Misrepresentation by Cebu Pacific

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014


THE fare rules of Cebu Pacific Airlines, as printed in the e-ticket, state: "Flight Changes: Changes allowed but must be done not less than four hours before departure."

My humble understanding of this simple proviso is that a booked passenger can change his/her flight schedule, let's say a 10:05 p.m. departure, to an earlier flight provided that the request is made four hours before the booked departure time.

Presumably, the ground crew or the check-in counter personnel of Cebu Pacific are aware of or must have been briefed about this provision since they are in the frontline of the airline's business.

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On Saturday, May 17, I, together with Elias Baquero and Malou Guanzon-Apalisok, attended the 44th Annual General Meeting and General Assembly of the Victo National Co-operative Federation representing Cebu Newscoop at the Manila Grand Opera Hotel.

My return flight to Cebu the next day, Sunday, was 10:05 p.m. Our coop assistant was the one who booked our round-trip tickets.

All the participants to the Victo convention were treated to a Sunday tour to Tagaytay or the Enchanted Kingdom. I joined Newscoop chairman Baquero, who chose the Tagaytay trip since it was his first time to go there.

However, I got off the bus in Imus, Cavite when the air-conditioning of the supposed tourist bus conked out. Baquero and the rest of the participants proceeded to Tagaytay. Along the way, according to Baquero, the bus met an accident.

I took a passenger bus back to Baclaran, Pasay City and then a taxicab to NAIA 3. I arrived at the terminal before 11 a.m. that Sunday.

Availing of the privilege of a senior citizen, I showed my senior citizen ID and requested the personnel at the check-in counter to change my booked return flight from 10:05 p.m. to an earlier flight schedule.

To my surprise and consternation, the male attendant at the check-in counter only issued me my boarding ticket for my 10:05 p.m. return flight. He denied my request even after I showed him the above-quoted provision in my e-ticket.

In an unpleasant tone, he told me that I should pay the rebooking charge if I change my return flight. When I insisted that I am only availing of the “flight change” on my return flight, he left the counter. Since there were many passengers there, I just keep my cool.

Cebu Pacific is not new to minor or gargantuan complaints from passengers who are dissatisfied with its service or accommodation. Its management is so callous it doesn't even have the courtesy to reply to demand letters.

Recently, the Cebu City Government received complaints from the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) regarding senior citizens who were either ignored or were denied their 20 percent discount privilege.

I could perhaps forgive that male attendant of Cebu Pacific for not knowing the provisions of RA 9257 or, the senior citizens law and the law on contracts. But he should have been told that the e-ticket is the written contract of carriage between me and Cebu Pacific. Everything that is contained therein is part of the agreement.

Maybe, it is about time that the management of Cebu Pacific be hailed to court for not observing or respecting its own written provision in the e-ticket. The e-ticket in legal parlance is called a contract of adhesion.

Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific CEO, would just perhaps brush aside my complaint. But I wish to tell him that the provision on “flight change,” if it is merely for compliance, is pure and simple misrepresentation.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 22, 2014.

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