Cebu Pacific Flight Review: Manila to Siem Reap (Round-Trip)

Holiday travelers were still angry (if not angrier) at Cebu Pacific for its mishandling of flight bookings during Christmas when my friend and I flew to Siem Reap via the budget carrier. My friend was actually bracing for a similar chaotic scene but I told her that there’s nothing to worry about.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
“First of all, it was mostly the domestic flights that suffered as everybody wanted to fly home for the holidays. I don’t think there would be a stampede going to Cambodia. Anyway, let’s just do our part and show up on time. If we get bumped off or our flight gets cancelled, no one can point a finger at us.” So show up we did at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3), three hours prior to our early evening flight.  

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
But our check-in counter was not yet open so we had to wait.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Seeing the crowd, I thought it best to check ourselves in using the self-service kiosk which took only three seconds flat. We still had to line up though to check in our luggage.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
As soon as the counters opened, we headed to the web check-in counter and found ourselves third in the queue. But the lady (a prominent TV news personality) who was first in line had some problems that thirty minutes on, we were still waiting for our turn. The regular counters servicing three different flights were moving faster so my friend and I transferred and we were done in just fifteen minutes (including lining up to pay the travel tax at a separate counter).

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
So far so good until we arrived at our boarding gate an hour before our scheduled boarding as we decided to have an early dinner before passing through immigration.

While waiting, I had to make sure we were at the right gate by constantly checking our boarding pass as the counter was unmanned and there was no sign for assurance. When I saw a head peering over the counter, I approached the man only to be told that he wasn’t an airline representative. He then stood up and left.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
It was only a few minutes before our scheduled boarding that the staff came and put up a sign. However, I noticed that there was no aircraft at our gate and there was no advisory being made. Predictably, some people including my friend came up to the counter to inquire about the status of our flight. It was only then that we were informed that our flight was going to be delayed “by an hour.” Why didn’t they make a formal announcement in the first place?

One hour had passed and we were still waiting while trying to make sense of the garbled announcements over the public address system. My friend and I couldn’t understand why the PA announcements of neighboring Cathay Pacific were so audible while Cebu Pacific’s wasn’t. It was almost like they were mumbling.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
And then we saw some of the staff rolling in a hot water dispenser, instant noodles and bottled water. This definitely wasn’t a good sign at all. 

My friend and I then started laughing at the instant noodles Cebu Pacific was planning to feed us -- its tired and hungry passengers. I stood up to take pictures of the noodles when one of their staff tried to stop me saying it was prohibited.

“Bawal po magpicture.” (Taking pictures is not allowed.)

“Magpicture ng what?” (Take pictures of what?)

Instead of answering, he repeated himself.

“Bawal magtake ng pictures ng Cup and Noodles?!” That was ridiculous!

But you want to hear something more ridiculous? We never got our noodles for soon afterwards, they announced (in a garbled way, naturally) that we had to transfer to another gate. When I approached the counter for verification of the new gate number, I was just told to follow the crowd!

Upon transfering, I noticed that there were a lot of people asleep thus occupying almost all the seats. Turns out that they were passengers from another flight who were offloaded. One of the passengers was telling to whomever cared to listen how they were already inside the plane for their afternoon flight when they were told to disembark as their flight was rescheduled to 2am! This made me wonder if Cebu Pacific should start booking us at the hotels across NAIA 3. And then finally, we started boarding leaving the other hapless passengers behind.

As my friend and I took our seats, she laughed as she realized that the staff never bothered to distribute the instant noodles even though they also rolled the cart to the new gate. Even while on the plane, we were not served the noodles!

Speaking of the plane, as I was so beat by the time we boarded, as soon as I fastened my seat belt, I dozed off and woke up when the announcement for descent was made. I didn’t even know what time we flew. So my apologies, dear readers, for the absence of photos of our Airbus 320 plane and stories about the flight itself. The only thing I can say is it was one smooth flight. No turbulence whatsoever.  
cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 We touched down at Siem Reap International Airport at 1:29am. (2:29am Manila time)…

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 ….which explains why the airport looks so bare.

SEE YA, SIEM REAP!

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 After a wonderful vacation in Siem Reap, it was time to head back home.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Long lines at check-in counters greeted us as soon as we entered Siem Reap International Airport. There was no flight board to guide us. My friend speculated where our line could be as there were a lot of Filipinos milling around that area. I told her to stay put while I looked for an airport official who confirmed my friend’s guesswork. As soon as we reserved our spot in the queue, the screens behind the counters lit up assuring us we were indeed at the right counters.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
It also gave us the bad news that our flight was to be delayed. Although we groaned, we were thankful that at least this time around, the information was given clear and complete unlike before when we were told to wait for another hour, and another hour, while our Cup and Noodles remained undistributed.

The other Filipino passengers found more reason to be patient and understanding as I overheard them saying it was better to be delayed than to go missing, referring to the Air Asia tragedy that unfolded only a couple of days before. 

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
After checking in at Siem Reap Airport, one goes through a security clearance where shoes had to be removed, followed by immigration clearance where we were fingerprinted digitally. When we arrived, both our hands were scanned but this time, it was just our right hand.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 Once you’re done with the clearances, shops and restaurants are there to greet you.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
There’s also a Christmas tree made of bamboo and rattan to wish you holiday cheers in this Hindu-Buddhist nation.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This much I can say---Siem Reap International Airport trumps NAIA 2 with its shopping choices and comfortable seats. I have never been one to sleep at airports but for the very first time, I took a nap while my friend shopped for pasalubong for her kids. I woke up an hour later---feeling very refreshed—and yet my friend was still undecided with the myriad of local product choices.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Like my flight coming to Siem Reap, I dozed off as soon as I boarded the plane as it was past midnight (1:00am Manila time) so I had no pictures except for this one. But unlike my earlier flight, three times the captain advised us to fasten our seat belts in anticipation of turbulence ahead. Speaking of the captain, he sure was very conscientious.

Usually the only time I hear the captain over the PA system is during the welcome and “prepare for arrival” phases of a flight. But our captain went beyond that by reminding us to fill up all our forms---immigration, health and customs during the flight.

cebu pacific siem reap flight review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
It was almost four in the morning when we arrived at NAIA 3 so it was not surprising that there were hardly any lines at the immigration counters. But what one fellow passenger noticed was there were several counters open. He then asked the immigration officer if there were more flights coming in at that time or following ours. I didn’t get what the officer said in response but the passenger continued by commending them by opening a lot of counters even though it was only our flight that was being serviced. The officer thanked the passenger for his kind words.

I would also like to add to that commendation. Immigration clearance was indeed fast but what was faster (and surprisingly so) was the baggage retrieval. I was still on the escalator going down when already, a lot of baggage was on the carousel. The cynical me pooh-poohed it, assuming it was probably from an earlier flight from Taipei. But I came up close to check on the tags on some of the baggage and saw that they were from our flight! My eyebrows were still raised in surprise when out came my luggage! Thank you, NAIA 3! I hope this is the start of something wonderful---an efficient and faster customer experience!

--The Paranoid Traveler

Would you like to visit Siem Reap? Check out our Siem Reap hotel promos here!

3 comments:

  1. Dont fly CP again! Worst airline in the world!

    ReplyDelete
  2. you get what you pay for...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Long long lines at check in and delayed flights with no information available thats Cebu Pacific = avoid

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.