This post was written on 2015.
I’m a frequent flyer of budget airlines including Cebu Pacific, but I’m not gonna lie: I had my own share of Cebu Pacific horror stories. I’ve waited six hours on the airport because of delays. I’ve been left by the plane (even if I was on time). A rude Korean passenger had constantly kicked my airline seat because he didn’t appreciate the plane’s legroom, so I decided to recline my seat to annoy him further. Because I can be nice like that sometimes.
Despite all my bad experiences, I still fly Cebu Pacific, because, why the hell not? No one can beat the CebPac rates. I’m a Cebu Pacific trooper since 2006 and I have seen great improvement on service and support throughout the years.
If you can’t beat Cebu Pacific, what can you do? Do damage control and mitigate (a word I just learned and so badly want to use!). Read through this blog to have future pleasurable flights through some important travel hacks and tips I’ve learned from my constant flights.
How to Avoid Delayed Flights
Per my experiences, domestic flights across all local airlines are almost always delayed from 15 to 90 minutes. That’s perfectly normal and something expected in the Philippines due to air traffic congestion, late arrival of aircraft from origin, among others.
The simplest solution is to take the first flight. The first flight is an originator flight, meaning it begins at your specific airport, meaning you won’t be waiting for your aircraft coming from another destination to arrive. A few minutes delay in the first wave of flights will mean delay in subsequent flights throughout the day.
Flying earlier in the day provide a lot of benefits. Sure, waking up before sunrise is hard, but that’s the only most difficult thing. I normally fly between 4am to 6am, or the first wave of flights for a number of reasons: to bypass traffic on the road, less people on the flight, flight crew still on a better mood (not yet sapoton), on-time flights, and these first flights often offer the cheapest rates.
How to Book Promo Flights
I’ve heard a lot of people whine that Cebu Pacific piso fares as scams or deceptive marketing strategies. Here’s what I got to say to the skeptics: the piso fare deal is real. I’ve booked piso fare flights countless times. Piso fare flights seem elusive to more people than others–you need to be smart and quick to get these flights!
Piso fares do get sold out quick. I constantly check Cebu Pacific’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts just to be ahead of everyone. The Cebu Pacific website is on my browser’s main web pages. What disorder do you call ardent stalking and an obsessive need to find promo flights? Because, I probably have that.
BTW, piso fare is only the base rate, and does not include other additional fees such as tax, VAT, web admin fee, baggage allowance, etc. It is still cheap however. To give you a good overview, here’s an estimate of roundtrip flights I’ve bought or seen during Cebu Pacific promos:
- Cebu to Manila: Php 1,500
- Cebu to Hong Kong: Php 3,000
- Cebu to Singapore: Php 3,500
- Manila to Sydney: Php 6,000
- Manila to Dubai: Php 9,000
- Manila to Siem Reap: Php 4,000
As of 2015, Cebu Pacific has also removed the fuel surcharge on all promo flights, in line with decreasing fuel prices worldwide.
No one knows when a promo fare comes out, but based on observation I often expect them to come out on Philippine holidays, and they usually make the promo announcements on ungodly hours like 12am-3am.
Sometimes, I could get the promo on a flight to a destination, but have a hard time getting the same promo offer on the return flight. If I can’t find a good return rate, I just buy a one-way ticket and worry about buying the return flight on the next seat sale.
Another tip: when I travel to Europe, I normally book a promo flight from Cebu to Hong Kong and then find another budget airline that can take me from HK to European cities for cheap (as low as 25,000php round trip!)
Check in Luggage or Hand Carry?
Prepaid baggage is a wise option to get as excess baggage rates are steep (especially for international flights). I’m a light traveler, so I can normally just backpack and skip check-in luggage. Most airlines allow a carry-on maximum of 7kg. To be safe, I sometimes purchase luggage on the return flight because my carry-on weight increases– dirty laundry is always heavier, plus additional shopping and pasalubong items add to the pile.
Trust me, I’ve begged another Filipino to place my excess items to his check-in luggage. I was refused and the nerve of him because he did not even look anything like JM de Guzman. Won’t work, it only happens in the movies.
(Additional note: Although to be fair, if someone asks you to place items in your luggage, it is wise to refuse, else you could be the next trafficking victim)
How to Avoid Missing a Flight
You’re not a true traveler if you’ve never missed a flight. So far, I’ve missed one domestic flight (Cebu-Cagayan) and one international flight (Dubai-London) for different reasons, both which I traveled with family. I never missed a flight when traveling solo, probably because I’m more aware and accountable for myself when I’m alone haha.
Missing a flight is inconvenient, expensive and annoying. Missing a flight can get you stranded at the airport for several hours to a day. It’s something I never want anyone to experience, so here are tips on how to avoid missing a CebPac flight:
- The most obvious tip: don’t stay too far from your gate. After going through check-in, immigration and security checks and once you’re inside the terminal, don’t get distracted about getting food or looking at duty-free shops. The first thing you need to do is to locate your gate number. Once you’ve found it, you can probably do your own thing if you still have extra time. But don’t stay too far away from your gate and be wary of any intercom announcements.
- For connecting flights, allow at least 4 hour time allowance in between flights. Domestic flights are notorious for delays, and you need at least two hours to check in for international flights, go through immigration and security checks.
- 5J vs TG. Know your Terminal number–especially when in NAIA. Most Cebu Pacific flights are in T3, but since the TigerAir and Cebu Pacific merger, you will now have to check if your flight is a 5J (Cebu Pacific) or a TG (TigerAir). TG flights are in NAIA 4.
Should I Get a GetGo Card?
GetGo is CEB’s newest rewards program for frequent fliers where you can earn GetGo points when flying Cebu Pacific. Through the points you can also earn free flights.
Those who were already signed up for CEB Club become automatic GetGo Members. Non-CEB Club members can become GetGo members by paying the initial membership fee of P150.
I am now a GetGo member but still waiting for my card to arrive via mail. I haven’t converted points for free flights yet, so I’ll reserve judgement as of now (but I will update you soon). It’s worth a try to get a GetGo card, there’s nothing to lose. Currently, they are still on beta mode and improving the system and partnering with more merchants to create a more pleasant lifestyle program for their members.
So there you go–some CebPac Travel Hacks that can improve the quality of our flight experience. Let’s make every flight count!
(DISCLAIMER: These insights are based on my personal experiences and may not reflect the experience of other travelers.)