Your Rights as Air Passenger: A Primer


On 21 December 2012, the Air Passenger Bill of Rights took effect. This regulation was a joint issuance of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Department of Trade the Industry (DTI), through DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 1, s. 2012 (full text), also known as the Air Passenger Bills of Rights, provides for carrier obligations and a bill of rights for air passengers.

Scope. The Air Passenger Bills of Rights covers all aspects of contracts of carriage for flights or portions of a flight into, from, and within the territory of the Philippines operated by Philippine air carriers, and flights or portions of a flight from the territory of the Philippines operated by foreign air carriers. However, that the compensation rules shall not apply to carriers flying into the territory of the Philippines IF the laws of the country of origin provide similar or higher compensation. [Back to the top]

[See also Save on Airline Travel]

Rights of Airline Passengers

The rights of airline passengers are classified into three broad classifications. Each right will be discussed in detail below:

1. Right to be provided with accurate information before purchase

1.1 Disclosure of the service offered and all Terms and Conditions
1.2 Advertisements of, and important reminders regarding fares
1.3 Misleading and fraudulent sales promotion practices

2. Right to receive the full value of service purchased

2.1 Transportation and baggage conveyance
2.2 Check-in
2.3 Processing time
2.4 Boarding

3. Right to compensation

3.1 Flight cancellations
3.2 Flight delay
3.3 Delayed, lost, and damaged baggage
3.4 Death or bodily injury of a passenger

This rights are available to all airline passengers, referring to persons actually travelling by air. A person who is named in the flight ticket shall be considered a passenger for the purpose of the Air Passengers Bill of Rights. [Back to the top]

Transportation and baggage conveyance

Every passenger is entitled to transportation, baggage conveyance and ancillary services, in accordance with the terms and conditions of contract. Any violation of the terms and conditions of the contract of carriage due to the fault or negligence of the air carrier shall entitle the passenger to compensation or alternative arrangements, as provided in this Air Passenger Bill of Rights, which are acceptable to the passenger. [Back to the top]

Check-in rights of passengers

What is the general rule for check-in?

In accordance with the usual air carrier procedures, a passenger holding a confirmed ticket, whether promotional or regular, with complete documentary requirements, and who has complied with the check-in procedures, shall be processed accordingly at the check-in counter within the check-in deadline.

When is a passenger considered late?

A passenger who arrives at the carrier’s cordoned area or other designated check-in area 1 hour after the published estimated time of departure (ETD), he/she shall be considered late or a no-show. The carrier shall exert utmost diligence in ensuring that passengers within the cordoned or other designated check-in area and/or lined up at the check-in counters are checked in for their flights before the check-in deadline.

Where is the cordoned area?

The airline must clearly designate the boundaries of its assigned check-in area/s or counter/s.

What happens if the passenger is late?

A passenger who is late may be denied check-in and directed to a standby or rebooking counter, as the case may be, for proper processing.

What do you mean by “Denied Check-in”?

“Denied Check-in” takes place when a passenger, who has presented himself/herself for check-in at the appointed area and at the appointed time, is denied or not processed for boarding a particular flight. This is different from “denied boarding,” discussed below.

Where should disputes be resolved?

Any dispute shall be resolved by the air carrier on-site. The air carrier has the burden of showing to the passenger some proof, including, but not limited to, closed-circuit television monitor recordings, processing or number slips issued at the entrance of the check-in area, and other applicable or available means, that the latter failed to appear within the prescribed time for the check-in procedure. [Back to the top]

Sufficient processing time

What is the rule on check-in and security procedures?

Passengers shall be given enough time before the published ETD within which to go through the check-in and final security processes.

What time should the check-in counters open?

Check-in counters shall be opened:

* At least 2 hours before the ETD, for air carriers operating in international airports and in other airports designated by the DOTC.

* At least 1 hour before the ETD, in other airports.

How should airlines process those who arrived close to the ETD?

