House to probe airlines overbooking practices

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


A PARTY-LIST lawmaker has sought an investigation into the "unscrupulous overbooking practices" of airlines operating in the country, particularly budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air.

Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon filed House Resolution 1149 after the lawmaker himself fell victim to the said malpractice.

On May 17, Ridon was denied boarding at the Cebu Pacific check-in counter due to the overbooking of his 8 a.m. Manila to Cagayan de Oro flight.

"Cebu Pacific staff made a last call for boarding and asked for my ID. I thought this was to expedite the release of my boarding pass," Ridon recounted.

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He added that while approaching the check-in counter, he was informed that there were no more seats available as the flight was overbooked.

The airline staff subsequently offered the 12:15 p.m. flight to Cagayan de Oro, which the lawmaker rejected.

The airline management claimed that Ridon volunteered to be transferred to the 12:15 p.m. flight but the lawmaker denied the Cebu Pacific's statement.

"How could I volunteer to be transferred to the next flight when my activity in Cagayan de Oro starts at the same time as the next flight? This assertion by Cebu Pacific is an outright lie," the militant lawmaker said.

Ridon added that while the Air Passenger Bill of Rights allows air carriers to overbook certain flights, it also states that offloading should be done in a voluntary manner.

Section 10.1.b of DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 1 states that whenever a flight is overbooked, "the air carrier shall announce that the flight is overbooked, and that it is looking for volunteers willing to give up their seats in exchange for air carrier compensation."

"In my experience, I was practically given no other option but to take another flight," Ridon said.

He noted that the result of the congressional inquiry will be used to draft legislation that will prohibit overbooking practices. The measure will seek for a congressional review of Cebu Pacific's legislative franchise.

"Congress should investigate Cebu Pacific's practice of denying boarding for confirmed passengers even if they arrive in the airport before the close of check-in. It is about time that the public hold Cebu Pacific and other airlines accountable for such disservice," Ridon said. (Sunnex)

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