The Philippines welcomes “Air Passenger Bill of Rights”

The Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 1 – more popularly known as the “Air Passenger Bill of Rights” – is taking effect in the Philippines tomorrow, much to the relief and appreciation of millions of air travelers who have experienced the inconvenience of “sleep-sitting” in airports due to flight delays or sudden cancellations.

According to PhilStar, the JAO (very recently signed by Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya and DTI Secretary Greg Domingo) clearly outlines the responsibilities of carriers (both local and international) with regard to passengers, and this will hopefully address the complaints of passengers about the indifferent treatment and at times, abusive behavior they get from airline personnel.

The order covers a wide range of areas/issues, from the simple and practical to the more complicated, like snacks and drinks to stranded passengers – an issue that can generate ill feelings from passengers who do not relish the idea of shelling out extra cash for overpriced food and drinks from airport concessionaires. Airlines will also be required to compensate passengers the amount of P2,000 for each day that their baggage is missing – so hopefully there will be less incidents of luggage being sent to wrong destinations.

Among the more significant provisions include removal of the 10-percent overbooking limit – in several cases resulting in the denial of passengers to board despite no fault of their own, and the requirement for airlines to fully disclose information on popular promos like “zero fares” which have been criticized as misleading mainly because they fail to mention other expenses (like taxes and surcharges) and promo limitations.

Several sectors are suggesting an expansion of the order to cover the inclusion of trained personnel and the provision of certain medical equipment like portable defibrillators in case of emergency situations such as a passenger suffering from cardiac arrest. Experts say that defibrillation – wherein the heart is given (controlled) electric shock to help bring back normal heart contractions – can greatly enhance the rate of survival especially if applied within five minutes after the patient collapses.

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