Flying is exciting. But it often entails airport problems in the Philippines that will test your patience. A lot of things can go wrong—check-in problems, canceled or delayed flights in the Philippines, missing or lost luggage, lax Philippine airport security at NAIA, you name it.
In such cases, passengers like you may wonder whose fault it is. How do you navigate these issues? How do you protect yourself?
The Air Passenger Bill of Rights is in place to protect people flying in and out of the Philippines. Below is everything you need to know about this set of traveler rights.
What is the Air Passenger Bill of Rights?
In 2012, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Transportation and Communication (now the Department of Transportation or DOTr) approved the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Also known as the Joint DOTC-DTI Administrative Order No.1 Series of 2012, this set of rights seeks to prevent abusive and unfair airport practices.
Specifically, the Air Passenger Bill of Rights in the Philippines protects air passengers from problems in the airport, such as delayed or canceled flights without appropriate warning, lost luggage, and overbooking of flights, among others. It also covers pre-flight issues, such as misleading fare advertisements.
What Does the Air Passenger Bill of Rights Cover?
Under the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, a traveler has three major rights:
- Be provided with accurate information before ticket purchase
- Receive the full value of the service purchased
- Right to compensation
Check out the summary of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights below:
📌 Right to Accurate Information
Under this right, a passenger is entitled to a complete, clear, and fair disclosure of the terms and conditions that come with the ticket purchase. Such disclosure should include the documents required for check-in, refund and rebooking policies, and procedures and responsibility for delayed and/or canceled flights.
The terms and conditions should be available for review on the air carrier’s website or other documents that may be sent to the passenger via post or email. Moreover, air carriers should publish fare advertisements that are clear and not misleading.
📌 Right to Full Value of the Purchased Service
Airline passengers in the Philippines are entitled to the following:
Right to be Processed for Check-In
A passenger is not considered late or no-show and should not be denied check-in if they're already within the air carrier’s designated check-in area or cordoned zone at least one hour prior to the estimated time of departure (ETD) or within the air carrier’s prescribed time.
Right to Sufficient Processing Time
Passengers should be afforded enough time before the published estimated time of departure to undergo airport procedures, such as check-in and security inspections.
The air carrier should observe the following:
- Check-in counters in international airports and airports designated by the DOTr should be open at least two hours before the ETD.
- There should be a separate dedicated counter for flights nearing the check-in deadline to facilitate the check-in of passengers at least one hour before the published ETD.
- There should be at least one check-in counter that prioritizes the following passengers: senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and persons requiring special assistance or handling.
For all other airports, check-in counters should be open at least one hour before the ETD.
Right to Board Aircraft for the Purpose of Flight
A passenger cannot be denied the right to board the plane without their consent. However, exceptions apply. These include overbooking and legal or other valid reasons.
Overbooking is an airline's practice of selling more tickets than the number of seats on the plane. This is to compensate for no-show passengers. However, in the event that all passengers show up, all seats are filled.
In case of overbooking, the air carrier should look for volunteers who will give up their seats. But if the number of volunteers is not enough, the air carrier shall employ the “auction system.” In this scheme, the air carrier increases the overbooking compensation package until the required number of volunteers is met.
📌 Right to Compensation
If a passenger encounters certain problems at the airport, they can also invoke their right to compensation. Here are some of the things that you need to know.
Right to Compensation and Amenities in Case of Flight Cancellation
If the air carrier cancels the flight at least 24 hours before the ETD, the passenger has the right to be notified about it. Furthermore, the air carrier shall rebook or reimburse the passenger, at the option of the latter.
If the air carrier cancels the flight less than 24 hours before the ETD, the passenger has the right to be notified about it and be endorsed to another air carrier without paying any fare difference.
The passenger also has the right to amenities (may include food, drinks, accommodations, etc.), to rebook tickets without additional fees, and to be reimbursed the value of the airfare, taxes, surcharges, and other optional fees.
If the cancellation is due to other causes, such as force majeure and safety or security reasons, the passenger has the right to be reimbursed for the full value of the fare.
Right to Compensation and Amenities in Case of Flight Delay and Exceptions Thereto
If the terminal delay is at least three hours after the ETD and isn’t caused by the air carrier, the passenger has the right to avail of refreshments or meals; right to free phone calls, texts, emails, and first aid if applicable; right to rebook or refund their ticket; and the right to be endorsed to another carrier.
If the terminal delay takes at least six hours and is attributed to the air carrier, the passenger has the right to consider the flight canceled for the purpose of availing the rights and amenities provided in case of actual cancellation; right to additional compensation equivalent to at least the value of the sector delayed; and the right to board the flight if it takes more than six hours after the ETD and the affected passenger has not chosen to rebook and/or refund.
