Spell Saab

It was going to be my second time to celebrate my birthday with Maxx in Boracay! The last one was 2 years ago and we both agreed that November is really the perfect time to go there because of the beautiful weather and it’s almost empty shores especially along Station 1 of White Beach where we like to swim.

Our birthday weekend didn’t start so smoothly. A few weeks ago, Maxx called me up to let me know that she had to cancel her trip because of work. I was sad but I understood. Besides, Jim was going with me anyway. Elmo and Frank were also supposed to come along but had to beg off because of other engagements. I asked my friends if they could go with Jim and I since 4 days in Boracay sounded really fun but most of them could not leave work! At the start of the week though, Maxx confirmed that she was able to fix her schedule to come with us from Nov 22-24 instead of the original Nov 21-24. I didn’t want Maxx or Jim to feel like the third wheel (for when Jim and I start PDA-ing hahaha or when Maxx and I start girl talk) so I double checked with my friends and I was so happy that one of our best friends, Cholo, was game to go! He was set to leave 3PM of Nov 21, Friday. We were all set!

My flight with Jim was scheduled to leave at 8:40AM of Nov 21, Friday with Philippine Airlines. Because of all our previous flight “horror stories,” we made sure to be on time. You know what, I’m just going to give you a timeline of what happened so you can put yourself in my shoes flip-flops:

— SAABAE (@saabmagalona) November 21, 2014

06:00 – Take a quick shower.

06:15 – Look at your stuff and be proud because you’ve been packed since last night.

06:40 – In the elevator, Jim says “Don’t. Panic. Slowly move towards me.” and when you do, you see a huge cockroach on the wall right beside where you were previously standing. (I believe this was an omen for things to come. Yuck, OA yung “omen” haha)

07:00 – Call up PAL on the ride to the airport because your ticket does not indicate which terminal you’re supposed to depart from. (It’s common knowledge that domestic flights are always via Terminal 3 but I just wanted to double check and what if I’m not from here, right? They should really put that on the ticket.)

07:05 – Confirm that flight leaves from Terminal 3 and that you can go straight to boarding if you are already checked-in online. You have already checked-in online so you’re happy things are going perfectly.

07:20 – Arrive at NAIA and argue with Jim that you’re already checked in via web so you can go straight to the boarding gate like the girl from the hotline said.

07:21 – Be proven wrong when you are told to still pass by the desk where they print out your boarding pass on a thick piece of paper. Cry on the inside because you thought you were doing your part to decrease waste by downloading your boarding pass on your phone.

07:30 – Eat spam, eggs, and toast.

08:00 – Go to the boarding gate since boarding time is at 8:10AM.

08:10 – Be told that flight has been delayed and that boarding time has been moved to 8:50AM. (It’s nothing new so we just said “oh, okay!” and sat down trying to entertain ourselves)

08:55 – Start boarding a shuttle that will take you to your plane.

09:05 – You are just standing with your heavy bags because you refused to check them in. The shuttle is still not moving.

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09:15 – Feel a bit claustrophobic because seriously, the shuttle doors are closed and nothing is happening while you are standing very close to strangers like sardines.

09:20 – Jim says “let’s go!” out loud and kind of starts a mini-mutiny as other people in the shuttle start to fuss about being kept in a non-moving shuttle for 20 minutes now. The lady from PAL is on the other side of the shuttle beside the driver, with her back turned to all of you. She finally faces you and when you ask what was happening, she says she will check and steps out of the shuttle.

09:25 – Lady from PAL comes back and says they are just “waiting for clearance” and other passengers start raising their voices asking why we were asked to board the shuttle if the aircraft was not even ready. One passenger even asks, “kaninong kabobohan ito?!” and you are asked by the irate foreigners beside you to translate what was happening.

