Flight PR 115
SFO San Francisco International Airport Jan 13. Interestingly it was also friday the 13th, after having our dinner in a full packed In and Out Burgers at Milbrae they brought me to the airport. We said our byes and I proceeded to the counter. I was greeted warmly by Paolo of Philippine airlines SFO, I showed him my web check in docs, boarding pass and travel docs. Then I walked to immigration for a final screening before departure, the line was long and it took me about 45 minutes to clear it. Then I am inside and we are just to wait there till the A8 gate opens. The time was 8pm and we are to board 825. All was well and I was excited to fly home. I texted eric to say I am “IN” and for one more time I said my thank you.
at 825pm the promised boarding time we still has not boarded and the counter was still empty. At about 930 they informed us that the flight will be delayed due to mechanical issues, though not surprised I can sense a lot were saddened. at 10 no one seemed to be at the counter, there were staff but the just move around and often will come and go, maybe avoiding questions from impatient passengers. a few minutes after they announced that they will give out refreshments but I dont have an appetite for it at that moment. At about 11pm we were told that the flight was cancelled and were ask to go to the the check in counters and we will be informed on what will happen next. All of us scamper to go back to the counters and fell in line but to our surprise no one is at the counters and they were even closed. Then after a few tense minutes a counter opened by what we thought by filipinos but only to learn that they were from AeroMexico. All are getting tense now and irate. Still few minutes has passed and no one from PAL to assist us. This frustrates all of us even more, our flight was cancelled and no one from PAL to brief us. They just get rid of us away from gate A8 /A7 because Qantas will now use it. they need to sweep us away from that because another airline is gonna use it. We were there all waiting and not knowing what will happen.
Then someone appeared and told us that PAL officers were in a meeting and finding solutions to help us. This time voices are starting to get louder and you can see the confusion in each of us. after about 1 hr in queue a lady from PAL appeared and announced something but since I was alone and I cannot hear it I walked closer to her. SHe told us that our flight will be on the next day, PAL will get our details and they will book us in a hotel or we can go home but we need to fall in line so PAL will get our info, goodthing beside me a counter opened and I was among the first to give out my details and I elected to go home, if not for that stroke of luck I would be in queue for another hour because they only have 3 counters servicing hundreds of trapped passengers. People now are on their phones trying to get someone to pick them are to inform loved ones their status etc. Passengers all just shook their heads and guessed maybe it was due to Friday the 13th curse. I hurriedly texted eric to ask if he can fetch me as my flight was cancelled.
From what I gathered from SocMed, passengers who elected to stay in a hotel was waiting for the (again delayed) bus that will bring them to their hotel and so the passengers just deicided to take matters in their own hands and not rely on the EFFICIENCY (insert sarcasm) to look for another bus (from another hotel) and pay $5 each to bring them to their hotel.According to what I read passengers took another hour to get their rooms.
So flight will be a day late, I reached Menlo and recount the horrible experienced I got. Since all my clothes are in my check In bags, Susie just gave me a jammies and jacket to wear for the night. I thought that was the end of our misery and i will fly home just 24hrs late.
When I woke up at 14th Sue and eric was already having breakfast and since I left Eric’s phone number at PAL he got an early morning voice mail that the Jan 14th 830pm flight will be moved to Jan 15 800 am. It was shocking and my fear was now compounding, as I promised myself that I will not fly PAL ever again. PAL is one of the worst airlines and they have no reputation keep. it is mostly pinoys fly with them and even if we hated them they have a monopoly to most direct flights. Unlike good airlines like EVA, Cathay, SQ etc… they have a reputation to keep, a good name to maintain unlike PAL ( one of world’s worst) will not even try to give a good service, will not try to make an effort because in the end it is our only choice (for long direct flights).
I spent another day in the Bay Area and knowing that the 8am flight on the 15th will push thru. I slept early that night because for 8am flight, I need to be at the gate 3 hrs prior. At about 330am Tereh got an email that the 8am flight was moved to 11am. OK at least, I dont have to leave Menlo Park at 5am… So at around 8am we travelled along the highway 101 to SFO. Along the way, I am joked by eric that the flight might be cancelled again. I laughed and part of me knows that this time it is gonna push thru, as no one is that unlucky and PAL might still have a semblance of a professionally run corporation.
Back at SFO check in counters again in the morning of 15th, I was wearing the same clothes as all my clothes are in the checked-in luggages. We were all their waiting, people who went home and those who stayed in a hotel. We are all in line then they announced. The flight scheduled for 11am will be moved (again) to 2pm and though we paid for a direct flight to MNL that flight will have to make a stopover at HNL Hawaii. They gave us an option to stay and wait for 2pm flight, rebook, or refund. I decided to rebook, first I feel that flight is not safe, secondly I dont trust PAL on their announcement and I might be waiting for nothing, to stay and wait for hours just to be told that it was once again cancelled. I dont trust them anymore but some did and they decided to wait. I went down to carousel 12 and waited for my bags and after an hour I am back outside waiting for eric to get me.
I decided to check the status of that flight that was supposed to fly out at 2pm. It was PR 5115 SFO-HNL-MNL. They told us that it will be 2pm when we were all in line at 9am. But that flight was once again delayed at actually flew out at 430pm. I can only imagine the despair, fatigue etc of my co passengers who waitied.
at around 7pm they landed at Hawaii and MNL at early morning of the next day. A normal 14hr flight turned into a 18 hours ( if I am correct with my computation).
Lessons form this trip:
Have a decent understanding of the plane that you are gonna ride on. I have traveled to SFO for number of times and it mostly fly out of MNL & SFO at around 10pm but during Xmas season they inserted another early extra flight PR 114 & 115 which is a small and old plane. I was actually surprised that plane does not have a TV/Movies, non operational reading lights, very small seats.. it was an old plane. We must try to stay away form those flights, though it was a bit cheaper than the newer planes but it is not safe, comfortable (imagine a 15hour flight without an entertainment) and not very reliable.
PAL will not try to give a good service, will no longer make an effort to be good. Unlike other airlines CATHAY, SQ EVA AIR etc.. that prides itself for giving good service, PAL will not try anymore.
It was a disaster, really bad for the passengers, the one with kids and the senior citizens on wheelchair. It was a punishing trip and thank you PAL for that old, beat up, small plane PR 115.