Press Release
April 4, 2023

Plagued by overbooking/offloading nightmares, booking glitches
...says issues have drove away tourists, inconvenienced passengers

Following a string of complaints from airline passengers and customers reaching her office, Sen. Nancy Binay promised to look further into reported incidents of overbooking and offloading, as well as online booking glitches by a local carrier.

Binay said she intends to file a resolution calling for a full inquiry on Cebu Pacific after passengers shared their bad experiences of being offloaded without any verifiable cause or valid reason.

"For a family with kids in tow who have a confirmed booking; who are already at the airport at least four hours ahead of time; giving up sleep; negotiating the traffic; and enduring the long queues, only to be denied boarding and sent back home--that, for me, is unacceptable," the senator said.

According to Binay, there is a need for government to step in in ensuring transparency in the practice of overbooking by airlines, and the strict implementation of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

Air Passenger Bill of Rights allows air carriers to overbook certain flights, it also states that offloading should be done in a voluntary manner.

Section 10.1.b of DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 1 states that whenever a flight is overbooked, "the air carrier shall announce that the flight is overbooked, and that it is looking for volunteers willing to give up their seats in exchange for air carrier compensation."

"Sa dami ng mga reklamo ng mga pasahero, maiisip mo agad na parang napaka-hassle mag-travel sa Pilipinas lalung-lalo na kapag peak seasons. Siguro, during peak periods like Holy Week, Christmas season and during summer, we can implement a ban on overbooking in domestic and international flights--and should there be 'no-show' passengers--airlines can be transparent and offer the available seats to 'chance passengers' just like the usual practice. We have to uphold public convenience and service. Amid the prevailing public outrage against Cebu Pacific, we have to check if local airlines do observe the 5% allowable overbooking set by CAB," the senator pointed out.

Overbooking is a deliberate industry-wide business practice where airlines are allowed to sell 10% more tickets than the number of seats available for a particular flight. From the industry standard of 10%, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has set a 5% allowable overbooking to optimize utility, and avoid empty seats.

Overbooking and offloading have always been a never-ending talking point with Cebu Pacific, not to mention the online booking nightmares, and a number of very public meltdowns under its wings.

"Travelling in the Philippines has become incredibly frustrating. It's no longer a pleasant experience. Sobrang dami na actually ng mga issue sa atin dito sa Pilipinas which have not only inconvenienced local and foreign passengers but have also drove away tourists. Any bad experience just wipes out the nice memories of a good holiday and a great time in the Philippines," Binay revealed.

Aside from the bad airline experiences, passengers have to deal with technical- and personnel-driven fiascos oftentimes of epic proportions such as long queues, flight delays and cancellations, ground traffic, lost luggage, mobile app glitches, unnecessary security checks, lengthy immigration interviews, airport operation issues, etc.

"We understand what budget travelling is like, and the promos that go with it. Whether or not you paid 'piso' or the regular fare, it's not about the price. It's actually the case of the airline being truthful, upfront and transparent to its customers and passengers. Hindi 'yung kung anu-anong dahilan ang sasabihin sa pasehero at basta na lamang iiwanan sa ere," Binay noted.

She added that being offloaded without alternative flight options not only has a direct impact on someone's travel plans--it also reflects how airlines treat customers and tourists.

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