Air India told to inform passengers about their rights

August 13th, 2008 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) When Ajay Kaila and his family decided to travel by Air India from Dubai to Delhi this January they did not anticipate the long delays or the hunger and thirst. Now a consumer court has directed the airline to publicise its duties to passengers, including prior information about flight delays and refreshments. Kaila and his family boarded an Air India flight from Dubai to Delhi on Jan 2. When they reached Dubai airport they found the flight was delayed by three hours.

After the flight landed in Mumbai, they were informed that the connecting flight to Delhi was delayed by five hours. The scheduled time for the Dubai-Delhi flight was three hours.

At Mumbai airport, Kaila and the other passengers were made to wait in the lounge for more than 24 hours without a proper meal or rest.

Kaila later moved the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and claimed a compensation of Rs.480,000 for each passenger on the flight.

In his complaint, Kaila alleged that no personnel of the airline had bothered to inform passengers about the reason for the delays and that they had been abandoned at the airport for hours together.

M.B. Shah, president of the commission, did not pass any direction against the state-run airline Tuesday but asked it to publicise guidelines regarding flight delays so that passengers were made aware.

One of the standard guidelines for airlines says: “When a delay is known before the originating passengers proceed to the airport, the reservation office should be immediately informed to enable them to inform the passengers of the extent of delay. Passengers are given refreshments and if the extent of delay permits, passengers should be provided with hotel accommodation.”

The commission ruled: “These regulations, which are for the benefit of the passengers, are required to be implemented and made known to the public at large.”

The commission also asked the airline to place the regulations at a prominent place at every airport in the country from where it operates and also publish the summary of the regulations in one or two paragraphs in a leading English daily within a period of three weeks. It also asked the airline to appear before it on Aug 22, the next date of hearing.

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