Ah, here we are again, on another Cebu Pacific rant. This first rant I did on Cebu Pacific nearly three years ago was one of the most visited posts on this blog, EVER. With at least 30,000-40,000 page views registered over the years, it attracted a phenomenal number of reader comments. I actually had to delete nearly 3-4 dozen of the comments over the years because they were so angry, so pained, so explicit that even I couldn’t just leave them up there, true or not, though I suspect much more of the former rather than the latter. Then the following year, I tried to give Cebu Pacific another chance, and ended up writing this post instead, also a very high traffic post garnering a lot of reader interest. Since then, I swore never to take Cebu Pacific until there was a credible improvement in their on-time departure record. But right now, I sit at my computer writing this rant, while the Teen, along with her classmates, are still waiting at the airport for a domestic flight that is supposed to take off by 6pm, nearly 12 hours since she woke up to head to the airport this morning… One of the parents chaperoning the group apparently said “Hay naku, I wish Marketman were here to raise a stink”, to which the Teen apparently replied with something along this line “Ay Tita A, if Dad were here, he would have probably throttled someone into producing a replacement ticket on PAL hours ago.” She has my number, I will grant you that. But I would have been at the destination a long time ago. :)
A quick rundown. Kids scheduled to leave on an 825 am flight. At 330 am, a text was sent that the flight was delayed to 1110 am, and that check-in would be at 9:30 am. The kids head to the airport later than originally planned as a result of the text, arriving at 915 am. They were soon told that the 1110 flight was not only overbooked, they were offering to pay people PHP1,000 to leave the next day instead. If not enough people accepted, they would kick people off the flight, despite confirmed reservations. Or they could try their luck on standby. Because the traveling group was a big one, some folks managed to get confirmed seats on the 1110am, while others were in a sense, forced to accept seats on a 1220 pm flight instead. They were advised on phone enquiries and at the airport that new departure times were confirmed. Then 1110 am came and passed, then another hour, and finally, the 1110 am flight departed at 130+pm, 5 hours behind original schedule. The folks, including the Teen, originally confirmed on the 825 flight, then moved to 1115 and forced onto 1220 pm, were told that their flight had now been delayed to 330pm. Then at 330pm delayed again and now expect to depart by 6pm in the evening. Absurd. Ridiculous. Outrageous.
If the airline were truly service oriented, they would have bloody well known things were out of control early this morning. They could have just asked folks to take an immediate cash refund and try their luck at PAL, at least as an option. They could have been more fortright about likely departure times. I could go on and on. But basically, this only confirms my personal view that Cebu Pacific has simply horrific service, more than just some of the time. And they had the nerve to boast about finally attaining on time departure records late last year in the mid-80’s percentile, only to post now on their webpage their recent performance (last 5 months) which has slipped back into the 60-70th percent on-time departure levels. And I doubt that statistic includes rescheduled flights. I honestly don’t know how they can get away with this. Are Filipino consumers so forgiving, so insensitive to being treated in such a cavalier manner that they just keep patronizing a business with such a ridiculous record of customer service? And I haven’t even started in on delayed refunds, another major bone of contention. I checked the PAL flights this morning to the same destination, and ALL four flights left on time. So it wasn’t a weather issue. Or a visibility issue at the destination airport.
Imagine the thousands of wasted man-hours, the frustration, the money spent on feeding themselves at ridiculous airport prices. This is truly a sad, sad example of a nation of consumers who simply appear content to just take it as it is dished out. And in an earlier iteration of this class trip, a chartered ferry was supposed to be waiting at the destination to take them to a nearby island. Can you imagine if the kids were 8 hours late? And if I had anything to do about it, as a Cebuano, I would ask the airline to remove Cebu from thier name. Because all they are doing is bringing shame to a province that doesn’t deserve the negative association at all. It was so easy to get Cebu lechon on the map, but of the millions of seats Cebu Pacific flies every single year, some 30+% of them are late, and in cases such as today, so incredibly, inexplicably, pathetically late. Suffice it to say we, as a family will never fly them until they have reversed this service record. They may be cheap (PAL is not far off on most destinations), but the aggravation they bring on is simply not worth the measly savings, if any. A big fat BOO and TWO THUMBS DOWN to everyone in the management of Cebu Pacific. As a personal protest, I will also turn down any future offers to do features in related Gokongwei publications such as Yummy (where I have done two things for free in the past), will stop buying every single product that is produced by a Gokongwei majority-owned company including Universal Robina Corporation products (teas, chips, etc.), Sun Cellular and Robinsons Land Corporation. I know this personal protest won’t individually do anything of consequence, it will just make me feel a little bit better. And I know that MANY folks at Gokongwei family owned companies READ this blog on a regular basis, and I hope you understand the anger this type of customer service engenders. It is indeed ironic that the family of a very senior manager at one of the large Gokongwei group companies was with this group today, so they can confirm exactly what transpired at the airport. Good service should always come first. And I hope more and more Filipino consumers choose to vote with their wallets. Only when consumers fight for a fair exchange for their hard earned money will companies with chronically or habitually poor service start to listen and improve their operations, or go out of business. Cebu Pathetic indeed. :(
P.S. It’s six pm and the Teen and others have finally started to board their plane. By the time they leave, the total group of almost 30 people at say an average delay from original flight time of roughly 8-9 hours, will have wasted 240-270 man hours waiting on their sore bums. Imagine what the owner of an airline would do if their own young children were stuck in a pre-school classroom because of a malfunctioning door, electrical meltdown and strangely expanding hardwood frame AND school management waited 240 hours to get them out? Or even just 10 measly hours to get them out — telling them all kinds of half-truths, excuses, failed estimates, etc.? Oh, and only giving the children one piece of Jollibee chicken and rice with no gravy to keep hunger at bay? What kind of RANT would THEY write to the school administration then? It’s not as farfetched a hypothetical example as you might think.