Senate bills seek to punish violators of airline passengers' rights
MANILA, Philippines – Three bills have been filed in the Senate seeking to institutionalize the rights of air passengers in the country.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto and senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Manny Pacquiao filed Senate bills 863, 896, and 1059, respectively. Of the 3 measures, the versions filed by Pacquiao and Recto are the more detailed and comprehensive ones.
The air transport industry's growth, Recto said, has affected passengers through unannounced flight delays and cancellations, mishandling of baggage, and arbitrary passenger off-loading, among others. (READ: 6 rights you have as an airline passenger)
While the departments of transportation and trade and industry created a joint administrative order in 2012 to establish the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, Recto said a law is needed to ensure punishment of violators.
"With the sheer volume of passengers affected, interventions should be instituted to ensure that the rights of passenegrs are upheld and violations of those rights are penalized," Recto said in his bill.
Pacquiao shared the same sentiment against the airline industry's "unsatisfactory, if not poor kind of public service." The world boxing champion said this is a source of embarrassment for the country.
"The time is ripe for the legislature to act and put a stop to this great source of national shame. An institutionalized system that shall protect the public from this kind of disservice must be put in place," the neophyte senator said.
In the previous 16th Congress, the Senate sat on the measure at the committee level. It was the House of Representatives which approved a similar bill on 3rd and final reading.
Rights of air passengers
The bills state the following rights of passengers:
- Right to full and truthful information on the conditions of the contract of carriage
- Advertisement of fares should be clear, truthful, and not misleading.
- Right to fair and reasonable fare and to the full value of the service purchased
- Right to receive full value of service purchased
- Right to mandatory discounts for senior citizens, people with disability, and students
- Right to refund
- Right to cancel and rebook a flight
- Right to be processed for check-in and to board aircraft
- Right against any act of discrimination and vexation
- Right to equal protection
- Right to be respected
- Right to safety
- Right to obtain access to emergency measures, medical assistance, safety devices, and essential services
- Right to bring action or relief of a wrong or an injury
- Right to immediate payment of compensation for flight delays, cancellations, death or injury, and loss or unreasonable deterioration of luggage and property
- Rights of a passenger for delayed flights
- Terminal delay: If flight is delayed for at least 3 hours after estimated time of departure, passengers should be provided sufficient meals and refreshments, free phone calls, text or internet service, and first aid. Passengers also have the right to ask for refund or rebooking and to ask for endorsement to another carrier subject to payment of reasonable charges.
- Tarmac delay: Passengers have the right to adequate food and beverage in cases of tarmac delay of at least 2 hours after ETD. If there is a 5-hour delay, the passenger may request disembarkation.
- Rights of a passenger for cancelled flights or flights deemed cancelled
- Rights of passengers denied boarding
- Right to compensation for delayed, lost, and damaged baggage
Airlines which would violate passengers' rights are required to pay damages amounting to at least P50,000, exclusive of other damages or injury the air passenger has suffered.
Any violation of the measure would face penalties according to Republic Act 776 or the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines and RA 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, RA 9442, and RA 9994, among others.
Air carriers which fail to comply with the proposed measure, after due hearing by the Civil Aeronautics Board, may face suspension of its franchise or license to operate.
Grave and repetitive violations shall be grounds for revocation of the franchise and license. – Rappler.com