Consumer Court Imposes Fines on Yatra and British Airways for Sudden Flight Cancellation

LI Network

Published on: October 5, 2023 at 11:17 IST

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-I in U.T. Chandigarh has held Yatra Online Private Limited and British Airways PLC responsible for their roles in an incident of flight cancellation that caused inconvenience to passengers.

The case was filed by Dr. G.S. Arora, Angad Singh Arora, and Virat Agam Singh against Yatra Online Private Limited (OP No.1) and British Airways PLC (OP No.2). The complaint was heard by the commission presided over by President Pawanjit Singh and Member Surjeet Kaur.

Background of the Case:

The complainants had booked a flight ticket for Complainant No.3 from Geneva to Delhi through Yatra Online Private Limited for a total of Rs. 59,787. The scheduled departure date was December 19, 2020. However, upon reaching Geneva Airport on the scheduled date, the complainants were shocked to find that their flight had been canceled without prior notice, leading to significant inconvenience and additional expenses for Complainant No.3.

Key Arguments:

OP No.1 (Yatra Online Private Limited) contended that they acted as intermediaries between service providers and customers and had no control over the actions of the airlines. They argued that flight-related issues were the responsibility of the airlines, not theirs.

OP No.2 (British Airways PLC) admitted to the flight cancellation but claimed they had informed the travel agent (OP No.1) about the cancellation through the Global Distribution System (GDS). They further stated that they had arranged alternative flights for Complainant No.3 but lacked the necessary authorization from either OP No.1 or Complainant No.3.

Judicial Findings:

After a thorough examination of the evidence and arguments presented, the commission delivered its verdict, making the following key observations:

Regarding OP No.1, President Pawanjit Singh stated, “OP No.1 remained silent during the proceedings of the present case, concealed the amount in its possession, and filed a reply alleging that the amount in dispute should be refunded by OP No.2. This concealment of vital facts in its reply, supported by an affidavit, amounts to false evidence on the part of OP No.1.”

Regarding the liability of OP No.2, Member Surjeet Kaur remarked, “OP No.2 is attempting to evade liability by placing the entire burden on OP No.1 for not sharing the contact details of the complainants. In our opinion, OP No.2 also had a duty and obligation to obtain the details of the complainants and provide them with timely information about the flight cancellation. Therefore, OP No.2’s failure to inform the complainants promptly and not offering an alternative flight constitutes deficient service.”

Judicial Orders:

Based on their findings, the commission issued the following directives:

OP No.1 (Yatra Online Private Limited) was instructed to refund Rs. 58,708 to the complainants with an interest rate of 9% per annum from the date of receiving the amount from OP No.2 until the payment is made.

OP No.1 was ordered to pay Rs. 15,000 to the complainants as compensation for causing mental distress and physical inconvenience.

OP No.2 (British Airways PLC) was also directed to pay Rs. 15,000 to the complainants as compensation for causing mental distress and physical inconvenience.

Both OPs (No.1 and No.2) were jointly mandated to pay Rs. 10,000 to the complainants as litigation costs.

Compliance Deadline:

The OPs were given a thirty-day window from the date of receiving the certified copy of the order to adhere to the above instructions. Failure to comply would result in the OPs having to pay interest at a rate of 12% per annum from the date of the order until the amount is realized.

Case Name: Dr. G.S. Arora Vs Yatra Online Private Limited

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