How to be a Cebu Pacific

Published August 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Milwida M. Guevara
Milwida M. Guevara

 

Mayor Diding had only one request whenever he has a mentoring assignment from Synergeia. Can we please not book him in a Cebu Pacific flight? I thought his excuse was flimsy. He hated being roused from his sleep when the crew start the ” guess the tune “contest. After taking the flight to Cotabato from Manila and back last week, I now understand how it is to be a Cebu Pacific.

Passengers scramble to get in line as soon as the boarding announcement is made. Blame it on the cramped pre-departure area or the attempt of every passenger to beat the no baggage allowance system. It is not unusual for him or her to carry as much as he can on board. One feels like a contestant to a “Trip to Jerusalem” contest to be able to board first. You have to fend being hit on the face with bulging backpacks, being stepped on the foot, or brushed aside by rushing passengers. When you are about to heave a sigh in finding your seat, the stewardess asks for your boarding pass which you have tucked somewhere inside your bag. I confidently told her that my seat is 6c but she refused to believe me. Perhaps she thought that I looked like a passenger seated at 64c. I made a resolution that on my next trip, I will wear a suit that resembles the little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn.

Fast forward to our return trip to Manila last Friday. The plane was delayed for several hours due to the accident in the NAIA runway. Our hearts leaped with joy when the plane landed at the airport minutes after 5 pm. Again, there was a mad scramble, but what the heck, we were soon to be home. I was dosing off and barely understood the pilot announcement on a ” sunset limitation.” He said the plane had to turn back.

Since we did not understand what it was all about, all we could do was to surmise. Was the pilot blinded by the light from the setting sun? Will the flight resume once the sun has set? There was no word and no advice. And then the stewardess said we had to disembark which we did like a flock of sheep.

At the boarding area, one of the ground crew staff announced that the flight was cancelled. Due to “force majeure”, Cebu Pacific was not obliged to provide any form of assistance, not even a word of comfort or apology. She said something like “pasensiya na kayo, kami nga walang pahinga.” All she was concerned about was the extra work that was required from them.

The implication was that we were to help ourselves in an airport that was pitch dark and no land transport is available. To the credit of the passengers, no one raised his or her voice, except one who said that there was no force majeure because the plane was able to land and take-off safely. Of course, he was completely ignored. To calm our fears, she said that the plane would leave at 6:00 a.m. the following morning. She assured us that there would be no need to check in and to retrieve our luggage.

We are fortunate that we have an office in Cotabato with a staff member who helped us find a ride and a room for the night. My heart went out to those who came from afar and had little money left.
At dawn the next morning, we were surprised to see a very long queue at the airport. Again, there was no explanation why we had to check in again.

From fellow passengers, we were informed that we had to retrieve our luggage and check them in as well. The area was in total disarray with boxes and luggage strewn everywhere. There was no cart available and people looked like farmers carrying boxes like sacks of palay. Two of our boxes were missing but we no longer cared. The only thing on our mind was to get home safely.

Our seat assignments were changed. Since we paid extra for the aisle seats, we insisted on our right. It was like a merry go round aboard the plane as passengers were transferred from one seat to another. There was no offer of coffee or water to assuage the discomfort that the passengers experienced.

But our experience had a tense but happy ending. The pilot announced that he could not land the plane in the runway and would try another approach. The plane and our breath stood still for 34 minutes.

What was going on? It would have soothed our frayed nerves had the pilot assured us that everything was well and he was just trying to wait for the weather to clear up. It was an all up to God moment as we said our Acts of Contrition and hundreds of Hail Mary. God heard our prayer and held Captain Dino’s hand as he landed the plane safely without a thud. He was the only saving grace of Cebu Pacific.

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