Passengers usually suffer long periods of waiting for delayed flights. (Image: Uso Dan)
Airline passengers sometimes experience inconveniences during traveling like changes in bookings, flight cancellations and delays, and lost baggage. When these problems happen, it pays for travelers to know their rights under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 1 Series of 2012, or the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.
Issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the bill covers the rights of passengers upon purchasing tickets and arrival at the airport. Under the bill, passengers have the right to have their flights rebooked, have their fare refunded, and be endorsed to another airline for flights cancelled because of the carrier.
Carriers are obliged to advise customers of flight cancellations at least 24 hours before the estimated time of departure (ETD) for causes attributed to the airline. This can be done through public announcement, written notice, or text message.
If the cancellation occurs less than 24 hours prior to the ETD, passengers have the right to be informed about the details of the cancellation. Passengers are also entitled to rebooking tickets without additional charges
, endorsement to another carrier without paying any fare modifications, reimbursement of fare, taxes and surcharges, and optional fees. The air carrier must also provide amenities to passengers, including hotel accommodations
, meals and drinks. If the cause of the cancellation was due to safety and security reasons, passengers shall be reimbursed with the full amount of their fare.
For delayed flights which last for more than three hours from the original time of departure, the airline is required to provided passengers with food, drinks, first aid, free texts, calls, and emails, whether or not the cause of the delay was disclosed to the passenger.
Flights are considered cancelled if the terminal delay has been at least six hours after the ETD due to causes attributable to the carrier. In this case, passengers have the same rights and amenities applicable to cancelled flights. The law also requires carriers to provide additional compensation to passengers. At a minimum, this should be equivalent to the value of the delayed sector. Passengers can also still board flights that take place not less than six hours after the ETD, as long as the passenger has not rebooked or claimed a refund.
Also included in the bill of rights are tarmac delays, wherein an airplane is on hold after landing or before departure, with the passengers sitting inside the plane with seat belts fastened. If the tarmac delay lasts for at least two hours after the ETD, passengers are entitled to food and beverage.
While checking in and boarding, passengers are still entitled to their rights, including the right to access the plane during boarding. In case of overbooking and legal and valid causes, the passenger may be exempt from this right.
Similarly, passengers should be allowed to check in and not be considered as late or no-show if they are within the designated check-in area of the air carrier at least an hour before the ETD set by the carrier.
Under the bill, airports should have check-in counters open one hour before ETD, while international airports must have check-in counters open at least two hours prior to the ETD.
For baggage issues, the bill states that airlines are obliged to refund baggage fees when the baggage fails to arrive within 24 hours of flight arrival. Passengers will be given PhP2,000 as compensation for every 24 hours that their baggage is delayed. Any baggage that have not arrived after seven days is also considered lost.
For baggage lost or damaged in international flights, the passenger can be reimbursed up to 1,131 in special drawing rights, or equal to US$1,685.19 or PhP85,649.78*. This is based on the Montreal Convention of 1999, the rules which cover international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo. For baggage lost or damaged in domestic flights, the maximum amount of reimbursement for the passenger is the peso equivalent of half the amount set out in the convention, or about PhP42,000*.
* Based on exchange rate of 1US$ = PhP50.83 as of September 29, 2017