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Cebu Pacific A320 Hong Kong-Manila In Y  
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1105 posts, RR: 8
Posted (1 year 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 7944 times:

Introduction:


It had been less than a year since my uneventful experience on TAAG Angola Airlines, yet I seemed be finding myself flying on yet another airline with questionable safety practices. While TAAG appears to have largely fixed their issues, I’m not sure the same can be said about Cebu Pacific. They have been involved in several incidents within the last few months alone, most of which were relatively harmless landing mishaps. Unlike my trip to Angola, however, the reasons for this weekend getaway were much more straightforward.

Although my summer student exchange trip in Hong Kong had been phenomenal thus far, my roommate and I felt that we needed a weekend getaway from the tedious MTR train rides, lack of personal space, and the general hustle and bustle of any large city. Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand were considered, but the Philippines was just so inexpensive that we couldn’t resist.

I was obviously the one arranging the trip, and alerted my friend that we were booking flights on blacklisted airlines. His response: “Southwest just had an accident in New York and that Asian airline crashed in San Francisco, so I think it’s the non-blacklisted airlines we should be worried about!”

Without questioning his logic, I proceeded to book our weekend trip before he could have any second thoughts.

Cebu Pacific’s website looks pristine and functions flawlessly. In fact, I would say it’s significantly better than national carrier Philippine Airlines’ site. However, Cebu Pacific is an ULCC, which means that any add-ons cost extra. I was completely fine with that, but when they added a $59 HKD “web administration fee”, I was less than pleased to say the least. Considering this unavoidable fee was not advertised in the original fare, it was completely misleading and I’m sure would be illegal in the USA. Oh well, the Philippines is not the U.S.!

Anyway, seat selection can only be done for a fee so we just left our allotted seats, 18A & 18B, unchanged.

Hong Kong (HKG):


Feeling too hungover to deal with the MTR and Airport Express, we elected for the 50 minute taxi drive to Chep Lap Kok from our university in Sha Tin. The weather was rather terrible, so I was hoping our flight would be unaffected.

Being the first time I had ever departed from HKIA, I was blown away as I walked into the check-in area. This airport had great architecture, many open spaces, and was well-maintained.





There were three check-in desks open for our flight, and we were next in line. It seemed they were having issues at each of the desks, as we waited roughly 15 minutes until a desk freed up. The agent was emotionless, and the check-in process took longer than I would have thought considering we had no bags. She asked to see our return tickets to ensure that we had plans to depart the Philippines. Nonetheless, check-in was completed successfully, and she also informed us that the flight was operating on-time.

5J has such creative boarding passes. Note how she circled the blank “gate” field:



Security and immigration was a breeze, although immigration always seems to take twice as long compared to others thanks to my HK student visa. Our gate was not yet posted on the FIDS, so we hung out by the McDonalds until our gate was announced.



I can’t recall our exact gate of departure, but it was in the 500s. We followed signs towards our gate area, only to find ourselves at an apparent shuttle bus station. I was slightly confused, but it made sense shortly after. Our flight was to depart from that satellite terminal, where the few narrowbodies that fly into HKG operate from.

QF A380:









Our aircraft arrived a little late from MNL, but I was glad to see we’d at least be departing sometime this evening. My expectations for this airline were as low as they could go.

They have a great livery though, there’s no doubt about that.





Boarding began late at about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, although I was impressed with how quickly they turned around the aircraft.

Cebu Pacific flight 5J 119:


Date: 25 July 2013
Airline: Cebu Pacific Air
Flight: 5J 119
Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Aircraft Registration: RP-C3242
Departure City: Hong Kong, SAR
Departure Airport: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH)
Arrival City: Manila, Philippines
Arrival Airport: Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL / RPLL)
Scheduled Departure Time: 7:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 7:49 PM (19 minutes late)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:20 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 8:23 PM (3 minutes late)
Class: Economy
Estimated Load Factor: 100%

As I entered the fresh-looking A320, I was in immediate shock. These flight attendants were HOT; easily the most attractive group of cabin crew members I had ever seen. Bonus points for Cebu Pacific right away! Things took a turn for the worse when I quickly realized that Cebu Pacific’s seats were the most uncomfortable, cramped contraptions I have probably ever sat in. It wasn’t just the tiny amount of legroom, but the ergonomics of the seat were absolutely appalling. This was going to be an uncomfortable flight.



