Sunday, May 30, 2021

Bengaluru teen sues IndiGo for missing trip to Nasa, wins Rs 1.6 lakh relief

Bengaluru: A Bengaluru teenager who missed a dream trip to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in the US due to ticketing issues has sued IndiGo airline in a city consumer court. The court recently ordered the airline to pay the youngster a compensation of Rs 1.6 lakh and a refund of his ticket with interest for ruining his chance of visiting the international space station.

August 10, 2019 was a big day for Munnekolala resident Kevin Martin, who reached Chennai airport to board an IndiGo flight to Delhi scheduled to take off at 6.30am. But much to the shock of the 18-year-old boy, IndiGo ground staff refused to let him board despite him holding a confirmed ticket, saying the flight was overbooked.

Martin, who was the 2019 Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) topper in Karnataka and stood second nationally, had bagged the trip to Nasa after winning the technothlon contest held at IIT-Guwahati. He was scheduled to fly out from Delhi on a Virgin Atlantic flight.

In Chennai, IndiGo staffers issued him a boarding pass with ‘zero’ printed in place of seat number and told him the flight was overbooked. Martin attempted to convince the staff and showed them the invitation papers from Nasa. He informed them that his scheduled flight to Baltimore in the US was to take off the same afternoon and he had to reach New Delhi on time in his pre-booked flight from Chennai. However, the staff offered him an alternative flight in the afternoon or evening, but that would have meant Martin missing his onward journey to the US. Sadly, the teenager was not allowed to board the flight.

He returned to Bengaluru and lodged a compliant with IndiGo. With the airline unable to come up with a convincing reply, Martin finally approached the Bangalore 1st Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on December 17, 2019 with a complaint against Inter Globe Aviation Limited, operators of IndiGo.

The Bengaluru teen presented the case through his lawyer, while the airline’s attorney claimed that the Bengaluru court didn’t have the jurisdiction to take up the case and that the complainant had suppressed material facts, including the fact that a boarding pass had been issued to him, but he failed to report at the gate. However, the lawyer admitted that the airline was fully booked and no passenger was willing to sacrifice a seat for the teenager, who also had a valid ticket. He was given a seat on another flight without any extra cost, but refused the offer and as per rules he was offered full refund for his ticket (Rs 8,605) and a compensation of Rs 20,000.

In court proceedings that lasted close to 16 months, the judges of the consumer forum slammed IndiGo for shattering the boy’s lifetime dream of visiting Nasa because of the ticketing chaos. The teen, it said, was a state topper and one of India’s best, who excelled at an IIT tech event and earned a trip to the celebrated US space agency. The forum observed that the airline had overbooked in this case and was expecting another passenger to sacrifice his seat, resulting in injustice to the boy, who was all set to take the connecting flight to the US, for which he arrived on time with a confirmed ticket.

30/05/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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