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Philippines Airlines Review

Posted by on Mar 22nd, 2010
Filed Under: Air Travel


Undoubtedly the fastest way to get around the Philippines, there are quite a few airlines flying into and within the country. Currently there are 10 International Airports/Aerodromes as classified by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) allowed to accept international flights and these are Clark Airport (Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) in Pampanga, Davao (Francisco Bangoy International Airport) in Davao City, General Santos International Airport in South Cotabato, Zamboanga International Airport in Zamboanga City, Kalibo International Airport in Aklan, Laoag City International Airport in Ilocos Norte, Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu, Ninoy Aquino International Airport/NAIA (Terminals 1,2,3) in Metro Manila, Subic International Airport, and Puerto Princesa International Airport.


Philippines Airlines Flying Over the Sulu Sea
Flying Over the Sulu Sea, Philippines
Photo by storm-crypt

Not all of these airports have regular international flights, however. (Bacolod-Silay International Airport and Iloilo International Airport are not included on this list according to the CAAP website – http://www.caap.gov.ph/web/airports.htm). Currently, there are ongoing constructions and plans of constructing more international airports or expanding existing ones as tourism continues to rise in the Philippines such as the Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan de Oro, the Panglao-Bohol International Airport, the Legazpi City International Airport and many others. Aside from these international airports, there are about 17 Class 1 Airports, 13 Class 2 Airports, and 47 Community Airports scattered all throughout the Philippines.

Let us do a quick review of the leading airlines in the Philippines:

Southeast Asian Airlines SEAIR

Official Website: www.flyseair.com


Philippines Airlines Southeast Asian Airlines/SEAIR
Southeast Asian Airlines, SEAIR
Photo from SEAIR Facebook Group

SEAIR in the Philippines was established in 1995 and is in its own right, a pioneer airline of sorts catering to destinations not normally served by the bigger airlines. The planes’ are small compared to major airlines in the Philippines but it boasts of being able to reach remote destinations in the Philippines such as Basco (Batanes), Jolo (Sulu), Bongao-Sanga-Sanga (Tawi-Tawi) – the latter two leave from Zamboanga. It also has seasonal flights to Baler (Aurora), Daet (Camarines Norte). El Nido (Palawan), Masbate, Borongan (Eastern Samar), Taytay (Palawan), and Busuanga (Palawan). The regular routes are Caticlan (Hub), Manila (Main Hub), Clark, Cebu, Marinduque and Tablas (Romblon).
We flew to Batanes last November 2009 with SEAIR, and even though I was quite worried at first (this was the smallest plane that I have ever been on), the take off was smooth and the entire flight was actually enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate taking SEAIR flights in the future.

Philippine Airlines

Official Website: www.philippineairlines.com


Philippines Airlines
Philippine Airlines
Photo by fox2mike

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is Asia’s first airline the country’s flag carrier. It was established in February 26, 1941 and the maiden flight was on a Manila to Baguio route on March 15, 1941. PAL was also the first Asian airline to cross the Pacific on a flight from Manila to Oakland, California in the United States on July 13, 1946 and for decades since then was one of Asia’s biggest airlines (it leased some of its aircraft to a DC-3 to Japan Airlines in 1951 and this lead to the founding of Japan’s own national airline). However, PAL succumbed to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and was forced to drastically cut down most of its routes, a lot of them were unprofitable and for a period of 14 days, the airline shut down (the first Asian airline to do so) after a period of employee strikes and downright incompetence. This incompetence was shown in frequent plane delays that resulted in Filipinos giving the airline a special moniker – PAL = Plane Always Late. New competitor Cebu Pacific pounced on this and advertised themselves as “On time 95% of the time.” PAL entered a period of rehabilitation and in 2000 finally returned to profitability and slowly restored international and domestic routes that were abandoned and more routes are being planned. Flights were less delayed now than they were before.

Despite the moniker, I have always found my PAL experience actually good. The landings and the take-offs were smooth and the cabin well-appointed. It doesn’t hurt that PAL has an airport terminal (Centennial Terminal/NAIA Terminal 2) of its own. The main drawback for PAL is the relatively high cost of its flights which can be quite a big turn-off for the budget traveler. However, if one can afford it, PAL is actually a good choice.

