British Airways has been directed by a consumer forum to pay Rs 2.5 lakh each to two doctors for leaving them to "fend for themselves" after their flight from London to Delhi was cancelled due to a snowstorm.
The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said the airline "violated the basic courteous behaviour" expected of it by not making arrangements of food and stay for its passengers and their "violation of duty to care" is "actionable negligence".
The state commission made the observation while dismissing the airline's appeal against the order of a district consumer forum which had directed it to pay Rs 2.5 lakh each to the two Delhi-based doctors - Kamal Kumar and Mukesh Mehra.
"We find the appellant (airline) has violated the basic courteous behaviour by adding insult to humiliation caused to the complainant and other co-passenger by simply giving them marching orders to fend for themselves without any support in terms of food, stay arrangements and other conveniences.
"The attitude of the appellant had caused great stress mental tension agony emotional and physical suffering to the complainant as well as loss of medical practice. This is all nothing but deficiency of service by opposite party (airline) by not stretching out helping hand to passengers in time of crises... and is highly unbecoming," a bench of members S A Siddiqui and S C Jain said.
The airline in its appeal had contended that an unprecedented nowstorm in London had disrupted flights as well as shut down the city due to which majority of the ground staff of British Airways were unable to reach the airport and as result, the passengers could not be taken care of.
Citing the defence of act of god, the airline had said it is not liable to pay any compensation to the passengers.
The two doctors, in their separate complaints filed in the district forum, had said they had gone to Zurich to attend a medical conference and were scheduled to return to Delhi via London by a British Airways flight on January 30, 2003.
However, after they boarded the flight from London, they were told it was cancelled and were asked to de-board as well as arrange for food, stay and alternate tickets for their journey to Delhi on their own without any help from the airline, they had said in their complaints.
The district forum, on their complaints, had held the airline guilty of providing deficient service.