Posted by: Leap of Faith | January 21, 2008

Hard Lesson Learned


Just when you thought you heard the last of it, here I go again with another story from Manila.

I actually just wanted to share with you, in more detail, our very unfortunate incident with Gulf Air.  As you are all aware by now, one of our luggage, containing mostly Pinky’s personal effects, was mishandled during our flight from Bahrain to Manila.  The delayed arrival of our suitcase and the “standard” non-commital reply of airline personnel as to when our luggage will arrive prompted Pinky and I to do some last minute shopping since my wife did not have any clothes to bring to our scheduled vacation in Palawan. 

The whole incident was upsetting especially since we were so pressed for time to buy clothes for Pinky.  However, what was more upsetting was the reason the airline gave to us when we were requesting for them to reimburse us for the expenses we incurred because of their inefficiency.

Sadly enough, Gulf Air did not compensate us (whether in monetary terms or otherwise) for the inconvenience and stress that they had caused us.  Their reason was simple: “because I was a FILIPINO passport holder.” WTF! Apparently, if I had a different passport they would have immediately extended some financial assistance to me.

I’m sorry but to this date I am still puzzled at the flawed policy of the airline, which, honestly to me, spells only one thing:  D-I-S-C-R-I-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N.  What does my passport have to do with the fact that they have a responsibility to deliver my luggage when we chose to fly their airline and that, by failing to do so, they now had an extra obligation to assist or compensate us when they breached their contractual obligation to us?

The only explanation I can think of is that the airline was assuming that since I am a Filipino, I would have family members who would be more than willing to lend us some of their personal belongings until such time that our luggage arrives.  While that is a possibility, given the known generosity of the Filipino people, I personally believe that the airline should not use this as a way to escape the fact that they had a separate obligation to us, their paying customers.  Why are any of my family members under the payroll of the airline that they are obliged to help us by lending their underwear?

To be honest, I guess it would not have made such a big deal to us had we not planned a separate vacation.  Most Filipinos working overseas may have felt the same since they had family back home to help them (assuming they lived in Manila). However, our situation was different.  We had no personal belongings in Manila since we were now based abroad and we had to leave in a few days time for some island resort west of the country – a place where even our dear friend, Mr Henry Sy, has not yet thought of building one of his mega-malls where we can buy clothes.  I am sure anyone in our position would have decided to buy a few pieces of clothing to at least cover our bodies whenever the paparazzis were around. Alam niyo naman how much people would pay a fortune to see our well-sculptured bodies.

So there, Pinky and I decided to let the issue die a natural death given the super tight schedules we had when we were in Manila.  We thought of dragging some lawyers or even the media (wow, star-complex talaga) to our case but realized that that would just have been very difficult and costly, not to mention very time consuming.  In addition, to go head-on with our carrier at that time would have not made such a great idea especially since we lost our bargaining edge when the tables were unexpectedly turned when my family suddenly needed to make a last minute re-booking of their flight back to the Kingdom. 

So what was the difficult lesson that we learned? Buy travel insurance next time you go abroad to avoid similar incidences in the future.  I guess the additional premium that you have to pay is much, much cheaper than the cost of buying clothes – especially in Manila!

Yun lang, just needed to vent.

PS: Hon, baka you want to still send Mr Roberto “Bobby” Hukom, Country Manager of Gulf Air in the Philippines, a short letter to share our unfortunate experience.

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Responses

  1. Amen! As you said, I will also just let this die a natural death…(until they p**s us off again!) 😦

    It’s most unfortunate how big service companies such as Gulf treat their coach/economy passengers (and paying ones, at that!) even when they are clearly the ones remiss in their obligations as a carrier.

    I honestly hope this would be the last time this happens to us yet I totally agree: we should definitely get travel insurance the next time we travel (better safe than sorry, right?) 😉

    Hay, you said it. This is really a case of big companies taking advantage of poor, helpless people like us. But are we really helpless? The comments of Weng and Nell have revived the flame of anger. Hon, I think you should pursue writing the letter to Mr Hukom just to get everything on record (kahit na wala tayong makuhang financial assistance). That’s called a “pasa break.”

