An Indian resident in Hong Kong has launched a lawsuit against Cathay Pacific Airways after the carrier allegedly failed to provide promised assistance to an unaccompanied minor.
Ram Prasad Poosaala, who runs a dried seafood business in the city, has accused Cathay of not honoring a “meet and assist” commitment in relation to his 12-year-old son who flew alone to India last year.
Charging the airline with “deficiency of service and gross negligence”, the businessman is seeking US$250,000 in compensation from the Hong Kong flag carrier.
Poosaala says his son took a flight to Hyderabad, the capital city of the south Indian state of Telangana, on Oct. 31 last year to visit his grandmother who was living there.
As the boy was traveling alone, the father says he had specifically instructed Cathay to take care of the minor and also handed the airline a phone number in India for emergency contact.
Upon landing at Hyderabad, the boy was required to be greeted by the airline staff, guided through immigration procedures and handed over to an uncle who would be waiting in the arrivals area.
But Cathay failed to do that, leaving the boy alone and unattended at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Poosaala told Apple Daily.
The service failure happened despite the boy wearing a badge for “Meet and Assist Service”.
After being stranded for nearly two hours, the boy was eventually guided by a stranger and linked up with his uncle.
Poosaala says his son was exposed to potential risks as he had been left unattended by Cathay staff in Hyderabad.
Hi son was terrified as he was in unfamiliar surroundings and also didn’t speak Hindi.
In a writ filed on behalf of his son to the High Court, Poosaala said Cathay had initially offered US$75 compensation after a complaint before subsequently raising the amount to US$200.
But the businessman refused to accept the amount, saying it was too little for all the mental agony the incident has caused, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Leaving his son unattended at the airport was “serious negligence”, Poosaala said, pointing out that the boy could have been kidnapped or exposed to some other dangers.
He noted that child abductions are common in India and that his son could have suffered.
Poosaala claimed that the compensation he is seeking through the court is based on some guidelines set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Cathay declined to comment on the case, saying the matter has now entered the judicial process.
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