November 22, 2013

Cebu Pacific Air -vs- Philippine Airlines

During our first few travels via air, we only take Cebu Pacific Air as our airline carrier, mainly because they always have airfare promos and theirs were the cheapest. But more Philippine-based airlines are following what Cebu Pacific spearheaded.

On our recent Boracay trip, we were able to try a different airline, which is PAL Express. This trip was a gift from one of our couple friends during our wedding, so we didn't have a say on what airline to take.

It was our first time to fly with PHILIPPINE AIRLINES and thus I was able to compare the two major airlines in the Philippines. These are but based solely on my observations and opinions.

1.  Cebu Pacific’s ground and air stewardess are livelier. PAL’s seemed like they look so stressed and lifeless despite having make up on. The attendant at the check-in counter of PAL didn't even bother to greet us a good morning. She just extended her arms and asked for our tickets and went on her way processing our seats while talking to her colleague. She didn't even ask if we had check-in baggage, it was only when I asked about what are we going to do with our luggage that she stopped chit-chatting with her fellow counter officer and processed our check-ins.

2. PAL's aircrafts are kind of old. Most of Cebu Pacific's are new. Talk about safety and latest technology. You do the math...

3. Cebu Pacific had more cushioning with their seats and arm rest. PAL's was not too comfy.

4. PAL did not have on-board games; which I always look forward when I fly with Cebu Pacific. I love joining the games :)

5. I love Cebu Pacific's on-board magazine SMILE! It's full of interesting stories and features. PAL's MABUHAY magazine was just blah. Even the lay out and photos didn't entice me at all to read it.

4. PAL's air-conditioning system was poor; I literally sweat a bit during our one hour trip to Boracay Airport. This may be due to the fact that the aircraft is old and the air-conditioning system doesn't work that efficiently anymore.

5. Landing and take-off were smoother with PAL. Our flight even had a female co-pilot which was cool! Almost all flights that we took with Cebu Pacific, the take-off and landing were sort of rough.

6. PAL's flight was on time, we even arrived in Caticlan 10 minutes earlier than the ETA.  With Cebu Pacific, we have always experience delayed flights even if there were small volumes of flights on that day.

But when we were headed back home, it was a different story. It was already a long weekend (All Soul’s Day), which means more people will fly. So air traffic was kind of chaotic. We were already at the Caticlan airport and we kept on hearing announcements that our flight will be delayed so we just stay put.

A few minutes before our expected boarding time, an announcement was made, informing the passengers of our flight that the airplane is still in Manila and will not land in Caticlan anymore but instead in Kalibo; so most passengers will be transferred to Kalibo Airport. It was already past 4:30pm and aircrafts are not safe to land or take off at the Caticlan airport… something that they call a sunset limit. I once saw a report on this in the news a couple of years back... it has something to do with the landscape surrounding the airport's runway making it unsafe for aircrafts at night.

The PAL officers were very helpful and made our transfer to Kalibo Airport smoothly. We were ushered to the PAL ticketing office and loaded our luggage to the van that will transport us to Kalibo. The best part of it was that they gave us a one way free flight to any destination in the Philippines (except Batanes). The voucher can be used as cash so no trouble of booking will be experienced; although, it is only valid for 6 months. (Which will force us to travel within the next six months, which brought a feeling of excitement to both wesince we don’t have any travel plans yet for next year.. hmm… where to next?)

The way to Kalibo was sort of rough because the expressway we were driving onto is on the side of the island and there were lots of zigzag roads. On the other side of the highway was a steep sea ravine and on the other side were mountains. Not to mention it rained quite hard during the trip, making me nervous as hell; as for me, I was somewhat dopey so I slept the whole time we were travelling to Kalibo.

When we arrived at the Kalibo airport, we were greeted by PAL officers and they took our luggage and ushered us to their check-in counters. Check in was fast and PAL officers were efficient. They even handed us packed dinners and drinks (Jollibee Chicken joy... hehe). After which we just stayed at the departure area until we boarded.

Overall, it was a stressful day, if you will take such situation as something negative. But we were so focused on our joy of having free flights that all the delays that happened didn't bother us that much. Plus we were assisted well by the PAL staff.

Cebu Pacific has its good and bad aspects with their over-all services, so is PAL. The bottom line is that, you can never have all the good things in one package.

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