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Elderly couple move HC for compensation over lack of food, medicine in Air India flight

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New Delhi, Apr 19: A petition by an elderly couple on Monday in the Delhi High Court has sought a compensation of ₹five lakh from Air India alleging that in their 16 hour long flight the national carrier was without sufficient food and medical supplies.

Taking serious note of the plea of the couple, both senior citizens, who have also sought a direction that the airline return the ticket fare as there was lack of proper service by it, Justice Prathiba M Singh said "it is scary if this has happened".

Elderly couple move HC for compensation over lack of food, medicine in Air India flight

The high court issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Air India, Airport Authority of India (AAI) and GMR Aerocity, which runs IGI airport, seeking their stand on the petition which narrated the ordeal of the couple during the 16 hour long flight from New Delhi to San Francisco on November 11, 2020.

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They claimed they were provided one hot meal, which was also stale, during the entire course of the journey despite informing the cabin crew that one of them was diabetic and required proper meals.

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 ₹2.25 lakh each and a compensation of ₹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.

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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.

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