A passenger is readying a legal complainµt against Cebu Pacific Air Inc. for the death of her cat on board one of the carrier’s flights on April 5.
Kathleen Tabilo, a team supervisor in a call center, told The Manila Times that the airline should take responsibility for its negligence so that other pet owners will not undergo the harrowing experience she had early this month.
Tabilo narrated that after a week of vacationing in Davao, she, her boyfriend and Lucille, her pet cat, were booked for the 2:25 p.m. flight to Manila (5J8968). They reached the airport at 11 a.m. and immediately tried to secure clearance for Lucille. They, however, were told that the airline was no longer accepting live pets because Cebu Pacific was already closed for the day on issuing clearances. The ground crew suggested that the cat be flown to Manila on board another flight—5J956—which was scheduled to leave Davao at 4 p.m.
“When we asked that they check again, they gave another reason that our flight, 5J8968, cannot accommodate Lucille because the plane did not have a ventilated compartment for pets. We did not have any choice but to agree to the second option,” Tabilo said.
According to her, she was so worried about her pet while they were en route to Manila that she was crying in the plane. Since their flight was ahead of Lucille’s by almost two hours, they waited for more than two hours for flight 5J956. But she said she was crushed when she saw Lucille dead.
“Her eyes and mouth were half-open. I tried to shake her lightly hoping that she was breathing. Seeing Lucille like that turned my life upside down. It was the lowest point of my life. I was hysterical,” she told The Manila Times.
When she and her boyfriend sought explanation from Cebu Pacific, Tabilo said only one personnel—Kaye Batohonon—had the patience to listen to their complaint. Batohonon’s supervisor, Christopher “Kit” Dato, was rude, according to Tabilo, and told them that they should deal with Lucille’s death because they signed the “shipper’s risk” document.
“I am a supervisor too and that’s not the way to treat a frustrated customer who just lost her cat,” Tabilo said.
She added that while they were complaining, a man also came in carrying dead fighting cocks. The roosters, she learned, were also on the same flight as Lucille’s.
Tabilo said airline personnel asked her to fill out a form.
“Two days later, a cargo care supervisor contacted me to share the result of their investigation,” she added. Tabilo said the airline informed her that Lucille had pulmonary arrest during the flight to Manila.
The Times tried to contact Dato for his comment but he is yet to reply.
Tabilo added that a cargo care supervisor named Mary Joy Hussein offered her free roundtrip ticket to make up for her loss.
“I told her we are not after the refund. It would be better if this matter will reach Cebu Pacific management so that they can take the needed measures and change their flight policies for live animals,” she said.
Hussein also did not reply when contacted by The Times.
Now, Tabilo is planning to take legal action against Cebu Pacific. She said she may have to ask the support of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
When asked for reaction, the airline said, “CEB’s [Cebu Pacific] guest services team has been in touch with the passenger [Tabilo] to directly address her concerns.”