Rep. Neri Colmenares over the weekend expressed hope that the Senate will come up with a proposed law favoring airline passengers.
The House of Representatives recently approved House Bill (HB) 6191 or the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.
The congressman, who represents Bayan Muna party-list in the chamber, described HB 6191 as “unprecedented in airline legislation because it is the first bill that outrightly sides with airline passengers and explicitly prohibits overbooking.”
He was optimistic “that this very timely and just bill would be enacted before the holiday season because airline passengers are suffering perennial abuse from airline carriers and it has to be stopped now.”
“I hope that senators would also file a Senate counterpart of HB 6191 so that the measure would be passed before the Christmas season starts when overbooking is rampant. Airline passengers could write and lobby our senators to expedite the bill,” Colmnares said.
He is running for a Senate seat under the tandem of Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero.
According to Colmenares, “The prohibition came from Section 33 of House Bill 5361, which I authored and is now Section 11 in the present bill. This does not mean that airline carriers would not profit with this prohibition but we should prevent them from earning super profits at the expense and inconvenience of passengers.”
HB 6191 also provides for 20-percent discount on airfares to senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and students.
It also requires airlines to reimburse 75 percent of the fare as long as the passenger cancels the flight at least 24 hours before departure because now almost nothing is left of the fare when one reimburses.
The airlines are also required to provide refreshments for a two-hour delay, free phone or Internet access and hotel for canceled flights, Colmenares said.
The House of Representatives has outlawed the overbooking policy of airlines by approving HB 6191.
Perils from overbooking reached its height in 2014 when Cebu Pacific had 20 canceled flights and 228 delayed flights from December 24 to 26 that year that stranded and exhausted passengers, causing chaos at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
Cebu Pacific paid the government P52 million for causing the chaos.
Cebu Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer Lance Gokongwei insisted back then that overbooking is allowed under existing laws and industry practice allows airlines to overbook by 10 percent for every flight or else the airlines will lose money.