Philippine Airlines is in crisis mode as their U.S. Customs Visa Waiver Carrier Agreement has expired, which is required in order to verify and transport any passengers under the Visa Waiver Program to the U.S.!
The airline is currently forced to deny boarding to all passengers who are using the visa waiver program, compensate them with cash payments, and rebook them onto other carriers.
This is a MAJOR problem for any airline, and PAL transports quite a few passengers between Asia and the U.S. and while Filipino passport holders do require a visa, many other nationalities do not.
You can follow this announcement buried on their website (see here):
NOTE:Philippine Airlines’ application for renewal of the required carrier agreement with the US Customs Boarder Protection is currently in process. We are temporarily unable to accept non-immigrant visitors to the US under the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP)pursuant to Title 8, U.S.C. § 1187(a)(5).
You would think that such an important piece of news would be featured more prominently on their website, but no, nothing.
I’m really not sure how an airline can let their agreement with U.S. Customs lapse as this is so very basic and a vital part of the operations. It is a huge oversight, whatever the reason for this situation might be.
A friend of mine forwarded this to me with the info that friends of his were booked on Singapore-Manila-Honolulu, and the night before the flight PAL canceled their first segment.
At the airport, they were then presented with the “good news” and rebooked to United Airlines. They also received a US$1000 compensation per passenger – in Economy – which is really astounding.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) is currently unable to transport any passengers to the U.S. that don’t have a U.S. Visa or aren’t citizens / permanent residents. Anyone who uses the visa waiver program can no longer fly PAL to the U.S. for the time being as their agreement with USCBP has lapsed for whatever reason and it’s currently in the process of renewal.
If you have a ticket and want this taken care of it might be a good idea to contact PAL ahead of time or let it ride until the day of your departure. You should also look for a decent option to tell them to rebook you on and don’t forget to mention the compensation part of it.