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Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:49 pm

AirPhil Express Flight 88
Surigao to Cebu
February 2013

For those of you who followed my other trip report you might recall on the way to Surigao from Cebu we took the ferry. This wound up not being an enjoyable experience for me since I suffer easy from motion sickness. Even with a cabin in the center of the ferry, I barely survived the 12 hour voyage. So on the trip back to Cebu we opted to take a ride on AirPhil Express. A great decision as this turned out to be one of my most enjoyable flying experiences in quite some time. We booked online using their website and the total airfare for both Gracy and I was less than $60. We did have a problem with our credit card being rejected and I had to call their customer service number to complete the booking over the telephone.

We began the day by leaving the hotel in Tandag at around 6:00 in the morning. The road from Tandag to Surigao is 90% paved and overall in good condition. There is however, about a 20 mile section which takes you over a mountain pass which is single lane and can be quite dangerous. We chartered a car for approximately $100 for the 4 hour ride North.

End of the pavement in sight and up into the mountains we go!

The guardrail condition is not reassuring.

Reaching the top of the pass everything is very muddy since its presently the rainy season. A bus company called Bachelor Express runs full size 60 passenger buses along this road multiple times per day year round. I can’t even begin to imagine how scary that must be.

But we soon hit pavement and its smooth sailing for the rest of the ride.

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines and is known as 'the land of promise'. Its rich in natural resoucres and lots of mining for copper and other ore occurs in this region. The water near the coast is stained brown from the run-off and the dirt pollution from loading the ore onto ships headed to China and Japan.

We stopped for breakfast along the way. Everything was yummy!

Continued below….
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:08 am

We arrived to the Surigao Airport at 10:30 am. My brother and sister in-law where also traveling with us today but they would be taking the ferry back since they had 2 chickens and other luggage to transport back to Cebu. Our flight was not scheduled to depart until 3 pm so we had quite a bit of time to wait before check-in.

Unsure if they would let us into the terminal 5 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart we decided to have a look around. We sat under the white tent for a while until we noticed there was a nearby restaurant. We made sure to buy quite a bit to eat and drink to keep the owner happy and to compensate her for allowing us to sit around for a few hours enjoying the cool breeze of the many electric fans inside. The other buidlings around the terminal are all selling tour and resort packages. Surigao is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines.

Around 12:30 pm we approached the guard at the departure entrance door and asked if we could check in for our flight to Cebu. He said yes and we quickly showed our passport and tickets and where allowed inside the terminal. Immediatley inside was an x ray machine, but it was broken, so a manual inspection of our bags were completed by the security officer on duty and we were both pat searched by hand.

The check in area was empty for the most part and we were immediately helped by staff. AirPhil Express charges A LOT to check baggage, so today we made sure to travel only carry on bag. The in-laws would transport all our other luggage back to Cebu on the ferry.

Sorry for the blurry photo. But the lady in the table in the center in the photo is whom we paid our terminal fee before proceeding to a final security checkpoint and off to the left you can see the initial broken x-ray machine

As we proceeded to the pre-departure area there was one final security check. Again, the x-ray machine was broken here as well. Another manual inspection of our bag and pat search of both Gracy and I. The departure hall was quite full with passengers waiting for the AirPhil flight to Manila.
Manila flight
After boarding of the Manila flight was complete the departure hall was empty. A very basic set up with a few tv's and air conditioning. One thing I will say is that the bathrooms where very clean. There was also one small shop in the pre departure area to buy noodles and other snacks. I enjoyed waiting for our flight and we had an amazing view of the ramp.
Within 5 minutes of the flight to Manila's departure our plane landed. Well ahead of schedule. I was quite surprised when boarding began for our flight to Cebu at 2pm. It looks like an early departure today! No tug for the baggage cart here. Far to expensive when manual labor is so cheap. I counted a total of 9 ground staff working todays flight.
Big Engines!
Clean interior and very comfy seats. I recall that the flight online shows one hour but the pilot informed us it would only take 25 minutes to fly to Cebu . They must pad their schedule quite generously to compensate for ground and weather delays at the big airports like Manila and Cebu.

