Thursday, February 25, 2021

Bengaluru couple sues Air India for denying them paid seats; wins Rs 15,000 relief

Bengaluru: A city couple took national carrier Air India and its regional manager to a consumer court after the airline failed to allot them seats on a Bengaluru-Mumbai flight, despite them having paid extra to select them. The duo has now won a compensation of Rs 15,000 and refund of the seat-selection charges.

Rohith Salariya, 46, and his wife Raveen Salariya, 44, of CV Raman Nagar booked seats on an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Mumbai on January 14, 2017 and paid Rs 500 each to pick seats — 4A and 4B — for more legroom, as the woman had a back problem. The seat-selection charge was described as non-refundable and non-transferable.

On the day of travel, the couple reached Kempegowda International Airport and collected their boarding passes. Inside the flight, they realised that two other passengers had occupied their paid and booked seats. Much to their shock, they noticed that the boarding passes had seats 5A and 5B assigned to them and not the pre-booked ones.

The Salariyas raised the issue with the cabin crew, which attempted to put them on row 4, but the passengers seated there refused to move. The crew advised the couple to take 5A and 5B and asked them to register a complaint in the logbook. Left with no option, the couple travelled to Mumbai and upon their return to Bengaluru raised a complaint with Air India, which offered a refund after much persuasion. However, the refund never materialised.

Angry over the airline’s shoddy customer service, the couple approached Bengaluru Rural and Urban 1st Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Shantinagar on April 26, 2018 and filed a case against Air India, its city regional manager and one Santhosh Shenoy, customer service manager, for deficiency of service.

The couple’s lawyer presented the case, while Air India’s attorney stated that the fliers failed to spot the seat numbers on the boarding passes and the seats they had booked were given to another couple travelling with an infant. Moreover, he said seats on rows 4 and 5 had the same legroom and the woman passenger didn’t face any trouble onboard and added that they refused to accept a refund of Rs 1,000 in a bid to make illegal gains in the name of compensation.

25/02/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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