KERALA

Travel agency, airlines told to pay compensation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM JULY 3. A travel agency in the city and an airlines firm has been asked to pay Rs. 50,000 as compensation to a consumer for deficiency of service, as the person could not travel despite being in possession of a confirmed air ticket.

The directive was issued by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to Riya Travels and Tours and Gulf Air on a complaint filed by Sunil Kumar of Pathanapuram.

The complainant had been working as a salesman in a concern at Riyadh for the past six years. He had come home on leave on October 7, 1998 and was to have reported for duty on January 3, 1999.

Through an agent, he approached Riya Travels and Tours at P.M.G Junction here, which issued him a ticket for travelling on January 3, on payment of Rs. 12,000. The flight was to leave from Mumbai at 8-30 a.m. on the day.

The complainant met the travel agency officials on December 30, 1998 and the latter confirmed that his ticket was okayed and that he would have no problems travelling. He reached Mumbai on the previous day itself and reported at the counter of Gulf Air at 5 a.m. on Januray 3, 1999.

His luggage was checked in, but was not issued the boarding pass. He was told that his ticket was not confirmed and that the same was not booked for January 3. The complainant had to return home as his visa had expired.

He claimed that he had lost his job due to the deficiency of the opposite parties and demanded that he be compensated.

The travel agency claimed that while the complainant's ticket was okayed, he should have re-confirmed his ticket 72 hours before the commencement of the journey.

The State Commission pointed out that according to the conditions stated in the ticket, if the passenger breaks his journey for more than 72 hours at any point, he has to reconfirm the ticket. Also, the complainant had claimed that he had met the travel agents on December 30 to confirm his ticket.

Gulf Air, during interrogations, claimed that the complainant's ticket was for travelling Mumbai-Riyadh-Doha on January 1 and was waitlisted in the first segment and Mumbai-Doha on January 3. It also said that the booking on January 3 was cancelled at the request of the travel agency. However, the complainant's ticket said that the ticket had OK status for January 3. Gulf Air could not produce any document to show whether the complainant's confirmed ticket was for January 1 or January 3.

The Commission ruled that the opposite parties — the managing director of Riya Travels and Tours, its manager in the city and Gulf Air — were jointly liable to pay compensation to the complainant.

Apart from Rs. 50,000 as compensation for loss and mental agony, the complainant was also allowed Rs. 2,000 as costs.

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