If the tarmac delay is at least two hours after the ETD, the passenger has the right to sufficient food and beverage.
Right to Compensation for Delayed, Lost, and Damaged Baggage
Even if passengers religiously follow the dos and don'ts in airport luggage and know what not to bring to the airport in the Philippines, they may still experience inconveniences that can get costly. These include damaged or lost luggage at the airport.
Does the airport pay for lost luggage? Under this right, the passenger is entitled to the following:
- Notification of the offloaded baggage
- ₱2,000 compensation for every 24 hours of baggage delay
- Refund of checked baggage fees if the baggage is not delivered within 24 hours from the arrival of the flight
- In case of damaged or lost luggage in the airport, the relevant convention will apply to international flights. In the case of domestic flights, the passenger has the right to a maximum amount equivalent to half of the amount in the relevant convention (for international flights) in its peso equivalent.
- Presumption of loss, which will apply if the baggage is not delivered after seven days from the period the passenger or consignee is supposed to receive it.
Right to Compensation in Case of Death or Bodily Injury of a Passenger
In case of death or bodily injury during an international flight, the relevant convention and inter-carrier agreements shall apply. In case death or bodily injury happens during a domestic flight, the compensation will be based on the stipulated amount in the relevant convention that governs international flights.
Right to Immediate Payment of Compensation
With this right, air carriers should make the payment available to the affected passengers. Passengers can get the payment at the air carrier’s counters at the airport on the date the incident occurred, at the air carrier’s main office, or at any other branch at the discretion of the passenger.
Furthermore, the payment must be available in three modes: check, cash, or the document necessary to claim the payment. The said document should be convertible to cash within 15 days from the date the incident happened.
Photos: Department of Transportation and Department of Trade and Industry
5 Common Airport Problems in the Philippines
Aside from brushing up on your knowledge of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, you should also beware of airport scams, such as the following:
- Taxi scams - NAIA taxi drivers are notorious for scamming tourists. Apart from stalling their meters, some drivers have also been reported for charging extremely high fares. If you can, book a Grab or ride NAIA-accredited yellow airport taxis instead. However, note that these cabs have a higher flag-down rate.
- Laglag-bala - The bullet-dropping scheme (also known as tanim-bala or bullet-planting) involves airport employees who allegedly put bullets in unsuspecting passengers’ luggage, so they can extort money from them. This scam might not be as common as it was in 2015, but you should still guard your luggage when at the airport.
- Laslas-maleta - This is when unscrupulous airport security personnel rip open luggage, so they can steal passengers’ personal belongings. Invest in a luggage cover to further secure your belongings.
- Overweight baggage scam - This happens when airline employees don’t reset weighing scales before weighing another set of luggage. This can cost you thousands of pesos, so check if the scale starts at zero before handing over your things at the check-in counter. You can also request another weighing attempt if you suspect foul play.
- Immigration officer bribe - It’s normal to be interrogated by an immigration officer, but watch out because they might just prevent you from passing through unless you pay a bribe. Don’t give in, even if that means missing your flight. Request to speak to a supervisor or another airport officer instead.
Flying, whether locally or internationally, is thrilling. You’ll get to experience new sights and sounds! But sometimes, unpredictable events happen along the way.
Common problems in airports sometimes originate from the side of the air carrier. Thankfully, you can easily deal with them if you know the Air Passenger Bill of Rights in the Philippines. To learn about this bill’s other provisions, check the National Government’s Official Gazette.
🛡️ Protect Yourself from Travel Uncertainties with the Right Insurance
The Air Passenger Bill of Rights is a measure crafted by the government to protect passengers from situations such as lost baggage at the airport, flight cancellations, and even death. If you notice, such incidents are also covered by travel insurance.
Problems in the airline industry in the Philippines can be unpredictable. They reduce the quality of your vacation and make it memorable for the wrong reasons. Deal with such uncertainties by getting a travel insurance policy.
If choosing the right policy is quite a challenge, let Moneymax make it easy for you. Easily compare travel insurance plans from different providers, so you can save money.
-  How Early Should You Get to the Airport (Conde Nast Traveller, 2022)
-  Force Majeure Definition (Cornell Law School - Legal Information Institute)
-  Tarmac Delays (US Department of Transportation)
-  How to Pack Lighter, Smarter, and Faster, According to T+L Editors (Travel + Leisure, 2020)
-  DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 1, s. 2012