CAB to amend law to curb airline overbooking

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THE government is considering amending certain provisions of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR) to curb overbooking by airlines.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) are looking at provisions that would ban the airline practice of overbooking during peak seasons and capping overbooking during non-peak seasons at 10 percent.

“While overbooking is an internationally accepted practice, there should be a limit so as to protect the interests of passengers,” DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said.

“We see no reason to allow overbooking of domestic flights during peak seasons because there is a foreseeable surge in the demand for seats, so most flights are full anyway,” he added.


Added Sagcal, “The way airlines and the public view passenger rights has been vastly improved since 2012, when we issued the APBR along with the DTI.”

“But we see the opportunity for further improvements. For example, we still see cases of passengers being denied boarding despite having valid tickets–something that should be dealt with more firmly,” he said.

“We currently do not overbook any of our flights and should we decide on doing so in the future it will NOT compromise our commitment to serve our guests,” AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Joy Caneba said in a text message, rendering the word “not” in all caps.

The proposed improvements, which are currently under review and consultation by the CAB, include:

• Shortening the period before a delay becomes compensable from three hours to two hours

• Banning overbooking of domestic flights during peak seasons

• Limiting overbooking during off-peak seasons to 10 percent, in accordance with global practice

• Fixing a minimum compensation for any passenger who is denied boarding due to
overbooking

• Tightening up rules on flight delays and cancellations

For his part, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said, “The lack of a minimum compensation in cases where boarding is denied has oftentimes led to a stalemate in negotiations between airlines and their passengers when complaints are filed with this agency.”

The DOTC and the CAB are targeting to implement these improvements by the fourth quarter of this year, ideally before the peak periods of the All Saints’ Day weekend and the Christmas season.

“These proposed improvements will help compel airlines to reduce flight delays and to adhere faithfully to their approved schedules. In the end, it is for the benefit of passengers,” Arcilla said.

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