This blog post tells the story of my worst travel experience this year, courtesy of Zest Air.
I decided to write about this because I think there really is a need for Zest Air to change how they do their business, specially in the area of customer service.
I hope you will be patient enough to read through everything that happened that fateful night of October 18, 2010 in Bacolod.
I attended the MassKara 2010 festival and it was time for me to go home. My flight schedule for Bacolod to Manila was originally on October 18, 7:20 PM via Zest Air.
7:00 PM: Intercom announces that Zest Air flight will be delayed. Flight will be 8:00 PM.
8:00 PM: No announcements. Zest Air staff is nowhere in sight. Airstrip is empty. I thought our flight was 8:00 PM?!?
8:20 PM: Zest Air staff shows up, begins distributing dinner (One-piece Mang Inasal and warm Zesto) to passengers. They announced that our aircraft has just arrived (we know, we just saw it touch down).
9:00 PM: Airport intercom announces that our flight is ready for boarding. Passengers line up at the gate.
9:15 PM: No Zest Air staff in sight. Airport intercom announces that our Zest Air flight has been canceled. WTF?!?
The passengers immediately went to the Zest Air ticketing office to get an explanation of what just happened. We found the staff
hiding locked inside the ticketing office, having a meeting.
9:30 PM: Zest Air Bacolod branch manager goes out. Announces that our plane had technical problems and would not be able to fly (pilot windshield cracked due to bird strike). We have to wait for the aircraft from Manila coming at 8:30 AM.
Okay, cool. So where’s our hotel accommodations?
9:45 PM: Branch manager makes phone calls to Manila office and then announces that they will not be providing hotel accommodations for the passengers. Instead, they just offered to give us P150 each so we can ride a taxi back to Bacolod city and try our luck in finding a place to spend the night.
Passengers in chaos, disbelieve and disgust.
10:00 PM: Zest Air staff begins to bring out our luggage at their check-in counter. Told us to go out once we get our bags because the airport is now closing.
10:20 PM: All bags have been distributed and guess what, none of the passengers went out. Everyone stayed and camped inside. Airport now looked like a refugee camp. Security looked like they’re now on alert for possible riot (several guards came and patrolled the area).
Meanwhile, during all this time – some of the passengers talked to the Zest Air branch manager and tried to fight for hotel accommodations despite earlier decision by Manila office not to give us any.
11:30 PM: Finally, after more than an hour of chaos and showing “civil disobedience” inside the airport (LOL) – the passengers were told by the Zest Air branch manager that she has been given the authority to provide hotel accommodations.
12:20 AM: The last shuttle carrying the Zest Air passengers left the airport and began their 30-minute long trip to the
hotel pension house. (Yes, the airport is that far from the city and I was one of the last passengers to get on the shuttle service).
1:30 AM: Just finished taking a bath and was ready to get some rest. I set my phone to alarm at 5:00 AM. Shuttle service will come for us by 6:00 AM.
2:30 AM: Everyone started to receive phone calls that our flight is now at 4:00 AM and the shuttle service will be back for us by 3:00 AM. Still half-asleep, I organized my stuff and got ready.
3:30 AM: Arrived at the airport, which is still closed. WTF?!?
4:00 AM: Airport finally opens. Zest Air staff announces that our flight is 6:30 AM. While we all lined up to check in our bags once again, some passengers expressed their opinion that Zest Air might have only paid for a 3-hour stay that’s why they had to lie about the 4:00 AM flight schedule. I agree with the conspiracy theory.
6:30 AM: No announcements. Zest Air staff is nowhere in sight. I thought our flight was 6:30 AM?!?
7:00 AM: We saw a Zest Air plane arrive. Intercom announces the arrival of our aircraft. Zest Air flight attendants and pilots arrive at the terminal – all fresh and well-rested, but trying to avoid eye contact from the passengers who are all looking at them in disdain. LOL.
7:40 AM: Intercom announces that we are ready for boarding.
8:30 AM: Thirteen hours and 10 minutes after our original flight schedule. I finally begin my journey back to Manila. Thank you Zest Air.
And just in case you’re thinking that this is just an isolated case, I must tell you this is not the first time that bad customer service from Zest Air happened to me.
Read the story of my Cebu-Manila Zest Air flight through Byahilo here:
Zest Air Flights s-u-c-k bigtime: My 9hr flight delay experience
Still not convinced? What about this Iloilo-Manila Zest Air story from BatangYagit:
Zest Air Philippines – a horrible passenger experience
Zest Air Review: 1 out of 5 stars: a not-so-refreshing airline.