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Consumer protection and liability

Airfares

Are airfares regulated in your jurisdiction?

Yes. The Civil Aeronautics Board has the power to fix and determine reasonable individual, joint or special rates, charges or fares which an air carrier may demand, collect or receive for any service in connection with air commerce.

Passenger protection

What rules and liabilities are air carriers subject to in respect of:

(a) Flight delays and cancellations?

Economic Regulation 7, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, provides for passenger rights in cases of delay and cancellation, as well as for the filing of relevant incident reports by the carrier.

In case of flights delayed for more than two hours, the air carrier must provide the passengers with free meals, communication and first-aid medicines, if necessary. If the flight is deferred until the next day, the air carrier must provide the passengers with free meals, hotel accommodation and communication. If a passenger opts not to fly the remaining sector of the flight (ie, a portion of an itinerary or journey), the value of any fare (including surcharges) of the remaining un-flown sector must be reimbursed to the passenger.

In case of flight cancellations attributable to the air carrier, the air carrier must provide passengers with free meals, hotel accommodation, transportation from the airport to the hotel, free communication and first-aid medicines, if necessary. If a passenger opts not to fly on the ticket, the value of any fare, (including taxes and surcharges) of the cancelled flight sector must be reimbursed to the passenger. If all sections of the itinerary are cancelled, the carrier must reimburse the total value of the fare, taxes and surcharges.

(b) Oversold flights?

Economic Regulation 9, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, on the bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations provides for passenger rights to compensation and amenities in case of overbooked flights.

While it is accepted practice for an air carrier to overbook flights, any expense, consequence or inconvenience caused to affected passengers must be borne by the air carrier. Among other things, the air carrier must provide the interested passengers or volunteers who are willing to give up their seats a list of amenities and offers from which they can choose. Such a list should always include the option to be given priority booking on the next flight with available space or to be endorsed to another carrier on payment of any fare difference (provided that space and other circumstances permit such accommodation) at the passenger’s discretion, as well as a cash incentive. In case the number of volunteers is too few to resolve the overbooking, the air carrier should increase the compensation package by degrees or by adding more amenities and services until the required number of volunteers is met.

(c) Denied boarding?

Economic Regulation 7, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, provides for:

  • a denied boarding procedure;
  • compensation; and
  • exceptions to liability for denied boarding compensation.

In general, air carriers must pay compensation at specified rates to passengers which:

  • hold confirmed reserved space;
  • have presented themselves for carriage at the proper time and place and have fully complied with the carrier’s check-in and reconfirmation procedures;
  • are acceptable for carriage under the carrier’s tariff; and
  • have been denied boarding due to lack of space.

If accepted by the passenger, such compensation should constitute liquidated damages for all damages incurred by the passenger as a result of the carrier’s failure to provide the confirmed space. The passenger must, in addition to the damages, have priority booking for the next available flight using the same ticket for which he or she was denied boarding.

(d) Access for disabled passengers?

Economic Regulation 9, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, mandates air carriers to designate at least one check-in counter that will prioritise persons with disabilities, senior citizens and persons requiring special assistance or handling. If this is not practicable, the air carrier must instead provide for priority handling and processing of such passengers. The air carrier must likewise coordinate with the appropriate authorities for the use of proper airport equipment, entryways and aerobridges to facilitate transactions, movement, boarding and disembarkation of persons with disabilities, senior citizens and persons requiring special equipment at the airport.

(e) Lost, damaged or destroyed luggage?

Economic Regulation 9 issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board on the bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations provides the right of passengers to compensation for delayed, lost and damaged baggage.

For international flights, the relevant convention will apply. For domestic flights, the passenger (on presentation of proof) will be compensated up to the equivalent of 50% of the amount stated in the relevant convention (for international flights) in its peso equivalent. For compensation purposes, a passenger’s baggage is presumed to have been permanently and totally lost if within seven days from the date on which the passenger or consignee should have received the baggage, it is not delivered to said passenger or consignee.

(f) Retention and protection of passenger data?

Passenger data is covered by the Republic Act 10173 (the Data Privacy Act) which seeks to protect the confidentiality of personal information.

‘Personal information’ is defined under the Data Privacy Act as any information, whether recorded in material form or not, from which the identity of an individual is apparent or can be reasonably and directly ascertained by the entity holding the information, or when put together with other information would directly and certainly identify an individual. 

The act imposes certain obligations on personal information controllers and those that process personal information. Personal information controllers are persons that control the collection, holding, processing or use of personal information, while processors are those to whom processing has been outsourced. Under the law, collection and processing must be conducted in accordance with general guidelines based on the principles of transparency, legitimate purpose and proportionality. Processing is permitted only if one of a number of certain specific conditions is present, which includes:

  • consent;
  • necessity under the contract with the data subject; and
  • necessity for the protection of the data subject’s interests.

The law also provides for penal and monetary penalties for violations therein. The act has extraterritorial application and applies even to acts or practices executed by a non-resident outside the Philippines, provided that:

  • the processing relates to personal information about a Philippine citizen or resident;
  • the entity has a link with the Philippines and is processing personal information in the Philippines or, if the processing is done outside the Philippines, that it is about Philippine citizens or residents; and
  • the entity has other links to the Philippines (eg, when the entity conducts business in the Philippines or the information was collected or held by an entity in the Philippines).

Cargo

What rules and liabilities apply to the air carriage of cargo?

Common carriers, including air carriers, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all of the circumstances of each case.

Common carriers are responsible for the loss, destruction or deterioration of goods, unless they can prove that the loss, destruction or deterioration was brought about by:

  • a flood, storm, earthquake, lightning or another natural disaster or calamity;
  • an act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil;
  • an act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods;
  • the character of the goods or defects in the packing or containers; or
  • an order or act of competent public authority, as specified in Article 1734 of the Civil Code.  

In all other cases, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they can prove that they observed extraordinary diligence.

Economic Regulation 9, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, provides for the bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations. It provides for the right of passengers to compensation for delayed, lost and damaged baggage.

Marketing and advertising

Do any special rules apply to the marketing and advertising of aviation services?

Economic Regulation 9 on the bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations provides for:

  • the right of passengers to clear and non-misleading advertisements;
  • the right to full, fair and clear disclosure of services offered by carriers; and
  • the right against misleading and fraudulent sales promotion practices. 

Accordingly, all sales promotion campaigns and air carrier activities must be carried out with honesty, transparency and fairness, and in accordance with the requirements of the Republic Act 7394, as amended (the Consumer Act of the Philippines).

Complaints handling

Do any special rules apply to consumer complaints handling in the aviation industry?

Economic Regulation 9 on the bill of rights for air passengers and carrier obligations provides that air carriers must provide customer service representatives who can address common problems on the spot. It also plans complaints and assistance desks in all airports to be established by the board. These desks are to be manned by the board or deputised personnel, who will assist passengers whose rights to the service have not been fully satisfied by the air carrier. The personnel will also assist in the filing and prosecution of the complaints of passengers whose rights have been violated and who wish to pursue the concerned air carrier.

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