Bandra family misses out on first UK holiday due to British Embassy goof-up

A family of four from Bandra was forced to cancel its vacation to the UK because of an error on the part of the British Embassy staff in Mumbai.

Manish and Shalini Kakkar, along with their 11-year-old twins Tannmay and Tarangg, were offloaded from an Air India flight to London last month after the airline officials at the Mumbai airport found that Tannmay’s passport number did not match with the one mentioned in his visa. Manish, who works for a leading telecom company, said that this was to be the family’s first vacation abroad, and the cancellation has resulted in them suffering a loss of around 2,800 pounds (Rs 2.7 lakh). “After the discrepancy was noticed, the airline officials told us that we’ll have to get the error rectified, after which they will re-book our tickets without extra charges,” Manish said. It took five days for the mistake to be rectified, as the boy’s passport was sent to the British Embassy in Delhi. “We had nothing to do with the mistake in the first place, but Air India refused to keep its word. We were offloaded, but shown as no-show passengers (those who don’t turn up for the flight). And to rub salt into our wounds, we were asked to pay Rs 10,500 for not showing up for the flight,” Manish said. The family was offloaded on May 14, and the delay in reprocessing the visa application resulted in the hotel bookings getting cancelled, forcing them to call off the tour entirely. “We would have had to pay a massive amount to rebook the hotels, plus extra money for the flight tickets,” Manish said. The British Embassy refused to compensate the family, saying the onus was on the flyers to check the visa details, even as Manish submitted complaints to the Air India chairman and managing director Ashwini Lohani, the British high commissioner in India, and David Cameroon, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. The family has also initiated legal action against Air India and the British Embassy. Lohani was not available for comment.

“We received an email from an official from the UK visa and immigration department, which said it was the passengers’ responsibility to check the visas for such errors,” Manish said. “I have no option but to seek justice from the courts to cover for my financial losses, which have been caused due to deficiency in service,” he said, adding that he had to face “embarrassment” after the trip was called off.

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