So Unfortunate, Delta

Every time I fly to the United States on personal account, I always take Delta Airlines. I may not be a frequent flyer that flies several times a year but rather Delta is my first option whenever I fly to the United States because of mileage program (having started with Northwest/WorldPerks) and the ease of flying domestic US coming from the Philippines. The last incident was however unfortunate making me reconsider flying Delta and how they treated me on my return flight to Manila last 29 November 2015.

 

I have a scheduled trip SFO -> LAX -> NRT -> MNL last 29 November 2015. A day before that, I checked in using the iPhone Fly Delta app and saw that I am allowed to check-in up to 7 luggage for free. Ironic as it may seem, it is clear that it’s a standard deviation from the usual allowed check-in luggage of 2 for coach passengers. At first I thought that it may be a “reward” for flying Delta for the past several years. Checking if it indeed true, I selected 7 check-in items even if I don’t plan of maximizing them, and the system allowed me to. In fact, the boarding pass generated indicated that I have 7 bags with me. At this point, I didn’t receive any prior notification nor e-mail from Delta indicating that I am traveling in a period where there is an embargo. I proceed packing my stuff and finalized them – packed them off and ready to go home, and go back to work.

 

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My flight to LAX was scheduled at 0700H. I was at the airport around 0620H – just right that the gates are open for passengers to drop-off their luggage. Upon reaching the check-in counter and presenting my boarding pass and passport, they said that I cannot check-in more than 2 luggage. I asked them why are they not honoring the number of luggage indicated in the app. They said that there is an embargo imposed to the Philippines where one cannot check-in more than 2 luggage. I asked them, I didn’t receive any notification from Delta informing me of such restriction, much more that the app allowed me to check-in more than 2 luggage. I had to kept asking them since they offered app-based check-in plus the number of luggage that I will be bringing and yet refuse to honor it upon check-in. I asked them if they imply that their iPhone app that shows how many luggage I can bring for free is a bug but they didn’t answer it categorically.

 

After missing the 0700H flight, the check-in guy moved me to the 0800H to LAX which is just right for me to catch up the connecting flight to NRT with enough time to transfer my check-ins. I think by this time, they had to call the supervisor to discuss my predicament. When she came, I repeated my predicament and she answered back by saying that there’s an embargo to the Philippines that the government has “imposed”. The airline cannot do something about it. Then I asked her why did Delta, through the app, allowed me to check-in more than what is allowed if there’s indeed a restriction. In fact, I told her what I have earlier stated that I didn’t receive notifications of flight restrictions much more that their own app allowed me to select more than 2 checked baggage. She said something like this which I found to be a bit insensitive – “changes in checked-baggage provisions such as embargoes isn’t notified to passengers because it is a minor one”. How can be changes in checked-baggage provisions be a minor one considering that IT DIRECTLY AFFECTS THE PASSENGER especially during holiday season when passengers tend to buy gifts to bring home? She in a way smirked and said “sir, we’ve been going on circles” and I answered her because Delta isn’t honoring what the passenger has selected and in a way putting me in a helpless position now that I stand in front of them in the check-in counter. They may want to check the CCTV at the Delta counter last 29 November 2015 at the Domestic departure near Gate 09.

 

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She offered me options on which isn’t workable at that time, considering that I have limited to work on to catch up my flight:

  1. Ask a relative to ship the box using a cargo forwarder. I specifically told them that my relative who dropped me off is driving back to Sacramento and is she telling me to call my relative and risking being caught by highway patrol for using phone while driving? She offered no answer.
  2. Another is to ship the extra luggage via cargo. She said that it is a separate department somewhere within SFO. I asked her if I have to pay because I am counting on the accuracy of the app where it allowed me to bring more than 2 luggage. She said yes, and I countered back to her that if she is making me at fault for believing what the Delta app offered me during check-in? We had a bit of raised voices because no one wants to fold and each has a point to raise. She said that they can’t override the system because they can’t.
  3. Call the reservations hotline and ask if they can make an exception to my case. I did call the reservations and tell the whole story again and said that there’s no embargo indicated in her records. However, she also said that her copy might not be updated and the check-in counter may have an updated one. She also mentioned that there’s no way for her to “command” instructions to the check-in counter as they belong to different departments. The hotline person asked if she can talk to the supervisor but they weren’t able to talk to because the call was placed on hold for the longest time. The call was transferred to another guy just to document but offered no resolution to my point.

