My First Cebu Pacific Flight

Having tried Philippine Airlines for the first time last week, I was determined to try their fast growing competitor Cebu Pacific. Especially, when I was flying from their own hub.

Booking: 2/10

Booking with Cebu Pacific was one of the most mind-blowing frustrating experiences of my life. The website froze seven times in mid-booking over three days! I re-booted my computer multiple times and came back to the website.

Frozen in Space and time

In frustration, I contacted Cebu Pacific who suggested I did not know what I was doing! Having convinced them that I was a tech savvy frequent traveller, they suggested I download their app and book that way. This I did but when we came it to pay, it would not allow me to pay! On the fourth attempt, it worked. That means I tried eleven times to book a flight. I am not sure what was going on but I was tearing my hair out in frustration. I have booked hundreds of airline fares online and never had this trouble.

Cebu Pacific is a one class airline that offers three packages:

  1. Fly only which includes 7kg hand luggage
  2. Fly and one 20kg bag plus the 7kg hand luggage
  3. Fly bag and a pre-ordered on board meal plus the 7kg hand luggage

The carrier has a huge number of flights between Cebu and Manila daily. Examples of the fares in Philippine Pesos are here.  100 Pesos is about two US Dollars.

We went with the cheapest option as we were only carrying hand luggage and figured we would not need food on the short hop. We added exit row seats which cost us 392 pesos (just under $8USD) for what the airline calls “Premium Seats”.

In parts of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, people only have one name. This is the first time, I have seen so specifically instructions on what to do:

Cebu Pacific also have an option to donate $USD1.20 to World Wide Fund for Nature, which we did.
Check In

Cebu Pacific advised us a few days before that our flight was cancelled and we would now be put on an earlier flight. That meant a very early arrival at the airport.

We checked in on-line which functioned well (after my booking experience). On arrival at the airport, I was initially a little confused to see a long line of people preparing to pay the airport terminal fee . Some airports across the world charge passengers directly, an airport charge while most build the cost into the airline ticket price.

IMG_6346 A quick check found that  citizens of the Philippines on international departures are required to pay this travel tax at the airport. The full fee is P1,620 for passengers on economy class plane tickets and P2,700 when flying in first class.

Our taxes were already included in our domestic booking.

Security lines were very lean at the early hour of the morning and we are at our Boarding gate very quickly!

On Board:6/10

Cebu Pacific cram 180 seats into a one class cabin on their 320. Each seat has a mere 29″ of seat room and is 17″ wide. This was 2″ less than the Philippine airlines 320 I took to Cebu. It is really tight and with a full flight, I was really glad of my exit row seat!

Safety: 7/10

We did not get the famous all dancing all singing safety demonstration. It was a good clear safety demonstration, nonetheless!

Passengers unbuckled their seatbelts on the tarmac upon landing which is not the airline’s fault, I know. Carriers do need to be proactive about passenger safety, however and try to prevent this from happening with announcements.

Take Off

An on-time departure so early in the morning (which is what we got) is both expected and appreciated.

Entertainment: 1/10

Like our Philippine Airlines flight in the opposite direction, there was no onboard entertainment nor Wi-fi.

Cebu Pacific has rolled out wi-fi on some of its planes and all of their Airbus A330 used on international routes. We enjoyed some good views of the Philippines along the way.

IMG_6363

Their in-flight  magazine is called “Smile“.

Meals: 3/10

No food was provided on board but a free drink was made available. Snacks are available for purchase on board all flights.

We had eaten in the airport, so we were quite sated prior to boarding.

Landing

We touched down early in Manila which gave us a massive amount of time for our connection to an international flight.

IMG_6354

Banking into Manila

I thought some of the negative reviews about connecting at Manila Airport were exaggerated. The connecting buses work well and it is possible to walk between terminals, admittedly a long walk.

The Verdict

My Flight Rating: 61%  (3.0 out of 5)

About the Airline: Cebu Pacific started flying in 1996. Today, they fly to 38 domestic destinations and 30 international destinations in 20 countries across Asia Pacific. It has a more extensive route network across the Philippines and carries more passengers than flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

Skytrax: Cebu Pacific has a three-star Skytrax rating.  Skytrax customers rate the carrier: 6/10.