09:30 – Another lady from PAL enters the shuttle (as if it wasn’t already packed) and says you are going back into the airport because there’s something wrong with the aircraft. On the way back in, Jim says “ang sama naman ng service niyo..” to a guy from Philippine Airlines near the door. In response, the guy avoids eye contact, just smirks and blows a bit of air out his nose. You receive no apologies for being kept standing in that shuttle for over half an hour.

09:35 – You go to the desk and give feedback to the ladies of PAL who refuse to empathize with you. You say, “I wish you guys would let us know what’s happening as it happens and not just let us stand and wait until the very last minute like we are just bodies and not people. No one is even apologizing for that 30-minute wait.” The girl looks at you with dead eyes. You ask, “So you really won’t apologize for how the staff treated us like hostages out there?” Girl continues to look at you with dead eyes and gives a small smile like she is singing a Taylor Swift song in her head while you are complaining (they must be so used to complaints so they learn to tune you out). Give up, ask for her name and go back to your boarding gate.

09:40 – Tweet about experience, receive apology from PAL who asks you to DM them details. Give name of employee who was rude to you. Nothing crazy, just straight up feedback.

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10:48 – Entertain yourselves. Don’t go to the bathroom in case there’s any news about your flight.

11:18 – Go back to the desk (the original rude girl is gone because they changed shifts already) and ask about the flight. Girl says the new aircraft will arrive at 11:20AM.

11:19 – Go back to Jim at boarding gate 131 and let him know what the girl said. Jim looks at his watch and says it’s 11:19. You shrug and wait for further announcements patiently. You do not listen to music, you do not go to the bathroom. You listen to the millions of announcements while waiting for something about your own flight.

11:56 – You finally hear an announcement about a flight from Manila to Caticlan but instead of PR 2043 the announcement says flight PR 2049. You don’t want to take any chances so you still go to the desk and ask if your flight is finally boarding. It’s a little chaotic by the desk because there are passengers complaining, raising their voices about how their flight to Caticlan (the airport nearest Boracay) has been re-routed to Kalibo (1.5 hours away from Boracay). You ask 3 different girls from the staff who just keep passing you by and saying “wait lang po” making you feel like they have more important things to do.

12:02 – One of them finally gets back to you only to say your flight just took off.

12:03 – Dolly zoom moment

Seriously, guys… Say it with me: ANYARE?! They said they called our names but COME ON I was listening intently and I was at the boarding gate (the one listed on our boarding pass). Apparently they were boarding at gate 132 which was just about 100 meters away from where we were sitting. And I had just asked the girl about our flight at 11:19AM so obviously I was right there, waiting and ready to board.

Maybe it’s possible that I missed an announcement for flight PR2043 because I had been at the airport for 5 hours already and you can’t expect me to listen to each and every one of the announcements of all flights, even from different airlines. But I insist that I was listening very well, not distracted by anything especially after the girl said the aircraft was about to land shortly. It was impossible for me to miss hearing my name or Jim’s. It’s protocol for all flights to have a last call for passengers who are still not on the plane. It was incredibly ridiculous to hear that our flight took off without us, it made me feel like I was in the twilight zone.

Hey, NAIA! Here’s an idea: perhaps have a screen with updated flight details on the walls instead of flat screens with NBA games showing? Actually, Jim really liked the TVs airing NBA HD so why not have both? If not possible, maybe calibrate your priorities? Especially since the gates were so crowded because of so many delayed flights. It really was like a chaotic refugee camp.

Finally, a guy named Christopher Gomez was the only one who was helpful. Everybody else was avoiding eye contact, it was seriously the most WTF moment ever. Hindi naman ako nagsaskandalo doon sa airport but I was understandably asking for an explanation of how this happened. Our conspiracy theory is that they wanted to get revenge for my Direct Message to @flyPAL and the girls really conspired for us to miss our flight. Nakakaloka naman siguro kung ganon talaga ang nangyari but nobody could give us any explanation so we had to make one up to keep us from going insane. Christopher put us on another flight (PR 2049) that was about to leave but re-routed to Kalibo. He was very helpful in letting us know that the girls behind the desk had previously told him that I was on flight PR 2043 and that they pointed out to where I was seated before our original flight took off. This proves that they knew where I was but did not make any effort to call me if they really did make a last call. Christopher said he would have called me himself but he was on the runway helping other flights board. He was a very busy man doing the job of the girls na naka-kumpol lang sa likod ng desk avoiding eye contact with every customer. Hey, PAL, maybe you should cut down on quantity of employees and focus on quality?