 

Since it took a long time to discuss matters, I also missed the 0800H and I won’t be able to go home that day. That also mean that I won’t be able to report to work by December 1, Philippine time, missing my responsibilities waiting for that day. I just told them to rebook me for the next day, with the same flights even if that means that I risk losing my job for not being present on the day that I am expected to show up. My relative returned and picked me up from SFO – had to repack my stuff and readied myself to fly again the next day with only 2 checked luggage.

 

The following day, I didn’t do online check-in, but rather did it in the airport. This time, I took a video of the check-in process and and again I was offered to check-in more than 2 luggage with the same number as it was the previous day – 7 pieces checked for free. Yes, I was able to fly and upon arrival in Japan, I received a message from a colleague that the president has announced that they decided to have me forced resign from the company for not being in the office by December 1. I kept that thought hanging since pending receiving actual word from either HR or from the president himself, it might be still uncertain.

 

 

Upon arriving in the Philippines, clearing immigration and picking up my checked luggage, I was enraged to see someone who had more than 2 checked luggage picked up from Bay #1 in Manila. I might be wrong but I checked the name and it belonged to the same person. I even had to talk to a ground crew of Delta and asked why was that being allowed to have considering that SFO staff said that there’s an embargo and more than 2 luggage isn’t allowed. The ground crew offered an explanation that the passenger may belong to a tier in the Skymiles program which is a plausible one.

The following day, I reported back to work and confirmed the result – I am removed from work, for not being in the office by December 1, Manila time.

I am still thirsty for answers to some perplexing questions that’s related to this issue:

  1. Who actually imposes baggage embargo – airline or country? I find it disturbing when the SFO supervisor said that the embargo is imposed by the country. I saw a link online – https://www.directly.com/p/delta-airlines-exactly-what-is-the-flight-embargo-41521 states information about embargo. It has been more than 2 years when that question was asked, and yet the embargo information or restriction hasn’t been transparent to the passengers then till now.
  2. How far does the airline’s responsibility go on notifying travel-related changes that affect passenger’s schedule? I find it irresponsible that the supervisor would just say that the embargo is a minor issue considering that the passenger didn’t receive notifications on the said restrictions and the app allowed him to check-in more than the standard. No accountability even for presenting false information to the customer?

 

Glad that Skymiles aren’t expiring. If only ANA-United was a good alternative, I would have taken it. Oh well.

The Clark Airport “Terminal” at Trinoma

Traveling has always been my thing. Thanks to the different budget airlines, I was able to fly to places more frequent as before. The cheapest fares that I got flying out from Manila is too hard to resist. Who would have thought that with Php 401 (Domestic) and Php 2,340 (International) would bring me back and forth with baggage  allowances sans perks to different places. But those fares could have been much more cheaper should I fly from Clark. Though, traveling to Clark isn’t a welcome idea for me as I have heard different stories, most of them are negative and the sorta inconvenience of inaccessible transportation just to get to the nearest bus terminal at SM Megamall. I was thinking then that the cost of taxi to Megamall + bus fare + tricycle (some say that the terminal doesn’t really stops at the airport, correct me if I am wrong) is not worth the savings one would get if flying from Clark. But that was THEN, yes because I never thought that this would happen.

In a nutshell, this lounge offers the following:

  • Php 200 fixed rate per way (Trinoma – Clark OR Clark – Trinoma). Please don’t be pilosopo, it is per way that’s why there’s OR.

  • Scheduled trips. I think the 24 hour “operating hours” is that you can wait inside the lounge while waiting for the next bus.

Continue reading “The Clark Airport “Terminal” at Trinoma”

Philippine Airlines (PAL) Seat Sale

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(Click on the image to see the full-sized image)

I got this information fed in my Facebook account. For all travellers out there, take note of this seat sale by PAL for only 2 days: 27-28 April 2009.

