Dear Philippine Airlines,
Thank you so much for the inconvenience you have caused thousands of people today. Everyone who missed their meetings, classes, events, ferries and all else are very grateful. After all, it’s such a pleasure to spend our entire day at the lovely NAIA, where the food is great, the people are nice and there is so much to do. To your rude and unhelpful employees, thank you for making the passengers feel even more hassled and disrespected. Sorry if we made you feel like it is part of your job to stay in the airport the whole day and assist us. We don’t deserve it, really. All we do is pay for your service, we really shouldn’t expect to be served. Oh, and before I forget, thank you for further aggravating bad foreign impressions on the Philippines. Who needs tourism anyway, right? You’re utmost rudeness and lack of professionalism will surely be remembered as one of the strong quality traits of all Filipinos.
read on if you want to know what really happened.
Its 10:30 AM. I get to the airport 2 hours before my flight, overestimating the Manila traffic. The moment I step in, I am greeted by a huge throng of people looking hopeless and pissed. I head on over to the main counter and ask where the line for the Cebu flights are. She points to my right and gives me an “I’m sorry” look. Worried, I went on my toes and peeked through the crowd. The counters designated for Cebu flights were one heck of a mess.
There were 3 counters, all jam packed with people. It was impossible to tell the lines apart! I had no idea where the lines started or ended, and it became apparent that my choice of 7 inch footwear was not the best decision I made for the day. I make my way through the crowd and spot a PAL (Philippine Airline) Employee explaining that their computer system is down, and that they’ve been issuing manual boarding passes the whole morning. She explained that for the Cebu destined passengers, they would be following a different course of action since the plane was bigger. They would have the international airport check everyone in instead, and just distribute the boarding passes and check in the bags later. All flights have been delayed, and my flight to Cebu was moved from 12:30 to 2:20. I asked her if that time was final, and if she was sure. She said yes. It didn’t sound like the best of plans, but who was I to say anything about it. So, I stay in line and wait.
An hour and some dead feet later, she finally arrives and asks random people in line for their family names. When she gets to me, I give her my surname, and she does not find my ticket. She tells me to wait some more.
30 minutes later, people are panicking. The line is catastrophic. People from the back of the line are shoving to get ahead, and there was a mosh pit of angry passengers at the base of the check-in counters. I head over to see what was going on. PAL was giving away boarding passes to everyone who asked. You know, screw the line. As if it doesn’t really matter that people have been waiting for hours. If you don’t assert yourself, you get no where. I hear a ton of complaints from behind me, but no one was speaking up. I asked the girl at the counter for my boarding pass and she says she can’t find it.
Kryz: So, I’m not on the list? Hows that?
PAL lady: You have to wait.
PAL man: No-go yan si ma’am.
Kryz: What do you mean no go?
PAL lady: Did you buy your ticket online?
PAL lady: Oh. It’s no-go.
Kryz: What??? What does that mean???
PAL man: Ganyan talaga yan, miss maganda.
Kryz: *staring angrily at PAL man* You mean I can’t fly? But I paid for my ticket.
PAL man: *whispering* paano na yan? puwede ba yan?
PAL lady: Ma’am, wait until I finish distributing everyones boarding passes. You used your credit card and we have to verify it.
Kryz: What do you have to verify? I already paid for it! I got billed already and it cleared! PAL doesn’t send you a confirmation ticket if it doesn’t clear. How do you think I got my ticket?
*Pal people ignore me*
Kryz: Miss, so what am I supposed to do? Just stand here and wait for another hour?
PAL man: Calm ka lang ma’am
Kryz: How do you expect me to stay calm when I’ve been standing in 7 inch heels for the past hour and a half without knowing what the hell is going on? While people who just arrived go straight to the counter and get their boarding passes and those who’ve been waiting in line are left to wait some more? Whats the use of a line that you don’t follow? Whats the use of selling tickets online if I can’t get my boarding pass? I don’t think its very professional of you to do this.
People behind me: yeah!! yeah!!
In attempts to shut me up, they write me a manual ticket, with nothing on it except my name and the flight number. I proceed to the pay for the terminal fee.
