Men who missed F1 due to misplaced bags won't get airfare refund

Flying off to Bahrain to watch the Grand Prix in 2009 did not go too well for two south Mumbai residents, as their trip was reduced to waiting at the airport, and they even missed the event they flew in to watch. Their pleas for compensation were met with a stiff ‘against the principles of natural justice’ by a Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission bench.

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The two had flown into the kingdom via Jazeera Airways and the airline misplaced their luggage, which resulted in them losing out on the Grand Prix, which was happening on the same day. Though a consumer court ordered Jazeera Airways to cough up the cost of the airline tickets and race event tickets, the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission maintained that it would be ‘against the principles of natural justice’, to order the airline to reimburse air fare, as the two men had in fact flown to Bahrain.

In 2009, Hanoz Sukeshwalla, who lives at Grant Road, and Nekzaad Vakil, a resident of Colaba, had booked air tickets with Jazeera Airways with the intention of watching the Formula 1 Grand Prix. They flew out on April 26, 2009, and the race was scheduled to take place the same day. Upon landing in Bahrain, they realised that their baggage had been misplaced and they were unable to make it to the event on time as everything they needed was missing.

Court in action
They eventually recovered their baggage on May 2 and finding deficiency in service on the airline’s part, the District Consumer Forum directed the operator to reimburse up-down airfare of Rs 36,096 each to Sukeshwalla and Vakil, Rs 16,332 each towards the cost of the race event tickets with six per cent interest from 2009, and an additional Rs 5,000 each for loss of necessary items and mental agony caused.

In an appeal decided on September 3, the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission bench comprising presiding member PN Kashalkar and member Dhanraj Khamatkar ordered, “When the respondents had travelled by air from Mumbai to Bahrain and back to Mumbai, we feel that directing the appellant to return air travel expenses is against the principle of natural justice.”

The commission modified the lower court order to that effect and noted, “Under no circumstances, respondents are entitled to get back their amount of air fare.” 

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