On account of causing harassment to a family during their holiday trip to Canada and the USA, due to “unexpected changes in the schedule of flights” and the “loss of baggage containing daily necessities for four days,” the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Chandigarh has directed three international airlines to pay Rs 115,000 and $402.57 CAD to the Mohali family.
The Commission, upon hearing the plea, expressed understanding of how the joy of an internationally planned tour turned into an utterly horrible experience due to sudden, unexpected changes in flight schedules and the loss of baggage containing daily necessities for four days.
The Commission ordered United Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to pay Rs 35,000 each as compensation to the complainant. Additionally, Air Canada was directed to pay Rs 35,000 as compensation and $402.57 CAD for various bills, as per the applicable CAD$ rate on the date of expenditure, along with Rs 10,000 as litigation costs.
Gagandeep Toni of Mohali alleged that he, along with his family, had planned a holiday in Canada and the United States of America in June 2022 and had booked international air tickets with United Airlines. Toni stated that at the last moment before the scheduled boarding at Delhi International Airport, United Airlines informed them of the flight’s cancellation, leaving them stranded. After considerable uncertainty, the airline arranged different flights with a different route for the complainants, involving KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Subsequently, the complainants handed over their entire check-in baggage to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which contained essential items for their entire trip. However, the scheduled flight from Amsterdam was canceled, leading to further alternative arrangements with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The complainants finally reached Canada on June 4, 2022, with Air Canada Airlines. Toni claimed that the agony and harassment continued as their check-in baggage handed over to the airlines at Delhi International Airport went missing. Despite assurances from Air Canada, the baggage was only returned on June 7, 2022.
The complainants alleged that retrieving their baggage required them to travel seven times to the airport, disrupting their entire trip and holiday mindset. The ordeal forced them to undergo significant mental stress and financial expenses on taxi fares to and from Vancouver airport.
United Airlines stated in response that Air Canada, after sincere efforts, retrieved the missing baggage and handed it over on June 7, 2022. As a goodwill gesture, Air Canada offered a 25 percent discount on future flights. United Airlines claimed they were never informed about the missing check-in baggage claim or any other grievance.
While KLM Royal Dutch Airlines did not appear on behalf of the company, Air Canada argued that the baggage was checked in by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in New Delhi itself. Air Canada was not given the luggage by the former carriers, and they cannot be held guilty for service deficiency. The Commission, however, held all three airlines responsible for the delayed journey and loss of baggage, considering it a deficiency in service and unfair trade practice, even with the baggage being received four days late. The Commission noted that due to Air Canada’s negligent attitude, the complainant couldn’t consume important medicines and had to seek medical attention in a foreign land.