Last Monday, July 15 2013, at around 4:30 PM while I was waiting for my 5PM flight to Puerto Princesa at NAIA Terminal 4, I heard the announcement that our flight will be delayed due to late arrival of turn around aircraft. I was a expecting that since most flights at the afternoon are delayed nowadays. But a little past 5PM they announced that our flight was cancelled.
There I was still working on my computer, trying to look unshocked from the announcement. Passengers stood up and went to the passenger assistance desk near the gates only to walk back to the check-in counters to be rebooked.
After shutting down my computer, I went to the passenger information desk to ask what should I do. Unfortunately, the staff of Zest Air was unavailable as they were all servicing departing guests to another destination. I waited a bit, but since I do not think they’ll be available really soon I walked back to the entry gate of the departure area and asked a security guard what should I do. She told me to go out of the departure area and join the line of fellow passengers whose flight was cancelled. I smiled and thanked her.
I lined up at 5:30 PM, since I was late to stand I was one of the last in line. Got serviced around 6:21 PM to be issued a rebooked ticket with no charge (51 minutes on the line). Then went to get my checked-in baggage around 6:28PM and got out of the airport immediately.
From the moment I stood up to the time I lined up I was trying to come up with reasons why our flight was cancelled, but when I came up to the line there was a small short bond paper size green colored paper that says “MNL-PPS cancelled due to inoperative runway lights at destination“. I was glad then that my flight was cancelled. Safety first.
During the wait in line. I had a chance to talk to one of the passengers who was certainly not happy with the waiting experience. His phrase hit me “The little things that they do not do…”
So below are a list of little things that I think should be improved on during those times.
1. Announcement should be repeated at least twice.
The announcement was only said once. What if we were chatting with a friend when the announcement was said, just like the passenger I heard after the announcement asking “Ano daw?” (What was it?) Luckily, someone told her what the announcement said.
2. Announcement should say what passengers should do.
The announcement only said “To passengers of flight Z2420 bound for Puerto Princesa, your flight is cancelled.” Or something like that. Okay. My flight is cancelled. So what should I do now? That’s the reason why all the passengers went to the passenger assistance desk after the announcement only to be instructed to go back to the check-in counters.
What if the announcement was like this “To passengers of flight Z2420 bound for Puerto Princesa, your flight is cancelled. Please go back to the check-in area and line up at counters 15 and 16 for assistance.” Repeat that twice. Do you think I will be wondering what would I do next?
3. Arrange the line.
When I came up to the counters I thought there were 3 lines. So I lined up on the middle line since it was the shortest. It turns out there were only 2 counters servicing the passengers. The left and middle lines was alternately being serviced by counter 15. Thus making the left and middle line the longest line.
Creating more than 1 line for a single counter is an inquiry nightmare. When one asks a question, the other would do a follow up question. And when the inquiry series get its momentum or when other people get into the conversation the servicing of each customer slows down. It happened to me when I was a tiangge vendor and it also happened at Counter 15 that day.
4. Less staff, less talk, more work.
When I lined up I was happy that there was only one staff at each counter but after servicing 3 customers there were now at least 3 staff per counter. Of course, they tend to talk with each other. This was also due to the customers inquiry series that a single staff could no longer handle the inquiries.
I admired one of the staff who shouted that they should open more counters to service customers since there was still many of us. But the suggestion quickly died out. I wished they’d open more counters as obviously there were staff that could service us. But this might not be a little thing as maybe the other counter’s computer might be locked not to serve customers going to Puerto Princesa or some other complicated matter other than that. Still adding more counters was not a bad idea.
5. Larger and higher signs
When I went to the check-in area I had no idea where to line up. I stand 5 feet and 11 inches so I could see from a higher point of view than most people in the country but I never saw a sign that says where I should go nor a placard that says “Puerto Princesa”. The placard was there when I checked-in. I wish they put it up when the flight was cancelled.
It was only at least 30 seconds after I lined up that I saw the short bond paper that says “MNL-PPS cancelled due to inoperative runway lights at destination”. It was placed really low that any passengers head would block its view from the passengers at the back. (See second photo.)
But there’s something I’d like to praise them for. It’s also the short bond paper that says the reason why the flight was cancelled. That’s one question down from my head.
Air Passengers Bill of Rights
I don’t actually know what the Air Passengers Bill of Rights contains but since I’m a regular passenger I should know what I am entitled for in case something happens. I should really do my assignment. In any case I asked the following questions and got the following answers.
Q: Do I have the option for a refund?
A: No. Only rebooking.
Q: Is there an allowance for transportation or hotel?
I just asked those simple questions and did not inquire further. I do not want to be the annoying customer who made the line slow just because of his curiousity. Nor do I want to be the annoying customer who kept saying his mocking opinion loudly.
My time is important. Other people’s time is important. The staff’s time is important (Yes, they are people too).
Would I ride with ZestAir again?
Yes, I would ride with them again. I’m a curious type. I’d like to see how would they improve their services or if they would not improve their services. I’m actually hopeful that they would, slowly but surely.
P.S. I hope the issue with the inoperative runway lights would be resolved soon. The night flights are a big help to passengers as it saves them valuable time.