PAL Express

Official Website: www.airphils.com


Philippines Airlines PAL Express
PAL Express
Photo by borgy1981

PAL Express is the low-cost regional carrier of Philippine Airlines and is being operated by Air Philippines. The airline operates intra-regional routes and caters to secondary routes to smaller airports that are not able to accommodate PAL’s bigger aircraft.
We have flown with PAL Express from Manila to Busuanga and we found the service okay and prompt. The aircraft was newish and the flight was smooth, and no frills. However, most of PAL’s Express destinations are not exactly missionary routes as other airlines fly to the same destinations. Nevertheless, PAL Express makes the airline industry more competitive and we would not mind taking a PAL Express flight if we need to.

Cebu Pacific Air

Official Website: www.cebupacificair.com


Philippines Airlines Cebu Pacific Air
Cebu Pacific Air
Photo by seasonalplume

Cebu Pacific, with its aggressive marketing and selling strategies, effectively took a huge chunk of domestic market especially when PAL’s marketing strategies were still stuck in the Stone Age. Initially positioning itself as “On Time 95% of the Time,” it was an instant hit among domestic travelers who were fed up with PAL’s frequent delays. To sweeten the deal, Cebu Pacific literally brought down the cost of airfares in the Philippines by offering promos like 1 Peso Flights (exclusive of taxes and surcharges of course), which is of course nothing new as similar budget carriers such as Ryanair, Air Asia and Tiger Airways have done the same thing in their own respective markets, but of course this was a novel idea for the Filipino plane riding public who were too exasperated by the exorbitant costs charged by PAL. Finally, this company was brave enough to compete with PAL who up until then had a virtual monopoly of the aviation industry in the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific was aggressive in opening new routes whether they were international or domestic routes with about 40 destinations now under its belt and it has acquired a new fleet, the youngest commercial planes in the Philippines. But the honeymoon ends there. Cebu Pacific in its rush to take the market share forgot one thing that is essential in every company – a competent and reliable customer service. I have experienced several inconveniences at the hands of this airline – not only with flights getting delayed and being moved without due compensation more than one time. Up until now, I am still waiting for the refund of my ticket for a canceled international flight that I booked and paid for back in July 2008. Yes, I bought a ticket that could be refunded, I know and they know about this, because every time I call their so-called customer service hotline, some moron always gives me a stock answer that my refund is still being processed by their Accounting Department. After over 3-4 months of patiently waiting (90 Business Days), I called and I got the same stock answer and when I asked to be forwarded to their Accounting Number, I got forwarded to at least 3 different numbers where no one ever picked up and an email address where no one ever replied. I tried different tacks to no avail. Cebu Pacific, pretty much, stole my money. And I am by no means the only one. The problem has gotten so bad that you actually search for the “I Hate Cebu Pacific Airlines” Group on Facebook. Their website was slow as well, and full of bugs, my French friend got billed twice on her credit card on the same flight and it took her 4 months to get the refund – right after she stormed into their office at the Manila Domestic Airport. There were numerous instances that seats were overbooked too and sometimes details were messed up by their agents and we ended up paying more than twice the amount of the original ticket because of their mistake.

Delays are getting pretty common as well, which is probably the reason why they changed the slogan from “On Time 95% of the Time” to “Now Every Juan Can Fly.” My friend was stuck in the Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro for 8 hours because of “bad weather” which was quite funny because the Philippine Airlines flights were landing and taking off on schedule. And did I tell you that one of their flight attendants on our flight from Cagayan de Oro to Manila last September was a totally rude? We were on our final descent and the crew was telling everyone to put their tray up, and I wanted to, if only they were able to take the trash off my tray after I called their attention for the 3rd time. Then this ugly flight attendant barked at me telling me to wait even when I had already waited for a long time, I swear I could have registered the first air rage ever recorded in the Philippines if I wasn’t too tired by hitting her with my empty mineral water bottle! Some of their flight attendants are not only butt ugly but also need serious charm schooling. I also remember at least 2 flight attendants on an international flight who started literally screaming “Where is your passport??!!!” over and over at a passenger because the old toad who didn’t speak English had sneaked inside the loo to smoke during the flight, triggering the alarm. The flight attendants could have handled it a lot better.

