Jet asked to compensate passengers who missed flight

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Jet Airways has been penalised for a Jaipur-Mumbai flight delay which resulted in two passengers missing its international flight to Hong Kong. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has hauled up the airline for deficiency in service.

The national commission, in a recent order, said: "Staff of Jet Airline knew that passengers Vandana Jain and Subhash Bhatnagar had short time due to delayed arrival of their flight and they would need to be transported to the international terminal. But no such assistance was provided."

The airline was directed to pay the two passengers Rs.50,000 together with costs of Rs.25,000 and reimburse the cost of tickets that they bought on Cathay Pacific for reaching Hong Kong. The passengers were to travel from Jaipur to Hong Kong via Mumbai. Both sectors of the journey were to be performed on Jet Airways.

Commission Presiding Member Vinay Kumar dismissed Jet Airways' defence that the flight from Jaipur landed late in Mumbai due to air traffic congestion, thus preventing the two passengers to board on time the plane scheduled to fly out of Mumbai to Hong Kong.

"This cannot be accepted, if Jet Airways schedules a flight to land at Mumbai airport at a particular time and another connecting flight to take off at a particular time, it must provide for time required in all services/functions including security, immigration and air traffic management, which are necessarily concerned with or mandated for such landing and departure. The travelling public is in no way responsible for delay caused by any of them," said Vinay Kumar.

The passengers' complaint said the Jet flight from Jaipur to Mumbai arrived at 11.40 p.m. instead of its scheduled arrival of 10.20 p.m. Due to the delay of 80 minutes, they could not take the connecting Jet Flight to Hong Kong despite having boarding cards for the Mumbai-Hong-Kong flight issued to them at Jaipur itself.

According to Jain and Bhatnagar, this was due to delay in operating the airport shuttle and long immigration and security queues for boarding.

The airline staff allegedly failed to make arrangements for putting them in the next flight to Hong Kong and advised them to buy fresh tickets for the next day, the two said, adding that they were forced to buy tickets on another airline for reaching Hong Kong.

The national commission slammed Jet Airways and said: "Having issued tickets for both sectors of the journey on two flights of their own airline, the airline had a clear obligation to ensure that the passengers boarding at Jaipur are able to board the connecting flight (to Hong Kong) at Mumbai."

"This obligation becomes more direct and inescapable due to delayed arrival of the Jaipur-Mumbai flight," said Vinay Kumar.

The national commission also saw through Jet Airways' attempt to blame the immigration and security personnel at Mumbai airport for the two passengers missing the Hong Kong flight.

"This bland claim, in the absence of any evidence of assistance provided by the Jet Airways staff, is at best a very feeble attempt to pass on the blame to others for their own lapse," said Vinay Kumar, dismissing Jet Airways' contention.

Endorsing the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission's Jan 28 finding on Jet Airways' deficiency in service, the apex consumer commission noted that the problem of delay in immigration and security checks was caused only by delayed arrival of the Jaipur-Mumbai Jet flight.

"The airline staff failed to give the necessary help and assistance even when boarding passes had already been issued to the passengers for the Jet flight to Hong Kong."

"The staff of Jet Airlines knew that the passengers had short time due to delayed arrival of their flight and they would need to be transported to the international terminal. But no such assistance was provided," said the national commission.

"There was also no material to prove that the two passengers were offered seats in the next flight to Hong Kong. Therefore, the state commission held it to be a case of deficiency of service on the part of Jet Airways," said Vinay Kumar.

Jet Airways now has the option of appealing against the verdict in the Supreme Court.

(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at rahul.c@ians.in)

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