Lok Adalat orders Air India to pay compensation to couple for changing their seats

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The Permanent Lok Adalat (Public Utility Services) in Chandigarh has ruled in favor of an elderly couple, Sunil and Kusum Parti, and directed Air India to pay them Rs 48,000 as compensation for changing their booked seats on a Delhi-Vancouver flight. The couple had paid an additional premium of Rs 18,000 for seats with extra legroom.

According to the complainants, on June 22, 2022, while boarding from Delhi, they discovered that their boarding passes had been issued with different seats (32E and 32D) without any prior intimation. The couple alleged that the airline staff behaved rudely and asked them to either sit on the newly assigned seats or leave the boarding area It was later revealed that their original seats had allegedly been allotted to VIPs.

The couple stated that they experienced discomfort and had to travel on another flight from Vancouver to Calgary due to the seat change. In response, Air India argued that the couple’s emergency exit seat was declined at the boarding gate due to the husband’s ill health and that they were not eligible to be seated on emergency exit seats as per the Director General of Civil Aviation’s guidelines The airline claimed that after evaluating the applicants’ physical condition, they made the decision to switch their seats to the next best option available, which the couple accepted.

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The Permanent Lok Adalat bench held that the disclaimer on Air India’s website and at the emergency exit gate did not absolve the airline of responsibility for charging an extra premium for the emergency exit seats and then changing the seats without prior notice. The bench emphasized that the airline should have refused the seats beforehand if the couple was not eligible, rather than charging them extra and then changing their seats The Lok Adalat concluded that the couple had suffered due to the airline’s actions and awarded them Rs 48,000 as compensation.

Permanent Lok Adalat (Public Utility Services)

The Permanent Lok Adalat (Public Utility Services) is a legal institution established under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. It is a pre-litigative mechanism for the conciliation and settlement of cases related to public utility services such as transport, postal services, and telegraph services. The Permanent Lok Adalat is a permanent body with a Chairman and two members, and its jurisdiction extends up to Rs. One Crore.

Conclusion

The Permanent Lok Adalat in Chandigarh has directed Air India to pay Rs 48,000 as compensation to an elderly couple for changing their seats on a Delhi-Vancouver flight without prior intimation. The couple had paid an additional premium for seats with extra legroom, and the airline allegedly assigned their seats to VIPs. The Lok Adalat held that the airline’s actions caused discomfort to the couple and awarded them compensation The Permanent Lok Adalat is a legal institution established for the settlement of cases related to public utility services.

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