Worst Airline Ever: Cebu Pacific Air

There.  I was hoping the title of this post would be catchy enough so that people Googling CebuAir Pacific would come up with my site and be spared the horrible experience of doing business with them.  It is now my mission in life to alert travelers around the world to NEVER, under any circumstances, fly with this airline.

Let me tell you a little story.

Hours after hearing about the passing of my friend back home, I was in a fog, having spent the past couple of hours crying on the ferry from Brunei back to Kota Kinabalu.  Fiona met me at the jetty and rushed me to the airport.  I only had an hour before take-off.

I get to the ticket counter, and go to check in.

“Sorry, we can not check you in without a round-trip ticket.”

Oh.  Is that so?  Why is this information NOT on your website, and NOT listed on the Philippines Immigration site?  But whatever.  They tell me I need to do this, so I need to do this.

I ask to book a flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, whose airport is still called Saigon airport), on February 28th.  I hand them my debit card.

“Oh, cash only, ma’am.”  (don’t be fooled by the ma’am, it’s just how everyone talks here, and it’s not polite…it’s often used in heckling situations, and I’ve come to despise it).

OK.  I go to the ATM, pull out heaps of cash on top of my bank’s international withdrawal fee.  Go back to the counter, and hand over the money.

“Our printer is broken.  Also I can not give you change.  I will bring a receipt and change to you at the gate.”

I’m slightly shocked at this unprofessional transaction, but alas, we are in Southeast Asia, here.  I’ve seen worse.

So I go to the gate, with a handwritten receipt ”KLB-SIN, FEB 28, (confirmation number)” trusting that I actually bought a ticket and didn’t just hand over cash to some random person promising me gold at the end of a rainbow.  I wait at the gate until boarding, no one comes.

We start boarding.

“Excuse me,”  I say to the person taking my ticket at the gate, “I am supposed to meet one of your agents here…they’ll give me a ticket…”

They looked at me, confused.  I’m confused too, buddy.

He ushered me outside, to where the plane is pulling up.  I waited against the window while everyone boarded.  Finally, I had to board too.  It was last call.

I’m sitting in my seat, mentally kicking myself for paying cash, when an agent comes up with a piece of paper and some cash.  She confirms my name, and gives it to me.  Then she is gone, and the plane is pulling away.

I look at the receipt:

Kalibo to Manila, Manila to Singapore.

Hm.  I think.  They booked me to Singapore–I told them Saigon. I will have to sort this out in Manila.  No problem.

To make an unnecessarily long story short, after 7 different agents, 2 managers, and many unbelievably frustrating emails with multiple “customer service” agents, the solution is this:  I have to pay $100 USD to change the flight.  Mind you, the flight cost $120 USD.

THIS IS THEIR SOLUTION to them booking me on the WRONG FLIGHT?!?!


I have dealt with crappy companies before, and I have seen what I thought before was the worst as far as customer service was concerned  But get a load of this:  CebuAir Pacific actually had the audacity to “conduct an investigation” with the Kota Kinabalu agents who booked the flight, and then had the further wonderful judgement to tell me the results of this investigation.  The people in Kota Kinabalu lied their asses off, to save their asses and made up all sorts of things to make it seem like I insisted on flying to Singapore (e.g. they said I had showed them a flight from Singapore back to the United States (which, of course, does not exist); they said they confirmed that I wanted to fly to Singapore multiple times, and they said that I was obviously unhappy the whole time (couldn’t possibly be because of my non-related emotional state prior to arriving at the counter) etc).

Friends, family, and internet strangers:


They are crap.  They do not go by the ethos of “the customer is always right,” nor do they ever assume that the customer might possibly be right.  They backed up their lying agents at the customer’s expense.  And then the process of trying to sort this out became incredibly impossible with each person I spoke to.  I have since heard other similar horror stories from travelers.  They basically can scheme customers out of money by these little techniques like pretending they don’t understand, booking the wrong flight, and then “oops, there’s nothing we can do about it! You’ve got to pay the fine.”  It’s organized and deliberate, in my opinion, and it’s perhaps one of the sleaziest businesses I have ever had to do business with.  And I’ve worked for Xanterra.


11 Responses to Worst Airline Ever: Cebu Pacific Air

  1. Aram

    This settles it…I’ll never fly CebuPacific Air!

  2. Thomas Nephew

    Me neither!

  3. Tabs

    done. CebuPacific air = absolute shit. committed to memory now

  4. Rosalie

    I had experienced this airline and it really sucks! Airplane is always late and our flight was cancelled without any accomodation.

  5. J Silva

    Hi all, a lot of complaints against cebu pacific airlines are just being ignored by the airline itself. Help in stopping this madness by signing this petition: http://www.change.org/ph/mga-petisyon/cebu-pacific-air-provide-just-compensation-for-customers-affected-by-delayed-cancelled-flights

    • Anoush

      Thank you for linking this comment to my page :)

  6. Derrick

    Cebupacific..harang! They are all shit..

  7. Patrick

    I had a similar experience like 3 years ago. I was at the airport with a blissful thought of me basking in Boracay, but even though I got to the airport like two hours ago, i was refused to check in because according to one of the employees, I was late about five minutes. I definitely saw that the windows are supposed to be closed one hour before the boarding time. I have seen various and a lot of complaints so far. Since then, I have lost all my faiths on any Philippine airlines.

  8. ihsan shade

    I agree with you guys.. This is the worst airline. Aside from being a greedy and poor customer service oriented company this airline has no standard way of dealing with complains.

    I am from the Philippines and I HATE this HEARTLESS, GREEDY and PATHETIC airline. #$#^%$

  9. ihsan shade

    Good news! A good read:

    MANILA, Philippines–Cebu Pacific could face “full range of sanctions” over its numerous delayed and canceled flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 during the Christmas rush, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Tuesday.

    “The flying public deserves much better service than that. We sympathize with those who lost precious hours with their families and loved ones on Christmas, and we will see to it that Cebu Pacific will answer for any possible mismanagement,” Abaya said.

    Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/662550/dotc-mulls-sanctions-against-cebu-pacific-over-christmas-chaos#ixzz3OHwWR0E6
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

    Waiting for their so-called “Franchise” to get revoked!

  10. John

    The Philippine government fined Cebu Pacific P52 million. How about the hassles and expenses of the passengers for the Christmas 2015 fiasco? Please refund.

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