My sister, my brother-in-law and my niece left their condo at half past five in the morning yesterday for their 8:30 AM mnl-bxu flight. She called me the night before to inquire about the weather and I told her that although it was always raining, I was sure the flight will push through because when her yayas arrived two days before, it was in dark, heavy downpour conditions.
Yesterday morning, it was slightly raining and a little cloudy. Still, I was confident Cebu Pacific would make the flight judging from the yayas’ experience earlier. I heaved a sigh of relief when my sister texted me at 8AM to say they were already boarding. I was so happy, I hurriedly did my mother’s errands so that I can pick them up an hour and a half later.
Shortly before 9AM, my sister’s message said to help pray that the weather conditions in Bxu improve because they were currently on hold in the aircraft and will be waiting only one hour for the weather to get better. I cast a glance at the sky and I was positive they will make it because it was getting brighter and the rain had already stopped.
When I arrived home at 9:15AM, I called my sister and she relayed the flight was finally canceled. I wondered why, when it was evident the weather had certainly lightened up. I then sent a message to my friend who was leaving on board PAL at 10:50AM, inquiring if PAL had made announcements on possible delay because of the weather. He told me there was none.
My sister called me to ask our local Air Transportation Office on the truthfulness of the airline’s allegation. When I contacted ATO, the lady told me to contact the tower directly because it was the latter’s concern. I followed her advise and after answering that it was Atty. Y speaking, the officer politely told me that he just got off the phone speaking to PAL and that he informed PAL visibility was already 11 kilometers. I asked him why the Cebu Pacific 8:30 AM flight was canceled. He answered that when CEBPAC contacted the tower for advise at 8AM, he relayed the information that there was currently intermittent rain shower in bxu and recommended the airline to wait for weather conditions to improve. He concluded by telling me that it was ultimately the airlines which decides whether to heed the advice.
Upon relaying the information to my lawyer-sister, she led the group to the counters in CEBPAC located in the arrival area to demand that they be transported to bxu because there were no weather problems already. She did this because she pitied the passengers, some of whom are OFWs and who were stranded since the previous day. She said the customer relations personnel of CEBPAC were rude and did not even listen to them. They went up to the departure and again talked with some low ranking personnel who were equally adamant and quick in saying that there will be no flight and to just come back the following day for their special trip at 10AM.
My sister and her HS classmate fellow lady lawyer decided to picket there before the CEBPAC, together with the rest of the passengers, shouting foul play. My sister’s friend had contacts with the media and called the latter to compel the airline to hear their pleas. Amid submitting to their fate that there will be no flight for them that day, they were demanding that CEBPAC provide all the passengers with free meals and accommodations until the trip the day after.
When the media arrived, personnel of CEBPAC fled the area, only to be back with free lollipops (!) a few minutes later when my sister and some passengers already aired their sentiments against the airline company.
At first, CEBPAC did not give in because according to them, bad weather condition is a fortuitous event and the airline is not liable for accommodations in this case.
NAKED, UGLY TRUTH:
My sister forcefully argued at the top of her lungs that it was a blatant lie because:
- The airlines decided too soon to cancel the flight, despite the fact that when the flight was put on hold, CEBPAC said visibility was 2KM and when it was canceled, CEBPAC said because visibility was only 3KM (said my sister: didn’t you see it was improving? do you know that less than 30 minutes after you canceled, visibility was already 11Kms?)
- While waiting in the runway, CEBPAC, deceitly and in bad faith, directed the pilot to advise all on board to deplane because they will be switching planes with the plane bound for Puerto Princesa. My sister said the pilots and the stewards were all confused that when they got down, there weren’t any assistance which plane to transfer to — then they were told, the flight just got canceled. (WHAAATTTT????)
- Having learned from me that the weather was already fine, my sister demanded they be flown to Bxu but was told it was not possible because there was no aircraft available. (said my sister: then where is that plane that we were supposed to switch with? CEBPAC: that plane had technical problems. (WTF!)
- Since that trip to Puerto Princesa would have been canceled because of technical problems for which the airline would have been liable for free accommodations, CEBPAC grabbed the opportunity —> abandoned the bxu flight allegedly for fortuitous event and used the plane intended for bxu for the Puerto Princesa flight.
- Said my sister: would you have decided in the same manner had your plane bound for puerto princesa been perfectly fine? CEBPAC: speechless.
ENDING: Cebu Pacific finally gave in to the demands of the passengers and gave them free shuttle service and free hotel accommodations at Nichols Airport Hotel until they board today’s flight.
Aja, aja to my sister!
PS. When my sister and my other sister were still in college, their flight to bxu was canceled due to weather conditions too (which was really true). The two of them did not have a place to stay the night because the dorms in UP Diliman were already closed. With only their guts, they argued their way and demanded they be given free accommations. After a few threats (including: we have no more money for fare, hotel and food), CEBPAC provided free accomodations for them and some of their friends too. HAHAHA. Bleh!