Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Stinking Cebu Pacific Procedure?!

About a few hours ago, I had this encounter with a Cebu Pacific Air employee at the Mactan Cebu International Airport with a 'procedure' that "stinks" in purpose and 'enforcement'. I later told him what I thought about it - and I hope they'd consider re-doing how they execute that stinking idiotic requirement of the airline!

Here's the story...

After paying my terminal fee, I proceeded towards the final security check. But we all know there is a guard who checks if you have actually already paid your terminal fee by examining your boarding pass for an attached receipt, right? And her podium is only about 5 steps away from that counter where you have just paid, right? Well, she is not the topic here hehe! I just want you to imagine clearly where my little incident transpired...

Across the said guard is/are also stationed 5J employees (5J is the 2-letter IATA code for Cebu Pacific Air) in their usual yellow/orange T-Shirts as uniforms. Many times, there'd be only one such staff, though at times there'd be two. Well, I think the presence of another staff is not really "official". Probably just a colleague who is on break with nothing to do so he/she would hang around with the one "on duty". Yep, this time, there were two of them. And yes, even if I pass by this place almost every week, I have not really come to understand what on earth are they there for. And THIS is my short topic.

"Excuse me sir, ano ang laman nyan?"(what's in there?), so came the question from this 5J dude that surprised me. Why was I surprised? Because that was the first time I heard such a question from such a place/person who I KNOW are not security personnel. I simply said "mga gamit ko"(my belongings)! I immediately followed that up with "why do you want to know"? - in English. He retorted with some bit of high-handed, high-pitched tone (not yet arrogant at least) saying "anong gamit nga?". That means "what kinds of things/belongings" but I can't find a word or sentence to translate the "nga" - I just know it signifies insistence bordering on the usual 'authoritative' arrogance you always encounter at government offices or with government employees.

Call it a 'hot button' or anything else... but yes, that last question seemed to have sent blood rushing to my ears at ultrasonic speeds!

I formally faced him (instead of proceeding to the x-ray machine) and loudly declared for other passing passengers and airport employees to hear saying "bakit mo kailangan malaman, sino ka, AVSECOM? if so, why are you not asking all passengers who are carrying things? And why are you not at the x-ray machine and why are you wearing a Cebu Pacific t-shirt?"

While his colleague who was also slouching in a chair just looked on, he said "hindi ba sir, kung meron pusit ba o danggit" (no sir, if there is dried squid or dried fish).

And so I boomed saying "Then say so immediately, ask me if I have danggit or pusit in this paper bag. Don't just accost me and say excuse me sir, ano ang laman nyan, because my natural answer would be 'ano pakialam mo, sino ka to ask me what's inside my bag'. This is not an airline counter you know, and you have an UNMARKED table and chair. Who knows you could just be another kawatan trying to assess what to steal". Then I topped that with "wala akong danggit, wala akong pusit, any more questions?". Since he just stood there stunned looking at me, I proceeded the 5 or 6 steps to the x-ray machine and removed my shoes, for the usual 'x-ray ceremonies'.

That's just the simple incident, but dear travelers, let's highlight some points that makes this extra red-tape in the airport a hassle concocted by idiots.

01. "Excuse me sir, ano ang laman nyan?"
All passengers rightfully expect that question will/should, therefore must only be popped at the check-in counter or the security inspection areas that are clearly marked and clearly manned by competent and authorized personnel - not just slouching employees in a chair behind the terminal fee counters. With the proliferation of criminals inside and outside of any facility (c'mon, they're even inside churches, or legislative halls) the last thing anyone wants is to let anyone know what valuables they are carrying.

02. To catch what stinks
There are other better ways to find pusit, danggit, durian, ginamos or whatever else in a handcarry than posting a sloppy young man to ask "excuse me sir, ano ang laman nyan"! No, I won't offer any suggestion here... I get paid for that!

03. Customer service
Any person who wears that airline uniform is expected to have some courtesy, proper posture and decorum to be believable and authoritative to ask what he/she is supposed to be asking. Certainly I would not concede to an irresponsible looking young man in a t-shirt, slouching in a chair by a table with no signage as to its purpose. And there should be a better way of popping that question than an alarming "ano ang laman nyan"!

