In a one-of-a-kind case, an elderly couple filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on Monday, seeking compensation from Air India for not providing medical supplies during a 16-hour flight. The couple has also alleged that the national carrier didn’t have sufficient food during their journey. They have sought a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
The incident allegedly occurred when the couple flew with the airline from New Delhi to San Francisco on November 11,2020.
Taking cognizance of the couple’s complaint, Justice Prathiba M Singh said "it is scary if this has happened".
The couple has also sought a direction that the airline return their ticket fare citing lack of proper service. The senior citizens have alleged that the airline only provided them with one stale meal during the entire course of their 16-hour-long journey despite informing the cabin crew that one of them was diabetic and required proper meals.
The high court issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air India, Airport Authority of India (AAI) and GMR Aerocity, which runs IGI airport, seeking their stand on the couple’s petition.
The couple - Nivedita and Anil Sharma -- in their petition filed through advocate Suruchi Mittal have claimed that they had to sustain themselves fruit drinks whenever they felt their sugar levels plummet and it was only thanks to food offered by a co-passenger that they were able to sustain themselves during the flight.
They have contended that the airline "has no business to carry 400 plus people on a long haul flight without having sufficient food, water and basic amenities including basic and emergency medicine".
They have also contended that the airline cannot unilaterally decide that they will serve only one meal without informing the passengers who normally do not carry food on flights and therefore, "endangering their health and life" in such "casual and lackadaisical manner".
They have sought refund of the ticket cost of Rs 2.25 lakh each and a compensation of Rs five lakh for securing their booking allegedly by making false representations and for not complying with airworthiness requirement, as mandated by DGCA CIvil Aviation Requirements, with regard to medical supplies in the aircraft to help counter and tackle emergencies onboard.
The petition has claimed that not even necessary medications like anti-diarrheal or oral rehydration solution medicines were available in the aircraft for the 16-hour-long flight.
The other issues raised in the plea are lack of a proper responsive or functional grievance redressal mechanism, for complaints which risks the health and safety of passengers and non-availability of club carts or wheelchairs at IGI airport to ferry aged or ailing passengers like the petitioners.
The petition has sought a direction to the ministry, DGCA, the airline and the airport authorities to constitute an independent committee to review quality and quantity of food served to passengers depending on flight duration.
They have also sought a direction to the authorities to ensure medical supplies to tackle emergencies are available onboard, providing wheelchairs and carts to ferry aged or ailing passengers and creation of a responsive and functional grievance redressal mechanism to deal with deficiencies in safety requirements by airlines.
(With PTI inputs)