The Boarding Gate

Conditions of Carriage are binding on all [Interglobe Aviation Limited v. N. Satchidanand, (2011) 7 SCC 463].  It is the primary obligation of the passenger to reach the boarding gate at least 25 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

The issue arose for those with PNR: IHRNSE, expected to travel from Kolkata to Agartala on 6E ­861 on 08.01.2017. Notably, the distance between the check-­in counter, where the boarding passes were issued, and the boarding gate was so insignificant that there could be no just reason for not to report between 07:35 AM till 08:58 AM. PNR: IHRNSE failed to take any initiative to ensure presence at the boarding gate before the scheduled time and cannot be heard to complain about the ‘deficiency in service’ by the ground-­staff. There is no assertion that no public announcement was made within the Airport before closure of the boarding gate. As per the standard practice, record on that is not maintained by the Airlines, but by the Airport Authorities. The need to prove that fact would have arisen only if PNR: IHRNSE had clearly pleaded all relevant material facts and also discharged their initial burden of producing proof regarding ‘deficiency in service’.

After the boarding pass is issued, the passenger is expected to proceed towards security channel area and head towards specified boarding gate on his own. There is no contractual obligation to escort every passenger, after the boarding pass is issued to him at the check­-in counter, up to the boarding gate. That would be a very tall claim to make. Airlines issuing boarding passes cannot be made liable for the misdeeds, inaction or so to say misunderstanding caused to the passengers, until assistance is sought well in time. If such request is made, there is no reason to presume that the ground­-staff will not extend logistical assistance to facilitate the passenger for reporting at the boarding gate in time. That, however, would be a matter to be enquired into on case to case basis.

Hon’ble Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, The Branch Manager, Indigo Airlines, Kolkata v. Kalpana Rani Debbarma, [Civil Appeal Nos. 778 of 2020]. Indigo