Travel Period for the tickets are the following:

(Regional) : 1 June 2009 – 15 October 2009
(TransPacific, 1 way) : 1 June 2009 – 25 December 2009
(TransPacific, RoundTrip) : 1 Sept 2009 – 25 December 2009

And I am still thinking if I can get a seat in this sale. 😛

Caramoan Weekend

I had the privilege of visiting some of the Philippines’ not so popular yet so beautiful places to visit last weekend. Together with my friend Jasper, we took the Caramoan trip scheduled for April 4-6 of TravelFactor and off we go. It’s a 3 day beach bumming experience – something that I never had for quite some time. The last beach that I went to was last year with my college blockmates but I wasn’t able to join them this year since I was out of the country then.

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What I liked about this travel is that I don’t have to go that far to go to the meeting place. Our office building is just a few blocks away from the meeting place and coming from work to travel won’t be that of a hassle. We left Manila a bit late Friday evening and the horrendous traffic ruined our supposed Day 1 itinerary. Instead of doing nothing, our Day 2 itinerary was moved to Day 1 and so as not to waste time we toured around Caramoan town proper. We had some sort of photoshoot of the nearby structures and fortunately was able to see a Church. We capped the night with a hearty seafood dinner consisting of squid, fish, and other seafoods mixed with beans.

Continue reading “Caramoan Weekend”

How Cebu Pacific Pissed Me Off

Traveling is now a part of my lifestyle. Thanks to lower airfares available and these made me travel more to destinations I haven’t been before. Last weekend, I was in Hong Kong and Macau to spend some days off out of the country. It’s been more than 2 years since I stepped out of the Philippines and the first one was some sort of a “sideline” with only a day to go around Singapore.

Me and my friend booked for a Cebu Pacific flight to HK last May and we got a sweet deal of 4,214 per person exclusive of Philippine taxes (amounting to Php 1620 + Php 750 as compared to HK’s Php 1,290). As a person who loves to take pictures, I brought with me my dad’s tripod – the one he bought in France even before I was born. Typically, tripods are classified as “deadly weapons” and items of these type should be checked-in. When we were checking-in, I asked the check-in agent to classify my baggages as “Fragile” as my checked-in items contain fragile items with my bag containing chargers for batteries while the tripod is of course being a light material required to check-in. The check-in agent asked me if I prefer to have the tripod be a “gate-intercepted” item, meaning an item required for check-in will be allowed entry up to the boarding gate. The agent who would be there would get the item for transfer to the proper location – that is the item should be included in the checked-in items with the exception that the tripod won’t pass through the conveyor to prevent breakage. It was my first time to hear that word – “gate-intercept” but for the heck of it, and for the “concern” they have for my tripod, I guess it would be a good idea. Upon reaching the boarding gate, the woman who was holding a radio then got my tripod. I asked her if the tripod would reach HK, and she said, “Yes, sir.”. I re-affirmed: “Guaranteed?”, she replied back, “Yes sir, guaranteed”. Taking those words, I felt “assured” that my trip would be A-Ok and my items would be there, safe and sound.

The plane flew and we arrived in HK, 20 minutes ahead of schedule. After disembarking from the plane, exchanged USD to HKD, immigration, we were off to experience HK. On the baggage carousel, I found out that my tripod wasn’t there. I waited for 10 minutes hoping that the item would be there but none to avail. The Chinese woman who’s checking the baggage carousel told me to proceed to the “Baggage Enquiry” counter but to my dismay at Counter 1, where Cebu Pacific is assigned to has no attending agent. I waited for another 20 minutes but no one came. An officer approached me and told me that there’s no agent for 5J (IATA code for Cebu Pacific). DAMN! That tripod, more than it’s commercial value, is more meaningful to me (with reasons mentioned above). We arrived in HK around 7 something in the morning but we already left the airport around 9 something just to follow-up for that freaking item and yet no one responded to my help. So as not to spoil the trip, I kept pertinent information with regards to the whole situation. That is I took the Cebu Pacific flight 5J-108 bound for Hong Kong last 27 September 2008 and my tripod with tag 300128 never got into my hands when I landed in HK.

