A city consumer forum has directed budget airline SpiceJet to pay compensation of Rs35,000 each to two fliers for cancelling a Visakhapatnam-Mumbai flight at the last minute claiming a technical snag, and then rescheduling it to Hyderabad.
M Shivraman and S Shridh-aran had booked tickets for the flight scheduled to take off at 7pm on January 9, 2010. But when they reached the airport, they found it was delayed by an hour, and then another. Ultimately, the flight was cancelled and rescheduled to Hyderabad.
Both issued notices to the airline to refund the extra expenditure they incurred and a compensation of Rs1 lakh, and approached the Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Forum after the airline rejected their demand.
The airline maintained the flight was cancelled because of a technical snag detected at the eleventh hour, and therefore, in accordance with the provisions of the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, it was not liable to pay any compensation.
The consumer forum, however, discarded the defence stating if the plane cannot fly to Mumbai because of a technical snag, it cannot be rescheduled to some other destination either. The forum also noted that the legislation prohibits compensation if the flight is cancelled or rescheduled because of reason “beyond control”, and not because of mismanagement.
It said the plane being used for a scheduled flight is checked for technical snags much before take-off, and if any are detected at the eleventh hour, it cannot be termed as a reason beyond control.
The forum then directed the airline to pay within two months compensation of Rs35,000 each to the complainants and an additional Rs10,000 each towards the cost of litigation.