Cebu Pacific Flight Review: Roxas to Manila

As many consider prudent, I booked well in advance on Cebu Pacific's Thursday afternoon Tigerair Philippines flight from Roxas City,Capiz, Panay to Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Image Credit: aeroprints/Wikimedia
Before I departed Australia for the Philippines, I received an email from Cebu Pacific stating that my originally scheduled flight had been cancelled. The carrier then enquired as to whether I was willing to travel on the sole daily Cebu Pacific flight the next day, a Friday.

Unwisely as things would turn out, I accepted the offer.

Finding ourselves at a loose end in Roxas City, I subsequently called Cebu Pacific (which lacks a toll free number) to enquire about again altering the flight to the Thursday departure, not Friday's. My reasoning was that the airline should agree since it was Cebu Pacific that had cancelled the original flight booking -- not a choice I had made.

A male answered. I explained the situation. He said 'I understand your concerns.' He then said that it was not possible to transfer flights for free.

I asked again. The same reply came down the line.

I then asked to speak with a supervisor. I was placed on hold for five minutes and then the male call centre operator spoke, saying that 'no supervisor was available.'

Frustrated, I asked how much Cebu Pacific wanted to change the fare. The reply was short: P4600 per passenger. With that, I terminated the call.

So after a short trip by efficient tricycle to the small Roxas City Airport, we arrived to a defective X-Ray machine that necessitated examination of bags by a lady.

We were then checked in although the staff members made no effort to explain to us or other passengers whether the allocated seats were over the wing, aisle, middle or window. To any experienced traveller, this is known, but in a nation of 100 million, there must still be many first time flyers. Our bags were accepted without question.

We proceeded to the gate lounge that had an open area through which one could easily wander onto the airport apron and tarmac as there was only a portable divider stopping this. Naturally, no one did such a silly thing.

We waited and waited. Eventually Cebu Pacific's A320 aircraft, registered RP-C3250 (first flight 15 January 2009, capacity 179 passengers) arrived late at 11:28am.

160 passengers alighted via either the front or rear stairs, both of which were in use. Some older folks took the stairs slowly but none required assistance.

A line formed for boarding, which occurred at 11:55am. However once on board, the first officer informed us that Manila air traffic control was delaying takeoff until 12:15pm. As the plane should have been off blocks at 11:45am, this would make us about 20 minutes late.

We departed at 12:08pm and took off right on the amended time at 12:15pm. The crew played the infamous Cebu Pacific 'game' that consisted of the same three questions I had already memorised on two earlier January 2015 flights. The prizes were slightly more valuable purses than I had seen before, but hardly anything to get excited about.

Despite the agreed later departure, the 130 passengers and crew were forced to endure the further 'enjoyment' of being in a holding pattern for about seven minutes prior to landing at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Arrival at Terminal 3 was 35 minutes late at 1:25pm, showing the continuing effect that congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport has had on airline networks. My luggage came off the belt by 2:15pm - a good effort given that we had transferred by bus from a remote hardstand, not used an aerobridge - and I then had the joy of waiting for 90 minutes for a yellow airport taxi outside the otherwise pleasant T3 at NAIA.

-Surface Traveller


  1. Outrageous that Cebu Pacific should charge 4600 pesos to change a flight from one which they booked you on without consultation, and probably in contravention of IATA regulations too.

    1. airdatanz, partly correct, because as explained above, the airline had switched me, but had asked me if I agreed. Nonetheless my view was that since the airline made the unilateral change (I assume because of low bookings, or an inoperable aircraft) it should subsequently allow me to change my mind as often as I liked. There were seats available on the earlier flight, so it wasn't as if someone else had to be bumped off, and by travelling earlier we would have freed up two seats the next day.

      But yes, I agree: P4600 per person is an outrageous amount to charge when essentially it was the airline's doing.

      It seems it's OK for airlines like Cebu Pacific to unilaterally kick you and I off a booked flight but not for us to - without monetary charge - then again change our minds if our travelling circumstances change.

      Since probably like you I've taken numerous Cebu Pacific flights, this won't stop me using the company again, but it shows how little discretion the call centre are given. I may as well have been talking to a brick wall!

      Thank you
      Surface Traveller

  2. Surface Traveller, My apologies, I failed to read your item fully and was unaware you had already accepted CEBs rebooking. Never-the-less as you and I agree a 4600 peso fee to change to a flight which suits the traveller is "over the top". Yes, I make around 20 flights each year with CEB, I encountered few problem, find their employees courteous, friendly and helpful and will continue to fly with them.

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