Travel Troubleshooter: Charged twice for a ticket to Manila

  • September 8, 2012 - 1:31 PM

Q At the end of a trip last year to Southeast Asia, I had a pair of tickets on Cebu Pacific Airways from Singapore to Manila, and then from Manila to Osaka, to connect with my overseas flight back to the States. I bought the tickets separately because Cebu does only point-to-point ticketing.

Before the Singapore gate agents would let me board the plane to Manila, they requested proof of my ticket out of Manila, presumably due to government regulations. So I gave the gate agent my reservation number. But he wasn't able to pull up the ticket. I gave him my name, my passport, other information, and still he wasn't able to pull up the ticket.

With time winding down, I did the only thing I could do at that point, which was buy a new ticket from Manila to Osaka from a ticketing agent on the spot. I was able to board the flight to Manila and make my connections home.

Of course, as soon as I got back home, I began calling Cebu Pacific to try to get a refund for the extra ticket it made me purchase. Fast-forward nine months later and I'm still waiting. Can you help?

A Inbound air travelers to the Philippines are often asked for proof of onward travel. In other words, they want to be assured you're planning to leave the country. Had your ticket indicated that you were flying from Singapore back to the States, via Manila, then this wouldn't have been an issue. But as you say, Cebu Pacific would only allow you to book a point-to-point ticket.

Of course, the major flaw in Cebu Pacific's system was its inability to recognize the rest of your itinerary. If it had been able to see the rest of your tickets, then it wouldn't have forced you to buy another one.

The best way to resolve a situation like this is right then. Ask for a supervisor. Managers are often able to waive certain rules, and this is one of those times when someone with a little common sense should have intervened.

Extracting a refund from Cebu Pacific after your flight was something of a challenge. I contacted the airline on your behalf, but it took several more e-mails from you and a phone call to get this straightened out. But 13 months after your flight, you received a full refund.

Christopher Elliott is ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog at, or e-mail him at

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