Nearly four years after Ketan Ashar was stranded for eight hours inside a London-bound plane at the city airport, the consumer court’s recent order, directing the private carrier to pay him Rs35,000 as compensation, has offered him some respite.
The Mumbai District Suburban Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum recently directed the Jet Airways (India) Ltd. to pay Rs30,000 towards compensation to the Worli resident whose flight was delayed for at least eight hours due to a technical snag. Besides, Ashar will also get additional Rs5,000 incurred towards litigation.
Jet Airways, however, did not respond to repeated calls seeking their comment on the consumer forum order.
Ashar boarded a flight, which was to take off at 2.30am on October 31, 2007, but the flight was aborted soon after, as the pilots noticed the plane was not attaining expected speed due to some technical glitch. Engineers were called in. They took nearly eight hours rectify the problem, following, which the flight finally took off next day at 10.30am — almost eight hours after its scheduled departure.
Ashar moved the consumer forum in April 2008 alleging that passengers were made to remain seated inside the plane for almost eight hours and that too without any food and water. In his plea, Ashar sought a compensation of Rs50,762 from the airlines, stating he had incurred a loss of Rs25,762, which he paid for hotel reservation and local transport in London.
Jet Airways contended the flight was delayed due to a technical snag, which took longer than expected to repair. The airlines further pointed out that the Director General of Civil Aviation does not allow flights with technical snags to fly.
Responding to Ashar’s allegations, Jet Airways contended that passengers were allowed to remain aboard, and when this technical glitch was noticed, most of them were fast asleep , crew members chose not to disturb them.
The bench of forum president JL Deshpande and member Deepa Bidnurkar, however, found faults with the airline and said it they were negligent was its duty to verify that there were no technical problems in the plane before allowing the passengers to board the flight.
“The fact that the pilots noticed the technical snag immediately after take-off shows negligence on their part,” the bench said, adding, “The fact that all the passengers were seated in the stranded flight for eight hours and the airline failed to provide food and temporary accommodation to stranded passengers shows deficiency on its part.”