Mumbai: A district consumer commission has directed the Thai Airways International Public Co. Ltd. to compensate a flyer for the inconvenience and hardship he and his family suffered because of overbooking done by the airlines. The flight was overbooked by nearly 40 passengers and the commission asked how can a professional airline overbook to such a large extent and then leave passengers in a lurch. The flyer and his family could not travel due to overbooking despite the flyer mentioning that one of his children was asthmatic. He could join his Bangkok tour only after two days.
Order against Thai Airways International Public Co. Ltd
The order dated September 21 was passed by Ravindra Nagre, in-charge president and Preethi Chamikutty, member of District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Mumbai Suburban. It was passed on a complaint of Mahim resident Alton Alves against Thai Airways International Public Co. Ltd. and Make My Trip (India) Pvt. Ltd. The order was only against Thai and not against Make My Trip.
Alves and his family had booked a trip and were to fly to Bangkok in September 2012. On the date of departure, the airline told him that the flight was overbooked. He was told that an alternate arrangement of a bigger aircraft was being worked out and that he will be accomodated. When that did not happen, he was told that the family will be accomodated in the business class. When business class original passengers arrived, even that did not materialise for the Alves family. They were then offered flights in Jet Airways and Qatar Airways which too did not work out. The Alves were then moved to a hotel room which they found stuffy for four people with them having to pay for even bottled water.
When Alves filed a consumer complaint, the airways told the commission that they tried to compensate him by giving enhanced 'Denied Boarding Compensation' from Rs 9,000 per head to Rs 15,000 per head as a goodwill gesture that he accepted. The commission, stating a case law stated that the 'practice of overbooking does not to go to any extent of overbooking and resultant 'denied boarding' to a large number of persons without any rhyme or reason...'.
The commission said that the airline failed to give any reason on why they overbooked 40 passengers and then did not have adequate arrangements for passengers who had come with valid travel tickets. It added that 'By offering Denied Boarding Compensation, it cannot be said that the liability of O.P.1 becomes any lesser, on the contrary it is confirmation that O.P.1 have not transported genuine customers holding proper valid tickets to their intended destination." The commission further, that the moot question was why did the airline "turn back the complainant and his family on the day of travel despite holding valid tickets" and that in the absence of an answer, the complainant was entitled for compensation. It directed the airline to pay Rs 1.10 lakhs towards inconvenience, hardship and litigation cost within two months of the order.