Throughout the boarding process, pre-recorded safety announcements were played over the PA.





Even though boarding began late, everyone was seated and ready to go by the time our departure time came around.

However, we pushed back about 20 minutes late without any explanation, and the flight attendants conducted a manual safety demonstration. We then taxied at a painstakingly slow pace to runway 7R where our aircraft performed a rather unspectacular takeoff into the rainy Hong Kong sky.

I noticed the FAs serving meals to select passengers throughout the plane, so I tried to order something from B.O.B. menu. I was told to “wait a minute”, which I thought was kind of weird. I then figured that the passengers being served must have pre-ordered their meals on the internet.

The cabin crew eventually came down the aisle with the cart offering drinks, meals, and snacks for sale. The B.O.B. menu was actually very comprehensive and appealing. They offered hot meals and various types of drinks, which was night and day compared to the crap that is sold on the B.O.B. menus of U.S. carriers.

Only cash was accepted on this flight, which is always somewhat of an inconvenience.







I ordered some type of beef meal, which wasn’t bad at all.



While they lacked some of the refinement of the big Asian players, this Cebu Pacific crew was very friendly in a much more down-to-earth way. The smiles were natural, and they were comfortable conversing with us in English.

The captain announced our descent over the PA in incomprehensible English, and I was interested to see what kind of landing was in store for us. I thought a runway excursion was unlikely because of MNL’s long runway, but that still left the possibility of grazing over the approach lights like another Cebu Pacific flight did just last month. The weather in MNL was perfect, so I figured the chances of a runway undershoot or overshoot were slim. Oh wait…

Manila (MNL):


Cebu Pacific managed to exceed expectations though, and our landing was an incredibly smooth one into Ninoy Aquino airport. We made a swift taxi to Terminal 3, where we were on stand about 3 minutes behind schedule. Not bad!

Of course the jetway was broken, so we exited the aircraft via airstairs, and then climbed back up the jetway stairs. The terminal, considering how new it was, could not have been in a more sorry state. Moving sidewalks were broken, ceiling panels were missing, and it just had a general dilapidated feel to it. Perhaps it was just the arrivals section, but I was not impressed to say the least. With that said, immigration was painless and we were soon on our way to our hotel in Intramurous.

Conclusion:


I was actually pretty impressed with Cebu Pacific. Very inexpensive ticket prices, modern aircraft, great cabin crew, and an on-time arrival are hard to beat. These aspects left me pleasantly surprised, however the hidden unavoidable booking fee and the absolutely atrocious seats really detracted from the entire experience. I don’t think being an ULCC really excuses either of those things. I would definitely fly Cebu Pacific on a sub 2-hour flight, but for the sake of my back, I would likely pay a premium to sit in a more comfortable seat on another airline for anything longer than that.

Manila, Philippines:


We had two nights to explore Manila, and I was blown away with how friendly the Filipinos were! I don’t think I’ve ever been treated so well by complete strangers in my entire life, and my friend completely agreed. Perhaps I was just accustomed to the Hong Kong locals often avoiding eye contact and making all efforts to steer clear of me, but I was still very surprised.

Additionally, the food was fantastic and the USD goes a LONG way. I am surprised this isn’t a more popular tourist destination, but I for one know I will be back to the Philippines.

Our hotel was situated in Intramurous, which is the historical district of Manila. While it was great for sightseeing during the day, it was quite a hike from Makati, which is where all nightlife and entertainment is located.















These people were frantically asking me to take a photo of them:







Our Hotel, The Bayleaf Intramurous, was incredibly nice for the price we paid.



Thank you for reading, and keep an eye out for my next two Trip Reports!

