Travel: Et tu, Cebu Pacific?

Yes, the phrase means “You too, Cebu Pacific?” From what I’ve heard from Mom and Dad, the airline of choice for most Filipinos fed up with the flag carrier’s service is walking—or in this case, flying—down the same path.

After nearly losing a finger dialing the line of Cebu Pacific’s Tacloban ticketing office to—what else?—reserve a ticket for Dada Joel on the 6:50 a.m. flight to Manila, Mom finally got through and was told to pay P2,700+ (roughly US$56) for the ticket by 4 p.m.

So they went about their usual chores from the time Mom put down the phone to the time they left the house in Palo, Leyte at 2:30 p.m.

From their account, they reached the Cebu Pacific ticketing office between 3:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. When they got there, they were issued a number, “9” to be exact.

Fearing Dad’s slot might be given to another passenger, Mom prodded the old man (sorry, Dada, you’re not that old yet, I assure you) to sidle up to the counter and announce his arrival.

So with a sweet, innocent smile plastered on his face, Dad pounced on the first Cebu Pacific personnel he saw manning the counter and said in a soft, mild-mannered voice, “Miss, may I skip waiting in line since I already have a reservation?” The lady behind the counter just told my dad to fill up a small form detailing his name and flight details and sit down again to wait until his number is called.

Since he had already notified the airline’s personnel, Dad decided to follow the request and sat down beside Mom. When he reached the counter, however, Dad was greeted with “Please pay P3,100++ at the counter.”

Sensing trouble brewing, Mom sidled up beside Dad and helped him plead his case—that they were there before the 4 p.m. deadline and that they had to wait in line. Dad told me what was in his thoughts earlier today: “I had half a mind to tell her (the lady behind the counter) that I spent half the day writing press statements and releases for Senator Who-Shall-Remain-Unnamed just so that she’d let me get the cheaper fare.”

It turned out that Dad didn’t need to drop names. The ticketing office supervisor gave in to his request, his flight being a matter of, well, life and death—figuratively speaking. He got pretty bad stares from the rest of the staff, however—and that’s what ticked him, Mom, and me off.

Cebu Pacific: Losing steam?

I mean, what gives? Is that the way all Cebu Pacific employees and officials, including Lord Lance Gokongwei, treat their clients? To top off the odd behavior is the airline’s habit of changing fares in midstream. If Cebu Pacific is unsure of how their ticket prices are going to turn out for the rest of the day, might as well take it off the website. I know there’s a rejoinder on the airline’s website that says prices are subject to change without prior notice but, come on! Notifying a client on the phone that he needs to pay X amount and later telling him face to face that X amount is no longer the fare and that he needs to pay Y amount is simply ridiculous.

This is in no way an effort to degrade the credibility of the airline and its staff. Far from it since they are already doing that themselves. It is, however, a wakeup call for them to shape up lest they fly into the sunset like that last great airline bearing the country’s colors.

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