Out the window with the passenger Bill of Rights?

- Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

I was recently at the NAIA 3 airport to pick up my wife who left for a short junket to Guangzhou with a group of family and friends over the weekend. The budget Cebu Pacific flight came in late at 1:45 a.m. (a red-eye flight) Monday, late by almost an hour and one half. I guess this time frame is still par for the course for most budget-fare takers, though I sat this out with clenched teeth and a lot of pacing in the lonely airport.

It was still raining buckets that night, and my wife Babes had an interesting tale to tell. She said that it took another 10 minutes after touchdown for them to taxi to the plane’s designated parking at the NAIA 3. The pilot apologetically addressed the passengers and told them the short delay was through no fault of theirs – it was the airport authorities’ call. Earlier, while awaiting their flight out of Guangzhou which was  delayed by an hour and a half, the pilot also apologetically told the passengers that the delay was due to airport traffic in Manila and was thus completely out of their control.

Time to disembark. The flight stewardesses informed the passengers that, unfortunately, there was no chute for the use of the passengers. They had to go down a flight of stairs, then go up again another flight before they are safely home. Oh yes, this was also the case in the same airport as they were leaving Manila for Guangzhou — no chute, just two flights of narrow stairs before you can safely settle down inside the plane.

Remember, on both nights, it was raining, but that Monday early morning, it was still pouring, the tail end I guess of the signal 3 typhoon we just had earlier. To their credit, Cebu Pacific had a crew member ready with a mound of umbrellas, one for each passenger descending the stairs. But as Babes said, how can a passenger hold on to her hand-carried luggage with one hand, balance a handbag on her shoulders, carry a much-needed umbrella with the other, and manage to hold on to the railing of the precarious stairs while descending. This was an impossible feat, and she told the harassed crew member so. He hurriedly carried her luggage down and scrambled up again to hand out umbrellas to the other passengers. She noted that many male passengers coped heroically to manage the feat, but most of the women were at a loss on how to safely navigate the dangerous course. As far as she could tell, there were no persons with disability on board, but there were certainly elderly passengers and quite a few children.

I remember that some time back, there was a ruckus about this lack of chute, again involving the same airline. A handicapped passenger reportedly actually crawled down the stairs to dramatize the inconvenience and the danger it posed to persons with disability and the elderly. I remember being shocked and embarrassed about the incident, but failed to get a follow-up on the story.  What ever happened to that incident?  What have the airport authorities done about it?  This is obviously a repeat of that very same incident.  The airplane officers said that the situation was beyond their control – the airport authorities were to blame for the lack of chute.  Where lies the truth here? How can basic conveniences like chutes be unavailable for use, and especially on rainy nights?

I heard from some quarters that there are, in reality, enough serviceable chutes available for use by the different airlines on any given day, but there are fees to be paid for their use. These same quarters say that it is likely Cebu Pac is not inclined to pay these fees, claiming that their budget fares have been slashed thin enough to exclude all perks. Begging everyone’s pardon, having a chute is not even a perk, it is a basic service to passengers. Sure, any airline may decide to cut off all unnecessary items in the computation of basic airfare, and these include meals, snacks and even water.  I think this stance of Cebu Pac, if it’s really so, has enabled the company to emerge as a winner in this cut-throat competition, but the airline’s top brass should know where to draw the line, some observers maintain. 

If, on the other hand, what the pilots claim (that the non-availability of the chute is actually the airport authority’s fault) is true, then the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) should get in on the act. This was an international flight leaving and coming in to the country — how can we allow this to happen?

What ever happened to the much-acclaimed Passenger Bill of Rights?

The eagle has landed in Laguna

Congratulations to Aguila Auto Glass on the recent inauguration of their newest store in San Pablo, Laguna. This is the company’s 22nd store in Luzon and it is strategically located so as to service not only Laguna, but also some parts of Batangas, Lucena and Quezon as well.

Actually, they have branches from Laoag in the north all the way to Legaspi, and in the south, they have one in Alabang as well.

The company was started by the husband and wife team of Lauro and Maria Aguila in 1952 with a 150 sq.m. store in Escolta and a 500 sq.m. warehouse. Now, three generations later, they are the leading manufacturer of glass products in the country, a fully-Filipino enterprise that has given gainful employment to many Filipinos. Their laminated windshields are preferred over the zone-tempered or the old fully-tempered windshields and in fact are touted as the safest. They are also proud to say that they have windshields for all kinds of American, European, Japanese, Korean and Chinese automobile brands.

Kudos to this successful and very dynamic company.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

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