Airline app reminds public to be vigilant

Business.(Business File photo)

WITH current trends pointing to a continuing global travel recovery this year, a travel app is reminding the public to be extra careful when making flight and hotel purchases online, especially from dubious online travel agents.

AirAsia MOVE (formerly AirAsia Superapp) said there is a growing number of stories from customers who fell victim to online travel scams.

According to the data of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), the number of travel-related online scams has grown up to 16 times in two years. From 51 recorded cases in 2021, the total number of victims has ballooned to 842 in 2023. Almost half of the victims lost their money to scammers in hopes of purchasing discounted flights and accommodation.

Based on ACG’s records, at least P13.2 million was lost in 2023 alone to travel-related online scams.


The PNP classifies travel scams into two categories. First is “fakebooking,” wherein scammers steal a traveler’s personal information. The other classification covers those who lost their money to scammers or illegitimate online travel agents. In many cases, victims were asked to send a down payment or even a full payment to avail themselves of a fake discount, only to discover later that they had been scammed.

“They must go to a legitimate site. It can be a legitimate page or application (app), so at least, we can determine if there is something suspicious in their communication. We shall know who is at fault because we will be able to monitor the transaction when they use legitimate applications or websites. This means they have security because these are legitimate and these are regulated, so their transactions are secured,” said Lt. Col. Jay Guillermo, PNP-ACG spokesman.

Rowena Rivera, AirAsia MOVE head of Travel-Philippines, said the growing popularity of online travel bookings has also resulted in the increasing sophistication of fraudsters. Rivera urged travelers to only use legitimate booking apps.

“We advise them to avoid unverified groups and pages offering discounts on flights and hotels. Travel has to be fun and memorable, and not stressful. We want to help avoid scams to protect every traveler. The only way to avoid scams is to ensure that they only make purchases through legitimate booking apps like airasia Superapp which is secure and credible,” she said.

AirAsia Superapp observes the highest standards in handling data, safety, and security. It uses data encryption to safeguard users’ information. It also provides clear booking confirmations and transaction details. To avoid travel scams, AirAsia Superapp reminds travelers to do their research by reading reviews and getting recommendations before booking anything and not to give personal information unless they are sure they are dealing with legitimate platforms. Travelers are also urged to be cautious of offers that are too good to be true and to book directly through a downloadable travel app.

Globetrotting year

According to a study conducted by Airbnb, 2024 is shaping up to be the year of globetrotting with Japan —Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto all appearing among the most trending destinations for travel in the new year.

In its November 2023 report, countries and regions like Japan, Taiwan, Albania, Singapore, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Curaçao, Aruba, Thailand, and Guatemala are just some of the locations with the highest increase in searches when comparing the first to third quarters of 2023 to the first to third quarters of 2024 -- with Japan topping the list again, seeing searches increase by over three times compared to the previous year.


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