Airline can’t leave behind flyers with boarding passes

Kalpana and Swadesh Debbarma and their two minor children were booked on an Indigo Airlines flight from Kolkata to Agartala. They were issued boarding passes, but the flight took off without them.

They approached the airline with a written complaint, but it was not accepted, and the staff even allegedly forcibly took away their boarding passes. Their pleas to put them on some other flight are said to have gone unheeded. The family was compelled to book a hotel room and also spend on food till they could arrange money to buy fresh tickets. After two days, they finally travelled back to Agartala.

Due to this, the couple, both of whom are engineers with the Tripura government, could not attend office for two days, resulting in loss of salary.

The family approached the District Forum. The airlines contested the case, contending the family did not reach the boarding gate 25 minutes prior to flight departure so it was considered as ‘Gate No Show’ and the boarding passes were cancelled in accordance with the conditions of carriage. The airline stated that it had offered to accommodate the family on the next flight subject to availability of seats and payment of reaccommodation fees, but its offer was turned down. It denied liability to refund the fare.

The Forum allowed the complaint. Both sides appealed. The one filed by the airline was dismissed while Debbarma’s appeal was allowed by the Tripura State Commission. It ordered the airlines to refund ticket charges of Rs.16,432, reimburse Rs10,000 for hotel accommodation, and also awarded Rs10,000 toward compensation and Rs5,000 toward costs.

Indigo then filed a revision. The National Commission questioned the airlines if there was any evidence to show the boarding passes were cancelled as the family could not be located despite several announcements. The airline was unable to produce any proof. The Commission observed that once a passenger checks in, movement is restricted to a very limited area, so it is beyond comprehension why a passenger would not report at the gate despite announcements. The Commission further questioned why the airline, which takes a passenger’s contact details, had not attempted to telephonically contact the family. The airlines had no explanation to offer.

The Commission deprecated the attitude of the airline in snatching away the boarding passes and indicted it for failing to reduce the inconvenience to the family with two minor children. It also castigated the airline for filing a revision even though a meagre amount of Rs20,000 had been awarded as compensation.

Accordingly, by its order of September 12, 2018 delivered by the bench of justice RK Agrawal and M Shreesha, the National Commission dismissed Indigo’s revision.

Impact: If a person who has been issued a boarding pass does not report at the boarding gate, the airline has a duty to telephonically contact such a passenger instead of leaving him behind.

 

Jehangir Gai – Times of India 170918

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is jehangir.gai.columnist@outlook.in)

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Forced donations sought by housing societies illegal: HC

In a setback to housing societies who get members to make a ‘voluntary donation’ at the time of sale of flat, the Bombay high court has ruled such payments are illegal. A housing society cannot recover excessive transfer fee from a member under the guise of ‘voluntary donation’, the court has ruled.

“A cooperative housing society…is not expected to indulge in profiteering from members and, if such amount is earned, then it is taxable under the law. There is no bar on any member to pay a donation to the society, but it should be voluntary,” said Justice Bhatkar.

The judge remarked housing societies were known to charge extra from members. “Different ways are invented to earn more than legally permissible charges,” the judge said. The HC directed the society to refund Rs 4.75 lakh along with 8% interest from 2005.

In the present case, a former member had accused Alankar Sahkari Cooperative Housing Society of forcing him to make a donation. The member claimed he was facing financial distress and hence had decided to sell the bungalow plot in the housing society. The committee, he claimed, sought a donation of Rs 5 lakh for their approval.

The member paid the amount in April 2005 and, once the sale was through, filed a dispute before the cooperative court in December 2005, seeking a refund of the amount paid under duress. The cooperative courts ordered the refund, which was challenged by the society in the high court.

The society referred to a communication by the member that he was donating the amount voluntarily. The high court refused to accept this admission. “A person facing financial crises will not donate Rs 5 lakh. There is a ceiling of Rs 25,000 for transfer fees,” the judge said. “From this conduct of taking immediate steps… and challenging the transaction, it can be safely concluded the amount was not a donation.”

Shibu.Thomas@timesgroup.com

Times Of India – 030918

New visa rules Indian passport holders need to know

If you are an Indian passport holder and travel often, chances are that you have had to face visa issues once or more.

As of 2018, 59 countries offer visa on arrival or visa-free travel to Indian passport holders. But that is hardly any consolation, given that most countries in Europe and the Americas still require you to get that visa stamped on your passport.

However, in what comes as slight relief to Indian passport holders, visa rules have been relaxed a little.

ALSO SEE: Most powerful passport 2018 is an Asian country. See where India ranks

There is a new set of visa rules in place and if you hold an Indian passport, this might ease your travel a bit.

Take a look at the new rules:

1. If you’re transiting through the international zone of any airport in France, you don’t need an airport transit visa any longer.

2. If you are travelling to Oman, you can now get a month-long tourist visa on arrival in the country for an amount of 20 Omani Riyal (Rs 3,700). But this rule holds only if you reside or hold an entry visa to the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Japan or Schengen states. Your spouse and children accompanying you can also get a visa on arrival.

3. Travelling to Myanmar is now a cakewalk if you are planning to drive into the country. You need to display your e-visa at the checkpost. The e-visa can be obtained in two days.

4. UAE is now granting a 10-year long-term visa to highly-skilled professionals and investors who are willing to visit the country. These visas are granted to specialists in science, medicine and research. Visas are also being granted to “exceptional students.”

5. Israel has now cut down its visa fee for Indian passport holders from Rs 1,700 to Rs 1,100. You need to apply for a visa in the B2 visa (business, tourism or meeting or conference) category in order to avail the new price.

6. Travelling to Uzbekistan from India is also easier now. Submit your e-visa application three days before your trip. You can get a single-entry e-visa for a 30-day period.

7. UAE has announced new visa rules to promote tourism in the Emirates. Between July 15 and September 15 every year, UAE is offering visa-free travel to dependents below 18 years who are accompanying you. This means if you are travelling to Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a family holiday and have kids below 18 years, your kids travel visa-free.

8. In a bid to increase tourism in the country, Saudi Arabia is now issuing tourist visas to women aged 25 and above even if they are visiting the country without being accompanied by a man. This is the first time Saudi Arabia has relaxed visa rules on this front. The new visa rules come after Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman promised a “moderate, open Islam” in the country.

9. Japan is one of those Asian countries whose visa rules for Indian passport holders used to be at par with probably the US or European countries. But Japan has now relatively eased travel to the country for holders of Indian passport. If you are applying for a short-term stay in Japan or a multiple-entry visa, you don’t need to show an employment certificate or explanation letter stating the reason for your visit. You need your visa application form along with a valid and recent photograph and proof of your financial stability if you are travelling for tourism purposes. If your trip to Japan is business-related, you need documents to prove your affiliation to the enterprise.

10. Indian passport holders can now get visa on arrival in Zimbabwe. India is among the 28 countries that Zimbabwe has relaxed visa rules for.

YET TO BE IMPLEMENTED

If you are transiting through Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you can now obtain a free transit visa for two days. The transit visa can be extended to four days from two at an additional cost of 50 Dirham (Rs 970).

https://www.indiatoday.in/lifestyle/travel/story/new-visa-rules-indian-passport-holders-need-to-know-1327544-2018-08-30