A consumer court has asked Malaysia-based AirAsia to pay Rs 1.54 lakh to a passenger for serving him non-vegetarian food instead of vegetarian meal and allegedly harassing his family.
In a complaint to Panchkula consumer forum, Vijay Trehan (61) eldest member of the family said he booked onward and return tickets for the journey between Amritsar and Kuala Lumpur in Air Asia on October 7, 2018, and October 13, 2018, respectively.
In the complaint, Trehan said he had paid Rs 59,482 and Rs 15,016 for onward and return journeys, respectively. Trehan stated that there was no issue in the onward journey to Malaysia.
However, they faced problems during their return journey to India, according to a report in The Indian Express.
On October 13, 2018, the family reached Kuala Lumpur Airport and got their baggage clearance and boarding passes by 5.15 pm. The flight was scheduled to take off at 7:20 pm.
However, due to a huge rush at the immigration counter and also at the security check, it took around one and a quarter hour for clearance for the entire family comprising five adults and three children.
The passage between the boarding pass counter to the exit gate of the terminal was about 1 km and was confusing since there was no signage or any guidance by any airport personnel.
When the family reached the terminal, airline officials did not allow the family to board the plane, citing the delay of 10 minutes in arriving at the gate.
In his complaint, Tehran said at that time the plane was still present at the runway and had not even started revving for taking off. Trehan said the airlines did not make any announcements which added to the delay in reaching the terminal.
After they were not allowed to board the return flight to India, the family again bought tickets for Rs 1.03 lakh.
They had no option but to stay another day in a foreign land which led to heavy cost of hotel expenses.
During their return journey on October 14, 2018, Vijay Trehan was served a sandwich containing chicken when he had asked for a cheese sandwich. Trehan is from a Hindu family whose members are also devotees of the ISKON sect.
The family filed a complaint with the consumer forum which issued a notice to AirAsia. No intimation of the notice either served or unserved was received despite the expiry of 30 days after which the fine was imposed on airline.
The forum held that "despite reaching the Airport in time, getting their boarding passes in time, they were not allowed to board the flight, we find deficiency in service on the part of the OP (Air Asia). It may be mentioned here that serving of non-vegetarian food to a vegetarian person is also a gross deficiency in service "as it not only hurts religious sentiments but also thrust upon in the mind of the concerned person a sense of guilt and even physical problems like vomiting etc".
The forum has directed the airline to pay Rs 1,19,213 for expenses incurred by the complainants on new tickets, hotel room rent, food expenses along with interest at 9 per cent per annum from the date of filing of complaint till realisation, and Rs 30,000 on account of physical harassment, pain and mental agony as well as Rs 5,500 on account of litigation charges.
Edited by Aseem Thapliyal