04. Can't the x-ray machine or the dogs help?
Why not let this 5J folks stand behind the AVSECOM officers watching the x-ray monitors for them to spot what they are trying to find? Why erect another layer of passenger inconvenience when just a few steps away is the x-ray machine that does not even have to ask "excuse me sir, ano ang laman nyan"! Or betterstill, post a hungry dog or even a starving cat to smell all handcarries! In this case you don't have to train the animal a-la K-9 unit. They'll just spring at the smell and there you are! Sus naman!

05. Consistency
If a person knows there is a traffic light, he yields. If the same person knows there is a busted traffic light and has not been working for years, he ignores it, right? Frankly, I have always seen that uniformed 5J personnel and only at the Mactan airport. Not from any other airline and certainly not in any other airport. But when the 'busted traffic light' suddenly accosts me to ask what I am carrying, then I get defensive lest I become another victim of pickpockets, thieves, muggers, salisi gangs, etc, right? So if he is there to catch a stinking dried squid or fish he should be accosting ALL passengers and announcing to them what his purpose is for. In fact if they're serious, the airline can actually formalize or institutionalize its stupidity by proposing to have another layer of "examining area"! Para consistent, di ba?! And do it to all who carry paperbags, plastic bags, supot whatever!

Anyway, I left the stunned neophyte still stunned, and I passed through that final x-ray machine swiftly, then proceeded to the lounge.

What was my paperbag or what was in it anyway?
Look at the two pictures in this article. Those are the two sides of the paper bag. Contents? A box containing a set of wireless microphone and lapel microphone with extra D-size batteries, the transmitter, peripheral connections and operating manual. I was carrying this brand new gadget to be used at the training I am to conduct tomorrow where I will also leave it at the venue to become their new gadget!

Outside of the box but inside the same paperbag were my eyeglasses, boarding pass, belt, cellphones, my small bodybag containing my camera, batteries, my 3 broadband sticks from the 3 networks, extra memory cards, chargers, batteries, CDs, an external drive, yosi, lighter, etc that I have already removed from my body in preparation for the x-ray.

Now you can read those items again, imagine those were yours and you were in my position. What would you have said hearing that question "ano ang laman nyan"? Would you do a litany of all things inside the paper bag? I did not even add in the mini-tripod for my camera, 2 USB sticks of 4gb each, a USB reader for my XD cards, some receipts, chewing gums, my passport and other IDs, my credit cards and ATM cards, a thin pack of wet-ones, a ballpen, the keys to my houses in QC and Cebu, my business cards. So naturally the easiest way is to say "mga gamit ko", right?

Did my colorful paperbag look like it would contain pusit or danggit? Haha, I know, I know, many of you know that you can't even get me to bring pastel or any foodstuffs as pasalubong whether checked or handcarried, right? But in fairness to the 5J dude, he does not know me. Then again, did my paperbag look like it was some container that a pusit or danggit vendor would use? No! So why was I singled out from others who even carried plastic bags like they bought kilos of fish from a palengke?!

A friend at my destination (where I am now writing this) has a more plausible explanation... the idiot of a 5J employee took interest in my colorful paperbag and asked if I had pusit or danggit so that I would be advised to repack them then throw the paperbag away for him to scavenge or salvage. I think I'll believe that hehe. And now that stinks more than pusit or danggit hahaha! So okay, advise to ARMM tourism, next time you have guests like me, don't make your paperbags that beautiful so I won't catch the fancy of some sloppy cebu pacific "inspector" at Mactan Airport ha?!! Hahaha, now am laughing...

Finally, guess what?!!! On take-off, air from the aircraft's vents actually carried the same stinking 'aroma' that the airline is oh 'so serious' about in catching. Amoy dried pusit and it got me hungry! Good the flight was only for about 20 minutes and the same smell seemed to have dissipated when the craft was at its flying altitude!

Oh well well well... baho ka'g tiil!


  1. haha, i know exactly what you mean about having just one person man a counter..with their co-worker on break and just hanging out. hilarious, but i see why you were so frustrated!

  2. Great information about traveling, This is a good reference to all travelers out there. Good post!!!

  3. He... he... I can imagine the smoke venting out of your nose in that pissing scene. Truly, such unprofessional conduct of an airline employee is worthy of a class usurpation suit by the AVSECOM.

  4. haha! I'd me mad too if he uses that kinda tone with me. Sabi nga nila, its not what you said but how you said it matters :D

  5. Hehehe... Air line company should provide proper training to their employee before they deploy their employee to their job.