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 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.
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:
- Fly only which includes 7kg hand luggage
- Fly and one 20kg bag plus the 7kg hand luggage
- 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
An on-time departure so early in the morning (which is what we got) is both expected and appreciated.
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.
Their in-flight magazine is called “Smile“.
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.
We touched down early in Manila which gave us a massive amount of time for our connection to an international flight.
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.
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.
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
Would I fly them again? Yes but I would choose PAL first on domestic legs.