Airlines not obligated to escort passengers to boarding gate, rules Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that an airline has no obligation to escort every passenger to the boarding gate of an airport after issuing boarding passes.
“After boarding pass is issued, the passenger is expected to proceed towards security channel area and head towards the specified boarding gate on his own. There is no contractual obligation on the airlines to escort every passenger after the boarding pass is issued to him at the check-in counter, up to the boarding gate,” a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari held.
The court also said that if a passenger encounters difficulty or impediments in reporting at the boarding gate, he/she is expected to seek assistance from the ground staff of the concerned airlines and an airline cannot be held liable for inaction on the part of passengers.
The ruling came in a consumer case involving IndiGo in which the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission had ordered the carrier to pay Rs 51,432 to certain passengers, who were late to reach the boarding gate after they were issued boarding passes.
The passengers, in this case, had booked their seats from Kolkata to Agartala for a flight which was scheduled to depart on January 1, 2017. They had reported well in time at the check-in counter at the Kolkata airport and after completing necessary formalities, they were issued boarding passes.
It was the case of the respondents that they were left behind by the ground staff of IndiGo and the concerned flight departed without any information about its departure.
It was alleged by them that the airline staff denied their request to accommodate them on the next flight without payment of airfare and also snatched their boarding passes. Due to this, they were forced to stay back at a hotel at Kolkata for two nights, thereby incurring additional expenditure.
The Supreme Court noted that the respondent passengers had not claimed that they were prevented, misled or obstructed by the ground staff from reaching the boarding gate well in time. It was also not their case that they had sought assistance from the ground staff and that was denied to them.