A separate dedicated counter for a flight nearing check-in deadline to facilitate the checking in of passengers at least 1 hour before the published ETD, for air carriers operating in international airports and in other airports designated by the DOTC.

How about PWDs and senior citizens?

Airlines shall also open at least one (1) dedicated check-in counter for persons with disabilities (PWDs), senior citizens and persons requiring special assistance or handling (as well as persons accompanying them). If not practicable, the air carrier shall instead provide for priority handling and processing of such passengers.

When should PWDs and similar persons declare their condition?

These persons must inform the airline of such condition upon booking his/her flight.

What other facilities must airlines provide to PWDs?

In addition to the foregoing, for PWDs, senior citizens and persons requiring special assistance or handling, the air carrier shall likewise coordinate with the appropriate authorities for the use of proper airport equipment, entryways, and/or aerobridges, as the case may be, when the same are available, to facilitate transactions, movement, boarding, and/or disembarkation of PWDs, senior citizens, and/or persons requiring special equipment, at the airport.

What is the duty of carriers for facilities in other countries?

An air carrier has the duty to inform its passengers if additional costs will be incurred for the use of facilities designed for passengers needing special assistance in airports located in other countries. [Back to the top]

Boarding the aircraft for the purpose of flight

What is the general rule in boarding?

After check-in, no passenger may be denied boarding without his/her consent.

What is “denied boarding”?

“Denied Boarding” takes place when a passenger, who holds a confirmed reserved seat, and who has presented himself/herself for carriage at the proper time and place and fully complied with the carrier’s check-in and reconfirmation procedures, and who is acceptable for carriage under the carrier’s tariff, was not allowed to board the aircraft. This is different from “denied check-in,” discussed above.

Are there instances when a passenger may not be allowed to board the airplane?

Yes, but there are ONLY two exceptions. No other exceptions are allowed. The first exception refers to legal or other valid cause, such as, but not limited to:

  • Immigration issues;
  • Safety and security;
  • Health concerns;
  • Non-appearance at the boarding gate at the appointed boarding time; or
  • Government requisition of space.

The second exception is when there is overbooking, in which case the airline cannot unilaterally bump off any passenger. It can only be done by looking for volunteers, also known as the “auction system.”

What is “government requisition of space”?

“Government requisition of space” refers to a formal request by the government or its agencies to an air carrier company for the use of an aircraft, or any part thereof, for regulatory, safety, security, and/or emergency purposes.

The government agency and/or official wanting to acquire aircraft space for official government purposes shall submit a written request justifying the requisition to the CAB, which shall then make the request to the air carrier concerned. Should government requisition result in passengers having to forego their confirmed space, the air carrier shall look for volunteers in the same manner when there is overbooking.

How does the airline ask for volunteers? What is the “auction system”?

Consistent with the general rule that no passenger may be barred from boarding unless he/she consents, the airline must seek out volunteers who must agree to give up his/her seat. The “auction system” is conducted in the following manner:

(a) The air carrier shall determine the number of passengers in excess of the actual seat capacity of the aircraft.

(b) The air carrier shall announce that the flight is overbooked, and that it is looking for volunteers willing to give up their seats in exchange for air carrier compensation.

(c) The air carrier shall provide the interested passengers or volunteers a list of amenities and offers, which they can choose from, which list of amenities shall always include the option to be given priority booking in the next flight with available space or to be endorsed to another air carrier upon payment of any fare difference, and provided that space and other circumstances permit such accommodation, at the option of the passenger, and/or a cash incentive.

(d) In case the number of volunteers is not enough to resolve the overbooking, the air carrier shall increase the compensation package by certain degrees or by adding more amenities/services until the required number of volunteers is met.

What if flight is delayed because the airline had to go through the “auction system”?

The settling of compensation for passengers shall not be an excuse for the undue delay of the flight’s ETD.

How do you treat the compensation given?

