HONOLULU, Hawaii (The Adobo Chronicles) – Starting April 1 this year, Filipinos returning to or going on a holiday to the Philippines will no longer be able to bring balikbayan boxes on board international flights to Manila, Cebu and other destinations in the country.
Balikbayan boxes are those corrugated cardboard boxes that Filipinos pack with tax-free goods to bring back to loved ones in the Philippines. The goods range from designer shoes and clothing to cartons of canned foods, cigarettes and toiletries — mostly purchased from big box stores like Costco and Walmart.
During their annual convention held last weekend in Honolulu, members of the International Commercial Airline Association (ICAA), agreed to totally ban balikbayan boxes as a way to speed up check-in procedures at airports and to maintain universally-accepted weight limits on their aircraft.
The ICAA said that many of their airline customers have constantly complained about the long check-in lines at airport counters, notably for flights going to the Philippines, because of the large number of balikbayan boxes being checked in by Filipino passengers. The long lines have caused many passengers to miss their flights.
The ICAA also said that flights to the Philippines are always up to the load limit for aircraft due to the heavy weight of the balikbayan boxes. Most balikbayan boxes exceed the 50-pound limit for checked in baggage. “It compromises airline safety,” an ICAA spokesperson said.
Overseas Filipinos will still be able to send back goods to the Philippines in balikbayan boxes but only through cargo vendors that ship via ocean vessels. It takes an average of 30-45 days to ship from the U.S. Mainland to the Philippines.