My overall rating of  Cebu Pacific: After one flight, I am not going to rate them with complete confidence but I thought they are close to Jetstar.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives the carrier 4 and ⅝ out of 7.

Frequent Flyer Program: GetGo Rewards

Positives: Service, Mostly on time, Check in

Negatives: Booking

Would I fly them again? Yes but I would choose PAL first on domestic legs.

Comments

  1. Lol. I’ve seen worst in Indonesian flight. A passenger unbuckled seatbelts and open overhead bin just as the plane’s wheel touch runway. The FA screamed aloud to him. South east asian passenger are among the bravest….

  2. I live half my time in Manila and Cebu Pacific is my go to airline to fly around the Philippines and also to fly out of Manila to Asian destinations. Do not like to fly Philippines Airlines since I feel they are a old fashion airline with a lot of employees with bad atittute and do not give a shit.

    Tip: Do NOT walk between terminals in Manila.

    The bad reputation for the airport in Manila is mostly due to the old terminal 1. Terminal two and Terminal three are fine.

    Good thing about Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 is they have OK Priority pass lounges.

    And another good thing about the Philippines is that Filipinos are very friendly and they all speak good English.

    Go visit the Philippines. Not expensive and can get great value for a nice holiday. Can’t beat $5 hour long massages. Go visit Palawan, Bohol, Boracay, Coron … just do not spend time in Manila other then transferring planes.

  3. I was booking Cebu Pacific in March-April to avail of promo, I got in d last stage of confirmation when I it was frozen (three times it happened) hence I miss the promo. It was very frustrating as my fare should b much lesser. Please improve your booking problem

  4. Cebu Pacific have a habit of cancelling / rerouting flights. They did it to us, not due to weather or reasons outside of their control, which is why we’ll never fly them again. Don’t be surprised if the flight you book isn’t the one you get!!

  5. Sounds like you had bad luck with the online booking – that is not typical for CebuPac. I’ve flown them countless times and usually the website works well. They do get crushed during sales (tickets as low as 1P) when you sometimes see issues like yours. They also have some of the most tedious attempts to upsell you on food, seats and insurance, having to uncheck it – I’ve seen a few people be surprised by food being delivered that they didn’t realize they ordered…
    I’ve not had credit card issues with PHL cards, but sometimes there are problems with international ones.
    I have reviewed the airline and their GetGo program in detail as well as tips for sales and bookings here:
    http://dreamtravelonpoints.com/2015/07/travel-made-easy-cebu-pacific-airlines/
    While PAL’s hard product is better, they have a lot of operational issues, so I’d call it a wash between the two for domestic routes!
    Safe travels in the Philippines!

  6. I am retired so I have ample free time to search for and book flights. Cebu Pacific has the worst online and app booking sites I have ever experienced. As mentioned earlier their website continues to freeze during the process and/or fails to load at the onset. Since 2011 I have seen a steady decline in their services and a corresponding increase in their fares. Considering fuel is the most expensive expenditure for any airline and fuel prices have declined one would think that Cebu Pacific should be offering more competitive fares. And the really odd thing about their pricing is that international flights are often less expensive than a domestic fare. Considering the Philippines is an island nation air transportation is more of a necessity as where an international flight is more often just for pleasure. So Cebu Pacific makes greater profits from the pockets of its countrymen who are flying domestic routes. In other nations the opposite is the rule where domestic travel is less expensive than international flights. I view them as being inefficient and greedy. All low cost carriers tend to cancel flights to keep as many seats filled as possible. If you have six daily flights between Cebu and Manila and one flight is underbooked…they cancel that flight and shuffle passengers onto the remaining five flights to keep flights as full as possible, but sitting in the airport and listening to the announcements Cebu Pacific cancels alot of flights due to maintenance and availability issues. And their flight attendants are the worst for not enforcing flight regulations.

  7. A fair review, and because you flew early in the day your flight was punctual. Domestic Flights to and from Manila are often delayed by up to 2hrs in the afternoon as Manila airport struggles to cope with the daily demand. Late afternoon flights are often cancelled this has happened to me twice. Cebu Pacific tend to be the most affected airline for delays and cancellations. Tbh i find it quite a novelty to fly on time with them.

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