The last booboo was just recently (December 2009) when the flight attendants of the airline refused carriage to a woman and her special needs child on a flight from Hong Kong to Manila. After an hour delay, the kid was eventually allowed to board but to the chagrin of his mom who felt humiliated by the incident and was determined to press criminal and civil lawsuits. The incident made its way to national TV and all Cebu Pacific could do was apologise, BY SENDING A TEXT MESSAGE. How crude is that? Read the story here -http://www.gmanews.tv/story/180943/mother-of-special-child-cries-discrimination-vs-airline.

Another mother of a special needs child also complained of being ill-treated on the same flight – Read here – http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/01/08/10/down-syndrome-mom-complains-cebu-pacific-discrimination-too.

Complaints are rife online – http://www.cebupacificairlines.ph/told-to-address-complaints-vs-service/ and here http://laserboy.multiply.com/journal/item/11 .

All in all, never fly Cebu Pacific unless you really have to and pay in cash as much as possible. Before paying, make sure to check, double check and even triple check the details, because if Cebu Pacific messes up it will cost you.

Zest Airways

Official Website: www.zestair.com.ph


Philippines Airlines Zest Airways
Zest Airways
Photo by kristone

Zest Airways started in September 1995 under the name Asian Spirit. It was sold to AMY Holdings in March 2008 and was renamed Zest Airways and flies to a lot of major destinations and two international destinations – Singapore and South Korea (Kalibo-Korea). I’ve flown with Asian Spirit before and although the flight was smoother than expected, the aircraft was old. In the end, all of the old aircraft were retired and the company started a gradual refleeting. I’ve flown with Zest Airways on its new A320-200 from Manila to Puerto Princesa (and vice versa) in 2009 and I thought the take-offs were a little too uncomfortable for me, there was a gradual climb and then a weird gradual descent afterwards. I regularly fly with A320s but I don’t recall ever having that experience. Same thing happened on our way back to Manila too.

Customer service was okay, the price is competitive and they also fly to a respectable number of destinations as well. I wouldn’t really mind flying with them again, although I have to shake that creepy feeling I get from their takeoffs.

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23 Responses to “Philippines Airlines Review”

  1. Peter Hollander says:

    I think the article started as very informative and helpful for frequent traveler like me. However, that unbiased tone started to mess-up the credibility of this review midway when it started lambasting the cebu pacific airline service. It seems like a totally different person was writing or just inserted a rushed comment on that part of the blog. I think using the word “butt ugly attendant” is way beyond the ethics of writing. I am sorry for what happen to you but I’m sure you are not a alone and i am sure it happened at least once to any other airlines you review in this blog. I normally fly PAL and CEB in my journey but so far most of them were pleasant and on time. Delays do happen but that is part of airline problems all over the world. I guess you fly Cebu Pacific air too often as you wrote a very lengthy review about it. I think you are deceiving more the reader if you let your emotions override your mode in writing. I think the administrator of this site should warn their writers to refrain from doing biased reviews like this. This is really cheap.

    • Ryan says:

      Peter,

      I am not sorry when I wrote those bits about Cebu Pacific, and truth to tell, I would have sued them several times over for the stress that they have caused me. Cheap? I’d say not. For sure, the costs of the delay and the hassle that I have went through this airline was anything but cheap. I flew Cebu Pacific a lot of times, more often than any other airline as well because they have the most number of flights to the places I wanted to go.

      Even then, the last time I flew with them was about 2 weeks ago to Legazpi and lo and behold another Cebu Pacific bullshit that I have to deal with (Pardon my French). The day before that, I called up whether I can take my tripod with me to the cabin (I can always leave it with the FA) since I am flying without any checked in luggage. The call center guy told me that it is fine. The following day for my flight, apparently it is not possible – even if the airport authorities told me that it is possible (as long as I surrender it to the FA for safekeeping) but then the Cebu Pacific people wanting to fleece more money from me, instead charged me PhP400 additional for the reinstatement of the baggage allowance and off to rebut what their call center agent told me in the first place! If that is not outright LYING and STEALING, then I don’t know what is. Coming back from Legazpi, I was able to take my tripod with me into the cabin without any problem. So WTF was that?

