The Cebu Pacific “Almost-Flight” Review: Manila to Tacloban (Part I)

This review is unique in the sense that it’s about a flight that I have yet to get on---and may never do.

Copyright Photo: Jerry Ruiz
I booked my December trip to Tacloban two months in advance for a Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan) commemoration outreach. However, a couple of weeks before my scheduled flight, there was news that Daniel Romualdez Airport was closing for repairs. So I called up Cebu Pacific and was assured that my flight was still on with a slight modification----we would be using a propeller plane instead because the repairs had made it impossible to accommodate larger aircraft.

A week later, the Cebu Pacific website announced the cancellation of some flights, which included mine. I called up the airline for verification but was told that contrary to what was stated on their website, my flight was still a go. However, in case it gets cancelled, blah blah blah. That was all I heard as the representative rattled on for some two minutes without care for her listener. When she finished, I said, “I stopped listening to you as I did not understand a word of what you said. I just want answers to my questions. My flight will go on as scheduled even though your website says otherwise?”

She said yes but just to be sure, I have to call from time to time.

“So that means I have to call every day?”

“From time to time.”

“My flight is four days away so from time to time actually means calling every day.”

A few days before my trip, I read about an incoming Yolanda-like cyclone called Ruby about to hit the Visayas. So I called up Cebu Pacific again, or should I say, tried to call as all I got was a busy signal. I then decided to go to their office at SM North EDSA but it was still closed---the office, not the mall. Instead of hanging around waiting for their late staff to arrive, I proceeded to have an early lunch and it was in-between bites that I received a text message that my flight was cancelled due to force majeure.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from the airline informing me of the cancellation and my options of rebooking, rerouting to Cebu (and only Cebu), using the travel fund, or getting a refund. I asked the representative to wait so I could call my traveling companion. She agreed but added that I only have five to seven minutes to do so. Uh, come again?

She said that I only have a few minutes to put her on hold. Okay…

Good thing my friend picked up immediately and in just five minutes, we agreed to rebook for Tacloban two weeks after our original date.

A few days later, I read about the poor repair work done to the Tacloban airport that was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda last year and undone by Typhoon Ruby thirteen months later. I wonder…should I call Cebu Pacific?


Five days prior to my departure date, the airline sent me a text message informing me that my rebooked flight was cancelled because of force majeure. I dialed its hotline and was surprised to get an answer in only six or seven rings!

The cancellation due to the unfinished airport repairs was confirmed. However, this time around, I decided not to rebook because it seemed everything was up in the air so I opted for the travel fund where Cebu Pacific is in custody of my money, which I can redeem for another flight within 90 days. I can use it to still fly to Tacloban at a later date or go somewhere else. I’m holding out for Tacloban as I have never been there but I think I’ll wait until after the papal visit in January 2015. At least I will be sure that its airport is fully functional---and safe.  

Copyright Photo: Diego Roxas/PPSG
When opting for the travel fund, I found out that you have a choice as to whether to use your CEB Club account to redeem it afterwards by self-service or through the phone. You cannot have it both ways. Going to the office is not an option for reasons I couldn’t make out because of phone static. So which one should I choose?

I am one who prefers doing things online as it is much easier but my CEB Club experience has been anything but seamless. Several times in the past, I have had trouble logging in and was forced to use the “Forgot your password?” link even though I was certain of my password. And then I had to wait for days for Cebu Pacific to email me my temporary password, which I only got to receive after following it up on the phone---twice. So naturally, I chose to play it safe and opt for phone redemption. Better to go through the tedious task of dialing and waiting for them to pick up the phone than not having access to my own account when needed, right? Right?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata! (To be continued!)


1 comment:

  1. The customer service culture of Cebu Pacific is really poor. Let's hope they will be forced to make changes after the unacceptable Christmas chaos. Cebu Pacific don't seem to be able to take their customer service to a reasonable level without a government whip.


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