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13:20 – Board flight PR 2049

Admittedly, I have never flown PAL to Boracay because it’s ridiculously expensive compared to other airlines but Maxx had an agency book her flight and I wanted to be on the same one. So finally we were boarding the other flight (PR 2049). We were on the plane seated at the very front and it looked like we were the last passengers to board. We asked the flight attendant about what happened and she, although very nice, did not have clear answers. She said she thinks all flights to Caticlan were re-routed to Kalibo except for the one that we missed. Ewan ko ba. Basta we were on the plane waiting patiently, again, “for clearance.” Some of the foreigners stood up beside us, trying to get some air from outside the open cabin door because the aircraft was not turned on (no aircon). The Americans were getting angry and asking what the hold up was and we realized that they had been on the plane for maybe no less than 20 minutes already. Finally, a man in uniform came in and says we needed to “de-plane” because there was something wrong with the aircraft.

13:25 – De-plane flight PR 2049

Hey PAL, how about “waiting for clearance” before attempting to board your passengers? JUST A THOUGHT. We didn’t realize how long the other people had been waiting on that plane until we let them all out before standing up. Our bags were inside the overhead compartment and we just wanted them all to exit before we stood up since they had been there longer. There were people drenched in sweat from sitting at the very back of the plane. There was one American that asked about his checked-in baggage, making sure it would be transferred to the new aircraft. I was right not to check-in our bags.

13:40 – Stand right next to Christopher of PAL so you are sure you don’t miss this one. Think about Cholo’s flight with AirAsia booked at 3:05PM. It was booked the day before the flight and cost half of what you paid. Granted it was Manila-Kalibo but it didn’t entail waiting 6 hours and still being re-routed to Kalibo after all.

14:40 – Finally take off.

16:15 – Get on a van going to the port (PAL’s treat, rightfully so)

17:40 – Boat to Boracay. Think about how you were supposed to be at the exact same place but at 9:45AM instead of 5:40PM.

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18:30 – Get to your hotel in Boracay. Feel bad about how you lost a whole day at the beach care of Philippine Airlines. You could have just gone the next day so you didn’t have to pay the hotel for an extra night.

In the end, PAL e-mailed me apologies and offered a free ticket from Manila-Caticlan or from Caticlan-Manila. I hope they make adjustments to their services in case I decide to accept the offer.

I told Jim we shouldn’t let that whole experience ruin our trip and that at least it would be an interesting story to tell. So here is my piece – I hope that horrible experience at least makes an interesting blog post. Actual Boracay Birthday blog post to follow, this one just deserves its own space on the Internet. Mabuhay!

Yay

A photo posted by Saab & Joey (@saabmagalona) on

Saab

44 Comments

  1. Reply

    Nikki

    November 25, 2014

    That happened to me and my barkada when we were flying to Bacolod back in 2012. At least they offered you free flights. PAL should really train their employees well especially that they’re in the services sector. Ang bulok noh? Kaasar!

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 25, 2014

      Yes most especially since they have our country’s name in their brand. Akala ko ba hospitable tayo?

  2. Reply

    yan

    November 25, 2014

    grabe lang! and i thought PAL would be different b/c it’s more expensive. di rin pala. buti pa mag AirAsia haha >XD despite the frustrating delay, glad you arrived safe! happy birthday! :)

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 25, 2014

      That’s what I thought too. And to think our flights were booked back in May pa. Half parin yung price nung kay Cholo na binook day before. Di pa siya na-delay. Lurks!