      Out of the many flights that I have taken with them the past year, only about 2 were not delayed. Several times they have to move my flight dates to the detriment of my scheduled appointments. As for that “butt ugly flight attendant” who snapped at me, a paying customer with valid reasons – well, we have different standards of aesthetics, and obviously in my opinion that flight attendant had butt ugly manners and surely I reserve the right to say what I see. Is this kind of a vendetta? In a way, as a consumer and a frequent flier – probably it is. In fact this article is not even close to what the airline owes me and the many passengers that have to suffer their incompetence and arrogance.

      I am sure that a lot of similar incidents happen with any other airline mentioned here, PAL for one issued a receipt for an online transaction three weeks after. But none so far has any airline treated its customers like dirt the way Cebu Pacific does.

      I am not going to try to change your opinion. You are entitled to it. Everyone is. Even the douchebags in that rotten airline from hell got one. With every Cebu Pacific ticket you buy, beware. Cheap? I beg to differ.

      Ryan

      Btw, Cebu Pacific imposed a no refund policy now. Meaning if you cancel your flight, it will go to a “fund” which needed to be used within a specific period of time. In other words, you are screwed.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Peter,

      I really don’t understand your comment. You say Ryan flies CEB too often. And thus his lengthy review is biased. I don’t get the logic.
      I also don’t get how relating true experiences is “deceiving the reader”.
      I am sure that some people enjoy flying with CEB (I have never met any but there must be some). However, I have encountered many people who have encountered major problems with the airline and I believe that it is the responsibility of a site such as this to tell potential travellers of real experiences and problems that they may potentially encounter.

  2. Peter Hollander says:

    There you go again Ryan. You have just proven to the world how a cheap writer you are. Calm down, any dumb person will get your point. So dont fly Cebu Pacific again ok. If no plane going to places you want to go, just hire a boat or swim if you can. You are obviously blowing this story out of proportion. Attention tourism-philippines.com: Can anybody pacify this guy down.

    This is my last comment of this really cheap article.

    • pktan says:

      At Tourism-Philippines.com, we believe that looking from different angles gives us a deeper understanding of what’s going on. The opinions expressed by the authors, the readers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Tourism-Philippines.com.

      If you had a good experience with any of the airlines mentioned, tips & advices, please feel free to share it with us.

    • Ryan says:

      Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. Actually, I am a CHEAP writer – I don’t get paid to write these articles about the places in this website and I spend for all of my travel expenses unlike other paid hacks. At least, I can say what I wanted to say and I do not care whether you or Cebu Pacific doesn’t like that.

      But yes, thank you for the ad hominems thrown at me which you riled about my article in the first place. I guess, if I was a cheap writer with a cheap article, I guess, it is an honor for me to have someone like you take time to read it and comment and attack me as a person.

      Congratulations then Mr. Hollander. Hope you win a free giveaway when you fly Cebu Pacific.

    • Tim J. says:

      You need to F-O Peter and let him say waht he wants to say. I ‘ve been flying around in all of these Philippine carrier and I have not experienced bloody mess and drama in all of them except for Cebu Pacific.

      This airline company rips people off. When you arrive 45 mins before time, they say you’re f*ck*ng late when in reality they had sold your seats to chance passengers.

      They have never been on time, at least, for more than 20 times I flew with them.

      They would never refund your payment.

      They have very rude ground and inflight service crews.

      Damn, they’re not even that cheap.

      I would prefer Zest Air over this ripper Cebu Pacific anyday, anytime.

      Very good article Ryan, tells the truth

  3. Eloise Daniot says:

    Oh i stopped flying with cebu pac since last year. The last time when I was almost refused to board my flight and I was barely even late and I told them if you won’t let me board I will press charges against you and file a case for this stupid cheap flight. And I guess, it’s high time for you to file a case to demand for your refund before it prescribes, dear. Besides, PAL fares have been fairly cheap recently, so I recommend you go for the trustworthy airline rather than take chances.

