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‘Tell travelers what to expect’


03:09 AM May 14th, 2012


Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is urging local budget airlines to tell travelers what they are getting into when they book flights with them.

Budget carriers, Belmonte said, should be more candid and transparent in their pricing, marketing and booking policies.

That way, travelers have only themselves to blame if they find the service not to their liking, or not flying at all because somebody else woke up earlier, beat them to the airport, and got their seats.

That way, too, there will be less confusion at the airport and fewer complaints against the budget airlines.

Belmonte, who served as president and CEO of Philippine Airlines when the flag carrier was still owned by the government, said he supported the budget airlines’ aggressive marketing policies. But the airlines, he said, should show “more compassion” toward their customers by giving them a heads-up of what to expect when buying tickets at basement prices.

“I don’t think low prices should equate to poor service,” Belmonte said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.  “The customers are intelligent enough to understand  airline policies if only they explain the rules well before selling the tickets.  I think the main beef of customers is that they do not get any warning whatsover.”

The House is investigating the increasing complaints against budget airlines. Most of the complaints are directed at Cebu Pacific, according to  AVE party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay Jr.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, himself a victim of unexplained flight cancellations, said the brawl between the couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto, and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo at the airport on May 6 started with Cebu Pacific’s failure to inform the Santiagos that their baggage was off-loaded before leaving for Manila from Iloilo.

Belmonte said customers only wanted “simple courtesies” and a “little caring” and not to be made to feel as if the airlines were doing them a favor.

“When I was president of PAL, I resisted suggestions to raise the fares just because we were the only one in the business,” Belmonte said. “The competition should agree on certain things, what they should provide the consumers, and they should be more frank about the trade-offs in flying with budget airlines.”

Belmonte said that as long as travelers knew what to expect from budget airlines, there would be fewer complaints against the carriers.

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