It’s one in the morning and you couldn’t sleep a wink because of the feeling of excitement rushing down your veins. The thought of going out of town, more so out of the country, keeps you awake while waiting for the sun to rise. Here it comes, the warmth of this day’s morning. You have your luggage all packed, your OOTD ready, and your passport in the palm of your hands waiting for the most anticipated time that you’ll board the plane and be in the midst of a memorable journey. But, what’s this? “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is an announcement for passengers on flight… bound to South Korea. The flight has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control. The new estimated time of departure is currently at 12:15 in the afternoon. We apologize deeply for any trouble we may have caused and we reassure you that we are working diligently to resolve this matter. If you have any questions or concerns in the interim, don’t hesitate to check our website and mobile application or stop by our customer care desk. We appreciate your understanding and patience. Thank you.” With this, you quickly check the status of your flight in your mobile app, but unfortunately, there seems to be a glitch. You pace your way towards the customer care service with a crowd of angry passengers expressing their disappointment and rage with the sudden delay. While hearing all the conversations of apologies and promises of urgent updates, you once more grab your phone with shaky hands and scroll through Twitter showing a handful of complaints against the concerned Airline.
Airline companies have been the center of attention these past months with the issues of overbooking, offloading, booking glitches, and skeptical means of handling such matters as claimed by various passengers. The surge of around 3,000 passenger complaints against a certain airline has led to its tackling at the Senate with Senate Resolution No. 575 which was filed last April 23 by Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” S. Binay, who chairs the Committee on Tourism (Madarang, 2023; Piad & Ramos, 2023). The aforementioned resolution does not only forward the inquiries and concerns of the passengers, but it also calls for the aid of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Department of Tourism and Communication (DOTC) regarding the necessary measures and compensation (Madarang, 2023). Taking into account DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 01, Series of 2012, popularly known as the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, Senate Resolution No. 575 provides a form of relief so that these flight fiascos would be addressed, and better aviation services would be offered to the riding public.
With this, last 21 June 2023, the Senate Committee on Tourism, in conjunction with the Committee on Public Services, held a public hearing to urge legislation emphasizing the rights of passengers (ibid). This article invites all passengers to kindly fasten your seatbelts in this journey to attain justice for what was yours from the beginning.
What’s yours? Your Rights!
Being part of the riding public guarantees passengers of numerous rights through the DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 01, s. 2012 emphasizing the privileges and protection that passengers are entitled to. It illuminates the crucial information, services, and compensations air travelers must receive once they are acquiring a flight ticket with the country’s airlines. With this, air passengers possess three major rights.
First, it is essential that airlines lay out all information regarding their services as each passenger carries with them the right to information. Air passengers are endowed with the right to be provided with accurate information before purchase (GOVPH, 2012). This goes to show that airlines are subject to articulate clear, complete, and accurate details regarding flight schedules and all matters that shall involve the purchase of their services. This empowers travelers to make wise decisions on which flights and which air carrier is the most suitable for them. This right secures passengers from inconveniences upon arriving at the airport and during their journey as they are well aware of what they have availed as ensured by the airlines as what they have offered and made available.
This being said, the riding public also possesses the second major right which is to receive the full value of the service purchased (ibid). In obtaining a ticket with an airline, passengers enter a contract with airlines taking into account that they would maximize the services they paid for keeping in mind the guarantee of quality service, safety, and comfort that the airlines have assured. With this, upon arrival at the airport, travelers have the right to be catered for during the check-in processes. This equates to utilizing the services of check-in counters with the privilege of not being considered late and not being denied if one comes to the check-in area at least one hour before the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) or within the time prescribed by the airline as notified to the passenger. Moreover, passengers are granted the right to sufficient processing time as specified by the aforementioned Joint Administrative Order. Hence, check-in counters must be accessible at least one hour before the ETD, and at least two hours in the cases of international airports and certain airports designated by the DOTC. In instances of flights nearing the check-in deadline, passengers are privileged to utilize a separate check-in counter as provided by their air carriers. One more thing that airlines must provide is at least one check-in counter for Persons With Disabilities, senior citizens, and individuals who require special assistance.
Following the right to receive the full value of the service they purchased, travelers are also entitled to boarding the aircraft. Passengers must not be denied this right without their consent. With this, in the case of overbooking, air carriers must provide the legal and valid reasons for the overbooking, and follow the process of the ‘auction system’ which is to provide just compensation to volunteers willing to give up their seats.
Lastly, in line with this, the right to compensation is also bestowed to the riding public. Take note that in instances that one’s flight is delayed, travelers are subject to availing meals and refreshments, to free telecommunication services, to be endorsed to another carrier, to be rebooked or refunded one’s ticket, and to board the flight if one does not opt for a rebooking or refund. The said services shall be endowed to passengers in accordance with the number of hours delayed for their flight and the cause of such inconvenience by the air carrier. In addition, when one’s flight is canceled, passengers must be notified beforehand of the cancellation, be provided compensation in the form of amenities such as meals and hotel accommodations, be endorsed to another carrier without additional payment, and be rebooked or reimbursed the value of their fares and other fees charged to them for their flight. Compensation also covers cases of delayed, lost, and damaged baggage, and cases of bodily injury or death. With this, compensation must be immediately provided to affected passengers at the carrier’s airport counters or at the main office of the airline.
Fingers crossed for the best travel experience!
Towards this end, the foregoing comprises the rights of flight passengers as reflected in our current laws. Illuminating how these rights foster passenger satisfaction, trust, and reliability, the strengthening of the acknowledgment and execution of such rights shall pave the way for improved services from the airline industry. Together with all travelers, we do hope that the spotlight now being shown on the rights of flight passengers will not wane, and that additional legislation be enacted to ensure that airline companies shall be worthy of the privilege of serving the riding public for safe, convenient, and comfortable travels.
Written by Ms. Trish Ignacio
Ms. Trish Ignacio.
ABS-CBN News. (2023, June 21). Senators grill local airlines over ‘systemic’ flight delays, other inconveniences. ABS-CBN News. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/21/23/senators-grill-local-airlines-over-systemic-flight-delays
Arayata, M.C. (2018). Know your air passenger rights. Philippine News Agency. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1045093
GOVPH. (2012). DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 1, s. 2012.https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2012/12/10/dotc-dti-joint-administrative-order-no-1-s-2012/
GOVPH. (n.d.). Summary of the Rights of Air Passengers.https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/summary-of-the-rights-of-air-passengers/
Madarang, C. (2023, June 16). How travelers reacted to pending probe into complaints vs Cebu Pacific. Interaksyon PH. https://interaksyon.philstar.com/trends-spotlights/2023/06/16/253767/travelers-react-to-pending-probe-cebu-pacific-complaints/
Piad, J. & Ramos, M. (2023, June 22). Senators confront CebuPac with 3,000 flyer complaints. Philipne Daily Inquirer. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1791575/senators-confront-cebupac-with-3000-flyer-complaints