  4. Francis says:

    Thanks for the informative article, Ryan. I’ll make sure to avoid Cebu Pacific as much as possible :)

  5. Andrew Macdonald says:

    Nice to know that some people still have good experiences with Cebu Pacific. They were actually good 3/4 years ago until the overstretched themselves.

    For the past 2 years, their service has deteriorated and they are no longer the best value airline for regular scheduled flights. Shame!!!!

    And, all airline staff look ugly after big delays and/or cancellations – whatever the company :)

  6. jordan says:

    hi ryan.

    i would mention just two incidents with cebu pacific that made me swear never to fly with them again.

    (1) online booking facility – during the final booking process, an “error” occurred and there was a prompt to do it all over again. but instead of going thru this trouble again, i booked with the more expensive philippine airlines. i was shocked to find out later that cebu pacific online payment facility has successfully captured the credit card details, and hence payment was processed and that i was subsequently billed. called their so-called hotline (it always takes a good 10-15mins before an agent finally speaks to u) and complained about the billing, but the agent at the other end of the line was so quick to blame me for the apparent mistake by not calling my credit card issuer to check if the payment was indeed captured. cut to the chase, 5,000 pesos never refunded. this incident happened around september 2009.

    (2) i cancelled thru their website a manila-shanghai-manila paid booking because i was too tired from my malaysia-thailand-cambodia-vietnam trip to take another trip in 2 weeks. at the time of the online cancellation, there were 3 choices to make – apply for a travel fund with the full amount to be used in future travels within 90 days from date of cancellation; rebook the flight; or cancel the booking and apply for a refund which will be credited back within 45days. i chose the 3rd option. after more than 90 days, no refund or credit was given, so i had to call their hotline again, and was told that no refund was possible since it was promo ticket that i got. had i known this at the time of the cancellation, i would have chosen option 1, which is to apply for a travel fund and use the amount within 90 days. again, i felt i was robbed of 4,000 pesos.

    as to their call center agents, i’ve spoken to about 10 or 12 of them, and half of them were rude, some were empathic. i was even told by one agent that if i don’t like their service, i shouldn’t have booked with them in the first place. right, i never booked with them again. thanks to air asia, another low-cost carrier, which now flies to destinations i usually go to that cebupacific flies to.

  7. Chito says:

    Were it not for the fact that Cebu Pacific really really sucks, Peter Hollander’s comments might have been insulting. But as it is, he just seems funny. Good thing he made his last comment already. (It’s hard to take a Cebu Pac defender serously.)

    By the way, SEAir has been showing Cebu Pacific-like tendencies lately. Good thing the topmost management has been made aware of these (thanks to Facebook) and have been taking direct action – even answering customer complaints themselves instead of some lowly intermediary giving stock answers.

  8. Catherine says:

    I actually enjoy flying with CebuPac. Fortunately for me, I haven’t encountered any delays with them. There was this incident before where I had unknowingly booked/paid for the same flights thrice (my mistake since I clicked the refresh button again and again but to my defense, it was loading sooo slowly I thought it got an error or something) so I called up their customer service and after waiting many minutes just to get through to them, they agreed to cancel the 2 extra bookings I had erroneously made and got my money back via credit refund. Although after a while, maybe 2months in waiting and a few follow ups. I will still fly with them coz they have amazing offers every now and then. Just be careful with the online booking.

    Though PAL is the airline to fly with if you can afford it. Good thing they have a domestic flights promo now. Just a heads up :)

    I haven’t tried SEAir much. The few times we tried it, we got delayed by (an average of) around 2 hours and had to be rerouted to a different airport (from Caticlan to Kalibo) due to sunset restriction that wouldn’t have been the case if the flights hadn’t been delayed in the first place. :(

    I think Zest Air has the worst rep amongst the airlines mentioned, too bad for them. I tried it with friends and can’t say anything bad about it. The service was good, take off & landing was ok. Oh, I remember now, we got delayed by a few minutes. Hehe That was it though.