If accepted by the passenger, the compensation constitutes liquidated damages for all damages incurred by the passenger as a result of the air carrier’s failure to provide the passenger with a confirmed reserved seat. While a confirmed reservation is necessary to make a passenger eligible for compensation, a written confirmation issued by the air carrier or its authorized agent qualifies the passenger in this regard, even if the air carrier cannot find the reservation in the electronic records, as long as the passenger did not cancel the reservation or miss a reconfirmation deadline. [Back to the top]

Flight Cancellations

The cancellation of flights may be due to the fault of the carrier or to causes beyond its control, so two different sets of rules apply depending on the cause of the cancellation. These are the minimum entitlement of a passenger in case of flight cancellations, and the carrier, of course, can grant better compensations.

i. In case of flight cancellation attributable to the carrier, the compensation depends on whether it was announced within 24 hours.

* If cancelled in less than 24 hours, a passenger shall have the right to:

(a) Be notified beforehand via public announcement, written/published notice and flight status update service (text);

(b) Be provided with the following, if he/she is already at the airport at the time of the announcement of the flight cancellation: sufficient refreshments or meals (e.g. snacks consisting of at least a bottle of water and a sandwich, or breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or a voucher for the same, as the case may be); hotel accommodation (conveniently accessible from the airport); transportation from the airport to the hotel, v.v.; free phone calls, text or e-mails, and first aid, if necessary; and

(c) Reimbursement of the value of the fare, including taxes and surcharges, of the sector cancelled, or both/all sectors, in case the passenger decides not to fly the ticket or all the routes/sectors; or

(d) Be endorsed to another air carrier without paying any fare difference, at the option of the passenger, and provided that space and other circumstances permit such re-accommodation; or

(e) Rebook the ticket, without additional charge, to the next flight with available space, or, within thirty (30) days, to a future trip within the period of validity of the ticket. However, for rebooking made in excess of the aforementioned thirty (30) days for a trip likewise within the validity of the ticket, fees and/or fare difference shall apply.

* If cancelled at least 24 hours before the ETD, the carrier is not liable for anything, but:

(a) the carrier is obliged to notify the passenger; AND

(2) rebook or reimburse the passenger, at the option of the passenger.

ii. If the air carrier cancels the flight because of force majeure, safety and/or security reasons, as certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, a passenger shall have the right to be reimbursed for the full value of the fare. [Back to the top]

Flight delays

What is delay? Terminal Delay? Tarmac Delay?

“Delay” is the result of the deferment of a flight to a later time. The delay could be a “Terminal Delay,” which is a delay that occurs while passengers are still inside the terminal waiting for boarding, or a “Tarmac Delay,” is a delay that occurs while passengers are already on board the aircraft.

In case of Terminal Delay for at least 3 hours, what are the rights of passengers?

In case of Terminal Delay of at least 3 hours after the ETD, a passenger shall have the right to:

(a) Be provided with refreshments or meals (sufficient snacks, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as the case may be), free phone calls, text or e-mails, and first aid, if necessary; and

(b) Rebook or refund his/her ticket in accordance with the preceding Section or be endorsed to another carrier, in accordance with the preceding Section.

Would it matter if the 3-hour delay is not attributable to the airline?

No, the cause for the delay doesn’t matter. Passengers are entitled to the foregoing rights should the delay exceed 3 hours.

What happens if the Terminal Delay is at least 6 hours?

In case such Terminal Delay extends to at least 6 hours after the ETD for causes attributable to the carrier, it shall be deemed cancelled for the purpose of making available to the passenger the rights and amenities required to be provided in case of actual flight cancellation; and in addition, an affected passenger shall be given the following:

(a) Additional compensation equivalent to at least the value of the sector delayed or deemed cancelled to be paid in the form of cash or voucher, at the discretion of the air carrier; and

(b) The right to board the flight if it takes place more than six (6) hours after the ETD and the affected passenger has not opted to rebook and/or refund. For this purpose, the air carrier is obliged to exert all efforts to contact the passenger for the flight.

What are the rights of passengers in case of Tarmac Delay?