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER ORD-HKG In Y (by MHTripple7 Jul 20 2013 in Trip Reports)
Taag Angola 737-700 Luanda-Lubango In Y (by MHTripple7 Nov 19 2012 in Trip Reports)
Taag Angola 777-300ER Lisbon-Luanda In Y (by MHTripple7 Nov 7 2012 in Trip Reports)
TAP Portugal A330-200 Miami-Lisbon In Y (by MHTripple7 Aug 19 2012 in Trip Reports)
Aborted Landing And Diversion: Qantas 738 SYD-ZQN (by MHTripple7 Jul 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
Virgin Blue 737-800 Sydney-Cairns In Y (by MHTripple7 May 9 2011 in Trip Reports)
V Australia 777-300ER Brisbane-Los Angeles In Y (by MHTripple7 Apr 20 2011 in Trip Reports)
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16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 777 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 7622 times:

Nice short report !
Cebu Pacific is not as bad as Ryanair among the ULCC´s but lacks experienced / customer oriented staff in particular.

You were lucky because your flight was only a few minutes late. Inparticular considering the time of day !
It´s common to be much much more late.
Although the reason is not only the airline but much more the congestion at MNL.
Delays mount in the course of the day - the later in the day the more and longer delays -

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
Of course the jetway was broken, so we exited the aircraft via airstairs, and then climbed back up the jetway stairs.

Wrong conclusion ...
They don´t pay the "premium" for using the jetway.
So, passengers have to deboard and board without the comfort of a jetway.



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2417 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 7530 times:

Nice TR!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
I seemed be finding myself flying on yet another airline with questionable safety practices.

I would be worried flying ZEST AIR:

http://www.philstar.com/business/201...-air-under-heightened-surveillance


User currently offlineflyingdoc787 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 39 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 7357 times:

Excellent report! You have an entertaining narrative style, punctuated with occasional humor, and the pictures are impressive. Did you make it to areas outside of Manila?
I've never been to Terminal 3, so I'm disappointed to hear about its sad state. I hope they can fix it up and make the necessary updates. Supposedly, there are also plans to renovate Terminal 1.
Looking forward to your future TR's.


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1926 posts, RR: 24
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7220 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another great report, MHTripple7!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
They offered hot meals and various types of drinks, which was night and day compared to the crap that is sold on the B.O.B. menus of U.S. carriers.

Sounds like Cebu Pacific is a decent option for a short flight. Yes, the BOB on US airlines is very poor; mostly just junk food, and candy, etc.

Matthew


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6566 times:

Hello

Great TR, thanks for sharing.
legroom looks cramped on Cebu.
Nice Manilla pics as well.


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6550 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day ago) and read 6451 times:

Hi MHTripple7 !

Very nice report with nice pictures !

5J doesn't look so great except for the meal which looks really good and good size portion too.

Nice pictures from Manila!

Very much looking forward to your next report !

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlinejetsetter629 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 439 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 6221 times:

Hi MHTripple7,
Thanks for the pictures of Cebu Pacific and Manila - both seem to be rare in trip reports! I am looking to fly Cebu Pacific from Osaka to Manila within the next few months - it's a 4+ hour flight, but they are by far the cheapest. Seems like they are neither great nor bad, but rather "serviceable". After looking at your legroom, I will certainly pay extra for the exit row.


User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 926 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 6204 times:

Hi Will, great TR and fantastic photos. Yes flying with a hangover is not ideal!   I have often wondered whtat 5J was like. I am surprised that they do not have extra legroom type of seats on offer? Hope you got along well in school in HG. I am sure that the locals were in awe of you being a blond hair/blue eyed guy. Something you do not see there everyday!  
Cheers, Will



Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6748 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5772 times:

Hi MHTripple7,

very good report with nice pictures! Cebu Pacific looks okay, but I agree, wouldn't take it on a longer flight.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
Things took a turn for the worse when I quickly realized that Cebu Pacific’s seats were the most uncomfortable, cramped contraptions I have probably ever sat in.

That's tight!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineDevilfish From Philippines, joined Jan 2006, 4798 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5504 times:

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
It wasn’t just the tiny amount of legroom, but the ergonomics of the seat were absolutely appalling.
Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
but for the sake of my back, I would likely pay a premium to sit in a more comfortable seat on another airline for anything longer than that

You might want to try PR's 'premium economy' next time.....

http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/120489/pal-welcomes-airbus-a321

Quote:
"For people who just can’t seem to fit into economy seats, the new premium economy class offers more space but with slimmer design and a 34-in pitch."

http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/files/2013/08/t0817PJ-PAL_feat6_5.jpg


Thanks for the nice photos of the city's historical section and the balanced view.