More coming soon...
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:33 am

I got distracted this afternoon and I finally found a little time to wrap up this report.  

So back on the plane Gracy and I were impressed with how comfortable and spacious the Q400 was. I’m 6’ 2’’ and I felt completely relaxed with the seat pitch. We were origionally seated in the mid-section behind the wing but due to weigh and balance we had to move to the very rear of the aircraft. My only complaint was the windows were so dirty! So here are some photos from our taxi, takeoff, and during the flight to Cebu. No drink or snacks are served but newspapers were offered to all passengers.

Terminal, fire/rescue building, and air traffic control tower in view

And into the clouds we go. . . . but just for a couple minutes. Than it was back to blue skies and amazing views!
Deep blue sea!
Approaching Mactan island and Cebu.

Many resorts off in the distance.

Gear down and on final

Approaching the airfield

We taixied to a remote stand and disembarked the airplane and took a bus to the terminal. Since we had no luggage to claim we proceeded directly outside the terminal to the taxi stand. 45 minutes later we arrived at the hotel where we spent another 4 days before heading back to the USA.

Overall this was an amazing flight. Even with dirty windows I had some of the best views I’ve ever experienced. The Q400 is an amazing aircraft and one I hope to experience this plane again in the future. Oh, and we arrived in Cebu at 2:50pm. 5 minutes before our scheduled departure time from Surigao. Now that is EXPRESS service!
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:32 am


Interesting review, thanks for sharing this exotic route.
Nice pics of the Surigao area as well.

Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:01 am

Hi, great TR, always nice to read from such "exotic" places and airlines...

For your information, AirPhil Express does not longer exist - the airline was re-branded as PAL EXPRESS to show more the roots to their parent company:
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:29 pm

That was a nice Q400! Really loving all these amazing pictures of the Philippines.


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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:19 pm


Very nice report again with very nice pictures !

The road thru the mountain looks really scary. I can't imagine going thru there on a bus.....

Nice flight but very short! Nice that they gave out newspapers and the flight was way too short for a drink service.

Looking forward to your next report!

Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:37 pm

Nice report, and I can't wait to fly them. I'm booked on their Dash 8-300 from a small airport also.

Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
For your information, AirPhil Express does not longer exist - the airline was re-branded as PAL EXPRESS

Seems untrue. The website, company logo, payment systems and all state AirPhil Express as company name and operator, booked the tickets just 2 days ago using a Dutch creditcard, without any issues btw.

Great pics from the road to the airport  

"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:58 pm

Airphil Express is no more since 15 March. It's PAL Express like the Q300/400 were originally branded. Very wise move IMO. Now a flight to PPS or KLO on a 2P A320 carries the PR livery and service also.

Airphil Express was never an airline, it was a (stupid but necessary) rebranding of APC (Air Philippines Corporation). Their 732ops failed completely and any trust was gone.

They have apparently found somebody with a brain to make every flight "Your Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines flight 001". Same flight numbers always. All A320s will be repainted to PR scheme, same (poor) complimentary service.

Nice report but that Q400 looked like a war zone 2 years ago. It's the SAS config, they upholstered the seats like 5J did on the early 319s. That's why good legroom.

The Q300 to MPH is a pure torture chamber with 29"ish legroom.


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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:17 am

I believe this flight was originally suppose to be on the Q300. Aircraft swap was the reason they gave when we were given new seat assignments prior to boarding. I have no experience with any of AirPhil Express's other aircraft but this was a true joy to ride on. And I'm glad they will be rebranding as PAL Express. It makes much more sense and tells me PALs reputation is improving. Otherwise I think they would have kept the airline seperate for a while longer. I just wish they would clean those windows! Even looking at these photos now makes me wish I was back in the Philippines. Only 21 more years before retirement. And Gracy and I do plan to retire outside Tandag.
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:23 am

Quoting roadrunner165 (Reply 9):
I just wish they would clean those windows!

Come on! Dirty window? Are you kidding?   
These passengers have a dirty window:
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RE: Airphil Express Surigao To Cebu Q400

Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:43 pm

Always nice to read about a domestic flight in the Phillipines . The Dash is for sure a great aircraft, nice to hear you had some great views!



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