A criminal case has been filed against Jet Airways for denying boarding passes to a group of 32 passengers for a Delhi-Mumbai flight. The airline did not issue boarding passes to the group as it had reported past the deadline at the airport check-in counter. The group, comprising Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) conservancy staff workers, has alleged wrongful action and fraud by Jet Airways staffers, stating that boarding cards were issued to other passengers who had reported much later.
The group was booked on the 10:45 am Delhi-Mumbai flight on 13 November. The police filed an FIR on 24 December under Sections 406, 420, 507 and 34 (cheating and criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code. "We reached the Jet counter at 9:52 am, but the Jet staffer said we had reported late and denied us boarding cards. After an argument, she scribbled 'RT (reporting time) 9:57' on the tickets. Meanwhile, other passengers in the queue were being given boarding passes for the same flight," the FIR stated.
The FIR further states that the airline staff had allegedly asked the group members to buy new tickets, each costing ₹27,300, if they wanted to board the same flight.
"When I saw that others were getting boarding cards, I distributed the tickets among the respective families. At 10:17 am, they gave boarding cards to three from our group. They probably didn't know they were from our group. Four other passengers from our group on the same PNR were offloaded," Jayanti Rathod, the group leader, told the Times of India.
"We had bought our tickets for ₹4,800 each four months earlier," Rathod said. "Jet denied us boarding passes and sold our tickets at a high price to last-minute buyers, who were issued boarding cards well up to 10:20 am. We want action against the airline. Hence, we approached the police and not the consumer court."
"When they told us we couldn't board the flight, some in the group started crying," she added. "We had spent a total of ₹1.73 lakh on 35 tickets. Thereafter we spent another ₹3.16 lakh to buy new tickets. It was an extremely traumatic experience."
Jet Airways has denied the allegations made in the FIR.
"In this instance, since the flight was scheduled to depart at 10:45 am, the check-in counters were closed at 10 am," said the airline spokesperson. "The leader of the group reported at the check-in counters around 10:08 am (that is, after closure of check-in counters) and informed the counter staff of the group of 35 that was to travel on 9W 358. The group members were however not present at the counter, and the group leader was unclear on their whereabouts. Eventually, the rest of the group reported at the counter well past the closure time and could not be accommodated."
The spokesperson further stated that the airline staff did not advise the guests to buy new tickets for the same flight. "It is known that all bookings and purchasing of tickets for a flight must be complete before one hour of a flight," the spokesperson said.
According to TOI, the police have approached mobile phone network providers to access the location of the passengers before the flight, and the CISF for CCTV footage.
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