  3. Reply

    Bea

    November 25, 2014

    Hi, Saab! I met you and maxx in boracay. Super babait nyo :)) Di ko alam kung anong nangyayari sa PAL, pero pa-waley ng pa-waley ang service nila. They also did the same thing to us. Pinasakay na kami sa shuttle (na hindi naman kagandahan) tapos andun lang kami ng mga 15-20 minutes. Punong puno ng pasahero yung shuttle and nakakahilo. If they were not yet ready, sana hindi muna pinakasakay yung mga passengers kasi sobrang hassle. Anyway, happy birthday to you and maxx! Sana maging kasingganda ng skin mo ang skin ko, haha :))

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 25, 2014

      Hi Bea! I remember you!! Boracay! Pubcrawl!! Hahaha! It was nice meeting you :D

  4. Reply

    Jia

    November 25, 2014

    Saab I’m used to your horror stories pag may flight ka but this time… Maaga ka na nga, horror pa din. Anyway happy bday to you. Alam ko naman na paositive ka mag isip kaya enjoy mo na lang at least na blog mo and sana may feedback. Ito siguro purpose ng pangyayari na yan

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 25, 2014

      Haha malas lang yata talaga kami ;_;

  5. Reply

    Carmela Walker

    November 25, 2014

    i’ve read another post about PAL on IG, forgot the name of the celebrity but she just re-posted her friends experience about half of her guest on the wedding day were not able to attend because of the horrible service of this company.

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 25, 2014

      Sinend rin sa akin yun ng friend ko. How sad for her big day :(

  6. Reply

    Jecca

    November 25, 2014

    Wow what a major let down, considering na birthday trip mo ‘yun. I hope PAL would also give the other passengers the treat you received for the trouble. Anyway, belated happy birthday to you and Max!

  7. Reply

    eloisa

    November 25, 2014

    Very disappointed with your encounter with PAL. Haven’t rode PAL before but this should be a warning. I still admire you for remaining composed and in control :)

  8. Reply

    Malja Lee

    November 25, 2014

    Wow. I kind of felt how you felt when I was reading this post. I have to say, it’s a great article for giving me insights into PAL’s service. Even though the whole experience was absolutely deserving of contempt and what not, you handled it very well.. I hope you still had a great time celebrating your birthday. <3

  9. Reply

    andrea

    November 26, 2014

    Just want to greet you idol SSSSaabae!!!!

  10. Reply

    andrea

    November 26, 2014

    happy happy birthday!!!!! =)

  11. Reply

    Cam

    November 26, 2014

    Itong post mo sana na ito ang magbunga ng magandang pagbabago para sa PAL! Tawang tawa ko dun sa Dolly Zoom na part kasi pagkabasa ko nung “12:02 – One of them finally gets back to you only to say your flight just took off.” nag Dolly Zoom din ung feeling ko LOOLS happy birthday!!!

  12. Reply

    Sanne

    November 26, 2014

    When you go to Boracay, i strongly suggest to book Kalibo instead. Kasi more often than not, na-cacancel Caticlan flights bec of the small airport there. The 2-hour land trip from Kalibo wouldnt hurt compared to waiting since morning at teh airport. Medyo stress talaga PAL din. hehe

    -Travel consultant :)

  13. Reply

    Abbie

    November 26, 2014

    Yay.. It’s my dream to go to Boracay, pero atleast I already have a hint kung saan mag papabook hihihi tnx for the info. Buti na lang worth it yung Boracay kaya mafoforget ang bad experience papunta hihi.. Anyways Happy bday to us :-) God Bless and stay pretty forever and ever..

