Hey all. We had a great New Year’s celebration in Boracay (which I will write about later this week), but at the very end of it all our January 1 flight out of Kalibo got cancelled. Since it was the last flight of the day, we got stuck in Kalibo for one night. That wouldn’t have been so bad, if it weren’t for Cebu Pacific shafting us. Below is an email my mom wrote concerning the poor treatment we got from Cebu Pacific staff and the irregularities concerning the cancellation of our flight.
I am really sorry for sending this very lengthy email to all of you. Please bear with me as I just have to let all of you know a very unpleasant experience I had with Cebu Pacific.
I was one of the passengers of the above-mentioned flight from Kalibo to Manila [Flight 5J344], which was cancelled last Jan. 1, 2008. We were a party of 10 people coming from a vacation in Boracay. There were about 150 passengers for that particular flight, many coming from Boracay, mostly Filipinos, with some foreigners.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 4:30PM. We checked in at about half past 3 and patiently waited for our flight. Boarding was supposed to be at 4:05. However, by that time, there was no sign of our plane. On the ground were 1 Asian Spirit and one PAL plane. Shortly after 4, the Asian Spirit plane took off. An Air Philippines plane landed after that. Still, there was no sign of Cebu Pacific plane. At 4:50, I inquired at the counter why our plane still had not landed. I was told that it could not land because the PAL plane was taking off. 15 minutes after PAL took off, there was still no sign of our plane. The passengers were all quite concerned by this time, but we waited patiently.
At about 5:40PM, an announcement was made that our plane was circling in the air waiting for clearance to land, as it was raining at this time. At a little after 6, another announcement was made that our plane headed back to Manila because it could not land. So, our flight had been cancelled. We immediately proceeded to the counter where we were informed that indeed, our flight had been canceled so we had to find lodging for the night. It was clearly stated by the people manning the counter that our lodging would not be shouldered by Cebu Pacific since it was due to inclement weather. We were given telephone numbers of the different hotels in the area and were made to call these hotels, on our own.
We were ready to accept inclement weather as the reason for the flight cancellation until an Asian Spirit plane landed. We could not believe that a smaller plane could manage to land in spite of the rain, and the Cebu Pacific plane, a bigger plane, could not land. On further questioning, we were told that since our plane was running out of fuel, it headed back to Manila. This angered us even more, because, if indeed fuel was running low, the most logical thing to do was head to the nearest airport with complete facilities – that would be Cebu – gas up, and return to Kalibo. Why on earth would the plane, low on fuel, head back to Manila, a much farther destination, then decide to no longer return to Kalibo?
We were informed that the airline could not give us a special flight. We were told that we would have to be chance passengers in the 3 flights the next day. That was a ridiculous thing to say to about 150 or so angry passengers. Many of us had appointments on Jan. 2. That was precisely the reason we all opted to return to Manila on Jan. 1, New Year’s Day. How on earth could 150 people be accommodated in three fully-booked flights? One other option given to us was to take the Ro Ro.
It was already close to 8 PM, but, not even a drop of water or a single peanut was offered to any of us by the crew. We had been in the airport since about 3PM were tired, hungry, and thirsty. But we had to face a very unsympathetic Cebu Pacific crew. Every time we asked for their manager, we were told that they were trying to reach him/her. What kind of a manager could not be reached for more than 2 hours, in an emergency situation like this?
When we were told that there was definitely nothing else they could do, we finally left to find a hotel so our children could rest. But when we left, we still had no assurance that there would be a special flight for us. We were asked to leave our contact numbers so they could get in touch with us for any developments.
We found room in La Esperanza Hotel. We ordered dinner from Chow King since the hotel had no restaurant. At about 10pm, we got a call informing us that arrangements had been made for a special flight at 10AM the next day. Thankful for the new development, we all went to sleep.
The next day, after settling our hotel bill, we hired a van to take us to the airport (10 people + luggage). We were able to leave Kalibo after 11 am, more than one hour later than the planned 10:05 am departure time. We were so thankful that, at least, we were on our way home to Manila.
Everything was alright until my officemates informed me the next day that our plight found its way to the newsroom. And according to the news in ABS CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda show, Cebu Pacific shouldered our hotel accommodations in Kalibo. That is an outright lie! Not a single centavo was given to us by the airline. We had to pay for our hotel accommodation, our dinner, and the van rental. I am very sure the other passengers will say the same thing.
I learned a painful lesson the hard way. After this incident, I WILL NEVER FLY CEBU PACIFIC AGAIN. And, I will tell this story to as many people as I can, so that they will see how we were treated by Cebu Pacific.
So there you go. Cebu Pacific sucks! Next time, we’re taking Seair or Asian Spirit or even Philippine Airlines.