UPDATE (11 am): I got a text message from my friend Miggy who's supposed to fly to Cebu today w/ her hubby for the weekend. But guess what? All Cebu Pacific flights are delayed today because their computers melted down! The domestic terminal is just in total chaos!
I RECEIVED a text message close to 2 a.m. today from my fab ex-editor who's now based in Singapore. James was mightily pissed that he got stuck at the airport on the way home to Manila because Cebu Pacific had apparently overbooked its flight. He and 49 others. What's more, the ground crew seemed to have all disappeared with no promise of even a light snack or anything to make the unlucky passengers feel comfortable while waiting for the next flight.
UPDATE: According to James, they were just given another round-trip voucher and promised seats in tonight's flight to Manila. I guess that means another 50 booked passengers in tonight's flight will get bumped off again. Common airline practice is when a carrier overbooks or for some reason, can't make its scheduled flight, it should book its passengers on the next available flight in another airline. Why didn't Cebu Pac do this? Sobrang pagtitipid naman 'yan Papa Lance! Shouldn't customer service come first?
What's more, Cebu Pac's external PR Gatchie Reyes told James that they were told by Cebu Pac that the 50 bumped off passengers last night were booked in a hotel. O da va, nag-creative writing course pa ang mga lokah?!
This is probably the Nth time I have heard this complaint about Cebu Pac. Last year, galpal Francine also got stuck for more than five hours at the Mactan International Airport after her flight to Manila was super-delayed for undisclosed reasons. She was at airport by 5 pm but flew past 10 pm. Buti nalang pinakain sila ng isang hita ng Jollibee chickenjoy. (We learned later that one plane had engine trouble thus necessitating a scramble for aircraft plying other routes and trying to catch up with scheduled departures elsewhere. But like, this is also the Nth time I've heard this reason.)
So what's up with Cebu Pac really? It boasts of new planes and yet can't keep a simple promise of flying out all their booked passengers on time? I've been covering the business beat for the longest time, especially the travel/aviation beat, I still don't understand why airlines have to overbook their flights. Surely Cebu Pac's reservations people can see in their computers if they've reached the seating limit already for their flights? And at this time of the year, the peak of the summer season, there are just too many travelers going on vacation so it really is imperative for them to make their flights. I would understand overbooking during the lean season when flights are no longer that much in demand.
And these cases of overbooking and delayed departures are happening everywhere Cebu Pac flies. Over in Caticlan, the joke is Cebu Pac is virtually using Asian Spirit as its GSA (general service agent) because they always pass on passengers to the latter (well, so much the better for AS I suppose. This is extra income for them.) But duh, why boast about now flying to the gateway of Boracay when it can't even deliver the minimum service required of a carrier?
Sure Cebu Pac can say that passengers choose the carrier because they want to fly cheap, sans any frills. So magtiis kayo! But I think no matter how cheap or pricey a passenger's ticket is, he is supposed to be accorded some amount of courtesy and respect as a paying consumer. Porke't cheap fare, cheap service din? Ang cheap mo naman Papa Lance! Kya nga ba I don't crush you anymore e.
(Disclosure: The last time I rode a Cebu Pac flight was three years ago. Nothing untoward happened then. It's plane was old, but I left and arrived on time. No incident. Which is why it behooves me that despite its massive refleeting, the airline's service has just deteriorated instead of improved. Or shouldn't there be any correlation at all between the two?)