Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Air India denies 85-year-old Jodhpur woman seat on flight from US

Jaipur: An 85-year-old woman, who is a US citizen and native of Jodhpur, was denied a seat and prevented from taking her Air India flight from San Francisco to New Delhi with a connecting flight to Jodhpur on Monday.

The family claimed that Kamani Bhandari was issued the boarding pass after the security check. But while she was about to board the flight, Air India did not allow her saying, “We are overbooked and have an unserviceable seat.” The woman is now waiting for another flight to travel to Jodhpur.

The family also sought intervention from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the ministry of civil aviation, terming the action as “irresponsible decision” and said it deserving “accountability”.

On Tuesday, TOI spoke to the woman and her son for details of the incident.

“My mother Kamani Bhandari (85) was taking a flight from San Francisco to New Delhi on Monday, scheduled to depart at 8.30pm and reach New Delhi on November 17 at 1pm. After I dropped her, she went through the security check and was carrying a valid Covid negative report. She was given a boarding pass. However, some minutes prior to boarding, she was denied by authorities at the airport who said that they were overbooked and seats were unserviceable. My mother was clueless and then they intimated me,” said Sanjay Bhandari, an IT professional based in San Francisco.

“She is a US citizen and has an OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card and was visiting our home town Jodhpur,” he said.

Prem Bhandari, a US green card holder who helps NRIs and Indians stuck in various countries with various problems, said, “This is condemnable. Action needs to be taken against those responsible for this kind of negligence.”

When contacted, an Air India spokesperson said, “The flight was full and one seat was unserviceable. We had requested If anyone could postpone his or her trip since the flight was overbooked and one seat was not serviceable. With the concurrence of her son she was offered another arrangement. The Air India's airport manager at San Francisco facilitated the passenger in getting another flight on a different airline which was slated to depart on Tuesday evening. However, since Air India does not have a daily flight to Jodhpur, we are trying to make an alternative and comfortable arrangement for her at the earliest. Also, as per US department of transport (DOT) rules, we are paying her $1,550 for this inconvenience.”

16/11/21 Ashish Mehta/Times of India

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