House committee supports ban on overbooking by airlines


By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat | Manila Bulletin

The House committee on transportation technical working group has supported a position by consumer group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) to prohibit the airline industry’s practice of overbooking.

The committee chaired by Congressman Cesar Sarmiento and co-chaired by Congressman Edgar May Sarmiento, conducted public hearings on 12 House Bills and 3 House Resolutions on Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR).

The Committee listed 6 priority issues, namely overbooking, denied boarding, mandatory fare discount, penalties for violations, remedies and redress, tarmac delay and delayed deplaning.

LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba said the committee’s support on their position to prohibit overbooking was based on the fact that the airport carried more passengers over the last 10 years and a data by the CAB showing that airlines hardly overbooked flights anyhow.

The airlines present in the hearing proposed to reinstate a 1972 Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) rule that allowed overbooking of 10 percent of seat capacity. The CAB supports the airlines industry although international practice is between 5 to 15 percent overbooking. Ther hearing did not reach a consensus on this industry practice. The Committee noted that over a ten-year period, there were 39.5 million passengers in 2016  as against 30 million in 2007. These resulted in flight delays and cancellations.

On the matter of senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) domestic flights air fare discount for online bookings, the CAB held a meeting yesterday, July 13, to approve the guidelines on availment with appropriate safeguards.  LKI manifested that safeguards are in place for online booking using credit cards where the airline requires the credit card presentation upon checking in at the counter.

The denial for online bookings for discounts to senior citizens and PWDs is a violation of the law, said Dimagiba.

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines representatives were also warned on abuses and frauds that may be committed. The National Commission on Disability Affairs batted that PWDs’ accessories are part of their body and should be accommodated as such.

Further promo tickets that are purchased but for justifiable reasons the passenger cannot make the flight, it was recommended that it be transferable to at least the first degree relative as a built-in limitation.

The Committee will continue the technical working group hearings on flight delays and excessive airfares. The Committee will ensure parallel coordination with the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Senator Manny Pacquiao on the Senate version of the APBR. The target passage of the bill is January 2018.