• Lawyer mulls suit vs airline

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    Lawyer Raymond Fortun intends to seek a public apology from a local airline after his flight back to Manila from Saigon, Vietnam, on November 19 was allegedly suddenly canceled.

    Fortun earlier threatened to sue the airline in a post on popular social media site Facebook wherein he narrated the matter.

    “Cebu Pacific Airlines, i am suing you. Itaga nyo sa bato [Mark my words]. And i am doing this to teach you people a lesson,” he said on Thursday morning.

    He added, “See you in court. Send your best, it ain’t gonna matter.”

    Fortun later posted an update on the same day stating that a lawyer-friend from Cebu Pacific called him at 6 p.m. to inform him that the airline could fly him and his family back to Manila at a 1 a.m. flight on Friday.

    He said that “for the sake of my children [ had to finish 3 college papers; another one had to practice for a choir competition this weekend), i accepted the offer, with the assurance that nobody with a confirmed booking would be bumped off just to accommodate us.”

    “Further, this would not change the fact that we had already been inconvenienced, and that i would still be sending a demand letter by Monday,” Fortun wrote.

    According to the update, the demand letter will essentially ask for three things.

    One, “A public apology from the head of Cebu Pac for failing in their corporate responsibility to look after the welfare of their passengers who had been affected by the cancellation of their flights without adequate notice.”

    Second, it will ask that an Action Center be set up where passengers affected during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) week may seek reimbursement of expenses incurred (duly covered by receipts) “as a direct result of the airline’s failure to inform the public of flight cancellations without adequate notice.”

    Three, it will ask for an undertaking that the claims will be paid within 48 hours from verification.

    “Needless to state, the failure or refusal to agree to these terms will constrain me to initiate suit for myself and for all those who were similarly affected, and to hold the airline liable for actual, moral and exemplary damages,” Fortun said.

    He made another update stating that as of 1:30 a.m. Manila time, his wife and two younger children were able to board the plane but that he and his eldest son were still stranded in Saigon because the plane was “just too full.”

    Based on the first post that he wrote regarding the matter, he and his family had planned a trip to Ho Chih Minh from November 16 to 19.

    Fortun narrated that the airline sent an e-mail on November 14 saying Manila was a no-fly zone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 19 because of the APEC summit.

    “Because it was a Saturday, i wanted to contact CebPac by Monday morning to confirm if the flight was canceled. There was a chance that the flight was still a go since the plane would have landed in Manila at 4:45 a.m. on Nov 19, or outside of the no-fly zone advisory,” he said.

    The airline again sent an e-mail on November 15, saying he could already web check-in for his return flight from Saigon to Manila. “I assumed that this was a confirmation that the flight was a green and go. I was able to secure boarding passes for our return trip,” Fortun said.

    Attached to the post was his boarding pass, which stated that the plane with Flight Number 5J 752 bound for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 will depart Saigon at 1 a.m. on November 19.

    But, “On Nov 18 at 10:45pm, we were at the CebPac counter at the airport and only then were we told that the flight was cancelled. The staff claimed that we were sent an email on Nov 17, that the flight was canceled. We did not receive that email,” Fortun said.

    “We’re stuck here in Saigon now and incurring expenses. So many plans this weekend that are now gone,” he added.

    Fortun mentioned, among other things, that “My son is despondent because his music teacher/choirmaster would be furious at him.”

    According to the post, they had been able to convince his second son — who was participating in a choral competition this Saturday and initially wanted to back out from the trip — to go with them because of the said “confirmation” that he would be back in Manila by Thursday morning.

    “You could have just diverted our flight to Clark. You’d rather just see Filipinos stranded, without paying for the inconvenience caused,” Fortun said.

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