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Check-in agent suspended after alleged money demand on paper napkin

An agent at an airline's check-in counter has been placed on preventive suspension after an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) reported a questionable money request regarding her excess baggage for her flight to Thailand last week.

In a report by Vonne Aquino on GMA’s “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it is investigating the incident, and will take appropriate action in line with due process following the social media post of Maryclair Reyes, who said the check-in agent tried to get 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,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

“Rest assured that we do not tolerate the necessary actions to protect our customers and safeguard the integrity of all our operations,” she added.

According to Reyes, she was checking in for her flight to Thailand on Thursday afternoon when she was informed that she had to pay P11,000 for her excess baggage of 12 kilos as she was only allowed 30 kilos.

“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’,” she said.

(The agent said “Ma'am, is it okay for you to pay this amount?” She showed me her phone and I saw P11,000. I said “Ha? P11,000?… I can only pay P5,000.")

This was when Reyes said the agent handed her a paper napkin on which was written a personal bank account number.

“Inabot niya ‘yung boarding pass sa akin… Doon sa likod ng boarding pass, may tissue… ‘Dito niyo na lang po ilagay sa account ko’,” she said.

(The agent handed me my boarding pass. Behind it was a tissue and the agent told me to pay the fees to the account.)

Reyes said she was allowed to enter the immigration area despite not paying the fees, but the check-in agent approached her even as she was already at the boarding gate.

This was when she asked if she could only pay P2,000, to which the agent responded by saying they would have to call and meet with their supervisor. The agent then left, and Reyes eventually boarded the airplane without paying the fees.

“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,” she said.

(To my fellow OFWs, be aware, be informed of our rights… The processes to pay that are not just on a tissue paper.)

For her part, Villaluna said the standard operating procedure of PAL indicates that check-in baggage is weighed, and the scale indicating any excess over the free baggage allowance (FBA) is shown to the passenger.

The passenger then will have to pay at the check-in counter, where they would be issued a receipt for the transaction.

“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,” she added. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA Integrated News

Tags: NAIA