Coram: A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said that the appellant Airlines cannot be blamed for the non-reporting of the respondents at the boarding gate when the boarding gate was finally closed.
Judgment: ‘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.’
Supreme Court said. After check-ins at airports, Flyers are expected to proceed towards boarding gates on their own and there is no obligation of airlines to escort every passenger.
Facts of the case: Debbarma claimed that while travelling with her family from Kolkata to Agartala via Indigo flight in 2017, they were issued the boarding passes, but the flight left without them stranded at the Kolkata Airport despite being aware of their presence on the airport premises. As a consequence, the family had spent a day in a hotel and forced to purchase new tickets. The commission directed private carrier Indigo to pay Rs 20,000 to Kalpana Rani Debbarma and her family. The airline contested this stating ample announcements were made at regular intervals, but the passengers did not report at the boarding gate on time. An appeal filed by Indigo Airlines challenging an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) was brought before the Supreme Court.
The decision of the Court: 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. As 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 bench said. The court set aside the judgments and orders passed by the District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission saying it cannot be sustained.
The court said that it will allow the competent authority (DGCA) to consider this issue and after interacting with all the stakeholders, take appropriate decision and issue instructions. “The fact situation of the present case is clearly one of ‘Gate No Show’ the making of the passengers and not that of ‘denied boarding’ as such,” the court concluded.