Cebu Pacific on Monday committed to refund the unused airline tickets of the 17 coaches and athletes of the Baguio City judo team who missed their flight to Puerto Princesa City on August 25 due to the confusion created by the airline changing its flight’s boarding gate at the NAIA Terminal 3.
Cebu Pac corporate communications director Charo Lotgarta Lagamon told Palawan News in a phone interview Monday that their decision was to “refund in full” the Manila-Puerto Princesa City flight they were not able to board.
“Kagabi (August 25) kausap din namin ang coach. We are already investigating it, we are already looking into it. But having said that, we are assisting na the 17 athletes and coaches. In-assist na namin so ginagawaan na namin ng paraan para matulungan sila. We are already assisting a refund for them in full,” Lagamon said.
The entire judo delegation had to purchase a new set of tickets from another airline to make it to the games the following day.
Lagamon said that for whatever reason, the judo team “apparently” did not hear the announcement for passengers of flight 5J635 to change gate to 134 from 119 in NAIA Terminal 3.
She said their standard operating procedure (SOP) if there is a change in gate departure assignment is to make immediate announcement as soon as information has been made available to them by airport authorities.
READ RELATED LINK: Baguio City judo team misses flight, files complaint vs Cebu Pacific
“NAIA (Terminal 3) is already operating beyond capacity na so, talagang nangyayari nag-cha-change ng gate kasi kumbaga kung saan may bakante, doon inilalagay ang eroplano. Kumbaga this is in the interest of making the flight on time, Kasi pini-penalize din ang airline ng gobyerno kapag delayed ang flights,” she said.
She said they always remind passengers to arrive a few hours in advance to go to the airport and to move fast because of uncertainties that they have no control of.
Lagamon said they also tell them to check their boarding passes and to pay attention to the terminal’s “paging system” in case of changes in departure time or gate.
“The only way is kailangan mabilis tayong gumalaw sa airport. Ang SOP po natin is nag-a-announce ng change of gate, may sweeper ‘yon para mag-announce, nangyayari kasi talaga ‘yan minsan na hindi nagpa-pay attention — ang bottomline ay di narinig, by the time narinig nila or na-realize nila, late na. So 6:30 a.m. ‘yong departure time, nakarating sila sa gate (134) 6:18 a.m.,” she said.
Asked why their gate personnel did not take it upon themselves to check with young passengers who were obviously carrying sports bags and other items, and traveling for Batang Pinoy in Puerto Princesa City, Lagamon said it is part of what they are looking into.
She said on any given day, they are flying around 30,000 passengers from Manila and things can happen fast.
“We are looking into it na po. Tingnan din natin kasi sa dami ng tao na pino-process namin o dumadaan sa mga frontliners natin, hindi rin natin sigurado kung ano ‘yong talagang specific na nangyari at kung paano nangyari na naiwan sila ng eroplano. Dapat maging alerto rin tayo sa status ng ating mga flights,” she said.
Lagamon said they understand the difficulty of transferring from 119 to 134 which is at the lower level of NAIA Terminal 3, but they hope that the passengers will also understand that such situation is an assignment that is given to the airline by the airport authorities at the last moment.
She said they are now looking into ways on how to improve their customer service to notify passengers about changes in departure gates, flight delays, and other similar concerns.
“We will reimburse in full, kung ano ‘yong binayad noong mga bata with Cebu Pacific. It’s just really unfortunate that this happened and we really regret that this happened to the team kaya lang there are really operational matters that are beyond our control at ito po ang isa sa mga epekto noon,” Lagamon said.
In a comment she also posted under Palawan News’ story, she said they have been in contact with the judo team since Sunday night and have apologized for their experience.
She reiterated that Cebu Pac is refunding in full the tickets of the Baguio City judo team for the flight they were not able to board.