Nalzaro: A passenger’s lament

AS a matter of principle, my businessman-friend Raul Laurente is contemplating on filing a civil action against Cebu Pacific Airline for refusing to refund his unused tickets when it was the airline’s fault his flight was canceled. Laurente, who is a mountain resort developer, is a frequent domestic traveler and regularly flies on Cebu Pacific Airline.

In his letter to the airline management, Laurente said he purchased Cebu-Siargao-Cebu tickets at the Davao International Airport last July 18. The scheduled flight was on Aug. 11. But on Aug. 8, he received a text message from the airline:

“Hi Raul! We would like to inform you of the changes made to your flight under booking reference E98Q7P. Your new flight details: Aug. 11, 2017/DG6851 Cebu-Siargao departure, 8:40 a.m., arrival 9:40 a.m. To accept this changes, pls send an SMS (short messaging system) to 09221234567) with the message PIN 031599. If new schedule does not work for you, alternate flights and return options are available to you or by calling +632-7020888. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Laurente went to the airline’s ticketing outlet at Fuente Osmeña here in Cebu. The supervisor told him that the flight cancellation afforded him two options: to have the tickets refunded in Davao City where these were purchased or the deposit value of tickets for a future trip.

On Aug. 10, Laurente logged on to the airline’s website to deposit the value of the tickets as not to forfeit these. He was surprised that the value was only P3,208.40, when he purchased the tickets for P3,609.00. On Aug. 24, Laurente had a business meeting in Davao City. So he visited a Cebu Pacific outlet there to have his tickets refunded.

A representative from Summit Agency, the airline authorized ticketing outlet, explained to Laurente that they could not refund tickets converted to travel fund. He was instructed to go to the main Cebu Pacific office, to no avail. Apparently, it’s airline policy not to refund tickets converted into travel fund. But Laurente argued that he was just following the instruction of their Cebu office otherwise he would have forfeited the tickets. He claimed that he was given a runaround.

Laurente said he is no longer interested in a refund, but he is doing some legal action as a matter of principle. He is doing this to protect other passengers against abuses and unfair practices of some airline companies.

Charles Lim, Cebu-based Sun cellular public relations officer, who has access to the airline’s top officials being a former sister company, assured Laurente that he would bring up the latter’s concern to management upon his return from vacation.
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