The Chandigarh District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission issued a recent verdict instructing Air India to provide Rs 50,000 in compensation to two elderly passengers. This directive stems from the inconvenience caused to them during a flight from New York to Delhi, attributable to broken seats.
President Pawanjit Singh and member Suresh Kumar Sardana, comprising the panel, observed that the evidence presented substantiated the claim of faulty seats. These defects led to physical discomfort for the complainants, causing them mental distress and harassment.
The directive was issued following a consumer complaint lodged by two senior citizens, Rajesh Chopra and Gamini Chopra, under Section 34 of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 against M/s Air India Ltd.
According to the complaint, the couple purchased air tickets from New York to New Delhi, paying a total of Rs 8,24,964 to Air India. Given that Rajesh Chopra is a brain stroke patient and handicapped and had traveled to America for physiotherapy sessions, the couple opted for business class tickets with the expectation of a comfortable journey. However, they claimed that they were compelled to occupy broken seats during the 14-hour flight, having to rely on stools placed in front for support, which caused significant discomfort.
Furthermore, the complainants were unable to recline their seats into a lie-flat position for the overnight journey, exacerbating swelling and pain in Rajesh Chopra's feet. Alongside the complaint, annexed photos depicted the deficiencies in the flight seats.
Upon reaching out to Air India via email regarding the issue, the complainants received a response acknowledging the inconvenience caused but yielding no resolution. Subsequently, when a legal notice was issued to the company, Air India responded by suggesting that the complainants should have been more vigilant in selecting seats suitable for a 14-hour journey.
The Commission focused its attention on determining whether Air India was at fault in delivering its service and whether the complainants were eligible for the relief they sought. It was observed that the documented evidence clearly indicated that the seats assigned to the complainants were defective, failing to slide or adjust properly. Consequently, the Commission concluded that, given the complainants' admitted experience of physical discomfort and mental distress due to the faulty seats during the lengthy air journey, Air India was obligated to compensate them for its deficient service.
In line with its findings, the Commission partially upheld the complaint and granted Rs 50,000 in compensation to the couple. Additionally, it ordered Air India to cover Rs 10,000 in litigation costs.
Case Title: Rajesh Chopra and Another v. M/s Air India
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