"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
User currently offlineDevilfish From Philippines, joined Jan 2006, 4798 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (1 year 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5333 times:

Quoting flyingdoc787 (Reply 3):
I've never been to Terminal 3, so I'm disappointed to hear about its sad state. I hope they can fix it up and make the necessary updates.

There has been a little progress.....

http://business.inquirer.net/137791/...or-to-rehabilitate-naia-terminal-3

Quote:
"MANILA, Philippines—The government has finally sealed a P1.9 billion deal with contractor Takenaka Corp. of Japan to bring the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 to full operational status next year but the rehabilitation itself could take longer than initially expected.

In a statement on Saturday, the Department of Transportation and Communications said it had 'reached an agreement' with Takenaka with an eye toward having Terminal 3 fully operational by August 2014.

This was pushed back from the original plan to complete the project by the first quarter of 2014.

'We just put a little buffer for contingency,' Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a text message.

Under the terms of the agreement, Takenaka will complete the work within 12 months, DOTC said. This will include baggage handling, flight information displays, computer terminals, gate coordination, and fire protection systems."



We may yet look forward to a very much improved T3 at NAIA by Q3 of next year.   



"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1105 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (1 year 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5263 times:

Hi all, thanks for the comments!

Quoting MHG (Reply 1):

Nice short report !
Cebu Pacific is not as bad as Ryanair among the ULCC´s but lacks experienced / customer oriented staff in particular.

Thank you! Ok, I have never flown FR, but I was curious to how 5J compared to them.

Quoting MHG (Reply 1):
You were lucky because your flight was only a few minutes late. Inparticular considering the time of day !
It´s common to be much much more late.
Although the reason is not only the airline but much more the congestion at MNL.
Delays mount in the course of the day - the later in the day the more and longer delays -

So delays in the Philippines are typically ATC related? Cebu Pacific boasts a 66% on-time record on their website, which is not too impressive.

Quoting MHG (Reply 1):
Wrong conclusion ...
They don´t pay the "premium" for using the jetway.
So, passengers have to deboard and board without the comfort of a jetway.

Well I saw a sign that said "This jetway is undergoing maintenance, we apologize for the inconvenience". But I guess that was just a coincidence?

Quoting debonair (Reply 2):
Nice TR!

Thanks debonair!

Quoting debonair (Reply 2):
I would be worried flying ZEST AIR:

Wow! We actually almost booked a flight with them from MNL to CEB. I'm glad we steered clear.

Quoting flyingdoc787 (Reply 3):
Excellent report! You have an entertaining narrative style, punctuated with occasional humor, and the pictures are impressive. Did you make it to areas outside of Manila?

Thank you! Yes, we went to Cebu as well. I am currently in the process of putting together two more Trip Reports on PR and PAL Express.

Quoting flyingdoc787 (Reply 3):
I've never been to Terminal 3, so I'm disappointed to hear about its sad state. I hope they can fix it up and make the necessary updates. Supposedly, there are also plans to renovate Terminal 1.
Looking forward to your future TR's.

I was looking forward to seeing what is was like, but was definitely disappointed by the state it was in.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
Another great report, MHTripple7!

Appreciate it, 767747!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
Sounds like Cebu Pacific is a decent option for a short flight. Yes, the BOB on US airlines is very poor; mostly just junk food, and candy, etc.

I also think the snack boxes they offer are quite strange. For instance, I've seen snack boxes on offer that contain 5 bags of different types of chips. Who would want that?! Nobody wants to eat 5 bags of chips on a flight.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 5):
Great TR, thanks for sharing.
legroom looks cramped on Cebu.
Nice Manilla pics as well.

Thank you MSS658!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 6):
Very nice report with nice pictures !

5J doesn't look so great except for the meal which looks really good and good size portion too.

Nice pictures from Manila!

Very much looking forward to your next report !

Great to hear from you Lars! Yes, 5J is definitely an airline where 'you get what you pay for'.

