Bengaluru: In case of flight cancellations due to pandemic situations, ticket fares must be fully refunded to passengers, a Bengaluru consumer court ruled recently.
An elderly couple from Bengaluru had approached the court after their US to Bengaluru flights were cancelled during the international travel ban in 2020. The judges ordered their travel agency to refund the fares fully.
In September 2019, Sivaram G, 63, a resident of Kudla Road at Muneshwara Layout, visited the office of Riya Travel & Tours (India) on Kammanahalli Main Road with plans to fly to the US with his wife Hemalatha. On directions from the agency’s staff, he used its official portal on September 5 and booked return tickets on Emirates Airlines from Bengaluru to Raleigh by spending nearly Rs 1.6 lakh.
On October 15, 2019, the Bengaluru couple flew to the US but couldn’t return as planned on April 11, 2020, as Covid broke out and a ban on international flights, mainly in India, came into force. Finally, on August 5, 2020, they flew to Bengaluru on a special flight organised by the government by spending an additional Rs 1.30 lakh.
After returning to Bengaluru, Sivaram approached representatives of the agency for a refund of their return ticket. But the agency paid the senior citizen only Rs 36,210 instead of Rs 78,363 as a refund. After multiple attempts to get back the full amount failed, he approached the Bangalore 3rd Additional Urban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Shantinagar in October 2021 with a complaint against the Bengaluru and Mumbai headquarters of the agency. The agency’s counsel stated that it was the airline that had to provide the refund and not the agent in case of such flight cancellations.
The customer refused to accept a partial refund but demanded Rs 80,000 for the cancelled flight. However, Rs 36,210 had already been refunded to him by the agency, the court was told. On September 27, 2023, the consumer forum noted that the Supreme Court had held that in case of international flight cancellations due to lockdown, the airline concerned must provide a full refund to the passengers without even a deduction of cancellation fee. In case a ticketing agent is involved, the refund must be passed through the agent to the passenger within three weeks.
The court ruled that the agency must pay a full refund to the couple, which is Rs 42,153 (as Rs 36,210 is already paid) with interest apart from a compensation of Rs 10,000 for the trouble caused and Rs 5,000 towards their court expenses. It must be paid to the complainants 45 days from the order.


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