In what may come as a shock to fliers, the South Mumbai District Consumer Forum has held that if you are flying for business purposes, you are not a consumer under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The forum’s ruling came while hearing a plea by Prabhadevi resident SK Tapuriah, who claimed Rs. 5 lakh compensation from Emirates Airlines for misplacing his baggage during a trip to Spain in December 2010.
Tapuriah stated that when he arrived at Madrid, Spain, he was told that the baggage was booked to be delivered to Porto, Spain. When the baggage failed to turn up even after waiting for half an hour, he asked for it to be sent to the hotel. However, even this did not happen and he had to purchase items of basic necessity.
The airline argued that the baggage was delayed as it did not arrive at Madrid on the same flight on which Tapuriah travelled, and he was offered full reimbursement of the amount spent by him for buying clothes. Therefore, the allegation that he could not conduct his business as his luggage did not arrive was false.
The forum, however, noted from the averments made in the complaint that Tapuriah had travelled to various places for attending business meetings and therefore he had availed services of the airliner for commercial purpose.
“We do not have any option but to arrive at the conclusion that the journey was undertaken by the complainant for his business activities,” the bench of forum president SB Dhumal and member SS Patil observed, while rejecting Tapuriah’s plaint.
“The services rendered by the airline were for the business / commercial purposes and therefore, in our candid view, the complainant is not a ‘consumer’ within the meaning of term ‘consumer’ as defined under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986,” it added.
The complaint was subsequently dismissed.