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 7):
Thanks for the pictures of Cebu Pacific and Manila - both seem to be rare in trip reports! I am looking to fly Cebu Pacific from Osaka to Manila within the next few months - it's a 4+ hour flight, but they are by far the cheapest. Seems like they are neither great nor bad, but rather "serviceable". After looking at your legroom, I will certainly pay extra for the exit row.

If you can manage to secure an exit row and it still comes out to be significantly cheaper, I'd definitely recommend 5J. However, if you are a normal sized person or larger, I just don't know if it'd be worth the excruciating discomfort in a normal row for such a long flight.


Quoting globalflyer (Reply 8):

Hi Will, great TR and fantastic photos. Yes flying with a hangover is not ideal!   I have often wondered whtat 5J was like. I am surprised that they do not have extra legroom type of seats on offer? Hope you got along well in school in HG. I am sure that the locals were in awe of you being a blond hair/blue eyed guy. Something you do not see there everyday!  
Cheers, Will

I too am shocked they don't have an extra legroom section. Perhaps this will be something they offer in the future. I'm sure they is a market for it. School in HK was great! One of the best experiences of my life.

Haha perhaps that is the explanation for the friendliness. I've been to several countries where I have been stared at, but this is the first time where so many people have been genuinely friendly towards me (without trying to get money from me). It left a really positive impression.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9):
very good report with nice pictures! Cebu Pacific looks okay, but I agree, wouldn't take it on a longer flight.

Thanks PlaneHunter!

Quoting Devilfish (Reply 10):
You might want to try PR's 'premium economy' next time.....

Thanks, I will check that out next time I find myself heading to the Philippines.

Quoting Devilfish (Reply 10):
Thanks for the nice photos of the city's historical section and the balanced view.

Thank you for the kind words!


User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 777 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (1 year 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 5102 times:

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 12):
Wow! We actually almost booked a flight with them from MNL to CEB. I'm glad we steered clear.

Well, finally CAAP has grounded Zest Air last friday for violating various regulations (most of them safety related) ...
This grounding was overdue !
Just bad luck for Air Asia as they just lost access to MNL this way.



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 14, posted (1 year 3 days ago) and read 4776 times:

Hi MH.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
my roommate and I felt that we needed a weekend getaway from the tedious MTR train rides, lack of personal space, and the general hustle and bustle of any large city.

Well, Philippines is a medicine for all this. Although Manila is still a really chaotic city, but at least it has character.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
Cebu Pacific’s website looks pristine and functions flawlessly.

Yeah it is good, and their prices and promotions are excellent. There was a problem booking with credit cards for many years, but they resolved it.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Thread starter):
blown away with how friendly the Filipinos were! I don’t think I’ve ever been treated so well by complete strangers in my entire life, and my friend completely agreed. Perhaps I was just accustomed to the Hong Kong locals often avoiding eye contact and making all efforts to steer clear of me, but I was still very surprised.

It's a bit of paradise. They Filipinos are great, intelligent and spirited people. It has the strongest character of all the Asian countries IMO.

What do you study?

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineAkiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 784 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4407 times:

Greetings from the Philippines, MHTripple7!

Odd that I was in Hong Kong and Manila around the time you are/were here. I could have shown you around! 

Either way though, I hope you enjoyed the Philippines, and I'm glad you escaped the monsoon which had wrecked havoc here in Manila, as well as in the surrounding provinces.

Quoting MHG (Reply 13):
Well, finally CAAP has grounded Zest Air last friday for violating various regulations (most of them safety related) ...
This grounding was overdue !

The suspension was lifted already, actually.


User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 777 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 13 hours ago) and read 4082 times:

Quoting Akiestar (Reply 15):
The suspension was lifted already, actually.

That´s correct but only three airframes are considered airworthy by CAAP at the moment.
Which doesn´t mean the other ones were dangerous to fly - it´s just the maintenance logs that were not properly followed/checked by Zest Air.

The main reason for the grounding was that Ely Tabora was somewhat forced into retirement on july 19th leaving Zest Air without an accountable manager since ...
AAP management made a quick 180 after the grounding and non-acceptance of Alfredo Yao as accountable manager by CAAP (due to not being qualified for this position)
So, Tabora is back in-house ...
Still, other deficiencies are still there and CAAP will look into them thoroughly !



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
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