  14. Reply

    Jewel Clicks

    November 27, 2014

    Truly horror! Kahit ako maprapraning! D: Very interesting story to share. napakunot noo ko while reading this! T_T

  15. Reply

    Grems Flores

    November 28, 2014

    Same thing happened to me when I flew to Australia. My flight was scheduled to board at 22:20 but we left at 4AM! It was crazy!! I read from an article in the web that you can ask the airline to get you another flight if you’re in a hurry or have a connecting flight. :)

    • Reply

      Saab

      November 28, 2014

      Also with PAL? Stress! Okay cool thank you for the info :)

  16. Reply

    Aleth

    November 28, 2014

    What a horrible experience, Saab! I also had a bad experience with PAL. Poor logistics and unhelpful staff. :( I was willing to give them another chance dahil akala ko nasanay lang ako sa Japanese service at baka busy season (Christmas) lang noon. Pero after reading this, I think I’ll stay away from PAL unless I don’t have any other choice. Keri lang kahit na sa Terminal 1 ang ibang airlines. Haha. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your birthday!

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 1, 2014

      Good decision! Thanks, I did!!:D

  17. Reply

    Melissa

    November 28, 2014

    I also had a similar experience with PAL last year. Legazpi-Manila naman.
    Our flight was scheduled at 9AM but was rescheduled to 4:30PM. Que horror! Imagine, we had to cancel all our appointments for the day because PAL couldnt say at that time when we will be able to fly to Manila. Everyone was just there, sitting and/or standing. Hay. Super hassle talaga.
    I chose PAL instead of Cebu Pac because I thought they offered better service, but no. At least 2 CEB flights left and we were still there at the airport.
    I emailed PAL, but never got any reply. So, you’re maswerte because they offered you free plane tickets.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 1, 2014

      Talaga?? The airport staff said they reply naman daw right away if you email them at wecare@pal.com.ph?

  18. Reply

    Lovel

    November 29, 2014

    Jiritey. Paki-roundhouse kick nga sa kanila ‘tong article na ‘to (esp. point 4 and 6).

    http://www.rappler.com/business/17692-rights-you-have-as-an-airline-passenger

    Although, I have a theory. Maybe they let you board the plane because it’s a loophole to the law? Like, being on the shuttle / plane doesn’t count as delay, because the flight is just waiting clearance hence, you’re in the process of boarding and are therefore not “waiting” (technically). I dunner. Para-paraan.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 1, 2014

      Hahahahaha roundhouse kick!! Hay nako SOBRANG jir8zzzz

  19. Reply

    Andi

    November 29, 2014

    What an experience! Juskooo hahaha anyare talaga :)) But hey Saab, please post a lot of photos! Haha yay I missed you posting lots of photos here =))

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 1, 2014

      Done!

  20. Reply

    Kristine

    December 1, 2014

    Gravity! Stress Drilon! Sana nag Cebu Pacific ka na lang or Air Asia. :)

  21. Reply

    Sarah

    December 2, 2014

    I don’t know about PAL, but another airline’s airport staff is outsourced, which means they are trained differently (i.e. they do not know customer service protocol and recovery). They don’t receive the same benefits and so they are pretty much robots who are just waiting for their next paycheck and their shifts to end. It’s good that PAL enforced customer recovery with you (offering a free ticket), and I hope it’s not because you are a celebrity who has the power to say bad things on the internet that cannot be erased, hehehe. Airlines know that no matter how shitty their service is, people still need them and will put up with their shit. Kinda like telco companies.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 8, 2014

      True. It’s not like we have much to choose from.

  22. Reply

    Bern

    December 2, 2014

    OMG! I feel your pain, Saab. Not with PAL though. I booked a CB flight from Manila-Dubai-Manila 3 months ago. My initial flight went smoothly. But the flight going back to Manila was a total nightmare! Nag take off na yung plane(we were in Iran by that time) tapos biglang nag announce yung pilot na babalik kami ng Dubai airport kasi may technical issue daw sa plane. Then for 2 hours nasa loob kami ng plane with no power at binuksan lang yung door para may konting ventilation. Walang maiexplain yung crew and they were really unsympathetic. Binaba kami ulit sa airport then they told us na the next day pa daw dadating yung next plane and the can’t move us to another flight ng ibang airline. So we stayed there for 22 freaking hours paikot-ikot habang ina-assist ng Emirates staff(since sila nga ang flagship carrier ng Dubai) The only compensation they gave us were one-way local/internation flight of our choice. Tapos ngayon may gana silang harangin yung pag dagdag ng Emirates flights sa NAIA. Next time, I wouldn’t mind paying extra knowing na alam kong efficient yung airline. I learned the lesson the hard way. Good thing lang na we arrived back safely.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 8, 2014

      OMG GRABE YUN!!!!!!!!

