Mounting complaints from their constituents has driven eight congressmen to seek an inquiry into the allegedly questionable and lopsided policies of local airline companies on matters of flight delays and cancellations; and exorbitant fees and charges to the detriment of millions of Filipinos who have now taken air travel as the preferred mode of transportation between the country’s 7,107 islands.
Reps. Carol Jayne B. Lopez of the You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP); Seth Frederick P. Jalosjos (Zamboanga del Norte); Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing (Cebu); Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco (Marinduque), Mark Aaron H. Sambar (PBA Party List); Romeo M. Jalosjos Jr. (Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District); Sherwin N. Tugna (CIBAC Party List); and Jonathan C. Yambao (Zamboanga Sibugay, 1st District) want these policies investigated “in aide of legislation.”
In filing House Resolution No. 1634, the eight solons asked the House Committee on Transportation to look into the “policies and practices of airline companies on flight delays/cancellations, fees, charges and refunds to prevent undue and unnecessary inconvenience to airline passengers and travellers.”
In their resolution, the congressmen representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao said that while the “budget fare” promos have “encouraged domestic and foreign travels,” many travellers have complained of the airline policies on “flight delays/cancellations and related fees/charges/refunds among others” simply because they failed to read the “fine print provisions” in their tickets or that these were not clearly explained to them when they bought the tickets.
“It seems everyone has their own horror stories to tell relative to their nightmarish experiences with airlines companies,” said Rep. Seth Frederick R. Jalosjos who related about two constituents who got a P5,600 promo fare for a Zamboanga-Manila-Zamboanga trip for two persons but ended up spending P12,000 in penalties on the way back to Zamboanga after arriving 10 minutes late before the check-in counter of local airline company.
Aside from the allegedly exorbitant penalties on late, no-show passengers and those who re-book their flights, other complaints involve no-refund policies 24 hours before the flight; as much as five months delay in the release of refunds; unannounced change of destinations; poor customer service in check-in counters, on-line and through telephone; flight delays without timely announcements; and no comfort given in terms of food or hotels to passengers who suffer long flight delays.
“Some of our poor constituents feel as if they are `hostaged’ by these questionable policies and are powerless to fight the mega-airline companies,” said Quisumbing.
Available records show the airline companies operating here to include the Philippine Airlines, the Cebu Pacific Air, the Airphil Express, Zest Airways, the Pacific Pearl Airways and the Spirit of Manila.
“It seems that they are penalizing us for every imaginable infraction in our contract of carriage but we get no compensation if they fly late or change flight destinations without informing us,” said Lopez who had her landing destination transferred from General Santos to Davao at night.
For Rep. Tugna, a lawyer, it’s all about “fairness” in the dealings between two contracting parties whereby the public seems to be getting short-changed in their dealings with the giant airline companies.
“Unfortunately it seems that the whole airport transport service is boiling down to a mere business scheme and competition among the airlines fighting for air dominance with little regards towards how the little people feel or are affected by the thing,” said Sambar, a doctor by profession.
August 24, 2011
Carol Jayne B. Lopez Seth Frederick P. Jalosjos
YACAP Party List 1st District, Zamboanga del Norte
Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco
6th District, Cebu Lone District, Marinduque
Mark Aeron H. Sambar Romeo M. Jalosjos, Jr.
PBA Party List 2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay
Sherwin N. Tugna Jonathan C. Yambao
CIBAC Party List 1st District, Zamboanga Sibugay