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Italian airline asked to refund airfare for bad service

An Italian airline, which botched up an Indian national`s return journey from the US during which he suffered a humiliating 24-hour detention at Rome has been asked by the country`s apex consumer forum to return his air fare.



New Delhi: An Italian airline, which
botched up an Indian national`s return journey from the US
during which he suffered a humiliating 24-hour detention at
Rome and subsequent deportation to Mumbai, has been asked by
the country`s apex consumer forum to return his air fare.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
ordered Alitalia to return Mumbai resident Gopinath K
Deshpande`s air fare from Newark to Mumbai, holding the
the company guilty of rendering deficient service.

"The airlines company re-routed the passenger from
Newark (USA) to Rome, without checking whether he had an
Italian visa for his travel from Rome to Milan in order to
catch the flight from Milan to Mumbai. This is an instance of
deficiency in service on the part of the Alitalia`s staff at
Newark," said the Commission`s bench of justices PN Kashalkar
and SP Lale.

The bench passed the judgment on a complaint by
Deshpande who had booked two-way flight from Mumbai to Newark
near New Jersey in the United States via Milan in October
2001.

In his complaint, he told the Commission that during
his stay in the US in November 2001, he decided to advance
his journey back to Mumbai and approached Alitalia office in
Newark for rescheduling of his return ticket.

Claiming that after Alitalia rescheduled his Newark
Mumbai journey via Milan and confirmed the ticket for it, he
approached the Newark airport on the slated date for travel.

But the airline staff, saying that his Newark-Mumbai
ticket via Milan was not confirmed, put him a on a flight to
Rome, assuring him that a link flight from there would take
him to Milan from where he can fly back to Mumbai.

But, he was in for a rude shock at Rome, where the
police confiscated his ticket and passport on the grounds that
he did not have the Italian visa to travel to Milan from Rome,
about which the Alitalia staffer kept him in dark in Newark,
said Deshpande.

Deshpande said he had to remain in the custody of Rome
police for over 24 hours after which they brought him to Milan
and from there deported him back to Mumbai, where he underwent
a four-hour-long grilling by security agencies again because
he had been deported.

Deshpande had claimed compensation of Rs 19 lakh from
the Italian airlines for humiliation and inconvenience.

The NCDRC, though found no proof of his claim of seat
confirmation, held Alitalia guilty for providing deficient
service as it did not inform him about mandatory visa needs at
Rome before re-routing his journey.

"Holding the Airlines company guilty of deficiency in
service and it is directed to pay to the passenger a sum equal
to the actual air fare charged by it for his journey from
Newark to Mumbai," the consumer court held.

PTI

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