It’s 2PM and there have been no announcements for boarding. I walk over to the boarding gate and ask the guy behind the counter what time the delayed Cebu flight was.
PAL man: *sounding pissed* We have millions of flights, which one are you talking about?
Kryz: Uhh, the one for Cebu that was supposed to be at 2:20. The one that was delayed. The one that was assigned for this boarding gate. (since obviously, there could only be one)
PAL man: *interrupts me* Check you ticket for the flight number.
Kryz: PR 861
PAL man: 3:30.
So it was delayed again, and If I didn’t ask, no one would have told me. I walk over to the waiting area, sit down and pop open my iPad. Thank God for VLC. Meanwhile, there was a group of overly accessorized and attention seeking guys who kept looking at me and whispering. After a few minutes, they sit right infront of me, wear shades and stare the living crap out of me. Oh good God. Why. I look to my left, no one. To my right, no one. Yep, they were staring at me alright. Creeped out, I stand up and walk back to the coffee shop.
Its 3PM, 5 hours since I’ve arrived, and still no announcements. I contemplate on whether or not I should leave my seat at the coffee shop and walk to the counter. I look up from my iPad to find the same group of creepy guys sitting right beside me! WTF. Decision made, I walk to the counter and ask for the situation.
Kryz: Hi Miss, is the Cebu flight gonna board anytime soon?
PAL lady1: We’re boring Davao first. After this flight, we’ll board Cebu.
Kryz: Okay, so you mean it’s been delayed again?
PAL lady1: After Davao, we’ll board Cebu.
Kryz: Uhh okay. Can you check my boarding pass? I don’t have a seat number, is that okay?
PAL lady1: *typing into her computer* You’re not checked in.
Kryz: What? But im at the pre-departure area and I have a boarding pass. How can I not be?
PAL lady1: Please wait, maybe the system hasn’t reloaded yet.
So I wait again. Beside me is Zam, an Indian guy from HongKong. He complains about the whole situation to me and says that this is the first and last time he will ever fly Philippine Airlines. He says that he loves the Philippines but PAL is really unprofessional and unhelpful. “Its 2011, what computer failure are they talking about?” A guy from the UK hears our conversation and joins in. He talks about what a hassle PAL has been, and that all his plans have been ruined. He tells of a porter extorting money from him when he asks for help, and leaving right after he got the money, without helping him at all. He says that the whole country is crazy, and that he is never coming back. I apologize for what happened to him, and ask if there is any way I can help him. But he was pessimistic and already at a loss for hope. He was scheduled to arrive Cebu after lunch and catch a ferry at 4PM to Leyte, where he had already prebooked and paid for his entire itinerary. I look at my watch, and its 4PM. There is no way he’s going to make it. After a few more stories of disappointment, Zam tells me I should really follow up on my boarding pass.
Kryz: Hi again Miss, can you check if Im in the system already?
PAL lady1: Nope. Ask her. *Pointing to the lady boarding the davao bound passengers*
Kryz: Hi! My name isn’t on the system, what do I do?
PAL lady2: *ignores me for a few minutes*
PAL lady2: *stares at me* family name.
Kryz: Its “UY”
PAL lady2: Nope, not here.
Kryz: Yes, I know. What do I do?
PAL lady2: I don’t know! Wait! Stand there! Stand somewhere!
Kryz: Lady, I’ve been standing somewhere for the past 6 hours, can’t you help me instead of —
PAL lady2: *interrupting me* sige sige, ipasok mo! *hands my boarding pass to PAL lady1*
I finally get my boarding pass and seat number. 30 minutes later, we finally board the plane. An hour later, we finally take off. Another hour later, we have a rough landing and finally arrive Cebu. The plane stops moving, the lights go on. Everyone stands to get their luggage. Then, an announcement.
Ladies and gentlemen, the plane has not yet parked. Please go back to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.
30 minutes later, we finally park. We walk into the Cebu airport and find angry passengers in the same situation.
It’s dinner time, and for thousands of passengers, that one hour flight turned into one whole wasted day the domestic airport.