Airline ‘regrets’ how cup of hot water spilled on 10-year-old daughter
“Apologize or we’ll sue.”
Elders of the prominent Gaisano family in Cebu threatened to sue Philippine Airlines (PAL) for negligence after a paper cup of hot water accidentally spilled on the leg of their 10-year-old daughter.
The girl was traveling with her family from Bangkok to Manila on board a PAL flight last February 22.
A demand letter was sent since the girl suffered second-degree burns on the left thigh and leg. She had asked for some warm water to drink.
“What was given by one of the PAL flight attendants was boiling water,” said family lawyer Baldomero Estenzo. Shocked by the heat, the little girl dropped the cup.
Instead of apologizing, the airline crew insisted that what was given to the child was only “warm water”. The handling of the customer complaint irked the parents Glenn and Valerie Gaisano Sebastian, who called it “tactless and arrogant” in their demand letter.
The little girl is the granddaughter of Eddie Gaisano of the Cebu-based Gaisano Capital Group which runs a family-owned chain of malls in the Visayas and Mindanao.
PAL president Jaime Bautista wrote to the family on March 5 expressing “regret” over the mishap and assured he would seriously take up the matter with the airline management.
The next day, Shirley Ho Vicario, former envoy of the Philippines to Papua New Guinea, sent a text message to the lawyer on behalf of the PAL president.
She relayed Bautista’s desire to personally meet the Gaisanos and said the airline president was coming to Cebu on March 10 between 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for this purpose before flying back to Manila on 11 a.m.
Eddie Gaisano “was fuming mad” at the message. The grandfather said that if the airline officials were sincere in asking for an apology they would not “order the Gaisano family to meeting them at their own sweet time and convenience,” according to the family lawyer.
Estenzo said they sent another letter to the PAL president yesterday requesting him to comply with their demand for a public apology otherwise the family would go to court and sue for damages.
Cebu Daily News tried to get in touch with PAL’s liaison officer Cielo Villaluna but Bautista and other top officials were still abroad. They left last Sunday for New York City for PAL’s inaugural flight reviving that route.
According to the demand letter, the little girl was not given proper medical attention by the plane’s crew members.
Upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, no wheelchair was provided, and none of the plane’s crew guided them where to bring the child, said the family.
Estenzo said the Gaisanos are asking PAL management as well as the lady flight attendant who gave the hot water to the girl to apologize in public for their “negligence, tactlessness, and arrogance.”
The Feb. 23 demand letter said the damage done to the little girl “has caused serious physical, emotional, and psychological trauma to the grandparents, the parents, and the child.”
“My clients are now questioning why such incident happen to a nation’s flag carrier. Are your crew properly trained? Is your airline fit to serve long haul flights considering the apparent lack of competence or training of your crew member in handling emergency medical situations? What do you intend to do with the damages that my client’s young daughter has suffered,” stated the letter.
“We’re not after material considerations for the damages incurred by PAL,” said Estenzo in a phone interview.
“All we’re asking is for them to issue a sincere public apology and to settle things with us. “We’re trying to protect other people from going through the same experience.”
He declined to identify the female flight attendant for the time being pending attempts to settle the case with PAL.
He said PAL should issue a statement of apology in national and local newspapers.
“They have to acknowledge their mistake, say sorry, and apologize for what happened,” he said.
A medical certificate issued by Dr. Richard Enecilla of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City said the little girl sustained a “second degree thermal burn.”
The Gaisano Capital Group has over 20 branches in Cebu, Tacloban, Ozamiz, Iloilo and Pagadian.