Cebu Pacific Pays Passenger P2 Million

A passenger with psoriasis has been awarded P2 million by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court after Cebu Pacific staff prevented the woman from boarding a flight despite that her condition was not contagious. Cebu Pacific has been ordered to pay Rev. Magnolia Nova Mendoza P2 million in exemplary and moral damages for an incident that occurred four years ago. 

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
On March 11, 2010, Mendoza, an ordained minister and professor at Silliman University Divinity School was scheduled to board a Cebu Pacific flight from Dumaguete to Manila. However, the check-in staff returned her ticket, questioning the rashes on her face. 

Mendoza suffered from psoriasis, a non-communicable disease. It is a chronic non-infectious disease that affects the skin, typically appearing as red scaly patches on different body parts. Mendoza was asked by Cebu Pacific to produce a medical certificate before being permitted to board the flight. 

Airline staff advised her that they could book her on to the afternoon flight without additional expense as long as she could produce a medical certificate that she was safe for travel. Mendoza was eventually permitted to fly in the afternoon, but was urged by airline staff to sign a Special Handling form. 

Mendoza, a frequent flyer, reported that she had never experienced such "embarrassment" before. She was so traumatized by the negative experience that she stopped flying Cebu Pacific and now suffers panic attacks when about to board an aircraft. The added stress even contributed to the worsening of her psoriasis, which can be aggravated by stress. Mendoza's studies were also impacted as she had to travel to Manila on a number of occasions to attend the case. 

In his 39-page decision, Judge Edwin Ramizo of the Pasay Court stated that Mendoza was "put in a situation wherein she was being subjected to a rigid inspection through no fault of her, thus bringing so much embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety on her part." Judge Ramizo also noted that Cebu Pacific had breached its Contract of Carriage with Mendoza when it failed to let her take the flight. 

"When an airline issues a ticket to a passenger confirmed on a particular flight on a certain date, a contract of carriage arises, and the passenger has every right to expect that he would fly on that flight and on that date. If he does not, then the carrier opens itself to a suit for breach of contract of carriage," said Ramizo. 

Although Cebu Pacific argued that it was merely exercising diligence to ensure the safety of other passengers, Judge Ramizo noted that the airline's very own Basic Operations Manual did not require the presentation of a medical certificate for psoriasis sufferers. He added that it was not right to put the burden of proving herself fit for flight on Mendoza. "Had there been readily available medical experts of defendant-carrier, it could have easily addressed the doubts of the minds of its agents about the real condition of the plaintiff," Ramizo elaborated.

As Cebu Pacific check-in staff would not permit Mendoza to board her flight, Mendoza was forced to call her doctor. However, the doctor was unavailable to take her call and Mendoza was forced to find an alternate professional that could issue a medical certificate. 

Judge Ramizo stated that, "The rule is that a carrier owes to a passenger the highest degree of care and this includes a defendant's duty to provide its own medical staff or consultants who could easily be contacted." As a result of his findings, Judge Ramizo awarded P1 million in moral damages to Mendoza, but also took note of the embarrassment suffered by the plaintiff "not once, but twice."

The judge ordered the airline to pay P1 million in exemplary damages for acting in a "wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner" when it violated the contractual obligation with Mendoza. The plaintiff was also granted P100,000 to cover lawyer's fees and an additional P129,123 to cover the cost of the suit. 

According to Mendoza's lawyer Harry Roque, the decision represented a proud moment in the Philippine justice system setting a precedent in promoting equal rights for all. 


  1. Cebu Pacific is somehow right on this matter. What if a passenger has TB? All of those onboard will be infected.

    It is somehow related to a topic in Safety and Equipment Procedures manual... Infectious Diseases

    1. Psoriasis is not an infectious, do your research first before you put your comment/s. I am a frequent flyer myself and i haven't encountered anything like this especially with the international carriers. In short you are stupid!

    2. Thats stupid, its Psoriasis not TB as mention sir.

    3. do a research before you react. psoriasis is not a communicable disease. I just don't know if you want to be talked about or just plain stupidity. ignorance isn't a bliss sir.

  2. TB is different from psoriasis. Ang mali ng cebu pacific hindi alam kung ano ang nakakahawa at ano ang hindi. Dapat kse may stand by doctor sila that can sort out yung may mga nakakahawang sakit at yung hindi. And FYI of all the sickness you came up with TB talaga? baka hindi mo alam maraming sumasakay ng aeroplane na may TB di mo lang napapansin its not really detectable.

  3. @2:31 you are correct i do know of somebody who has been flying in and out of the country and actually looks normal but have tuberculosis.

  4. This is showing that the staff of Cebu Pacific are not very well trained. Cebu Pacific should invest money to train their staffs, especially in airline industry, as they are dealing and encountering different people from local or international on daily basis. They deserve to pay that 2M fine. That's discrimination actually. You cannot just judge a person by looking at his/her appearance. He/she is not on the position to declare that a person is sick. If there is a contagious disease, an airline staff is not on the position to deny the passenger to fly. It's the airport obligation, not him/her, because an airport should have department to evaluate them like those in quarantine and detention area, not an airline staff. On the quarantine department, most of them are medical professionals. Also, detecting whether a passenger is sick or not requires doctor check-up and evaluation. He/she is not a doctor to do that. Some diseases even took some time and multiple lab test before they can detect that a person has communicable disease. In short, he/she is just an airline staff, not a doctor, so it is none of his/her business. Also, a commercial airplane is considered as public air transportation. Unless you have a private jet, you have to accept all risks when you board in an airplane, because there are some passengers that have disease, that you cannot even detect from their appearances. This is the reason why when you are flying a long-haul flight, you know that you were not sick before leaving the origin, but when you reach destination, you feel that you have sometime cold or flue like symptoms. But it all depends on your immune system. If you're immune system is stronger that time, even if the passenger has communicable disease, you would not get it. Then if you get sick after your flight, you are one of those unlucky ones. Just think positive and move on.

  5. The article's headline is quite misleading. Cebu Pacific was "ordered" to pay. They have not paid yet. They can still elevate the case to the Court of Appeals for all we know.

  6. I'm just glad that a normal citizen was able to be financially rewarded after going through shit like that. I hope this ruling opens up more lawsuits against erring major companies.


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