It was time for another trip for me and my schedule was set to go to Biri Islands in Samar. I booked my flight with AirPhil Express formerly Air Philippines – something I’ve been doing since I promised never to take Zest Air again.
After this very interesting experience, I decided to write an AirPhil Express review. This is NOT a sponsored post okay? So just enjoy reading as I tell my story and what happened to me that day.
I had a Manila to Catarman flight set at 6:00 AM. I was at the NAIA Terminal 3 airport at 5:00 AM and patiently lined-up to go inside the airport.
5:15 AM – I reached the check-in counters of AirPhil Express. No signs of Catarman. I asked one of their staff and he said that they already closed the check-in.
WAAAAAH! I missed my flight?!
Well, actually, the AirPhil Express staff said that they decided to close the check-in early because the flight only had a few passengers and thought that at 5:00 AM, no one will come anymore.
He asked the manager if there’s really time for me to come in to the flight, and the manager was kind enough to say yes. YES!!! Catarman here I come!
Note to Self: Never try to come exactly on time again. I never missed a flight before doing that but I realized I need to give myself more time allowance if I want to avoid such panic attacks. Hehe.
5:50 AM – Intercom announces that our flight is ready for boarding.
6:00 AM – Already comfortably seated inside the plane, looking out the window, I saw the last piece of luggage, which was by bag, being put inside the plane. A few minutes after, the plane took off.
My ETA in Catarman is 7:15 AM. And what I usually do during the flight is sleep while I have my iPod playing music to my ear.
7:05 AM – Stewardess woke me up and said that the plane will be landing in a few minutes. So I got ready and looked out the window… it was a bright and sunny day at Catarman.
7:06 AM – I had aisle seats so it took a while before I could catch a glimpse of the land below. When I did, I was really surprised because I did not expect to see how urbanized this part of Samar is.
There were lots of buildings, some even looked like skyscrapers, and lots of cars on busy streets and highways. It was awesome to see and discover such a modern city in this part of Eastern Visayas.
7:20 AM – Our plane just landed and saw how big the Catarman airport was… hmmm… wait a minute… why is there a Singapore Airlines plane here?!
“Sir, nasa Manila po ulit tayo,” the passenger beside me suddenly said. “Bad weather kasi sa Bicol area, kaya bumalik tayo.”
WAAAAAH! I’m back in Manila?!
A few minutes later, we were back at Gate 131 in NAIA Terminal 3. The AirPhil Express staff said that they’re waiting for weather updates in Catarman before they could decide what they’ll do to us.
If weather conditions improve, we’ll go back to the airplane and fly. If not, then they’ll have to reschedule our flight. Hohum… it’s the end of March and supposed to be summer already in the country but it’s still raining hard in some parts… that’s global warming for you.
Anyway, I decided to grab a quick breakfast while waiting for the announcement.
7:40 AM – No announcement at the airport intercom regarding our flight. I gathered my stuff and approached the AirPhil Express staff.
“Sir, ba’t andito pa po kayo? Cancelled na po ang flight ninyo. Nasa baggage claim area na po ang mga kasama ninyo,” said the staff. “Andun na rin po yung mag-a-assist sa inyo papuntang hotel.”
WAAAAAH! Naiwan na naman ako?!
Apparently, the announcement came just a few seconds after I left to buy breakfast. The AirPhil Express staff didn’t make an intercom announcement and just ushered my fellow passengers to the baggage claim area.
Fortunately, the staff was kind enough to accompany me to the area where the other passengers are. I arrived at the already empty baggage claim area and immediately took my luggage, which was the only one left on the conveyor belt.
WAAAAAH! Buti na lang hindi nawala ang bag ko?!
8:00 AM – I approached the AirPhil Express staff handling our case. Her name is Ms. Aileen Guinto. I explained to her that I seem to be running late at everything today and asked her what’s happening.
She said that I had two choices. First is to take the Manila to Calbayog flight the next day, or second – to have my ticket refunded.
If I took the first choice, AirPhil Express will take and check me in at Century Park Hotel, Manila, where I will stay with some of the passengers. However, if I took the second choice, I will be refunded P486 (it was a seat sale promo ticket).
The choice seemed obvious but I had a tour schedule in Samar which I was supposed to join when they pass by Catarman the next day. Calbayog, which is two hours away from Catarman by land, will force me to travel alone by land to Catarman just to catch up with the tour group.
WAAAAAH! Baka mawala ako?!
Anyway, I updated Leyte Gulf Tavel & Tours regarding my situation and they said that it’s okay for them to pick me up in Calbayog instead. Now that’s a relief. But that also meant forcing them to make an unscheduled, out-of-the-way trip just for me. Hmmm, I sort of didn’t want that.
So I asked Ms. Aileen, “Pwede bang travel vouchers na lang?”
“Yes sir! You can rebook your flight to another domestic destination. Free of charge,” she answered.
“Promo fare lang ang tickets ko,” I replied.
“Okay lang yun sir, ako bahala sa inyo,” she eagerly answered.
Now that’s great news for me! I checked my schedule and instantly decided to have travel vouchers for Tacloban in June, just in time for the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival 2011.
I remembered all the things I did in Leyte last year and would want to do them again actually. So just like Douglas MacArthur, I decided that “I shall return” to Tacloban this year.
Ma’am Ludette of Leyte Gulf Travel & Tours was likewise supportive of my decision and actually looked forward to seeing me again for the festival. Meanwhile, I confirmed my decision with Ms. Aileen and gave her my preferred travel dates. She then asked me to wait while she processes my request.
9:00 AM – I was back at the check-in area of NAIA Terminal 3, waiting for Ms. Aileen to come back to me. A few minutes after, she came with my tickets.
And the tickets… they’re booked with Philippine Airlines! Now that’s what I call BONGGA!
I really like how AirPhil Express handled the situation that day. Delayed and cancelled flights for whatever reason cannot be prevented – but there’s no excuse for bad customer service.
AirPhil Express was quick with their decisions and didn’t have to make us wait that long wondering what would happen to us. They were accommodating with our questions and treated everyone fairly – promo fare passenger or not.
Anyway, thanks again to Ms. Aileen Guinto for the assistance. Ikaw ay talagang BONGGA!
AirPhil Express Review: 4 out of 5 stars – I hope you can continue this good customer service.