  9. Nikki says:

    Yikes… I actually booked a couple of flights online with cebu pacific airlines for our domestic trips around the Philippines this time around, because they were so much cheaper than PAL! Now I’m just crossing my fingers nothing horrendously bad happens. No wonder my dad refuses to fly with anyone else other than PAL…

    • Ryan says:

      Well, I hope your experience is different from the most of us. Just make sure to check in on time (even if they aren’t). Check your credit card bill just in case for double billing. My parents refuse to fly any airline to aside from PAL.

      *cross fingers

  10. Edz says:

    I flew with Zest Air twice, though their service is good, their carrier is not good enough for me, I’m only 5’6″ but my knees touches the the back of the seat in front of me if I slouch a little, good for me, I sat up straight the whole flight from Manila to Kalibo and back.
    Since then, I have chosen to fly with Cebu Pacific to Cebu, Dipolog and Zamboanga since the ‘space’ provided for my knees is enough. I have flown with them at least 6 times this year, so far the problem that I had experienced is the delay in the confirmation to my email, and yes, it took 8 minutes before an operator answered my call. Too bad I used my skype credit to call them since I’m not using any land line here in the Philippines. I just hope that they can have a mobile number from Globe, Smart or Sun to call.
    By the way, flying from Hong Kong to Manila is about 1 hour 40 minutes, I just noticed from the ticket that the difference between ETD and ETA is 2 hours, we were delayed for about 15 minutes, and when the plane reached Manila, they proudly announced that we are few minutes ahead of schedule… oh yeah?
    Another thing, the last time I flew from Hong Kong to Manila two weeks ago, that was the most unpleasant trip I had, there were 3 babies on board and all of them had been crying and screaming the whole flight.I just hope that parents or companions of babies would be considerate enough to prepare to pacify these little angels in case they throw tantrums during flights. Like having toys, candies, bottled milk, pacifiers within reach. The father (I assume) of the two babies (1 infant and 1 toddler) in front of me (lucky me, the other 1 is several seats away) has reached for their bag in the overhead compartment several times to get their babies’ needs.
    I’m going to have a 3 days break from my work and will be going to Dakak on the 5th-7th. Yes, we will be flying with Cebu Pacific. I always wanted to fly with PAL, but their ticket price is a lot more expensive. My experiences with Cebu Pacific is tolerable so far and I can use my savings to buy pasalubong.

  11. beej says:

    i say sue Cebu Pacific… i have.

    it’s comforting to know, i’m not the only one with the bad experience. anyone want’s to issue affidavits attesting to their experiences with Cebu Pac?

  12. ellen says:

    I would say PAL is still the best , speaking about domestic flights of course. First class seats comfortable , service is good and most importantly , on time arrrival and departure. Only problem is they dont accept my frequent flyer miles and more costly.

  13. rosa says:

    i have been a traveller myself and i do use cebupac since budget is one of the main thing that i need to consider and just like you ryan, if money is not a concern, i would prefer PAL at any given time.

    So far, im good with cebupac but i have experiences with them that initially made me swear that i wouldnt book from their airline if alternatives would exist. I have the same experience like what you had, i suffered for 6 mo. with constant follow up and stress galore since you wuld feel like you are a pingpong ball being passed from one department to another just to get the money back on the flight that i cancelled.

    I swear i was able to get wrinkles from that incident due to the stress that they had given me.

    also, i experienced not getting confirmation reciept that i was able to purchase the online ticket successfully. so thats why before closing everything, i would try to make sure i was able to print the receipt first and so on and so forth.. thats including not seeing if the transaction was successful or not due to their screen turning white when you process the transaction.

    anyhow, my love for travel is and would still be the prime importance in my mind so with bated breath and crossed fingers, i would still patronize cebupac.

  14. Kelvin says:

    I’m lucky, I fly in from Singapore on Silkair, Direct flights Singapore to Cebu, I can avoid Manila. I’ve flown PAL a number of times and all flights have been quite good. Fly with Cebu air once. It was late departing, but service was ok.

