Onboard Cebu Pacific’s inaugural Sydney to Manila flight, JOSIE AVERY gets a taste of the fun (and super friendly) Philippine hospitality.
Date: 9 September 2014
Departure: Scheduled for 11.35am, but delayed by about an hour
Flight frequency: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. A Wednesday frequency will be added in December
Aircraft: Brand spanking new Airbus A330-300
Available from 72 hours to four hours prior to international departure, online check-in is super quick and easy.
Once at the airport, it was hard to miss the Cebu Pacific check in counter as it was bedecked in balloons and surrounded by smiling staff who were friendly and courteous but strict about luggage requirements.
I exceeded my luggage allowance and was penalised $175. Looking around, it seemed that I wasn’t the only one…
All passengers are allowed one carry on item weighing no more than seven kilograms. However, prior to travel, passengers can choose to pre-pay for baggage:
Up to15kg costs AU$20.
Up to 20kg costs AU$30.
Up to 30kg costs AU$40.
Up to 40kg costs AU$65.
At the time of booking, I chose the 30kg option for both the departing and returning legs, but as I packed I realised that, like most Filipinos heading back to the Motherland, I needed more for all the presents I was bringing. So a couple of days prior to departure, I upped my outgoing baggage allowance to 40kg and was only charged the difference.
I actually prefer being able to choose the weight of my bags and paying accordingly as, particularly when it comes to the Philippines, I always take over more than I bring back and this way I can avoid worrying about having to pay (more) excess baggage fees.
Seat pitch = 30”-32”
Seat width = 16.5”
The plane was very clean but the seats, with their slim width, were really only going to be comfortable for a normally built individual like me on an eight hour journey. Those taller or wider, might not be so comfortable.
I chose a seat towards the back of the plane that was in 2-3-2 configuration, which didn’t feel as cramped as the other parts of the plane.
Toilets were clean with basic facilities.
Filipinos have an affinity with the colour yellow. Harking back to the Marcos/Aquino era, yellow symbolises people power, hope and equality, thus the uniforms of the Cebu Pacific cabin crew were a happy sight as they rolled up and down the aisle. And roll they did.
It seems like the entire flight the poor cabin crew was going up and down the aisle and thus service was a little slow. That said, the crew was always patient and courteous.
Passengers are able to order meals prior to travel. When you pre-order your meal you get a free drink, so unless you know you’ll be abstaining throughout the flight, it might be worth booking at least one meal.
Pictures are on hand at the time of booking if you don’t know what the names of the dishes are and you can select meals for either both meal services, or just the one.
I’d preordered beef caldereta (Filipino styled beef stew in rich tomato sauce with carrots and potatoes) and bistek tagalog (beef strips cooked in a medley of soy sauce, calamansi and onions), both are tasty and hot.
Other options are the chicken adobo (chicken simmered in a balanced mix of soy sauce, vinegar and peppercorns) and chicken barbecue (chicken chunks cooked in a savoury barbecue sauce).
Hot drinks are about $2 (PHP80) while cold drinks are about $1.25 (PHP50). San Miguel beer will set you back $2.50 (PHP100).
While no inflight entertainment is available, Cebu Pacific does offer Wi-Fi (for a fee) for those who have brought their own devices.
$5 for 1 hour
$10 for 3 hours
$12 for the entire flight
I was so lucky to sit with the first passenger who checked in for this inaugural flight, Juaquin. For getting there early, he won a free return ticket to Manila valid until March next year. He was so happy and the win erased his disappointment in paying $140 for excess luggage.
If, like me, you’ve never flown on a low cost carrier internationally before, suck up the complaints about less room and no extras and revel in the fact that if you’ve managed to score a deal, you’re not getting what you paid for, you’re actually getting more.
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