Dispute Redress Commission upheld a district consumer court’s verdict that the company would pay the plaintiff 39,000 rupees as reimbursement.

Rajat and his family booked return (return) air tickets to travel from Chandigarh to Bagdogra and back in March 2019 through the booking platform. “He said the said booking was confirmed after payment of Rs 51,688,” The Indian Express reported.

Although the Complainant and his family flew to Bagdogra, their return flight to Chandigarh was canceled without any prior notification or providing any explanation.

“The plaintiff therefore booked another flight for himself and his family which cost him Rs 36,469,” an India Times report said.
After several unsuccessful attempts to request a refund, the complainant sent legal notice to the company, but claimed the platform had passed responsibility for the cancellation onto Jet Airways.

In response to the notice, the company said that when booking the flight tickets, the complainant agreed to their terms and conditions, pointing out that if a flight is cancelled, the airline is responsible. They also mentioned guidelines issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that the airline should either provide a replacement flight acceptable to the customer or provide compensation in addition to the full refund.

According to the Indian Express, “[The company] said she initiated a refund on behalf of Rajat Sharma, which she forwarded to Jet Airways, and added that the company was then responsible for responding to the complainant’s requests.
But this case was different for a reason that made the booking platform responsible for the customer’s misfortune.

Jet Airways was then defunct and was the subject of insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai Bench. Thus, the District Consumer Commission asked the company to pay Rs 29,080 (the cost of the ticket) and an amount of Rs 10,000 as compensation to the complainant.

Following this, the travel company appealed the district commission’s order to the National Consumer Commission.
After hearing the case, the Commission observed that the platform was at fault for failing to provide its services to a client, even after charging a convenience fee. The commission also noted that the platform was aware of Jet Airways’ ongoing insolvency proceedings, but still failed to manage the situation.

The state panel overturned the appeal and affirmed the district commission’s order.

In cases where a passenger’s flight is cancelled, DGCA guidelines provide the following remedy:

  • The airline must notify the passenger of the flight cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled departure time.
  • If a passenger is informed of the flight cancellation before two weeks — The airline must offer an alternative flight or a refund acceptable to the passenger.
  • If a passenger is informed of the cancellation less than two weeks before and up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time — The airline must offer an alternative flight within two hours of the booked scheduled departure or refund the ticket, depending on what the passenger can accept.
  • If a passenger is not informed of the cancellation, 24 hours before departure or has missed a connecting flight due to the cancellation — The airline must provide an alternative flight acceptable to the passenger or provide compensation in plus full refund.

For more details on the cancellation or delay of a flight, you can refer to the new set of guidelines from the Ministry of Civil Aviation here.

Sources:

Consumer forum asks Make My Trip to pay man Rs 39,000 for canceled flight, by The Indian Express; published on June 29, 2022.

‘Flight canceled without refund:’ Consumer court asks my trip to pay Rs 39,000 to customer, by Idrees Bukhtiyar; published by India Times on June 29, 2022.


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