    I’m very luck as Bohol has easy access via HongKong and Singapore. I’m hoping that expansion of Cebu airport takes place and we see more international airlines fly in direct.

  15. edward says:

    Cebu Pacific Air has this no-brainer idea of how to ‘load’/boards its passengers onto its planes. claiming that their ‘procedure’ hastens boarding time, passengers who have the misfortune of being seated at the aft portion of their planes are made to go down the tarmac and board through the rear door of the plane. and this despite the presence and convenience of walking into their plane through a tube. one of the many stupidities that this number-one-airline wannabe does.

  16. edward says:

    btw, the cebu pacific ground and air staff mercilessly enforce their boarding procedure and i have seen elderly and senior passengers made to walk down the stairs from the tube, through the ground and up again the stairs to the rear door of their plane.

  17. Cess says:

    I had a flight on September 9 from Coron (Busuanga), Palawan to Manila, Philippines. This was our return flight after a three-day vacation in the islands. The flight was scheduled to take off 2:10PM. It was past 2:10PM when they announced that the flight was delayed to 2:40PM. At around 3:15PM, exactly while a plane from a different carrier was landing in front of the terminal, they announced that the flight was cancelled due to “bad weather” in Coron. The terminal was quite small, and because of the noise from the landing plane, not everyone heard the announcement. Everyone who had heard rushed to the counter. The Cebu Pacific people were as unhelpful as they could be. No, there would not be another plane coming in on the same day. No, they would not refund anyone’s tickets. No, they would not be paying for anyone’s accommodations, food or transportation for the extra night’s stay because the cancellation was due to bad weather. Bad weather??! Another plane of the same size landed right in front of us exactly while they were claiming bad weather! In the end, some passengers transferred to another airline and paid for the added expense on their own, because they had connecting flights to catch that Cebu Pacific would not pay for if they missed. We stayed another night in Coron because we didn’t have any connecting flights, and we paid for the expense on our own as well.
    The next day, our re-booked flight was at 10:10AM. This turned to 10:40AM, then was moved to 1:50PM, but the announcement was made 11AM already. Then the 1:50PM flight was further delayed to 2:05PM, and finally, cancelled again (but the announcement for this was made at around 3:00PM already). When the harrassed passengers surrounded the counter (turns out Cebu Pacific cancelled their only 2 flights that day), the Cebu Pacific representatives treated people quite badly. No one would attend to us even if we were already in front of the counter. All the Cebu Pacific people just disappeared and ignored the passengers.
    In the end, what they told us was that they would not allow refunds or airline transfers. All they would offer was the extra night’s accommodations and transfers to and from the airport, and this was only grudgingly given because they had to concede that the weather wasn’t the reason this time, what with the two Air Philippines planes, one Zest Air plane and three chartered planes that landed and took off with no problem. We weren’t even sure if the rebooked flight for the next day would take off, what with the three cancelled flights in a span of two days! For those who would miss their connecting flights on different airlines, they would not compensate for anything. For those who wanted to transfer airlines, they would not cover for the expense.
    They would not accept refunds. They were unapologetic, rude and unhelpful. One passenger had reached the end of his patience with the treatment, and in his frustration, snapped and tried to storm the counter. Instead of trying to calm him down, they yelled at him and threatened to have him removed from the airport.
    Some foreign passengers had no more money and were trying to borrow from locals in order to reach Manila in time for their connecting flights, as the other airlines which were still accommodating last-minute passengers in their flight could only accept cash payment. One couple had to split up so that at least one of them could make their connecting flight home. They used all the last of their money and had to borrow just to pay for a ticket on the other airline. Another couple was on their honeymoon, who I’m sure had had a great time in Palawan until they met with Cebu Pacific’s incompetence.
    We were lucky enough to know someone who could lend us the money at the last minute, as we also lacked the on-hand cash. Thus, we were able to reach Manila on that day. No thanks to Cebu Pacific. This is the worst airline EVER. I’m writing this not only on my behalf, but also on behalf of those other passengers who were left behind to deal with the unresponsive Cebu Pacific staff. After this harrowing experience, I think I can say for certain that none of the passengers will fly again with this airline. I sure won’t.

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