Philippine Airlines — downgrading of premium economy to economy with leg-room.
(NOTE: This complaint had already been emailed to [protected]@pal.com.ph on Dec 1, 2018 but we have not received any reply nor acknowledgement.)
TO: Philippine Airlines Complaint Department
SUBJECT: Downgrading of Two Paid Premium Economy Seats to Economy with Leg-room
Booking number VOVTMH,
Sydney to Manila, Nov 4, Flight PR212
Manila to Sydney, Nov 23, Flight PR211
Sometime last June 2018, my wife and I booked two return flights from Sydney to Manila (Nov 4) and Manila to Sydney (Nov 23). Because my wife is diabetic and has difficulty travelling economy (we always request wheelchair assistance for her in airports), we booked premium economy as usual at a cost of $1546.76 per person. PAL sent us confirmation and receipt for the tickets. I attach here copies of the e-tickets stating the booking number, flight details and amount paid. I also attach our boarding passes on the return flight to Sydney.
When we checked in at the Sydney PAL counter on Nov 4, we were greeted with the news that PAL had switched planes and the one we were boarding did not have premium economy. We queried why we were not informed and they could not tell us why. They just said we have no choice but to downgrade to economy. They were not able to upgrade us to business class because it was full. The most that they could do was to give us economy seats with leg room. To add insult to injury, we were told two things: 1) that the same thing will happen on our way back to Sydney, and 2) it was up to us to contact PAL so we can get a refund of AU$300 per person. In other words, if we do not contact PAL, tough luck, they won't do anything. They did assure us that we will get leg-room seats on the way back to Sydney.
While we were waiting to be boarded, we did some research and found out that other passengers paid AU$735.00 for the same economy seat that we were being downgraded to. They paid AU$600 for return economy, AU$50.00 to travel on a weekend and AU$85.00 for extra leg-room, totalling AU$735. Because we paid AU$1546.76 per person for the cancelled premium economy tickets, then we are entitled to a refund of AU$811 per person, not the AU$300 that the check-in lady said we were entitled to.
While we were aboard the plane, we expressed our discontent to the airline staff. A senior flight purser interviewed us, took our details in her laptop, took pictures of the complaint letter that I had composed and assured us that the matter would be sent directly to PAL headquarters. They did not tell us that PAL headquarters is a black hole that swallows up complaints and forgets about them. We did not hear anything more about the matter.
On Nov 22, one day before our return flight to Sydney, we called PAL to ask if there was any change in the situation. We were told that the same thing is happening on the flight back to Sydney, there is no premium economy as we were told. And then, to our horror, we found that the leg-room seats that we were allocated for on our way in had been allocated to other people and that we are being given normal economy seats. I spent forty minutes on the phone (hotel phones are expensive in Manila) just getting PAL to give us back the leg-room seats that were given to us back in Sydney. I was so frustrated I was on the verge of screaming.
After we checked in at the PAL counter at NAIA Terminal 2, we were told to report to the PAL office in the airport, without anybody telling us why. At the office, a junior clerk started typing out things on his workstation without even asking or telling us why. When he had finished, he asked us to sign some papers and we asked, what are these papers? He said we are being given a US$100 voucher per person as compensation for the inconvenience. I blew my top once more and said that we are entitled to more than cheap vouchers, that I do not intend to argue with clueless junior employees at the airport and that I intended to take up the matter with Philippine Airlines senior staff when we get back to Sydney. When I explained the whole problem to him, it turned out he was not even aware of the problems we had on the way in and was only dealing with the return flight downgrading.
You can see from the above recounting that we had so far dealt with four different staffers of Philippine Airlines and they have four different approaches to this problem. We have also been warned that PAL moves very slowly when it comes to resolving complaints, sometimes taking weeks or months to settle refunds. If this happens, then we have to escalate the matter and bring it to the attention of the appropriate consumer advisory boards, both in Australia and the Philippines.
Back in Sydney, we read PAL's commitment to customer satisfaction.
Philippine Airlines Commitment to Customer Satisfaction
(Issued in Compliance with 14 CFR Part 259.5)
Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) is committed to providing the total quality travel experience to all our customers. We endeavor to create a product that would make us truly proud and our customers satisfied. Our aim is to accord our customers an experience which they would remember us by, through a consistent effort to enhance our service delivery and regular trainings of our employees. We constantly try to improve our current systems and policies with our customers in mind. Our commitment to deliver the service expected of us and which our customers rightfully deserve is a primary and foremost goal.
Promptly provide to customers who are ticketed or hold reservations, and to the public, information about a change in the status of a flight within thirty (30) minutes after PAL becomes aware of such a change in the status of the flight. Information will be provided in the boarding gate area for the flight at a U.S. airport, on www.philippineairlines.com, and via PAL's telephone reservation system upon inquiry by any person. (A change in the status of a flight means, at a minimum, cancellation of a flight, a delay of thirty (30) minutes or more in the planned operation of a flight, or a diversion.)
PLEASE TAKE THESE COMMITMENTS SERIOUSLY.
Home phone number: 612-[protected]
Mobile phone number: 61-[protected]
Mailing address: 7 Talbingo Place, Woodcroft, NSW 2767, Australia
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