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Airline not obliged to escort passengers to boarding gate: SC

The judgment came on a petition filed by Indigo Airlines against a series of decisions from the district consumer forum to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to give compensation to a family who missed a flight from Kolkata to Agartala in 2017.

An airline is under no obligation to escort its passengers right up to the boarding gate after boarding pass is issued at the airport check-in counter, the Supreme Court held in a judgment on Tuesday.

The passenger, after securing the boarding pass, is expected to proceed towards the security channel area and head to the specified boarding gate on his own, the court held.

“There is no contractual obligation on the airlines to escort every passenger, after the boarding pass is issued to him at the check-in counter, up to the boarding gate.” The Airlines issuing boarding passes cannot be made liable for the misdeeds and inaction of the passengers or, so to say, the misunderstanding caused to them, until assistance is sought from the ground staff of the airlines at the airport well in time, a Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar held in the 32-page verdict.

Justice Khanwilkar, who wrote the judgment, observed that there was no reason to believe that an airline ground-staff would not help a passenger who sought logistical assistance to board at the right gate in time.

The judgment came on a petition filed by Indigo Airlines against a series of decisions from the district consumer forum to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to give compensation to a family who missed a flight from Kolkata to Agartala in 2017.

The family had claimed they were issued the boarding passes, but the flight left without them. They were not informed by the airline ground-staff.

Setting aside the consumer fora’s decisions, the apex court reasoned that this was not a case of change of boarding gate at the last minute or any other reason by which the creation of confusion is attributable to the airline. The passengers were not denied permission to board their flight.

“The fact situation of the present case is clearly one of ‘Gate No Show’ the making of the respondents [passengers] and not that of ‘denied boarding’ as such,” the court concluded.

The court’s amicus curiae and senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, however, argued that the DGCA guidelines “should be more humane and passenger friendly, considering that the profile of air passengers has become more inclusive, covering passengers from hinterlands and countryside, cutting across diverse social and income groups.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 6:23:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/airline-not-obliged-to-escort-passengers-to-boarding-gate-sc/article30678901.ece

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