PAL customers fuming after canceled flight from New York

NEW YORK – Philippine Airlines Flight PR 127 to Manila via Vancouver was already on the runway at the John F. Kennedy Airport when the flight was stalled due to some reported mechanical problems.

Passenger Shawnee Motos-Denovesi was on that 11:00 a.m. flight on Sunday.

Motos-Denovesi said, “There’s something wrong and they fixed and fixed it for an hour and a half so they said we’ll try again.”

But she said after another hour and a half later, the flight was eventually cancelled.

“How could a freaking 300-passenger airbus not be cleared to take off? They waited for until the engine is turned on and they found something major wrong. It’s unbelievable,” she said.

New York resident Harlan Ragay’s mother was one of those inconvenienced by the cancelled PAL flight.

In an email to ABS-CBN News, Ragay said that flight vouchers for another airline were given out but were not accepted because the vouchers were allegedly not properly filled out, or lacked a validation stamp from PAL officials.

Motos-Denovesi said, “It was so disorganized, unprofessional. They’re not even sympathetic and the fact that they’re leading us on.”

Philippine Airlines official Leah Trinidad who declined an on-camera interview said that Sunday’s flight cancellation was due to a minor engine problem. The flight captain reportedly refused to fly the plane due to safety issues.

In an email to ABS-CBN News, PAL’s Cielo Villaluna wrote: “PR 127 JFK-Vancouver-Manila was cancelled last May 17 Sunday. A340 had to undergo maintenance check and was thus grounded. Replacement flight pushed through May 19 Tuesday. Affected passengers were provided hotel accommodations. With regards to vouchers not being honored by other airlines, will have to verify that.”

Villaluna also wrote: “We empathize with the passengers knowing fully well the inconvenience of the extended stay due to aircraft grounding. But safety remains a priority.”

Trinidad also said that all passengers who missed their flight Sunday have all been accommodated on later flights.

Motos-Denovesi said, “It is understandable that things break down. We get this problem. But to be handled the way we were, not even apologetic, not even nice —  it was so disorganized.”

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Alexander Budhi
    20 May 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    My experience with Philippine airlines was one of the worse experiences I’ve ever had. I would even go as far as to say that it was inhumane.

    Everything went as it should have that day until my daughter, brother, and I boarded the plane at 11 am Sunday, the 17th. Prior to takeoff, an announcement was made informing passengers that there was a technical issue on the plane that had to be fixed before we could leave. We sat for over 2 hours before they wrongly announced that the issue was resolved. The plane proceeded to the runway when the pilot announced that the issue had become apparent once again. Rather than reassuring passengers, the announcement made contained the phrases “drastic measures must be made” and “we may have to change all the computers” that hinted that staff may have been unsure of what was wrong with the plane and that perhaps the issue may have been more dangerous than it appeared. I met many passengers who felt so unsafe and uncomfortable with the possibility that they may have to ride this very plane from New York to Vancouver and then from Vancouver to Manila. Some passengers found themselves crying and praying for their safety during this trip. We sat for another hour and a half before yet another announcement was made informing passengers that we would have to exit the plane, collect our checked in baggage (keep in mind that many checked in 1-2 large 50-lb balikbayan boxes), and that we would all be booked into a hotel until the plane was safe to fly.

    I would describe the process of claiming our checked in baggage and checking into the hotel as nothing less then chaotic. For hours, we followed a mindset of “let’s just follow the person in front of us is doing” because Philippine airlines’ staff members were disorganized in handling the situation, poorly communicating instructions to passengers that would have made the process of getting the hotel more efficient for PAL customers. PAL did not even have staff members stationed at what can appropriately called the “route” from the plane to the hotel who could direct us every step of the way. Passengers at first were told only to claim their baggage and proceed to the counter on the floor above the one we were on. Due to a lack of information given to us, my family spent over 2.5 hours waiting for elevators only to find out that one of us could have gone ahead to claim a hotel voucher on the 2nd floor while two of us took the elevator to the 3rd floor (where the airbus to the hotel shuttles was located) to save time. This would not have been much of an issue if it were not for the fact that the total baggage between my daughter, brother, and me included 4 balikbayan boxes, two large suitcases, one hand-carry suitcase, two backpacks, and 2 smaller bags, all of which we were responsible for transporting ourselves. We finally arrived at the hotel at 6 pm, but we did not receive a hotel room until 10:30 pm that night. By this time, passengers still had no information about the plane or about when we would be flying.

    The next morning, I made sure that my family was up by 6 am so that we would be ready when any new information was given. Later that morning, we were told that a bus would be sent for us and our baggage at 9 am. Eager to get to the airport earlier in search for more information, many passengers, including my family, opted to pay $50+ for Ubers and other driving services. From 10 am until about 4 pm, Philippine airlines employees had the group of “yesterday’s flight” passengers shuffled around like animals in a corral, telling us to line up at different counters at a time. Staff addressed some customers in a way that made them feel that they were less of a priority than customers of “today’s flight” by telling us to move aside. We were finally promised a flight at 3 pm, but after hours of waiting on line, we were again told to take our large load back to the hotel (as if it were no big deal) only to find out that we would have to wait until Wednesday and Friday to fly out. A friend, who we met on the flight, found that there were still some flights available to Manila and demanded that we be rebooked on those flights. For the staff to even look into it, we had to actively search for flights on our phones. Considering our needs to go back to Manila immediately (e.g., death in family/funeral, need to pick up kids), 7 flight vouchers were given out for China Air and Eva Air. Because we were in a rush to get to the Philippines to make my brother’s funeral, my family was given flight vouchers for the 1 am flight through Eva Air; however, we later found out that these forms were invalid because the vouchers were not properly filled out and lacked a validation stamp. Realizing that we would miss my brother’s funeral due to what Philippine airlines simply called an “inconvenience,” we sadly cancelled the flight. To cut down our time with our family to a period of less than one week was already upsetting, but to cause us to miss a family member’s funeral is devastating.

    I will not be using Philippine airlines in the future.

  • kikay Pang0
    21 May 2015 at 4:12 am - Reply

    To save you time and misery
    bring your business somewhere else.
    PAL is unreliable , old fleet , unsafe and The worst customer service in airline industry.

  • q
    30 May 2015 at 6:47 am - Reply

    So convert this flight into Boeing 777-300ER instead of Airbus A340-300.