9/15/09

Cebu Pacific Needs An Upgrade


Cebu Pacific is the only airline that flies to Siargao. On a whim, I decided to fly back to Davao instead of taking the long ride on a ferry/bus combination. A quick check on their website quoted me a price of 3,840 pesos ($80) for a flight the next day. Fearing the price will rise further, I wanted to buy the ticket right away. I called the Siargao office but they only accept cash. I'm running low on cash and Siargao unfortunately doesn't have an ATM.


surf boards get the "fragile" treatment

Back online, I tried using my MC debit card and a Visa credit card - both of which were declined. Damned. Here we go again Cebu Pacific! My cards were declined in New York too while booking roundtrip Manila-Davao e-tickets. How their system doesn't recognize credit/debit cards properly is beyond me but the experience is truly exasperating. I spent a good time on my butt sitting in front of my laptop entering destinations/dates again and again.

just in case

turn right

For the nth time, after using another Visa card, I finally managed to confirm my flights from Siargao to Davao via Cebu. What's odd though is their system won't allow me to book a single ticket so I was forced to book separate tickets for Siargao-Cebu and Cebu-Davao. Or so I thought. After checking out at the resort, I shared a car with an Australian couple and a French guy and paid 300 pesos for the 45-minute ride to Siargao Airport. The road from General Luna to Dapa is excellent but sections closer to the airport are currently being paved and thus still very rough.

Siargao Airport terminal building

At the airport terminal - nothing more than a small building the size of a bungalow -I showed the check-in agent my two booking reference numbers. The shock of my life came when she said "Sir, you are confirmed to fly today only from Cebu to Davao but from Siargao, it's actually on Monday next week". Staying longer in a paradise island like Siargao may be appealing but only if I had no other important things to do. She showed me the computer screen while I tried to digest the horror that has befallen me - how did this happen?

policeman/photographer

I explained to her the frustrating scenario of booking with credit/debit cards online. The agent could only say "Lagi Sir uy, daghan na gyud nag-reklamo" ("Yes Sir, so many have already complained"). Is it a computer glitch? Did I enter the wrong date after so many unsuccessful tries? She called the supervisor who offered me a seat on the departing flight since it's not full. With a ticket that now needs to be re-issued, I had to pay an extra 621 pesos. I balked initially, arguing their system is not user-friendly. If only it accepts credit/debit cards effortlessly, customers wouldn't have to endure a horrible online experience. In the end, I bit the bullet. You need an upgrade Cebu Pacific!

14 comments:

  1. To be fair with Cebu Pacific...it is not the only company...
    I tried to book a flight with Philippine Airlines with my Belgian Visa card...and it was rejected... I tried with my BDO Visa card and this was no problem...

    Paying online with VISA cards can still be a pain in the ass... I guess there are so many fake,stolen and crooks that all those companies need to be very careful in accepting online payments.

    Good you were able to take the flight.

    I was not able to look at your images... not sure if the problem is mine or yours...

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  2. They don't allow booking of single ticket? What a system. =( I've never tried flying through Cebu Pac.

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  3. haaay. nasa dark ages pa rin talaga. i feel your pain, brother.

    i'm glad you were able to get out of the island when you wanted to.

    pero hamo na, ang ganda kasi ng siargao. haha. ang sarap matulog dahil ang sarap ng hangin at ang daming fireflies. (i stayed in dapa).

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  4. I could just imagine the frustration. Perhaps sending a link to your blog to Cebu Pacific might cause them to do something about it. Although in my experience, they're not that responsive. Good luck on the next trip!

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  5. wow..am impressed, Siargao has an airport na. That's really good news. As for the CebuPac, I feel your pain. I've had similar problems and no matter how whine and go wild, there was nothing could be done but just "bite the bullet"; sometimes, i wonder if they are actually doing this intentionally to earn more?

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  6. kakaiba ito...tama ang pamagat mo..kailangan na ngang i-upgrade

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  7. Ay naku Dens, mas sosyal pa pala ang credit cards from the Middle East when it comes to booking online sa Cebu Pac and PAL. Pag Mid East VISA and Mastercard diretso lang. Siguro they know that part of the world you're in is experiening financial lowdown, ha ha ha. Mas preferred nila ang riyals karon kaysa dollar nimo. ha ha ha Ginamit pang rason no? Anyways, go go.

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  8. I had the same experience din with booking online from Philippines to Singapore, even sa Tiger Pacific. Low tech talaga sa atin when it comes to booking online. Minsan nakakadis appoint talaga.

    You're right dapat na ngang i-upgrade ng Cebu Pacific ang system, especially if you've been living in the US mabubiwisit ka sa sistema nila. It's totally different when it comes to customer service. hayyyy

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  9. I just purchased our tickets from cebu pacific few days ago for our island trip come october 18 and luckily didn't have any hassle, whatsoever. i also used my Visa card but not via on-line booking; i went to their main office in robinson's galleria in ortigas, which in your case is far from being possible.

    if given the same scenario, i'll be pissed off too,God forbid.

    cebu pacific really needs major changes.

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  10. oh what an experience, they certainly need a complete overhaul.

    well, at least this experience resulted in one educational post for us readers.

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  11. I was in the same nightmare situation two years ago. Made reservation for Mnl -caticlan a week before, just had to pay and thought i could pay by ccard via phone on the last day allowed. Happened to be in Zambales on the last day i'm supposed to pay, called them up, gave my details and was told i have to go to manila to show my ccard, my id, etc. or have someone pay it for me or i lose my reservation blah, blah blah. It was MAJOR. PAIN. What happened to the convenience of using a credit card? After half an hour of being tossed around d to from one person to another, they actually processed the transaction and it was alright afterall. Uughh !!!
    Love pinas very much but sometimes it could be su ch a headache especially for travellers.

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  12. Hi Sidney,
    I just re-published the entry. Hope you're able to see the photos now.

    Hi Witsandnuts,
    Yup, I couldn't do a single booking on that route. Don't know why.

    Hi Atticus,
    Nanggaling ka na pala dito. Never had a chance to explore Dapa though kasi I went straight to Gen. Luna.

    Hi Gigit,
    I might just as well do that.

    Hi Marites,
    I dread to think it's intentional on their part. Di naman siguro. Siargao's airport is barely a year old!

    Hi Everlito,
    Napansin mo pala, ha ha ha!

    Hi Nato,
    Ambot ngano, mas dato siguro mo diha sa Kuwait ha ha ha!Or perhaps less exposed to crooks ang mga credit cards diha. But I digress, kinahanglan gyud tarungon sa Cebu Paicifc ilang online system.

    Hi Missy,
    With plenty of complaints already, I do hope they're doing something now about it.

    Hi Docgelo,
    I think there's no problem in their ticket offices although i couldn't use one in Siargao since they only accept cash. i'll look forward to reading your travel entry next month.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    There are more stories out there and it's Cebu pacific's responsibility to correct their faulty system.

    Hi Gemma,
    Several Philippine establishments do lag behind in terms of hassle-free credit card transactions. While I understand the need to ensure security, they should upgrade their system so customers don't get frustrated.

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  13. I'm surprised there aren't more carrier that service Cebu.

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  14. love to watch your blog kabayan! miz ko tuloy sa pinas ughhhh...

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