Around 200 to as many as 1,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who booked their airline tickets via a travel agency in Hong Kong were shocked to learn their names were not on the passenger list and that the tickets they were holding were not valid.
Many of the OFWs had booked their tickets months ahead of the holiday rush, knowing they could get cheaper airline tickets that way but their months of planning turned into nothing after the airlines refused to accommodate them in the fully booked flights, stating there were problems in their tickets.
The OFWs rushed to PEYA Travel, the agency that booked their flights. They were told that a system glitch must have affected their bookings. Many of the OFWs felt angry that they weren’t offered refunds but as of press time, PEYA Travel has already issued a statement to accept responsibility over the matter and promising to find a way to solve the issue.
About 100 OFWs have managed to book flights with other airlines or were helped by the travel agency but there are at least 100 more who were stranded at Chek Lap Kok Airport because they either had no money to book another ticket or wasn’t able to buy because the flights were already fully booked.
Many of the OFWs expressed anger over the fiasco, saying they were excited to spend Christmas with their families and had even paid for their tickets months ahead of schedule to ensure they can get home but were turned away by the airlines.
According to several OFWs, Philippine Airlines and Cathay Pacific crew told them the travel agency did not pay the airlines within the deadline, resulting to their tickets being voided; however, PEYA Travel claims the problem was most likely caused by a virus which targeted bookings on the two airlines since Cebu Pacific bookings were not affected.
Furious OFWs demanded full refund of their tickets but while proprietor Rhea Donna Boyce was able to help many of them get flights to the Philippines, sales director Arnold Grospe said they can’t assure those stranded that they can get their refunds soon. According to JBSolis.com, Grospe also said that he can’t assure them how much refund they can get, angering OFWs even more.
The Consulate has stepped in and promised to also help solve the problem. Cathay Pacific has also offered to help, asking affected OFWs to send them a message.
It is unknown if special flights will be opened to accommodate the stranded OFWs, especially because schedules are tight and airlines are fully booked for the holidays…