Upon my return in Manila, I was able to talk to a Cebu Pacific agent attending to the baggages arriving from flight number 5J-111. I told him the incident and he got me a paper getting all the information regarding my missing checked-in baggage. In the course of our conversation, something was raised up that triggered my curiosity. The guy who got the details told me that they’ll check with their records if indeed that baggage passed through their system. That alone is quite alarming since that package was gate-intercepted. How come could an item captured by the boarding agent as a “gate-intercepted” item be entered in the system to think it didn’t pass the conveyor. Smells fishy but I gave them as well my contact details for “updates” to the situation which I can say 90% will not happen as based from other feedbacks given by other disappointed passengers. But to be fair sure with everyone, before I left Hong Kong, I also submitted a “Lost Baggage” report to Hong Kong International Airport authorities to validate if indeed a package with that tag number do really reached Hong Kong. If their records prove to be nil, then all I can say is that package never left Manila and possibly in the possession of the boarding agent who got my tripod in the morning of 27 September 2008 in Gate 112 of NAIA Terminal 3 for the 5J-108 flight of Cebu Pacific to Hong Kong.

Oh please Cebu Pacific, please don’t use the lame excuse as a “budget carrier” why your customer service sucks. As a service provider to the riding public, you should be more consumer service oriented and refrain from escaping your responsibilities just because of the reason you keep on uttering. I know I am not the only one having a bad experience with you but don’t lose the trust of the people who keep on patronizing your services.

I will update this blog once the report of the Hong Kong international airport comes and let’s see what really happened to that tripod.

Cebu Pacific Cheap? Not!

Cebu Pacific just had a two day sale consisting of 0 fare for all its domestic destinations. I tried searching for a slot going back to Cagayan De Oro for some family engagements anew however, I ran out of slots – SOLD OUT as they claim to be.

Curiosity striked me and I tried looking for an airfare for the same period, for the same destination at different airlines – Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL). At first impression, you might think that PAL is more expensive than Cebu Pacific. But my own investigation tells otherwise.

This is the computation of Cebu Pacific:

And this is the computation of PAL

With a mere difference of Php 1.32 (which for me is negligible), PAL wins this time. Next time I’m going out of the country, I’ll make sure I’ll consider flying with PAL. Sans the free in-flight food, flying with PAL is a totally better experience than Cebu Pacific.

NAIA Terminal 3 Impressions

I went on a week-long vacation in the home province of my father where I had the chance of experiencing first-hand the newly opened airport in Manila dubbed as NAIA Terminal 3 or “T3” for short. Marred by a lot of legal controversies and issues they have finally opened last July and with Cebu Pacific starting last August 1.

Fortunately, our flight was late August and that means that we’re getting T3 as airport. Aside from the large facility, non-passengers can get in the airport only up before to the check-in area. There’s some sort of small area for well-wishing prior departure of passengers. In the old domestic terminal, you have to check-in only in the counter where your destination is indicated (e.g. if you are going to Palawan, you can check-in only in the counter stated as Palawan or Puerto Princesa). In T3, as long as you are flying Cebu Pacific, you can check-in in any counter and there you go. We were Mindanao bound but we checked-in in the Puerto Princesa counter.

Terminal fee stays the same, 200 bucks though I would say that the 200 is better felt here than in the old domestic airport. After paying the terminal fee, we went off to our pre-departure area. It is a looong walk although there’s some sort of walkator in the area. The view from the area shows the departing/arriving passengers. One good thing to notice is the terminal is cold (well it should be as it is new) though the place is so dull. When we are about to board the plane, I am quite excited trying the tube (the “bridge” that connects the terminal to the plane) but was quite disappointed since you have to go down the tarmac and climb the stairs to the plane – quite primitive but it’s okay.

On our return flight to Manila, the way to go from the plane to the terminal is still the same though we exited on another door for the arrival area. Good thing there’s a comfort room (I suppose) on each exit gate so you can satisfy nature’s calling. It was a long walk from the gate from where we exited to the carousel getting our checked-in baggages. As I would say, the place resembles Changi Airport Terminal 2 when I went there last 2006. The form of the immigration counters are the same and even the escalator downwards going to the claiming of baggages. The lobby is large again upon exit and it is definitely bigger than Terminal 2.

Of course, things are better appreciated through pictures. You can view them here.

POSTSCRIPT: I just noticed in our airport of departure for Manila that starting 2 September 2008, Cebu Pacific’s free baggage allowance would be 15kgs down from 20kgs. Bad news for backpackers. 😦