Nearly six years after the July 26 deluge brought life to a complete standstill in the city, an elderly couple was granted a hefty compensation for their nightmarish experience with an airline after their flight to Mumbai was diverted to the capital.
South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum presided by SB Dhumal and SS Patil directed the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (formerly Air India Limited) to pay Fali S Shroff and wife Jeroof, both over 70 years of age, Rs25,000 for the mental trauma and agony suffered by them and another Rs5,000 towards the cost of complaint.
On July 26, 2005, the couple was returning from New York to Mumbai on an Air India flight. However, the flight had to be diverted to Delhi due to the rains. They reached the capital in the early hours on July 28.
This was the start of a 22-hour ordeal. On reaching Delhi, the airline did not provide them with any accommodation or food. After protests, they were served fruits.
With flights being rescheduled, the airline asked them to locate their luggage. One of their missing bags was returned six days after they returned to Mumbai.
However, the airline said it took reasonable steps and the inconvenience was due to heavy air traffic at Delhi airport. They stated that for such acts, under international conventions, airlines had been exempted from liability, and there was no deficiency in service.
The forum observed that the airline failed to make arrangement for the passengers’ accommodation and their basic necessities.
It observed that the international conventions did not apply because the situation was out of control in Mumbai, not Delhi.
“Air India will take necessary action in this matter,” said K Swaminathan, deputy general manager, corporate communications, Air India, Mumbai.