A passenger shall likewise have the right to be provided with sufficient food and beverage, in cases of Tarmac Delay of at least 2 hours after the ETD, reckoned from the closing of the aircraft doors, or when the aircraft is at the gate with the doors still open but passengers are not allowed to deplane. [Back to the top]

Baggage: When delayed, lost, and damaged

What is the general rule for baggage?

A passenger shall have the right to have his/her baggage carried on the same flight that such passenger takes, subject to considerations of safety, security, or any other legal and valid cause.

How is the passenger informed if his/her baggage was offloaded?

In case a checked-in baggage has been off-loaded for operational, safety, or security reasons, the air carrier shall inform the passenger at the soonest practicable time and in such manner that the passenger will readily know of the off-loading (i.e. that his/her baggage has been off-loaded and the reason therefor). If the passenger’s baggage has been off-loaded, the air carrier should make the appropriate report and give the passenger a copy thereof, even if it had already announced that the baggage would be on the next flight.

How soon must the carrier deliver the offloaded baggage?

The air carrier shall carry the off-loaded baggage in the next flight with available space, and deliver the same to the passenger either personally or at his/her residence. For every 24 hours of delay in such delivery, the air carrier shall tender an amount of Php2,000.00 to the passenger, as compensation for the inconvenience the latter experienced.

What if the delay was 24 hours and 1 minute?

That is counted as 2 days. A fraction of a day shall be considered as one day for purposes of calculating the compensation.

When do you starting counting the 24-hour period?

For compensation in the offloading of baggage, the 24-hour period starts 1 hour from the arrival of the flight of the passenger carrying such baggage.

When is the baggage presumed lost?

For compensation purposes, a passenger’s baggage is presumed to have been permanently and totally lost, if within a period of 7 days, counted from the time the passenger or consignee should have received the same, the baggage is not delivered to said passenger or consignee.

What if the baggage is lost, destroyed or damaged?

Should such baggage, whether carried on the same or a later flight, be lost or suffer any damage attributable to the air carrier, the passenger shall be compensated in the following manner:

(a) For international flights, the relevant convention shall apply.

(b) For domestic flights, upon proof, a maximum amount equivalent to half of the amount in the relevant convention (for international flights) in its Peso equivalent. [Back to the top]

Death or bodily injury of a passenger

i. For international flights:

In case of death or bodily injury sustained by a passenger, the relevant Convention and inter-carrier agreement shall apply. However, for an international carriage performed under the 1966 Montreal Inter-Carrier Agreement, which includes a point in the United States of America as a point of origin, a point of destination or agreed stopping place, the limit of liability for each passenger for death, wounding or other bodily injury shall be the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand United States Dollars (US$75,000.00), inclusive of legal fees and costs. Provided, in the case of a claim brought in a state where a provision is made for a separate award for legal fees and costs, the limit shall be the sum of Fifty-Eight Thousand United States Dollars (US$58,000.00), exclusive of legal fees and costs.

ii. For domestic flights:

The compensation shall be based on the stipulated amount in the relevant convention which governs international flights, the same to be given in Peso denominations. [Back to the top]

Immediate payment of compensation

A air carrier liable for any and all compensations provided by these rules shall make the same available to the affected passenger at the air carrier’s counters at the airport on the date when the occasion entitling the passenger to compensation occurred, or at the main office or any branch of the air carrier at the discretion of the passenger. The air carrier shall: (a) tender a check for the amount specified; (b) or cash; or (c) the document necessary to claim the compensation or benefits, provided the document shall be convertible to cash within 15 days from the date when the occasion entitling the passenger to such compensation occurred. [Back to the top]

Disclosure of Services Offered and Terms of Contract

Every passenger shall, before purchasing any ticket for a contract of carriage by the air carrier or its agents, be entitled to the full, fair, and clear disclosure of all the terms and conditions of the contract of carriage about to be purchased. The disclosure shall include, among others:

  • documents required to be presented at check-in
  • provisions on check-in deadlines
  • refund and rebooking policies
  • procedures and responsibility for delayed and/or cancelled flights. These terms and conditions may include liability limitations, claim-filing deadline

Where must these conditions reflected?

