Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Transfer Passengers, Delayed Flights, and Running Through NAIA-3

Once upon a time, Cebu Pacific proudly advertised that their flights were 95% on time. Can't remember if that was the right figure exactly, but the point is that punctuality was their strong point. Not that it should matter much-- It's a wonder at all the humans can travel through the clouds at 800 km/h, so who cares about a delay of a few minutes, right? Yet, things always seem to go wrong when it matters the most.

Getting from Dumaguete to Puerto Princesa via Manila with Cebu Pacific was my first time to have to transfer to a connecting flight within the Philippines. I'm not even sure if I'm using the right terminology, that's how rare it is. Before this it has always been a straight trip from source to destination. And when traveling in the Philippines, one of those is almost always Manila.

Dumaguete to Manila

The time between the scheduled arrival of our first flight and the scheduled departure of our second flight was only 55 minutes, so it was with some trepidation that we boarded the plane in Dumaguete well after it was supposed to have taken off.

Already late, it was even more concerning when the plane flew north past the airport and circled Metro Manila seemingly aimlessly. I continued peering out the window as the plane wandered above Commonwealth Avenue and the Batasan complex, then around the grassy hills of Rizal, then the fish pens of Laguna de Bay. For some reason. A plane from Dumaguete to Manila has no business flying above the northern part of Metro Manila. The pilot hadn't announced anything, and he never did.

Airport dash

When we actually landed and got into Manila's NAIA Terminal 3, it was already a few minutes beyond the scheduled boarding time for Puerto Princesa. Adding to the troubles, it seems that the NAIA-3's infrastructure for transfer passengers to get straight back to the pre-departure area was under construction or something, so we had to go the long way-- pretty much just like normal passengers, except without lining up for check-in.

We climbed up the broken escalator, ran past the broken walkalators, up more non-functioning escalators to the check-in area, then through the maze of security checks and bureaucracy. I even had to pay the terminal fee. It's 200 pesos per person to briefly run through an airport terminal that is neither our starting point nor final destination? I was too much in a hurry to be frazzled by the injustice of it. Luckily a kind (or apathetic) soul let me cut to the front of the x-ray machine line when I told him I was already late for my flight.

Finally, out of breath, we reach the fathest end of the most inaccessible gate, and the dude tells us that the flight to Puerto Princesa is delayed. Boarding isn't for another 40 minutes. Heh.

Manila to Puerto Princesa

The delays did not stop there. Even after boarding the plane late, it just sat there on the runway for 20 minutes. I fell asleep, then woke up, and we still had not moved. The scheduled arrival time had already come and gone by the time the plane got to the air. To the pilot's credit, he did regularly give updates of the situation (something about the weather) to the passengers and apologize for the delay.

In the end the plane arrived in Puerto Princesa at 1:45pm, around 1 hour and 15 minutes behind schedule. Yes I did travel over 1200 km in hardly half a day to get to where I was going. But the minutes do seem longer when they're part of a lost hour of the only honeymoon I'll ever have.

1 comment:

  1. There is no particular reason why you can't remember and maintain the excitement and wonder of a honeymoon on other trips and in everyday life. =) Enjoy!