After an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) reported a dubious money request regarding her excess luggage for her travel to Thailand last week, an airline’s check-in agent was put on preventive suspension.
According to a report by Vonne Aquino on GMA’s “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday, Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s national airline, said it is looking into the incident and will take the necessary legal action after learning about Maryclair Reyes’ social media post in which she claimed the check-in agent tried to convince her to send the excess baggage payment to their personal bank account.
“For now, the concerned check-in agent has been placed on preventive suspension, and we are working with Macro Asia (the agent’s employer and our service provider at NAIA Terminal 2) to enforce PAL’s strict policies against any form of fraud or irregularities, and to prevent any recurrence,” says Cielo Villaluna, PAL spokesperson.
“Rest assured that we do not tolerate the necessary actions to protect our customers and safeguard the integrity of all our operations,” she added.
Reyes claims that she was advised to pay P11,000 for her excess luggage of 12 kilograms because she was only permitted 30 kilos upon checking in for her flight to Thailand on Thursday afternoon.
“Sabi niya, ‘Ma’am, okay lang na magbayad kayo ng ganitong halaga?’ Ipinakita niya sa akin ‘yung phone niya… Nakita ko na lang P11,000. Sabi ko ‘Ha? P11,000?… Ang kaya ko lang P5,000’,” Reyes related.
At this point, according to Reyes, the agent gave her a paper napkin with a personal bank account number scrawled on it.
“Inabot niya ‘yung boarding pass sa akin… Doon sa likod ng boarding pass, may tissue… ‘Dito niyo na lang po ilagay sa account ko’,” Reyes said.
“Sa mga OFW na katulad ko, maging aware, malaman, alamin kung anong mga karapatan natin… ‘Yung mga proseso na paano mo babayaran hindi basta sa tissue lang.”
For her part, Villaluna claimed that check-in luggage is weighed as per PAL’s regular operating procedure, and the scale displaying any excess above the free baggage allowance (FBA) is displayed to the passenger.
The traveler will then need to pay at the check-in desk, where they will receive a receipt for the purchase.
“This was attempted fraud and (passenger) refused because she knew it was unusual to be asked to forward payment to a personal account. That of the check-in agent… Eventually, agent did not insist and processed flight check in of (passenger),” she said.
“(Passenger) narrated experience on social media. This narrative is the basis of PAL’s investigation and agent’s preventive suspension.”