The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India

Airlines can't be blamed for failure of passengers to show up at departure gate on time: SC

ANI | Updated: Jan 28, 2020 22:55 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court has ruled that airlines cannot be blamed for the failure of passengers to show up timely on the boarding gate.
A Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari in a judgment delivered on January 27 said that it was the primary responsibility of the passengers to reach the boarding gate well before the departure time.
The airlines have no obligation to wait for the passengers if they do not arrive in time, the top court observed.
"Concededly, it is the primary obligation of the passenger, who has been issued a boarding pass to undergo the securitycheck procedure and reach at the boarding gate well before (at least 25 minutes before) the scheduled departure time," the judgment stated.
"No doubt, it is said that the consumer is the king and the legislation is intended to safeguard and protect the rights and interests of the consumer, but that does not mean that he is extricated from the obligations under the contract in question much less to observe prudence and due care," it added.
The court's verdict came on an appeal of Indigo Airlines against the September 12, 2018 order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which upheld District Forum order holding Indigo at fault for taking off the flight without informing four passengers and ordered the airline to pay compensation.
A couple and their two children were passengers, who had booked air tickets from Kolkata to Agartala on a flight operated by Indigo Airlines. They alleged that the flight took off without any information about its departure, even though they had boarding passes and their request to be accommodated in the next available flight was rejected.
They had filed a complaint in districts forum saying that as a result of Indigo's fault they had to incur additional expenditure for an extended stay and were subjected to mental harassment and claimed Rs 3,77,770 along with an interest at the rate of 12 per annum, which was allowed by the District Forum and NCDRC.
The top court in its verdict said that there is "no obligation on the airlines to escort every passenger after issuing him/her a boarding pass at the checkin counter until he/she reaches the boarding gate".
The duty of care towards the passengers would only apply in cases where the passengers are physically under complete control of the Air carrier, the apex court said.
The top court has allowed the appeal filed by Indigo and dismissed the original complaint.
Indigo contended that the passengers had failed to comply with the conditions of carriage (COC), which stipulated that the boarding gate will be closed 25 minutes prior to the departure time and this was in fact not the fault of Indigo, but of the passengers themselves. (ANI)