Friday, June 30, 2023

Baggage loss: Airline asked to compensate for mental agony of Keralite

The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRC) has ordered that Emirates Airlines must compensate a passenger with Rs one lakh for the mental distress and difficulties caused by the loss of his baggage during travel. This compensation is in addition to the payments for the cost of valuables and litigation expenses. This ruling is significant because the Carriage by Air Act of 1972, which governs airline compensation for baggage loss, does not specifically address the mental distress experienced by passengers.

The complainant, a resident of Ernakulam, and his wife travelled from Kochi to Dubai and then took a connecting flight to Lagos in January 2015. Upon reaching Lagos,  they discovered that one of their three bags was missing. The complainant reported the loss of valuables worth Rs 91,925 in the Property Irregularity Report (PIR)  filed with the airline. However, the airline offered to reimburse only fifty per cent of the amount. Unsatisfied with this offer, the passenger approached the Ernakulam district Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, seeking a total compensation of Rs 12,91,925, which included Rs 91,925 for the value of the lost items, Rs two lakh for miscellaneous expenses due to deficient service, and Rs 10 lakh for the mental distress and hardships they endured. 

The district CDRC rejected the petition, accepting the airline’s argument that the complainant failed to declare the presence of valuables in the baggage as required.  The airline also denied the allegation of deficient service. However, the recent order from the state CDRC came in response to an appeal filed by the passenger. 

The order, issued by a bench consisting of Commission President Justice K Surendra Mohan and Member Radhakrishnan K R, stated that the complainant was able to establish deficient service on the part of the airline. 

30/06/2023 M S Vidyanandan/New Indian Express

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