1. S. Dorai Raj,
30, Pettai Agraharam,
2. Smt. Vasantha Dorai Raj,
W/o. S. Dorai Raj. …. Complainant
1. SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES,
Represented by The Manager, (Passenger Service),
16, Barakhamba Road,
New Delhi – 110 001.
Having a Branch at :
560 -562, Anna Salai,
Teynampet, Chennai – 18.
2. OASIS INTERNATIONAL,
Represented by The Managing Director,
17, Dwaraka Sadan,
C – 40, Connaught Place,
New Delhi – 110 001.
Having a Branch at :
10, Prince Plaza,
46, Pantheon Road,
Egmore, Chennai-8. …. Opposite Parties
1. The case of the complainant is briefly as follows:
The complainants were issued two round-trip tickets by the 1st opposite party for the travel from Delhi-Washington-Delhi departing on 09.09.1999 and returning from Washington on 02.12.1999. The 2nd opposite party was authorized travel agent of the 1st opposite party through whom the tickets were purchased by paying a sum of Rs.75,000/-. On 09.09.1999, the complainants reached Delhi Airport on time to catch the flight. But the flight was delayed. Since the flight was delayed they could not catch the connecting flight from Riyadh to Washington.
The Airport Manager of the 1st opposite party offered reservation by flight on 11.09.1999 and also hotel accommodation for the complainants from 09.09.1999 to 11.09.1999 on the explicit understanding that the entire expenses would be borne by the 1st opposit4e party. Therefore, the complainants accepted that offer. But at the time of checking out from the hotel on 11.09.1999, the complainants were requested to pay Rs.780/- towards the costs of telephone charges made by the complainants. In spite of specific understanding, the 1st opposite party failed to pay the said amount for the telephone bill. The complainants paid the said amount to avoid missing of flight. Therefore the opposite parties have committed breach of promise and contravention of the universal practice and convention followed by International Airlines.
Though the complainants had confirmed reservations tickets, they were not allowed to proceed and they were informed that they were in the wait listed by flight on 02.12.1999 and were informed that only on 18.11.1999 the reservations were available. The complainants decided to cancel the return journey tickets. But, Washington office of the 1st opposite party had informed the complainants that in the event of cancellation, no refund was possible in the fare because the tickets they had were heavily discounted “ guest class “ tickets subject to some restrictions included that the holders were not entitled to any refund and no change was permissible.
The complainants advanced their journey to 18.11.1999 in order to avoid loss of amount. The 1st complainant, being suffered with low vision, intended to consult low-vision clinics in the U.S.A. on the treatment options but he lost his opportunity. Therefore, he wrote a letter to the 1st opposite party dated 11.02.2000 claiming reimbursement of Rs.780/- and compensation of Rs.2,00,000/-. The 1st opposite party had agreed to settle Rs.780/- being the charges for the telephone bills with interest at 18% from 11.09.1999 till the date of payment, Rs.2,00,000/- as compensation for another visit to USA , Rs.6,600/- towards U.S.A. visa fees , Rs.50,000/- as compensation for mental agony and cost of the complaint.
2. The 1st opposite party filed version and contended inter alia that the complaint is not maintainable as there is no territorial jurisdiction to entertain this complaint. The complainants are not entitled to file this complaint before this Forum as there was no cause of action. The complainants were issued “L “class tickets which is a part of the guest class tickets which were issued at a discounted price under a special scheme and it was not returnable on cancellation. Having accepted the terms and conditions, the complainant cannot allege deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties. The inconvenience caused to the passengers’ towards onward journey is because of technical snag in the incoming flight from Riyadh.
The opposite parties allowed and assisted the complainants in making international calls from the office of the 1st opposite party. As per the terms of the guidelines issued by IATA the passengers are allowed to make one international call and the complainants have made local calls to a very few selected numbers. The complainants’ reservation tickets for the ‘ L ‘ clause, were waitlisted for the sector Washington to Riyadh even when the initial bookings were made in the name of the complainants, though the complainants may have been provisionally confirmed by the Travel Agent for the aforesaid sector in “ Y “ class which was ultimately not availed by the complainants.
Since the complainants’ tickets were waitlisted, they were no other option except to travel with available flight, wherein accommodation provided and as such they were forced to prepone the trip. The claim made by the complainants that Washington office of the opposite party informed that their seats were waitlisted is baseless allegations. This opposite party on 04.06.2000 agreed to reimburse a sum of Rs.780/- being the cost of the telephone bill as a special case. Therefore, there is no deficiency in service on the part of the opposite party.
3. The 2nd opposite party filed version and contended inter alia that the complainants have purchased tickets through M/s. Alam Tours, and not through the 2nd opposite party and as such there is no privity of contract between the complainants and this 2nd opposite party. If at all, there is any deficiency, it can be attributed only against the 1st opposite party and the complainants even assuming that they are entitled for reimbursement they can only seek for reimbursement of Rs.37,500/-. The complainants have cancelled the tickets and proceeded subsequently. The complainants instead of canceling the return tickets have preponed their journey and alleged deficiency in service on the part of the opposite party for which the opposite party is not responsible. Hence, the complaint is liable to be dismissed.
4. Proof Affidavits have been filed by both the complainants and the opposite parties. Exhibits A1 to A15 were marked on the side of the complainants. No documents were filed on the side of the opposite parties.
5. The points that arise for consideration are as follows:
1) Whether the complaint is maintainable before this Forum?
2) Whether there is any deficiency in service on the part of
the opposite parties?
3) To what relief the complainant is entitled to?
6. Points No.1 & 2: With regard to maintainability, the Hon’ble State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chennai in their order dated 25.10.2007 in F.A.No.372/2006 has held that it is enough if the opposite parties have a branch office within the jurisdiction of this Forum where the complaint is lodged and held that the present complaint is maintainable.
