Thursday, December 4, 2014

Before the Trip Hullabaloo

 My week leave (Nov. 18-20) coincided with our 4 major activities! As we were making our organization’s plans, I was guilty for taking a leave in one of the busiest week. But this trip is already planned way ahead. I just never filed my leave earlier. But some of my colleagues already knew of my plans. Thankfully, I got a very supportive Deputy Country Manager and colleagues who know the tenacity of my Dora-like adventures. Travelling is a need. It invigorates me and for the past months, I was lost. I need a breather.

I made the necessary arrangements prior to the said events. I made all the checklists. And even on the day of my flight, I was still confirming guests for the forum launching in Cotabato. There was an input on conflict-sensitive resettlement (which is quite crucial for my planned MA thesis), trip of our Regional Area Manager and another forum at Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

And to top it all, Manins asked me to check possible itineraries and also updated hotel bookings and addresses! The preparations were in a daze. Months before it, we thought it was still far only to realize it is now around the corner. We crammed and panicked thinking of possible mishaps. When can I have a stress-free travel? But then again, we thrive in stress. We survive stress

Just last night as we were trying to add additional baggage, CebuPac’s website decided to be crappy. I only got 2 hours of sleep and there are people who just love to burst your happy bubble. I could make a nasty response but then I realize, we have to be prepared when things go wrong as we planned. I try to remember the goodness of other colleagues who are willing to take the burden of the work I will be leaving. We have to acknowledge that while we don’t have any hold of other people’s attitude, we can choose how to react.

Airport Drama by AJ Efondo
Photo source:
Airports are one long waiting game. I arrived from Davao at 12NN. Flight to Ho Chi Minh is at 10:50PM. I detest airports before as I associated it with tears and long goodbyes with loves ones. I never liked going to airport every time my mom goes back to Hongkong as OFW when I was young.  Anyway, my work and these itchy feet gave me opportunities and I had made my peace with this place.

As I was lounging around, killing time when this young lady approached me. Janeth (surnamed withheld) , a 3rd year BSEd Values Education  approached me and tried to sell a beads keychain she made to support her studies. I am wary of these rackets; I know of an organization that requires its members “quotas” and the holidays are fast approaching. Janeth is  nice and sincere. We talked for a while about the difficulty of balancing time for studies and finding some money to sustain the drill of getting a degree. She’s quite good in doing the marketing of her beads and approaching strangers requires a lot of guts and of course, self- confidence.  She left and I have this on my hand: 

Philippine-flag shaped bead keychain.

Then I continue reading Kafka on the Shore when an elderly woman, in her 50s approached me and asked if I was a frequent traveler. I said yes. She asked if I can help her and older sister regarding their flight to Kalibo.It's their first time. They were looking for the check-in counter. It is just 5:15PM and their flight is at 9:05PM. They traveled from Tagaytay and they got 2 big bags. They showed me their ticket and they got no check-in luggage. I told them they can purchase a prepaid baggage but they insisted that the person whom they purchased the ticket that they can just check-in their bags! Of course you can do it but with an exorbitant fee of P200/ kl and their bags is beyond 20 kgs, while you can only pay half of the price if you got a prepaid one.  I convinced them and we marched to Cebu Pacific’s office but we were stopped. We missed the 4-hour before the flight purchase time limit by just a hairline (10 minutes). Sales office said sorry and they are strict with the time. Oh the irony of it (you know flight carriers are known for always being delayed but they are strict and will charge you several bucks for just being late for a minute). I wanted to raise my eyebrows. I was just there earlier when I purchased an add-on baggage and there was a long queue of disgruntled customers for the late advisory of cancelled flights to Tugegarao (2 flights) and Caticlan. Missed the time limit by the dot? I would really understand the guideline when there is an equal strict rule imposition when they also cause so much inconvenience with the passengers.

We all fall for this. 

I am grateful for these flight carriers, Cebu Pacific for one for its annual promos (Pisofare and holiday discounts) but it seems these promos make us accept the crappy customer service as the collateral. And it is no wonder that another passenger break all loose when he demanded for his lost baggage. The ground crews said it was in another flight only to find out it was just left in the check-in lane.  And it is not helping when these crews, just shrug their shoulders telling the passenger nonchalantly, “You can go home sir. We will just deliver it.”  There is no time or date and when the passenger needs it badly, expect the curses. It is in these situations that a  person who can empathize and communicate well is needed.  Acknowledge the anger and the inconvenience your company caused and as its employee, you will do all what you can do to resolve it. Imagine the hassle of going thrice to the airport for the lost luggage in the midst of hurting traffic. Take responsibility. Company image is built not with just the promos, magazines and press releases. It is foremost, built by the employees to whom the passengers talk to. We know they are outsourced, employed through an agency and most of the time, they couldn't care less. Workers who are bonded by commitment and benefits will work efficiently. Contractualization, hiring employees through agencies lessens the burden from the employer. as they are no longer held liable for employee benefits like paid annual leaves, retirement benefits. And we have seen again and again how the employer-employee- customer relations have been strained. 

I am not singling out Cebu Pacific here. I had my own share of whole-fucked-up-terminal-waiting-game experience with Philippine Airlines (PAL) last month. But nothing can compare to the no unfriendly passenger scenarios with CebuPac. Take note that because the tube used in ferrying passengers during boarding is paid, it is not used. Instead, everyone is asked to go down the long flight of stairs. That's very unfriendly especially to differently-abled passengers and mothers with children. My older sister's plight is worth telling.  She got 2 kids in tow; flights were delayed until midnight and no assistance was given and no information when exactly they will be flying. And oh just last week, they lost one of my colleagues who is a frequent CebuPac flyer. There was a crack on one of the windows and they only realized it after they have already flown. They have to go back and the handling was nightmarish. There are still more stories of course of these crappy services we get. We can choose to boycott them but with only 2 airline carriers we have, do we have that much choice? I hope this ASEAN 2015 economic integration can really boost the competition and make these two airline companies improve their services. 

Flight to Manila

Flight back to Davao.
ooooh sunset, how I love thee changing colors of the skies. 

As our midnight flight to Ho Chi Minh  is being called I heaved a big sigh of relief. The idea of flying over the clouds with the huge seascape underneath gives me a sense of freedom. Those fluffy white clouds remind me of cotton candies and warm childhood ceremonies. To fly on air is to dream. To wander and stay youthful. Truly Peter Pan knew how light one can be and to see the landscape in a macro perspective. And when I fly, I closed and my eyes and left the baggages of the long day at the terminal. So long worries. 



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