India’s government-owned airline Air India has been ordered to pay Rs 47,000 — around $660 — to a couple who were served non-vegetarian food.
The incident took place on an Air India flight from Chicago to the Indian capital of New Delhi in 2016.
The couple, residents of Mohali in the north Indian state of Punjab, had asked specifically for vegetarian food.
According to an India Today report, Chandra Mohan Pathak booked a ticket for himself and his wife for travel from New Delhi to Chicago on June 17, 2016.
He booked a return flight for them from Chicago to New Delhi on November 14 that year. Both he and his wife specifically mentioned they wanted vegetarian food due to religious beliefs.
It was on the return flight that Pathak and his wife were served non-vegetarian food, he said in his complaint.
Pathak immediately alerted the cabin crew of what had happened. He said there was no mark on the container to differentiate vegetarian food from non-vegetarian food.
He said in his complaint that he wanted to make a formal complaint immediately, but apparently was not given any complaint book.
Air India fined — twice!
Not finding a recourse with the airline, Pathak reportedly sought the help of the district consumer forum in Mohali.
The forum levied a fine of Rs 10,000 on Air India. It also asked the airline to reimburse Pathak Rs 7,000 as legal costs.
Air India challenged this order in the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It, too, sided with Pathak.
The forum also reprimanded the airline, and increased the fine amount to Rs 40,000, while maintaining the legal cost reimbursement.
The commission reportedly observed that the airline had sinned in the eyes of god by providing vegetarian passengers non-vegetarian food.
It reportedly said: “The airliner, by doing so, also hurt the religious feelings of the passenger.”
This is not the first time an organisation has been fined for giving non-vegetarian food to a vegetarian customer.
Zomato and a restaurant were a few months ago fined Rs 55,000 for sending a fasting lawyer non-vegetarian food.