Airline Rebooking Fees Illegal – DTI

8 May 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Airlines should refund in full or rebook a passenger, including promotional airfares, affected by flight cancellations or delays attributable to carriers at no additional cost to passengers, the Department of Trade and Industry.

DTI Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said this as the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has circulated the second draft of Economic Regulation No. 7 concerning "Boarding Priority and Compensation for Denied Boarding, Delayed and Cancelled Flights" for comments.

"We want the proposed regulation to be more protective of consumers," Maglaya said.

Already, Maglaya said that airlines should not charge rebooking or cancellation fees. Oftentimes, rebooking fees are higher than the price of the cancelled ticket. Rebooking fees usually range from P1,200 to P1,500 when some promo fares can be bought at P500 or less.

In addition, Maglaya said that it should be the option of the affected passenger if he or she chooses a full refund or a rebooking of flight.

If the delay or cancellation of flight is not caused by force majeure, Maglaya said the airline should pay the fulamount and all that a passenger is entitled to including meals, hotel accommodation and hotel-airport transfers.

For promotional fares, which are governed under DOTC Regulation No. 74, Maglaya reiterated that the law on full disclosure must be applied. This means full disclosure of the taxes being imposed including fuel surcharge and insurance.

The total fare should be clear from the very start that it is inclusive of all the taxes and what are these taxes.

Maglaya noted that Philippine Airlines observes full disclosure procedures for its international flights and it should do the same for its domestic flights.

DTI has made a stronger stance on airline promotional fares because of mounting complaints from passengers of cancellations and delays as airlines overbooked their flights resulting in those with promo fares getting bumped off or getting flown in a later flight. Worse, airlines charge rebooking fees.

Based on DOTC's draft regulation, in case of cancellation for causes attributable to the carrier, the carrier shall provide the passenger refreshments or meals, hotel accommodation, transfer from airport to hotel, free phone calls or emails and first aid, if necessary.

In case the passenger opts not to fly the ticket anymore, reimbursement of the cost of the sector cancelled and both sectors are cancelled the carrier shall likewise reimburse the same.

In case of delay, meals or refreshments, free phone calls or emails and first aid should be provided to passengers for more than one hour delay. Flight deferred until the next day, the carrier shall provide meals, hotel accommodation and hotel transfer.