4,974

Jetstar has got some explaining to do

  • Written by Itchie G. Cabayan
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 238

THE children of a very good friend, Jaime Adriano, the unbeatable, ever amiable, ever-dependent and very competent chairman of Bgy. 719, Zone 78, District 5 (P. Ocampo Street, Mala-te, Manila), are mulling the idea of filing a formal complaint against the management of Jetstar Airlines after they were stranded in Japan recently.

Chairman Adriano said his two children, Jamie Angela and James Gideon, were supposed to arrive last April 10 from Japan after a leisure trip.  Based on the supposed schedule, they were slated to arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 at 23:25 p.m. or 11:25 p.m. via Jetstar Flight No. GK-81.

They arrived at the Kansai International Airport at 5 p.m. when they noticed that the line was super long and the counter remained closed.

While queueing, Jamie decided to check in online but could not open their booking. At around 6 p.m., she learned from fellow passengers that their flight won’t push through as scheduled. The lady in front of her told Jamie that she had received an email at around 5:30 p.m. but that no one from the airline has approached those in line to tell them personally what was going on.
    
Moments later, a new schedule was posted and the passengers surged toward the board to take a good look and then to the counter to demand a full explanation. They were told to spend for their own food and hotel and then fax or email to the airline a form where they would attach the receipts for what they have spent, without any solid assurance as to how and when the reimbursement would be made.
    
To their surprise, the reason given in the airline’s advisory board was ‘absence of flight attendant due to illness’.  Their surprise turned to shock when told that their flight had been moved to 3:40 p.m. of the following day already. Considering the length of time in the case at hand, which is nearly one day, the term used to describe what happened to their flight was ‘delayed’ only and not ‘cancelled.’
    
Adriano’s children said there were no drinks or food offered and while the airline representatives told them they could spend the night in a hotel if they don’t want to do so at the airport, they were specifically told not to get a room with a rate not higher than ‘isang lapad’ or 10,000 Japanese yen, which is equivalent to only a little over P4,000.
    
Most of the passengers complained they no longer had pocket money to sustain them for one more day or until the new departure time set at 3:40 p.m. of the following day, April 11. This is common. I for one, buy things I don’t even badly need just to be able to use up all my remaining foreign currency specially if I have no plans of coming back to that country anytime soon.    
    
While already at the airport the following day, tension again gripped the passengers when another departure time was announced.  It was again moved 30 minutes later. They learned the following day that some were booked by Jetstar and some were not. Some slept at the airport and a
good number of the passengers had to spend their own money.
    
Lucky for Adriano’s children they still had money left. What about those who did not? Or those who were traveling on a limited budget and no longer had the money to get a hotel booking or even buy food and drinks? The said 20-hour ‘delay’ is such a long period which covered dinner for that evening and then for the following day, breakfast, lunch and another dinner. Oh and by the way, the said two passengers missed a number of important appointments and work for one day
because of what happened.
    
I asked around and learned from those in the know that if a flight is carried out 20 hours later, which is almost one day, normally, that is already considered ‘cancelled’ and what follows is a ‘replacement flight’.
    
The same authorities on the matter further explained to me that in the case of Philippine Airlines for instance, if the crew roster for a specific flight is not complete, the flight cannot commence. In the case of what happened to that Jetstar flight, it means that one flight attendant was sick and there was no replacement available.
    
This system is quite questionable since operations do require that there should always be ‘Crew Reserves’ on standby as in the case of PAL operations. The same sources said that at the PAL IFC or In-Flight Center, there is always a ‘reserve crew’ and on top of that, there is also what is called ‘home reserve’ so that if anyone falls ill, there will always be a substitute.
    
The two said passengers, who said their sentiments were shared by fellow passengers they talked to and made friends with,  have a lot of questions that they intend to demand answers to, from Jetstar itself.
    
It’s natural for any flight attendant to get sick, since they are also but human. But for an airline to take 20 long hours to get a replacement? Why was the term ‘flight delayed’ used instead of ‘cancelled? Is this to downplay what happened? Why were the stranded passengers not provided free food, drinks and a decent place in which to spend the night? Tried getting in touch with Jetstar Manila office for its side but got no answer as of this writing.
            
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