7. Admittedly, the 1st opposite party had issued two Air-Tickets to the complainants to travel from Delhi – Riyadh – Washington on 09.09.1999 and return back from Washington on 02.12.1999. The advance reservation was duly recorded in the flight coupons of the tickets. But, the 1st opposite party denied seats to the complainants both ways as scheduled by the respective flights upsetting important itineraries of the complainants in the U.S.A. and due to the attitude of the 1st opposite party, the complainants suffered mental agony and physical agony, harassment besides incurring heavy avoidable expenses to make up for the time lost in the U.S.A. Therefore the complainants’ main grievances are:
(1) whether the complaints were forced to stay in Delhi for one day due to delay of Flight?
2) Whether they were forced to return to India earlier to the date of their return since they were informed at Washington that their seats were waitlisted on 02.12.1999 ?
The opposite parties admitted that due to technical reasons in incoming flight was delayed and consequently departure of flight SV 760/09 SEP from New Delhi to Riyadh was also delayed and misconnection was caused to all passengers’ who were to board connecting to Washington from Riyadh. The passengers were accommodated in hotel in New Delhi with all facilities due to inconvenience caused to them because of the technical snag in the incoming flight from Riyadh. The complainants would submit that they made telephone calls to the extent of Rs.780/-. As the 1st opposite party did not settle the amount, the complainant settled the amount. The complainant would further submit that they had confirmed reservations tickets for their return journey from Washington to Delhi on 02.12.1999.
But when the complainants enquired about the reconfirmation of the reservation from Washington office of the 1st opposite party, they were informed that they were waitlisted by the flight No SV 034 on 02.12.1999. But there were no chances of getting seats in all the flights provided during the December and only on 18.09.1999 the reservations were available. But the complainants have decided to cancel the return journey tickets as they were informed that in the event of cancellation, no refund was possible because of the tickets were heavily discounted (guest class tickets) subject to certain restrictions.
The restrictions included that the holder was not entitled any refund and no changes whatsoever was permissible. But, this was not informed to the complainants by either the 1st or the 2nd opposite parties. Hence, the complainants have no other option except to travel on 18.11.1999 advancing their journey from 02.12.1999 to 18.11.1999 which upset their plan. The 1st complainant was unable to take treatment for low vision in USA on his eye.
9. The opposite party would submit that it is true that the complainant had purchased tickets on discounted rate of Rs.75,000/- for two tickets for onward and return journeys.
The complainants’ reservation for “L “class tickets were waitlisted for the sector Washington to Riyadh on 02.12.1999, when the initial bookings were made. The complainants would have been provisionally advised by Alam Tours & Travels that the reservations were made for the aforesaid sector in “Y “class. The fare paid by the complainants was for “L “class and the tickets were waitlisted in “ L “ class . The tickets were not confirmed due to heavy passenger traffic during the period of travel and as such there is no negligent act or deficiency in service on the part of the 1st opposite party.
Since the complaints have chosen to advance their trip on their own accord, there was no question of denying boarding the complainants on 2nd December 1999. They would further submit that the complainants cannot claim compensation as there is no documentary proof to show that they were informed by the Washington office of the 1st opposite Party that their seats were waitlisted on their return flight from Washington to Riyadh when they sought to reconfirm their tickets on 02.12.1999.
10. The complainant would submit that the tickets were issued for “Y “class as is evident from the entries made therein by the 1st opposite party under the column “Fare Basis “for all the sectors. The boarding passes Ex A1 issued by the 1st opposite party also clearly indicates as “ Y/C” (Economy Class) and nowhere has “ L “ class shown on record as alleged by the 1st opposite party. Having issued an Economy “Y “ class ticket, the 1st opposite party should have agreed to refund the fare for the journey from Washington to Delhi when the complainants sought it on account solely of the inability of the 1st opposite party to reconfirm their reservations made for 01.12.1999. Refusal to refund the fare or failure to reconfirm the reservation amounts to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service on the part of the 1st opposite party.
11. We have gone through Ex A4 copies of Air tickets purchased by the complainants to travel from Delhi. Riyadh, Washington, Riyadh and Delhi on 2nd December 1999 at 18.05 p.m. for “ Y “ class and status was recorded as “ OK ”. Hence, the contention of the opposite parties is that the complainants were issued only “ L “ class tickets and they were waitlisted and the status of confirmation was subject to availability of accommodation and therefore there is no deficiency in service is not acceptable in view of the Ex A4. Admittedly, the opposite parties have accepted to refund Rs.780/- being the telephone charges incurred by the complainants at Delhi. But, the flight was delayed due to technical snags.
That apart, they were not given reconfirmation regarding the tickets purchased for the journey on 2nd December 1999. But, the opposite parties would state that the complainants were issued only “L “class tickets. Therefore, mere showing the tickets as waitlisted does not amount to deficiency in services. This arguments of the opposite parties is not acceptable in view of Ex A4. Hence, we are of the view that there is deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties.
11. Point No.2: In the result, the complaint is allowed. The opposite parties are jointly and severally directed to pay a sum of Rs.780/- being the telephone expenses paid by the complainants and compensation of Rs.30,000/- for mental agony. The complainants are not entitled to the compensation of Rs.2,00,000/- for another visit to U.S.A. and Rs.6,600/- being the visa fees for the two persons claimed in the complaint which are not permissible under section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act,1986.
The opposite parties are also jointly and severally directed to pay a sum of Rs.5000/- as cost of the complaint to the complainants. The amounts shall be payable within six weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order, failing which the amounts shall carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum till the date of payment.