Philippines orders airlines to improve services

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 20 2012 10:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 21 2012 07:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine authorities ordered airlines Thursday to feed and fully reimburse passengers of delayed or cancelled flights amid rising complaints about budget carriers that have driven robust aviation growth.

The "bill of air passenger rights" sets out the minimum to which passengers are entitled if they are bumped off seats or if their plane fails to take off on time, said Civil Aeronautics Board secretary Eldric Peredo.

Peredo told AFP the regulator had been swamped by complaints about the quality of service and unpalatable conditions attached to low-cost tickets.

"It came to the point that the government had to step in," he said.

In the rules that take effect Friday, those buying plane tickets must get "full, fair and clear disclosure of all the terms and conditions" including policies on refunds, rebooking and on delayed and cancelled flights.

The explanation must be printed on the plane ticket or boarding pass and also verbally explained to the buyer.

While the government recognised that overbooking is industry practice, costs or inconvenience incurred by passengers must be compensated for by the carrier, it added.

In the case of sudden flight cancellations for which it is to blame, the carrier must provide food, hotel rooms, and full reimbursement or ticket rebooking for passengers already at the terminal.

Passengers who suffer boarding delays lasting at least three hours must be fed and are entitled to a rebooking or a refund.

Peredo said controversies began as low-cost carriers took off in the Philippines, which has seen double-digit passenger traffic growth over the past five years.