Thursday, February 06, 2020

2 airlines, travel firm penalised after 60-year-old Chandigarh woman spends night in lock-up at Copenhagen airport

Chandigarh: The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Chandigarh has ordered Lufthansa Airlines, British Airways and a travel agency to pay Rs 70 lakh as compensation and litigation cost to a 60-year-old Chandigarh woman who had to spend a night in the lock-up of airport police at Copenhagen (Denmark) due to re-routing of flights from San Francisco to Delhi.

In the judgment released Wednesday, the commission held, “If a lady is detained publicly at an airport, it amounts to ignominy and it will gravely lower the reputation of the detainee. In fact her arrest and detention…without her fault and due to sheer negligence of both the airlines requires that the exemplary cost be imposed.”

Harsharn Kaur Dhaliwal had made a round-trip booking through Surya Travels and Associates at Chandigarh, with Swiss Air and Lufthansa to travel from New Delhi to San Francisco via Zurich, and return-journey tickets from San Francisco to New Delhi via Frankfurt. Dhaliwal’s journey from Delhi was on January 18, 2018, where she claimed was not provided diabetic food and a wheelchair.
Dhaliwal alleged that on her return journey on March 19, 2018, she boarded a Lufthansa flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt and was issued a boarding pass. She then remained in the plane for about three hours but it could not take off.

She was then told to de-board and collect her baggage. Dhaliwal said in her complaint that on de-boarding, she was not provided wheelchair assistance and it was difficult for her to locate and collect her luggage. She however managed to call her son to the airport to collect the luggage.

The woman alleged that Lufthansa Airlines, without consulting her, re-routed her journey from San Francisco to New Delhi and she was handed over a ticket for the same via London on British Airways instead.

As per the new arrangement, the first flight was from San Francisco to London, from where she had to fly to Copenhagen, and then by Air India from Copenhagen to New Delhi.

However, the flight from San Francisco arrived late at Heathrow airport and the connecting flight from London to Copenhagen had already departed. She was then made to board another flight which departed London at 7.05 pm on March 20, 2018, and reached Copenhagen at 10 pm. Again there was no connecting flight to New Delhi, as per schedule, argued the complainant.

Dhaliwal alleged that she was stranded at the airport without visa. She said that it was the duty Lufthansa Airlines and British Airways, which re-routed her return journey, to provide transit visa of Copenhagen.

Dhaliwal alleged that she was “unauthorizedly detained by Airport Police at Copenhagen for a night without her fault and was treated like a criminal.”

With great difficulty, her husband contacted the Ambassador concerned and with his assistance, she was released and again sent to India via Turkish Airlines from Copenhagen to Istanbul and thereafter boarded another flight on March 21 from Istanbul and reached New Delhi the next day at 5.50 a.m, the complainant said.
06/02/20  Jagpreet Singh Sandhu/Indian Express
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