  2. keith and pinky, i say you write a formal letter of complaint to someone who actually has a “say” in gulf air. there’s a big possibility that it will work!

    if i may share a personal experience with you (pero hindi airline related)…my mom used to own an opel astra, which she loved very much being a german car and all and it’s the closest she thought she’d get to a bmw. hahaha! just a few days after the car’s warranty expired and after a customary check-up, something went wrong with the airconditioning and we were told that the entire aircon assembly had to be replaced and ordered from germany! the cost is more than a thousand euros!

    that, to us, was just unacceptable specially since it’s only been a matter of days since the car had a supposedly thorough check-up. to cut a long story short, we were being passed around from one person to another. so i decided to go all the way up to the president of GM philippines! 😉 that’s the wonders of the internet for you! i researched who he was and got his direct contact details. 😀

    i wrote him a letter (on my mom’s behalf – hahaha!) of compaint. and in a matter of days, the car was back at the GM outlet in Pasong Tamo. the cost of the repairs went up to more than a hundred thousand pesos and we only paid but a small fraction of the amount…the rest was shouldered by GM. o diba?

    so go for it! takot lang nila that you make some real noise about the incident! 😀 good luck!

    Galing mo, Weng. Grabe the repairs cost so much! Dapat naman talaga nilang i-cover yon especially since they just checked the car and said it was okay.

    Actually, the cost we incurred for buying the clothes in Manila were also so expensive. It really financially crippled us, especially since we had no intention of shopping during our trip. Nakakaasar talaga ang mga unexpected expenses like that. Hmmm, baka naman we can convince you to write a letter to Gulf Air on our behalf – just like what you did for Tita Emmy. Hee hee hee, nag babakasakali lang.

  3. GRRRRRRR! this is screaming DISCRIMINATION all over, promise. this too, have happened to us before with another airline. but they reimbursed us naman, and then when they found the luggage months after; they returned it to us and didn’t took the compesation back. you guys may want to write the mgnt of GULF AIR. this needs to be addressed and as consumers, you definitely deserve some other explanation besides the BEE ESS they gave you. sorry for the outrage, pero UNFAIR lang talaga, SOBRA!

    Nell, so sad but true. I really feel bad for the many Filipinos who get taken advantage by companies like these – I’m sure we were not the first victims. You can just imagine how I took the news when they explained it to me. I was literally shaking with anger with all their BEE ESS (oh, I love how you say that).

    Your experience was far more worse than ours. Months and months of not knowing if you will ever recover your lost luggage. Ang kapal naman nila if they asked you to return the money that they gave you before. I’m sure no amount is enough to cover all the things you brought.

    Hay, this is actually our first ever Travel Horror Story. Hope it never happens again.

  4. my gosh, hindi ko akalain na you experienced that dahil parang cool na cool kayo sa bakasyon pics niyo. i don’t wish to fuel the flames pero kung sa akin/amin nangyari yan, like weng and nell, hindi rin yan makakalampas sa amin.

    gusto mo i-blog brigade natin yan? o kaya i-mass email natin yang experience niyo para mabasa ng ibang pinoys who may have had the same experience tapos mag-boycott tayo sa gulf air?!! umiinit ang kilikili ko.

    Naku Meeya… hindi lang namin nakunan ng picture yung mga moments na I was really about to burst in anger. My voice was really shaking when I was talking to the Gulf employees because of their stupid reasoning. Looking back, though, it was not really the employee’s fault… the airline just had a bad policy that they were forced to implement.

    We really wanted to push it forward but there were just so many things happening to us in that short time (I’m sure you know this by now). I guess we will just let this pass for now since medyo we already got over the experience and since it is just our first unfortunate incident with them. Hopefully, this will not happen again or hell will definitely break lose!


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