Christmas postponed for some stranded airline passengers
MANILA, Philippines - When Cebu Pacific Air announced they would cancel their flights on the day before Christmas, affected passengers bound for home cried and cried foul.
After all, most of the airline passengers of the 5J504 Manila-Tuguegarao and the 5J196 Manila-Cauayan flights on Monday, December 24, booked their tickets early on to spend their time with loved ones on Christmas eve.
"Can you postpone Christmas?" a stranded passenger blurted out when interviewed by GMA News.
Cebu Pacific cited the bad weather as reason for canceling the flights. Both Tuguegarao and Cauayan are on Luzon's west side, which may be hit by a potential storm or low-pressure area that entered the Philippine area of responsibility early December 24.
While safety issues, including weather-related ones, are acceptable reasons for canceling a flight -- as emphasized by the recently enforced landmark administrative effort, the Air Passenger Bill of Rights -- some of the stranded passengers were not appeased.
Under the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, the stranded passengers are entitled to full refund, as well as free food, drinks, Internet access, phone use and, in extreme circumstances, hotel lodging until the flight departs.
In an interview with reporters, at the NAIA Terminal 3 Manager Octavio Lina reiterated that passengers should get full ticket refund.
However, it was the countdown to, and the Noche Buena feast shared during, midnight of December 25 that the passengers were after.
"It's not about the refund. We want to go home and be with our family," an angry passenger told Rappler.
View the reaction of some of the almost 170 stranded passengers bound for Tuguegarao.
"Affected passengers will be accommodated on the next available flights. We always place the safety of our passengers on top priority," Cebu Pacific tweeted.
December is traditionally one of the airlines' and airports' busiest months of a year, with relatives and friends en route to their domestic destinations before Christmas eve.
The four airport terminal facilities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are usually overflowing.
Manila remains the main gateway to the Philippines and the hub for domestic airlines' route network. - Rappler.com, with reports from Voltaire Tupaz