New Delhi, April 26: A criminal case has been filed against Jet Airways for denying boarding passes to its 32 flyers. A group of BMC conservancy staff workers in December 2016 were denied boarding passes for a Delhi-Mumbai flight as they reported late at the airport check-in counter. The group of 32 flyers comprised of seven families who had purchased a flight ticket for the first time. The families claimed that Jet Airways issued boarding cards to other passengers who reported to the counter much later than them and alleged fraud and wrongful action by the airline’s staffers. However, Jet Airways has denied the allegations made in the FIR, a TOI report mentioned.

The 32 members of the group who had gone on a 7-day trip to Haridwar and Agrawere forced to purchase new tickets for Rs 3.16 lakh on evening flights. A month after 32 out of 35 members in the group missed their flight, the Tardeo police responded to a complaint sent by the group and filed a FIR on December 24, 2016 under Sections 406, 420, 507 and 34 (cheating and criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code. However, Jet denied the claims and said 32 of the group of 35 passengers were not given boarding cards as they didn’t report to the check-in counter on time.

The spokesperson of Jet Airlines was quoted by a report in TOI saying that since the flight was scheduled to depart at 10:45 am, the check-in counters were closed at 10am. “Check-in counters close 45 minutes before departure of a flight, and guests are to present themselves at the check-in counters on or before this time for getting their boarding passes issued and their baggage checked in. The spokesperson further added that the leader of the group,  Jayanti Rathod reported at the check-in counters around 10:08 am and informed the counter staff of the group of 35 that was to travel on 9W 358.

It was reported that the group had booked the 10.45am Delhi-Mumbai Jet flight 9W 358 on November 13. The FIR mentioned that the flyers 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 `R T (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.

In one of its kind incident, the group alleged that the Jet Airways staff told the group they would have to buy new tickets if they had to board the same flight, each costing Rs 27,300. The group approached the police and not the consumer court “so that action against the airline could be taken. Rathod, however, sent a complaint to the police and a month later where members of the group gave their statements.

Rathod informed that the group had purchased tickets for Rs 4,800 each four months earlier and claimed that Jet sold their tickets at a high price to last-minute buyers, who were issued boarding cards well up to 10.20am.  He said when he saw that others were getting boarding cards, he distributed the tickets among the respective families.  “At 10.17am, 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,” Rathod was quoted by TOI.

In June 2016, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was denied to board his Vistara flight to Delhi from Mumbai as he was late in reporting for the boarding process. It was the second flight to Delhi that Salman Khan missed on the same day. Later, officials of Vistara Airlines accommodated the actor in a Jet Airways flight.

In 2016, about 15,000 passengers were denied boarding by domestic carriers in which three of four of such flyers were booked on Jet Airways. A report by TOI said that the ratio of passengers offloaded each year is way below the global average in India. Last year, the ten carriers in the Indian airline industry flew 9.98 crore passengers. Of this, 15,675 were denied boarding or offloaded by carriers, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).