STRANDED PASSENGERS at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 express their dismay for not getting the next available flight. Some passengers also said they were confused on what to do after their flights were canceled due to Typhoon Karen. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

MANILA, Philippines – Passengers of Philippine Airlines complained on Sunday about the way it handled the situation when 50 international and domestic flights were cancelled due to typhoon Karen.

Dozens of passengers queued at the standby counter inside the departure area at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 waiting to get the next available flights.

Typhoon Karen (international name Sarika) made landfall in Baler, Aurora at 2:30 am Sunday. In its bulletin issued at 5:00 pm, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Karen was 260 kilometers west northwest of Iba, Zambales, moving west northwest at 24 kilometers per hour (km/h), and is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Sunday night.

The typhoon brought heavy rains and strong winds in parts of Luzon prompting the cancellation of domestic and international flights.

Among those who were stranded was technical engineer Felix Suizo whose flight from Manila to General Santos City was scheduled at 6:55 a.m. Sunday.

Suizo told Davao Today that he was asked by the counter to take his chance in getting on a flight at 3:15 or 5:10 pm but to take the Davao route instead as flights to General Santos were also cancelled.

He said a manager advised not to issue him a ticket yet.

“I was told that I am on the priority list of chance passenger to board a flight either at 3:00 or 5:00 pm. However, at 4:30 I was told by the staff at the counter that the process for rerouted flight was different,” he said.

He said he pleaded instead to have his flight re-scheduled on Monday morning.

By sequence

Sigmund Ronn Matias, Airport Services Manager said the system is by sequence.

“As you come, you are put on the list,” he told reporters in an interview.

He said instructions for those whose flights were canceled can check on their website or proceed to their ticket center located at the departure area to verify their flight.

He said the priority is based on the passengers who checked-in and who confirmed their flight.

But Matias said, at this point they are having difficulty to accommodate everyone.

“As much as we would like to accommodate everyone, it’s very hard at this point in time,” he said.

“We are trying to encourage everyone to have their flights booked on a different day instead,” Matias added, saying they already have a full list of passengers waiting for Sunday’s flight schedules.

Lack of manpower

Beverly (who requested anonymity), an overseas Filipino worker from Kuwait whose flight to Davao was also cancelled, said she went to the standby counter to line up but the staff entertained another passenger.

“Daghan og singit (There are so many of those who do not fall in line), there was no line actually,” she said.

Beverly said the airline should have deployed more staff to attend to the passengers.

No guide

But like the other passengers who were unaware of the airline’s rules, Suizo said the airline is unprepared for the influx of passengers.

“Walay ayo ni, dapat unta kung kinancel nila, na-foresee na nila. Sa katagal-tagal ng operasyon nila wala silang contingency plan (This is no good. When they canceled the flight, they should have anticipated this, given that they have been in this business for a long time, they should have contingency plans),” Suizo said.

“We understand that there is a typhoon but it should not be like this, people going hungry waiting in line and not being sure of what to do next,” he said.

Suizo said the airline should have served a notice visible to the public to give a step-by-step advice on what to do if their flights were canceled.

“It will serve as guide to passengers and we can avoid seeing them going around the area from counter to counter because they don’t know what to do,” (

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