The required disclosure may be printed on or attached to the passenger ticket and/or boarding pass.

Can the carrier incorporate these terms by reference?

Yes. The airline can incorporate the terms by reference, in which case the ticket and/or boarding pass shall clearly state that the complete terms and conditions of carriage are available for perusal and/or review on the air carrier’s website, or in some other document that may be sent to or delivered by post or electronic mail to the passenger upon his/her request.

Where can passengers ask for explanation of the terms and conditions?

The air carrier must also ensure that passengers receive an explanation of key terms identified on the ticket from any location where the carrier’s tickets are sold, including travel agencies.

How is the explanation done in case of online booking?

In case of online bookings, the air carrier must establish a system wherein the purchaser is fully apprised of the required disclosures twice prior to the final submission of his/her online offer to purchase.

Is the printed disclosure sufficient?

No. In addition to the printed disclosures, the these disclosures must also be verbally explained to the passenger by the air carrier and/or its agent/s in English and Filipino, or in a language that is easily understood by the purchaser, placing emphasis on the limitations and/or restrictions attached to the ticket.

How should the airline indicate the terms and conditions?

The key terms of a contract of carriage shall substantially be stated in the following manner and, if done in print, must be in bold letters:

“NOTICE:

The ticket that you are purchasing is subject to the following conditions/restrictions:

1. _______________
2. _______________
3. _______________

Your purchase of this ticket becomes a binding contract on your part to follow the terms and conditions of the ticket and of the flight. Depending on the fare rules applicable to your ticket, non-use of the same may result in forfeiture of the fare or may subject you to the payment of penalties and additional charges if you wish to change or cancel your booking.

For more choices and/or control in your flight plans, please consider other fare types.”

What happens if the airline violates these requirements?

Any violation of these provisions shall be a ground for the denial of subsequent applications for approval of promotional fare, or for the suspension or recall of the approval made on the advertised fare/rate. [Back to the top]

Advertisements and Important Reminders

Passengers have the right to clear and non-misleading advertisements of, and important reminders regarding fares. Advertisements of fares shall be clear and not misleading. Major restrictions, such as those on rebookability or refundability, which may be attached to certain fare types, shall be disclosed in full and in such a way that the passenger may fully understand the consequences of purchasing such tickets and the effect of non-use thereof.

What is “fare” and what are the fare types?

“Fare” is payment in consideration for the carriage of a passenger. “Regular Fare” is any fare that is offered on a regular basis and does not qualify as promotional fare. “Promotional Fare,” which is generally lower than a regular fare, is applied for before, and approved as such by, the Civil and Aeronautics Board (CAB).

What are the required disclosures?

Every air carrier causing the publication of fare advertisements in any medium, shall likewise disclose the following:

(a) Conditions and restrictions attached to the fare type;

(b) Refund and rebooking policies, if any;

(c) Baggage allowance policies;

(d) Government taxes and fuel surcharges;

(e) Other mandatory fees and charges;

(f) Contact details of the carrier (i.e. phone number, website, e-mail, etc.); and

(g) Other information necessary to apprise the passenger of the conditions and the full/total price of the ticket purchased.

Are there additional disclosures in case of promo fares?

Yes. in addition to (a) to (g) above, airlines are required to disclose the following in case of promotional fares:

(h) Number of seats offered on a per sector basis;

(i) The duration of the promo; and

(j) The CAB Approval No. of Fares.

What area of the advertising material should be for disclosures?

