Consumer Connect: 'Airlines Must Refund If Flights Affected By Natural Calamity,' Says Expert

Consumer Connect: 'Airlines Must Refund If Flights Affected By Natural Calamity,' Says Expert

The questions are answered by Adv. Shirish V. Deshpande, Chairman – Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, April 22, 2024, 10:25 AM IST
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Consumer Connect | FPJ

My wife was booked to travel to Seattle via Dubai on April 18 on Emirates when Dubai was flooded with unprecedented rains. We therefore requested the airline to cancel the booking and give her a refund to enable us to book alternate flights via a European city. The airline flatly refused. The flight, which was scheduled to leave Mumbai at 4.50am, left for Dubai after three-and-a-half hours. The situation at Dubai airport was chaotic with no one to give information about the connecting flight. She had to spend over 12 hours at the airport, with hardly any food. After hectic follow up, the airline rescheduled her travel on April 23 and agreed to provide hotel accommodation. However, they informed her that she will get her luggage only on her arrival at Seattle. Under the circumstances, can we sue the airline and claim for compensation for the hardship caused?

Ashish Kumar, Andheri

The heavy rains followed by flooding in Dubai was unprecedented. I believe there was no weather alert and hence cancellation of more than 1,200 flights to and from Dubai by different airlines has to be seen as a force majeure event, ie natural calamity over which the airline had no control. Under such circumstances, the airline cannot be held legally liable. Your wife is fortunate that in the midst of such a chaotic situation, the airline provided her accommodation at its cost.

However, having said that, the airline ought to have agreed to cancel the booking. There was certainly deficiency in service and negligence. You can certainly file a case. Incidentally, during the pandemic when airlines suspended operations, the Supreme Court directed them to give full refunds.

I refer to your reply to a query (April 15) wherein you have informed that as per MahaRERA Order / Circular 30/2022 dated June 3, 2022, the developer cannot deduct more than 2% of the flat cost if the homebuyer cancels the booking. In my case after four months I had to cancel my booking. The developer, relying on the terms contained in the allotment letter, deducted 5%. As I was not aware of this MahRERA circular I accepted the refund. Can I now get refund of this extra 3% deducted by the developer?

Ulhas Shinde, Ghatkopar (East)

Yes, you can claim a refund of the extra 3%. The terms stipulated by the developer in the allotment letter will not survive to the extent they are inconsistent with MahaRERA provisions. You may first write to the developer inviting his attention to this order / circular of MahaRERA and ask for a refund of the excess 3%. If he refuses, you can complain to MahaRERA.

(Advocate Shirish Deshpande is chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. Queries may be mailed to shirish50@yahoo.com)

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