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Nightmare on PAL flight

The newly inaugurated Philippine Airlines PR 119 flight from Toronto to Manila was supposed to be a quiet night of travel for many businessmen from the East Coast of the United States and Canada who preferred to take the wide-bodied Boeing 777-ER aircraft for the straight flight to Manila. But the business class passengers resting on the recliner seats woke up in the middle of the night with a nightmare when two undisciplined and uncontrollable young boys started running around the business class section thinking it was their playground.

The parents – a young Filipino couple – simply ignored the ruckus created by their kids – waking up everyone and putting stress on the poor flight personnel. When the flight purser approached the couple to call their attention to their kids’ unruly behavior, she simply got a haughty reply from the father who told her, “Don’t tell me how to discipline my children!” or something to that effect.

The brats’ disruptive behavior was potentially dangerous for other passengers and even for themselves since they refused to stay put and buckle up even during several strong air turbulences. Now whose fault would it be then, the parents’ or the airline personnel?

Needless to say, it was a very disgusting situation with passengers grumbling about the disturbance, with one American businessman commenting that “this could never happen in an American airline.”

In the United States, airlines can offload disruptive child passengers, like what happened to a three-year-old kid on board an Alaska Airlines flight because he kept screaming and kicking incessantly, refusing to stay buckled in his seat when his father took the iPad he was playing with (when passengers were asked to turn off all electronic devices).

In fact, some carriers are banning children from their flights, like Malaysia Airlines with its “child-free flights” – banning kids in first class for Boeing 747s and the upper decks of A380s. Other Asian airlines have also followed suit, designating “kid-free” or “quiet zones” in economy class flights due to numerous complaints from passengers about noisy and undisciplined children.

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As the Malaysia Airlines CEO said, passengers pay a premium especially for business class seats, and they certainly have a right to relaxing, stress-free and noise-free flights without having to endure the nightmare of boisterous, uncontrollable children. Spy Bits has promised to bring the incident to the attention of PAL president Ramon S. Ang, with a suggestion that there should be a rule that would give the flight personnel more teeth during instances when the behavior of child passengers become disruptive, especially when safety concerns are involved. One day, we wouldn’t be surprised if uncontrollable children will find themselves taped and tied to their seats by other passengers like what happened to a drunken man on an Iceland airlines flight. Perhaps they should include the parents for good measure.

US-Phil Society to call on P-Noy

Directors of the US-Philippines Society (USPS) with PLDT chief Manny V. Pangilinan and former US Ambassador to the Philippines John Negroponte as co-chairmen will be paying a courtesy call on President Noynoy Aquino on Jan. 23, a day before the group conducts its meeting and dialog with representatives from key industries such as energy, mining, infrastructure and services to explore more business opportunities. We’re told the American delegation will be composed of top US businessmen and some government officials.

The Washington-based USPS is a private sector initiative meant to raise the profile of the Philippines in the United States especially among American businessmen. Among its goals include the strengthening of cultural and economic ties between the two countries and promoting trade and investment opportunities and establishing people-to-people linkages.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas will host a cocktail reception on Jan. 25 for the USPS before the American delegates return to the US.

LTO-IT bid must push through

News about the granting of a four-month extension to Stradcom – whose contract with LTO is supposed to expire this February – has been met with strong opposition by concerned motorists who say they have had enough of the inefficiencies and problems under the current system which has been described as “outdated.”

Just recently, a group calling itself the Anti-Trapo Movement has filed a complaint before the Ombudsman, alleging that the bidding has been manipulated to pave the way for the extension of the contract with Stradcom – which interestingly, came up with big ads yesterday trumpeting its supposed “track record” and highlighting the PPP projects with the government.

Concerned groups however fear that the complaint might just totally derail the P8.2-billion information technology project, which had already suffered a setback after a Quezon City court issued a temporary restraining order, then was given the green light after a Court of Appeals ruling declared the bid process as legal.

Instead of wasting precious time parrying the graft accusations, the DOTC under Secretary Jun Abaya should just focus their efforts in reviewing the qualifications of the three qualified bidders – two of whom have signified readiness in taking over Stradcom. Only one bidder however has confidently said it can hit the ground running, so to speak, and take over the minute Stradcom’s contract expires this February to make sure that services are not interrupted.

IT experts say government would be better off getting a new supplier that can fix the problems under the current system – not necessarily the lowest bidder but one with a proven track record in traffic and transportation management systems who could provide the best service at the fairest cost to taxpayers.  The bottom line is that the bidding must push through precisely because this IT project is now long overdue, and the public deserves better.

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