Hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong may not be able to fly back home to spend the holidays with their loved ones because they had been sold invalid tickets.
Peya Travel, the travel agency that sold them the flights, has reportedly fallen into financial distress, Apple Daily reports.
The maids had been told by the airline staff at the airport that they could not board the flights they had booked because their tickets were invalid; Peya Travel, said to be owned by a Filipino, did not pay for their flights, the newspaper said, citing its sources.
As a result, more than a hundred Filipino maids swarmed Peya Travel’s office on the third floor of World-Wide House in Central on Tuesday, demanding that they be immediately booked for another flight or at least get a refund.
However, the agency’s staff only took down their requests but could not promise any rebooking or refund.
At around 6 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to escort the staff as they left the office while about 30 angry and frustrated domestics gathered around them.
One of the domestic helpers, who has been working in Hong Kong for eight years, said she paid the agency about HK$2,300 for a flight leaving on Dec. 24, only to learn later that her ticket was invalid.
She said she felt helpless and angry as she may not be able to return home and spend the holidays with her three sons, adding that Christmas for the Filipinos is as important as the Lunar New Year is for the Chinese.
Alice Chan, deputy executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, said it has received 40 complaints related to the Peya Travel case.
She said the agency failed to pay the airline companies apparently because it was in financial distress due to “turnover of capital”.
The council has asked the agency to immediately submit a report explaining the circumstances surrounding the incident and to do its best in fulfilling its obligations to its clients, such as rebooking their flights or at least offering them a refund, Chan said.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung noted that the maids’ employers are not legally responsible for their loss, although they had paid for the invalid tickets.
That said, Luk suggested that the employers buy new tickets for those who would still be working for them as a favor to their maids.
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