  23. Reply

    Kaiye Pallarco

    December 2, 2014

    It’s my first time to fly with PAL last week and parang ganyan rin ang naging experience namin huhu. Our flight was delayed by 4 hours! T_T una, walang pasabi na re-routed to Kalibo ang original flight namin to Caticlan ng 11:55am, so we waited til 1:55pm para diretso na ng Caticlan. But we boarded the plane around 3pm, pero hindi pa rin kami umalis. Kung kayo na-hold sa bus, sa plane naman kami :( as usual walang nagsasalita kung ano na status namin. Kung aalis na ba or kung ano man. Ang nakakaloka lang sa PAL kulang sila sa announcement kung ano mangyayari. Parang guessing game kasi ang nangyayari, maghintay kayo and figure out kung ano gagawin namin sa inyo next :-/ I was hearing a lot of negative stuff from PAL pero nun ko lang talaga napatunayan na totoo pala lahat :( if you ask me kung sasakay ulit ako ng PAL, maybe yes pero not anytime soon. Nakakaloka sila! >__<

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 8, 2014

      So ours was not an isolated case. KALOKA TALAGA bad quality ang mahal mahal pa.

  24. Reply

    Bea

    December 2, 2014

    My relatives had the same experience with PAL last year! It was their first time with PAL and I don’t think they’ll want to book with them again. They were actually delayed for a day. They were going home from Canada for my grandfather’s 80th birthday and they were scheduled to arrive two days before his birthday so they could rest and help with the preparations before the day itself (my cousins were supposed to bake cupcakes for him). But they were delayed for more than a day. They updated us that they were kept waiting at the airport for several hours before they were finally told to go and rest at a hotel near the airport. They came back the next day and still told to wait for hours before they finally boarded. I remember we were all nervous because they might miss the birthday party. Thankfully they arrived the night before.

    Because of that, I always hesitate booking my flight with PAL. Now I’m actually starting to lean on ‘No’ when I book my flight to the US next year.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 8, 2014

      Haaayyy I wish they step up their game!!

  25. Reply

    Anne

    December 4, 2014

    WOAH! I have this thinking na pag PAL, okay ang service being that they are our flagship carrier but I guess not.

    Belated Happy Birthday and you’re right to not let the incident ruin your trip! :)

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 8, 2014

      Thanks :)

  26. Reply

    Ria

    December 26, 2014

    I’ve had some of bad experiences with PAL, too. Last month, we were about to fly back to Manila from Iloilo. We were rushing to not miss the flight only to find out upon checking-in that our flight will be delayed for an hour, and no, the girl who checked us in didn’t tell us; I just happened to spot a print-out saying so. I even asked her to confirm if it was indeed our flight. I mean come on, isn’t it courteous and logical to tell a passenger who’s checking-in that her flight will be delayed? And it gets worse; the one hour delay turned into 1.5 and then 2.5 hours. They never let us know why the flight was delayed, in contrast to Cebu Pacific which, at least in my experience, always announced the reason for the delay (air traffic, ground traffic, plane problem so we had to switch planes, special operations at NAIA).

    Before, I thought the delays were probably mostly due to traffic (air/ground) but just earlier this month, we had an early flight from Roxas City to Manila (the plane was the first one out of Manila bound for Roxas) but it was still friggin delayed for more than hour so I don’t think that that’s the reason. Flying PAL for domestic trips is so annoying and so not sulit.

    • Reply

      Saab

      December 30, 2014

      Bummer :(

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