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Indian gets Rs 20 Lakh for faulty Lufthansa seat

Posted in S. Asia

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Published on June 05, 2015 with No Comments

International airline major Lufthansa has been asked to pay a fine of Rs 20 lakh for failing to keep its promise of providing flat seats to its business-class passengers.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has held Lufthansa responsible for indulging in ‘unfair trade practices’, asking the German airline to refund the Rs 50,000 flight ticket cost to a complainant, who said he got a “semi-reclined seat” instead of a “lie-flat seat” as promised.

He will also get Rs 10,000 as litigation expenses. The fine of Rs 20 lakh will be deposited with the Centre’s consumer welfare fund.

The order came on April 28, seven years after the complaint was filed.

The Mumbai-based petitioner dropped out of the case, but a Delhi-based NGO pursued it.

“Lufthansa was clearly deficient in rendering services to the petitioner… Had it been disclosed to the complainant that the seats in the business class of their aircraft were semi-reclined and not fully-reclined, he might have chosen some other airline,” the commission said. “…any statement which falsely represents that the service are of a particular standard, quality or grade, amounts to unfair trade practices. I direct the airline to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation to Vivek Talwar… also… deposit Rs 200,000 with the consumer welfare fund within six weeks,” Justice V.K. Jain said.
On September 1, 2008, Talwar flew from Mumbai to Dalas via Frankfurt. Talwar wanted a flat seat so that he could sleep during the 20-hour journey. While checking with the airlines before the ticket was reissued, he was informed that they had flat beds.

However, during the journey, he discovered that his seat was not flat and, in fact, had a tilt that was “only slightly more than what was provided by the airlines even in its economy class”.

When he complained to the onboard staff, he was informed that their seats were 170-degree flat.

Alleging deficiency in the service, due to which he could not enjoy a sound sleep, he filed the case. Lufthansa disputed Talwar’s petition on the ground that: “A lie-flat seat (as advertised) is different from a fully flat one or a lie-flat bed.

“A recline of near 180 degrees would be a lie-flat seat as per Urban Online Dictionary, even when the angle of the seat is not parallel to the floor but has a slant towards it.”

Jain, however, observed: “The meaning given in Urban Online Dictionary can be of no help since a passenger will not consult a dictionary before making a booking.”


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