The required disclosures shall occupy not less than 1/3 of the advertising material. A copy of the same shall be printed on or attached to the ticket in English and Filipino. In the case of broadcast media, it shall be enough that the air carrier and/or advertising agent incorporate the foregoing terms and conditions by reference. [Back to the top]

Sales promotion practices

All sales promotion campaigns and activities of air carriers shall be carried out with honesty, transparency and fairness, and in accordance with the requirements of the Consumer Act of the Philippines. Air carriers shall provide to DTI a copy of its promotional materials for post audit not later than the publication, release, or launch date whichever is earlier. [Back to the top]

9 comments

  1. May I ask a question on this Bill, on the section about cancellations at least 24 hours:

    ” If cancelled at least 24 hours before the ETD, the carrier is not liable for anything, but:

    (a) the carrier is obliged to notify the passenger; AND

    (2) rebook or reimburse the passenger, at the option of the passenger.”

    The option 2 where passengers can rebook, does rebooking include rerouting if the airlines’ remaining avialable flights will not work for the passenger?

    Thank you.

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    1. sir,
      would it constitute terminal delay?if an original flight for 12noon is cancelled then the passenger was given a new boarding pass for a 2pm flight and subsequently cancelled and reissued a boarding pass for 6pm flight all taking place on the same day.
      hope you can enlighten us

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  2. Sir/Maam,

    May I ask if this law covers international airline such as Jetstar? My family (9 of us) went to japan for a vacation. on our way back to manila from osaka, the flight was cancelled in thr process of boarding. we were not given any accommodation or meal but instead an email was sent after 3 hours that we are entitled to a refund of certain amt for accommodation and meals. no announcements were made as to what to do and when the next flight is. we were left on our own. we stayed at the airport overnight and heard from the other passengers that the flight was scheduled the following day, but when we were about to que for check in we were told it was again canclled and moved on the next day. We have business to atend to, classess of our children started and we cannot afford to stay and wait until the next final schedule. We bought a new ticket and have rebooked our domestic flight to Davao from manila. I sent a complaint to jetstar and ask them to refund the expenses incurred due to the cancellation including our new international ticket and the rebooking fee. unfortunately, their email told me they cannot refund our new ticket and rebooking fee as thisw is not part of their policy. Some of the foreign passengers in our flight were accommodated by jetstar with onother flight, many of those who were left were filipino passengers. We were left on our own to wonder what to do next and there was no proper communication about flight schedule. We were all exhausted and stress. My son got sick when we arrived home due to stress. i would like to raise this concern to the propoer authorities so because we felt our rights as passengers were violated. Can you please help me with this? you may know of any agency i can go to to refer our case? would appreciate your help. thank you

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  3. May tanong po ako tungkol sa offloaded passenger.ang kapatid ko po ay pumunta ng thailand as tourist, kaso hindi siya bumalik dahil nakahanap ng work.after 3 years umuwi siya ng pinas for good.kaso pinabalik siya ng employr nya para work ulit.kaso na-offloaded siya kasi nakita na dun na siya galing at walang kumpletong dokumento.

    Tanong ko po, may refund ba siya sa ticket?

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  4. may I kindly ask if the passenger would like to have an early flight from his original time of fight? of course its within the day. PAL is doing it already, can we demand it from Cebu Pacific?

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  5. where would change of flight schedule or time fall under the bill of rights?
    what about if the change of schedule by an airline will affect your connecting flight to another destination (with the same airline)? do these still fall under the law? the Right to receive the full value of the service purchased?

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  6. i just wanna ask , the incident happend last month, booked a flight and received an email confirmation, and itinerary. just this month i called up the airlines to ask regarding their new promo and restriction of my ticket, and i was informed that my ticket was voided, nobody from the airline informed me about the cancellation, if i didnt call i might have no clue until now, and on the day of our departure will be in airport with luggages just to.find out that the itineraty we have is not valid. (the payment for the ticket was also posted on my creditcard statement, and the airline just told me that they will refund it) i booked for another flight with the same airline just for our vacation to push through. my question is am i entitled for compensation? because from what i see , this is clearly the airline’s fault, they were negligent about this.

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  7. My friend arrives in the Philippines last December 9.. Unfortunately her luggage is lost. They told her that they are still searching for her luggage. Its been 7 days. Now they told her that they will transfer her to claims department. Can u pls. give me some advice what are her rights and where she can complain. Thanks and Godbless

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