CHANDIGARH, India – Apathy coupled with language barrier proved costly for Russian airline as the district consumer disputes redressal forum slapped a fine of Rs 60,000 on Aeroflot for deficiency in service towards a couple residing in Sector 9 of Panchkula.
Making the airline a party in the case through its address at Connaught Place in New Delhi, Bhai knocked the doors of the forum, alleging that inefficiency and failure of the airline staff to communicate in English forced him to spend an extra Rs 65,000 apart from causing him inconvenience.
Bhai had purchased two tickets for him and his wife to travel from Delhi to Paris via Moscow and return from Latvia to Delhi via Moscow. When the complainant inquired about boarding passes for the flight at the Delhi airport, he was told that they would be given to them at Moscow. “On reaching Russia’s capital, the couple were sent to the boarding gate for the connecting flight to Paris. When they inquired about their boarding passes, the staff at the counter gave no answer and signalled them to await the display of the flight name and its number on the screen. But there was no such display nor any verbal announcement or call in English. Each time the staff members were asked for the flight, their reply was ‘No English’,” said lawyer of Bhai.
Eventually, the couple missed the flight. Stranded at Moscow airport, they asked the airline to make arrangements for them in another flight on the same air tickets, a request that was denied. They had to finally spend Rs 46,280 on fresh tickets to reach Paris. But their ordeal was not yet over. “Their luggage had not arrived, forcing them to make international phone calls worth Rs 29,590,” the lawyer said.
The airline’s lawyer objected the forum had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaint as they did not have any office at Chandigarh. “The flight reached Moscow on schedule and the connecting flight was also on time. All display boards at Moscow airport are in two languages, English and Russian. Every person could comfortably read them and announcements were also made in Russian and English. Apart from the complainant, five other passengers had boarded the same flight and they were able to take the onward flight without any hassle or difficulty. So, there is no fault on part of the airline,” the airline’s lawyer argued.
The forum, however, ruled that the couple was stranded at the Moscow airport due to a communication gap caused by a language problem and the indifferent attitude of the staff of the airline, stating that the situation must have been “very gruesome” for the two. The forum added that the preliminary objection of territorial jurisdiction was not sustainable and there was clear deficiency in their service, directing the airline to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the complainant and Rs 10,000 towards costs of litigation.