Warning issued vs fake airline promo

by Janvic Mateo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 28 2014 11:41 AM | Updated as of Dec 28 2014 07:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Budget airline Cebu Pacific yesterday warned of a fake online promo promising 1,000 free flights for two to any destination next year.

“Please beware of this Facebook page who claim to be Cebu Pacific Air,” the airline company said in a post in its official Facebook account.

“We will coordinate with authorities to identify parties behind this page, so we can take necessary legal action. We have also already reported this page to Facebook, and will continue reminding everyone to be vigilant,” it added.

The airline company had to issue a statement after thousands reportedly fell for the fake promo, posted in a supposed Facebook page of Cebu Pacific on Friday.

The page, which retained the name CEB Pacific, has since removed the logo of the airline company as its profile and cover photos.

The description also states the page’s non-affiliation with Cebu Pacific.

The supposed promo promised 1,000 lucky netizens with free flights for two to any destination as part of the airline’s apology over the problematic situation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) on Dec. 24 and 25.

The “promo,” which was posted twice in the hoax page, included photos of the huge crowd at the Cebu Pacific check-in counters during the holidays.

To join, netizens were asked to “like” and “share” the photos, as well as put their desired destination in the comments section.

More than 50,000 Facebook users shared the first post, while another 18,000 shared the second post. The two posts had a combined 113,000 likes and 96,000 comments as of yesterday afternoon.

While some netizens posted their desired destinations in the supposed online promo, a lot of users also posted their grievances over the problematic situation at the airport several days ago.

According to reports, thousands of Cebu Pacific passengers missed their flights due to flight cancellations and lack of check-in counter personnel on Dec. 24 and 25.

A GMA News report quoted a representative of the airline as saying that the affected passengers will be rebooked or will receive refunds.

Juan Lorenzo Tañada, Cebu Pacific vice president for corporate affairs, said in the report that a lot of their regular agents at check-in counters were late or absent as they were stretched the past days.

In its website, Cebu Pacific said passengers with flights originating or connecting from Manila between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5, 2015 who have been unable to check-in for their flights or have been tagged as no-shows may avail of rebooking their flights up to 30 days from original departure date.

Passengers may also get a full travel refund or a full refund, all without additional charges.

The affected passengers should specify their preferred option by Jan. 12, 2015, by calling +(632)7020888 or visiting Cebu Pacific’s ticket offices.

Thousands of passengers were affected by long queues, flight delays and even flight cancellations that started during the Christmas rush last Dec. 23, particularly at the NAIA-3 that is being used as a hub by Cebu Pacific.

Some passengers were forced to sleep and even celebrated their Christmas Eve in the international gateway.

Respect their rights

Malacanang called on airlines to respect passengers’ rights amid reports of flight delays and overbooked flights.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) had received 14 complaints with regard to domestic flights.

Valte disclosed complaints started coming on Dec. 23 and that CAB along with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) would have a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issues.

“They are investigating what happened. Because some of the complaints say that the counters were undermanned and (passengers) were not able to check in because of long queues. There are many allegations to that effect and the DOTC as well as CAB are looking into them,” Valte said.

While overbooking was allowed, Valte said “it’s not favored, especially during peak season.”

She said this matter would also be discussed as she urged the public to study the Air Passenger Bill of Rights so they would know what to do in case their flights were overbooked, among other concerns.

Valte said people must be aware of their rights or entitlements so they could deal with various situations accordingly.

According to Valte, compensation must be enough and passengers must be informed beforehand that their flights would be cancelled or rebooked or the fares would be reimbursed.

“This means that rebooking or reimbursement must be the option of the passenger,” she said.

The DOTC and the Department of Trade and industry (DTI) issued Joint Administrative Order No. 01 Series of 2012 providing a bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations.

For one, Section 11 Chapter IV of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights gives passengers right to compensation and amenities in case of cancellation of flights.

The bill states that passengers affected by flight cancellations are entitled to sufficient refreshments or meals, hotel accommodations, transportation from airport to hotel, free phone calls, texts or e-mails, among others.

Affected passengers could also reimburse the value of the fare, including taxes or surcharges, in case he or she decides not to use the ticket or could be endorsed to another airline without paying any fare difference.

They could also rebook the ticket without additional charge to the next flight available or within 30 days.

The DOTC said it was looking into the possible liability of Cebu Pacific for the flight cancellations and alleged overbooking that inconvenienced hundreds of passengers.

DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya would meet with the officials of CAB, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to investigate these issues and determine the liability of Cebu Pacific for any violations.

“The CAB, MIAA, and CAAP will convene on Monday to investigate these issues and determine if Cebu Pacific is liable for any violations and whether tighter regulations are necessary,” Sagcal said.

Sagcal pointed out that the DOTC directed chief aviation authorities and airlines last Thursday to open more counters and deploy more personnel to assist passengers. – Aurea Calica, Lawrence Agcaoili, Rudy Santos

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