Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cebu Pacific, the new PAL?

Boarding was called; passengers were bussed to the aircraft docked at Gate 115. I opted to board last to avoid the scrimmage. Why passengers (usually Filipinos) run for it, I still don’t understand! We all have our seats numbers anyway, so why run to be first at the aircraft? Duh!

While purposely waiting for “me, myself and I” to be the last passenger, I observed that each gate has a pair of gate-readers – which obviously were installed by the airport authorities and not the airlines. Unfortunately, no one (yet) can use them! I just know, really! What is a gate-reader? Oh, I’ll explain that in anther story!

The bus was half empty, no one was entering anymore and the ground staff told me I was the last passenger they were waiting for! So I climbed up after taking a shot of the bus, the blue sky and the moon – yes the moon was still visible and bright!

All aboard and it was taking time for our flight to close doors and finally depart. I already knew from past experiences that there was something wrong with the engine. It was making funny “guttural” and “gasping for life” sounds hehehe! Finally, a stewardess came on the public address and told us there were some technical requirements that needed extra time to fix. I was happy to note, there was no audible negative reaction. I thought, hmm… good that I’m not on a flight to Bacolod hehe!

After about 30 minutes (or even more) it was the pilot speaking on the PA to explain that he had to ensure safety before timeliness. Thus, he had to ensure that those technical matters are attended to. I was actually already silently praying that he please decide to just cancel this flight and transfer us to another flight or another craft. I could feel that the left engine just beside me (I was at seat 11A) was in deep trouble. It was still in that fit of “gasping for life” choking and coughing sound that I did not at all like. There were times they tested the engines to run at full speed that the aircraft shuddered a bit. I thought that was a serious matter for them to do, thus, the engine must really be in deep shit. I know that for an aircraft on ground to blast its engine at full speed requires many considerations like everything behind (and a far distance actually) should be clear of any objects, persons, vehicles or even other aircraft before doing so. And the engine was still in its sickly state. Gosh!

Answered Prayers! Yey! Instead of me getting disappointed at what happened next, I almost clapped with joy. Instead, I just gave out a muffed but exuberant… “yes” jabbing the air that surprised the passenger beside me hehe. He did smile hehe! What happened? The stewardess came on the microphone again with this… “ladies and gentlemen, due to additional servicing requirements of this aircraft, our flight will be further delayed with a new estimated time of departure set at nine o’clock this morning…” and so on and on. We were asked to gather all our belongings, disembark and ride the buses back to the gates. So we did!

I think it was not only me, it probably was all of the passengers who were happy to oblige since all of us could hear the “dying” sound of that airplane and we could feel the shudders. So there we were passengers of cebu pacific air’s flight 5J625 happily or boringly scattered at gate 134 and the smoker’s lounge!

Took the almost additional two hours for another session of touring around the gates. So I went back up via the elevators, watched anything and everything that came my way and aimlessly strolled the entirety of the pre-departure area. Hah, there was even a time I took a picture of and walked the length of that “dead” walkalator!

Saw a friend who I thought was like me, aimlessly walking around and we chatted a bit. I told him my flight to Dumaguete was delayed from 7:10AM to 9AM, that we were already on board but were asked to disembark. He let off an exasperated “hah, ako rin, my flight to Cebu is delayed… tsk tsk tsk now I am inclined to really believe that Cebu Pacific is the new PAL – Plane Always Late”! I just smiled and went off to grab more snacks and coffee to be consumed at the smoker’s lounge hehe!

The new boarding call for my flight was at exactly 9:02AM. So, all passengers rode the buses again and back to gate 115. As we piled in, an old man jokingly exclaimed at a stewardess “kayo na naman? Kayo pa rin?”! The stewardess gamely answered “yes sir, sama-sama tayo, walang iwanan”! In my mind I said “same crew, different aircraft” – I knew since before I disembarked, I had opened the aircon vents of 11A and 11B. This time, both were closed. No sooner than I realized this, the passenger on 11C said “bagong eroplano na ito”. I asked why and he said he left some trash (doughnut wrappers) on the seat pocket and it was not there anymore plus his seat pocket already had a magazine when there was none earlier.

Oh well, so we departed and safely arrived at Dumaguete, though very late. Very late in fact that my itinerary was ruined!

For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35


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