Public warned vs airlines' 'deceptive' seat sales

Posted at 02/20/13 6:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The public is warned against airlines' misleading or deceptive advertisements on "seat sales" or promo fares.

The Department of Justice, in its first advisory opinion for the year, reminded airlines and air passengers of the rules and limits on ads of airline fares under Republic Act No. 7394 (Consumer Act) and the new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights.

"Airline companies should be responsible for the content, substance and manner of presentation of their offers of services or goods to the public, consistent with the Consumer Act and the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights," the advisory stated.

The DOJ said there should be full disclosure of the price before an airline completes any transaction. There have been instances when customers fail to notice "hidden" fees and charges added to the "promo fare."

For instance, some airlines use automatic check boxes for optional benefits on the website. The DOJ noted this practice "tends to deprive the consumer of the right to be aware of the optional benefits and the right to decide whether or not to avail of such benefits."

"Thus, there is a duty to make the consumer understand
that the airline ticket price is composed not only of the base fare or the promotional fare but other additional charges as well, and that, aside from the ticket price, the airline passenger has the additional right to choose whether or not to avail and pay for optional benefits such
as baggage allowance and travel insurance," the DOJ said.

The DOJ urged the public to remain vigilant against these misleading ads. The public may send feedback to the airline companies or to appropriate government agencies such as the Civil Aeronautics Board or the Department
of Trade and Industry's Consumer Welfare desk.

"Seat sales, like other promotional campaigns, usually come with certain restrictions or curtailment of privileges not otherwise present in regular sales transactions. Significantly lower prices usually entail such different terms and conditions," the DOJ noted.

"By alerting the airline companies themselves or the government of advertisements that confuse, mislead or defraud consumers, the interest of the general public can be better protected."