Rights in transit
Sushmita Choudhury July 11, 2008
On 5 May 2007, a Kenya Airways flight carrying 105 passengers, including 15 Indian nationals, took off from Cameroon for Nairobi, Kenya. But within minutes of take-off, the plane crashed and there were no survivors. As if this shock was not bad enough, the relatives of the deceased Indians suffered an unlikely discrimination— they got a compensation which was a seventh of what their Kenyan, American and Chinese counterparts received.
The guilty party was the Indian government, bound as it was by archaic aviation laws. While Kenya, China and the US were signatories to the Montreal Convention (1999), India was diligently following the Warsaw Convention of 1929.
The Montreal Convention is a pro-passenger list of rights that sets higher limits of liability for international carriage of persons, luggage or goods by airlines. The Warsaw Convention, on the other hand, became a law during the infancy of inter-continental aviation with the main objective of ensuring that the liability of air carriers did not hinder the growth of the fledgling industry. But while the rest of the world moved on to protect consumer interests, India continued to wear blinkers. However, with the Lok Sabha recently ratifying the Montreal Convention—India joins 86 countries— there is a lot of good news for those travelling abroad.
Liability for death
Delay in luggage arrival
Filing a claim
The first thing to do is to report your bag as missing or damaged at the airline’s baggage office. Your complaint is incomplete without a written claim sent to the customer service department of the airline concerned. It should list out the damaged or lost items along with anything you had to purchase as a replacement and their corresponding values.
The icing on the cake? These new compensation norms are not dependent on the class of travel. Aviation Minister Praful Patel has also promised to review the liability limits for domestic flights in the near future. Here’s to newfound equality.
Uncommon places,the affordableway
The destination: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (169 km from Colombo)
Why go there: In the beginning it was a volcano—the 600-ft granite monolith that is a Unesco heritage site today is a hardened magma plug. Then it became a rock-shelter mountain monastery in about the 3rd century BC. At the height of its glory, in 5th century AD, it was a royal citadel for 18 years and later a monastery again.
What to do: Be prepared for a lot of walking and steep climbing to discover the ruins of the palace, the monastery and the frescos.
Don’t miss: Once at the summit, check out the symmetry of the gardens, the earliest known formal gardens to have survived in Asia.
Where to stay: Hotel Sigiriya, located at a walking distance from the rock.
Damage to wallet: You can get an AC double room for under Rs 3,400 a night, with all meals. This makes Sigiriya one of the cheapest tourist hot-spots in Sri Lanka.