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Lawmaker wants rights of airline passengers strengthened

Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo

MANILA, Philippines – Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo seeks to strengthen the rights of airline passengers and impose liabilities on airlines following unreasonable denial of boarding, loss or damage of baggage, delays or cancellation of flights and injuries or death.

The House of Representatives committee on higher and technical education chairman has filed   Bill No. 5069, the “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act,” in line with his pro-consumer advocacy.

Romulo said he himself, “like other passengers, has already experienced having his flight delayed for several hours and on some occasions even cancelled. During said instances, all passengers were not well attended much more apprised of their rights,” he said.

Based on Romulo’s personal experience, he feels that airline companies should be forthright to all passengers with respect not only to the terms and conditions of their services, but also the possible relief that passengers are entitled to in case of delays or cancellation of flights.

The bill’s explanatory note states: “Honesty is the best policy and Time is gold are two popular sayings that best encapsulate the manner by which air carriers should deal with its passengers.”

Romulo said airlines must implement a policy of honesty, transparency and timeliness to ensure the public that they are getting their money’s worth.

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One of the main highlights of the bill is the passengers’ right to compensation that may either be in the form of cash or voucher in cases of delay or cancellation that are attributable to the airline.

The bill further specified that a terminal delay of at least five hours from departure time shall be deemed a cancelled flight for purposes of the passengers’ right to compensation.

Other passengers’ rights included in the bill are:

• All relevant information pertinent to their flights;

• Adequate care on the spot at terminals/stations;

•  Sufficient meals and refreshments commensurate to the passengers’ waiting time;

• Free hotel accommodation in case of delayed flights;

• Free access to various means of communications;

•  Reimbursements within five days, either by cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services;

• Be endorsed to another air carrier without paying any fare difference, at the option of the passenger, and provided that space and other circumstances permit such re-accommodation; and

• Free rebooking of flights and priority as a result thereto.

Romulo sought to further protect the interests of passengers that before purchasing any ticket for a contract of carriage, they be entitled to a full, fair, and clear disclosure of all the terms and conditions of the contract of carriage about to be purchased. Also included is the passengers’ right to be correctly informed of the total cost of the flight booking, the complete details of the flight as well us updates on its status in a timely and relevant manner.

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