* CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE/HAPPY ENDING TO THE AIRPHIL EXPRESS INCIDENT* I got this at AirPhil Express’ Website. This is their Mission, in order of importance. Note #1 and #2 

Air Philippines Corporation shall provide:

  1. customers with safe and reliable air transportation with the best service at the least cost;
  2. employees with career development and job satisfaction; and
  3. stockholders with fair return on their investment.

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DATE:  16 September 2011
TO:      
AirPhil Express
FROM: 
ToT

RE:        Formal Complaint Addressed to Supervisor Robert Perez on The Handling of   Cancelled Flight # 2P 930

To Whom It May Concern

I would like to launch a formal complaint regarding the handling of AirPhil Express cancelled flight 2P 930 to Cebu from Manila earlier today. I am copy furnishing some of my co-passengers in this e-mail as this incident not only inconvenienced the undersigned, but over 100 passengers of the cancelled flight. As I write this complaint, beginning at 10:34am, I have now been at the airport since 5:00am, first at NAIA3 then to NAIA2. We have not been given food nor water since then, as there are no food kiosks in the check-in area of NAIA2.

 I apologize in advance for the lengthy nature of this letter, but since I have been made to wait over 9 hours , I believe your company can afford me a few minutes of your busy corporate time to read through my complaint and weigh if reading such a long letter is more of an inconvenience over waiting at the airport for almost 10 hours with no guarantee of departure.

Let me begin with a detailed incident report on the occurrences that have transpired since 5am:

I arrived at NAIA3 at 515am, 2.5 hours before the slated 735am 2P 930 flight to Cebu. When I arrived, there was a line in front of the AirPhil Express counter but no attendant checking in. I called my companion, who arrived at the airport much earlier. She was the one who told me that our flight was cancelled and was shuttled to NAIA2 by AirPhil Express to take the 9am PR853 flight of Philippine Airlines.

When I asked the passengers ahead of me if they knew it was cancelled, they said that only when they asked attendants did anyone advise them of the cancelled flight, and that our entire flight would be moved to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, 12 hours from that time and about 10 hours from our original flight. It was only when I stated to the AirPhil Express crew that my companion was already at NAIA2, waiting for a 9am flight did the other passengers realize that an earlier flight was possible and demanded that we too get on the 9am PAL flight. Only then did AirPhil Express offer to shuttle us to NAIA2 to take the 9am flight.

At around 530am, before I boarded the shuttle bus, I asked AirPhil Express representative Ellyson Ray Abes if we are confirmed for the 9am flight because, if not, I would have gone home and waited for advise. “Eli” responded “Yes ma’am, confirmed po yung 9am na flight nyo”. This gave me some comfort in knowing I would not have to wait very long as I have some important business to attend to in Cebu during the morning.

We arrived at NAIA2 at around 6am, and Eli proceeded to take our itineraries and e-tickets, and processed us to enter NAIA2. We were asked to wait by the Standby Counter on the right side of the airport. Eli said he would already process our check-in, which gave us the peace of mind that AirPhil Express is proactively fixing the situation, allowing us to relax.

At around 7am, an hour after we last saw Eli or any AirPhil Express representative, I became uneasy and started to ask about the flight status. My companion, who had been shuttled in first, said that her group (who was situated at the other side of the airport) was still awaiting confirmation and they are ‘wait-listed’ on the 9am flight. I asked a Philippine Airline representative for the status of the 9am flight and she informed me that PR853 is already overbooked, and that we have no chance of getting on that flight. This was not the update I, or any of us, expected, as we were GUARANTEED that we are confirmed for the 9am flight.

At around 730am, upon hearing that our group had not been given seats on the 9am flight, we became agitated and began walking around NAIA2 to look for Eli or an AirPhil Express representative who can listen to our concerns as well as provide us with answers regarding our uncertain predicament. We were not given anything to drink, and some passengers with children started acting up due to impatience. We could not find Eli or anyone from your company. I had to resort to asking NAIA2 to page your representative so that someone can accommodate us, as the Philippine Airlines staff were not obligated to assist us.

I began speaking out on my Twitter account (twitter.com@triportreats) and mentioned @AirPhilExpress in some of my messages, to which your twitter account responded in a direct Direct Message, at 7:39am:  ‘Can you DM the ff: passenger’s name, reservation code and itinerary. Thanks’.  I responded: How do I give the itinerary and code when d Rep took it and hasn’t returned since 6am? 

I proceeded to make direct messages on your Twitter account because, in over 2 hours of waiting for what is now evidently an overbooked flight, that was the only response I received from your end. We were kept in the dark and had no idea that the “confirmed” flight we were waiting for was nothing but an undelivered promise from AirPhil Express. My messages:

·     @airphilexpress please ask Rep Eli to go back to NAIA2 n give us an update. Almost 2 hrs na. Per @flyPAL, CEB full but you said confirmed kami (7:44am)

·     I didn’t wake up at 4am to find out 4hrs later that d ‘confirmed’ flight m supposed 2 take in lieu of d CANCELLED 1 is FULL @airphilexpress (7:58am)

·     After 3+ hrs @airphilexpress rep returns to tell us what we already know: Full na ang 9am. So now.. We are waiting for NOTHING.

We waited another 30 minutes, at the wrong airport, without knowing if we were ever going to fly to Cebu. At about 8:15am, Representative Eli returned to NAIA2 to 2 groups of disgruntled, displaced, and dehydrated passengers. This time, he brought with him a third group of passengers who were also informed that their shuttle ride to NAIA2 would deliver them to a confirmed 9am flight and are now last in line for a fully booked 9am flight.Upon his arrival, Eli was greeted with a barrage of complaints regarding the manner in which our situation is being handled. We know that Eli had no power to make decisions, such as create a new flight to accommodate the displaced passengers, provide us with refreshments to ease our discomfort, or actively listen to our concerns so he could address them properly. We asked for his supervisor or an officer in charge so that we can improve and act on the situation. But no, it was only Eli who shuttled, coordinated, organized and assisted the now growing number of irate passengers who have travelled as far as Los Banos and have been at the airport since 3am to take a flight that is now clearly not happening.

In fairness to Eli, I would like to commend him for his tenacity, because he tried his best to appease the passengers. But we did not want sympathy, we wanted action, answers and a direct flight to Cebu after being promised a 9am flight. The passengers began demanding for the Officer in Charge, or the Supervisor of AirPhil Express to come to NAIA2 so he could assess the situation and see for himself the gravity of the damages that are occurring. After several attempts to contact the supervisor, Robert Perez, he refused to face the crowd and continued to allow a rank and file to single-handedly take in customer dissatisfaction with no authority to decide. We felt disregarded.

At that point, at around 830am, Eli had no choice but to admit that only 5 passengers are cleared to take the 9am flight, and that we would now have to wait for the 1245p PAL flight out to Cebu, but this time in “Business Class”. The upgrade serves us no purpose, as we have already wasted half the day being treated like cattle, shuttled to another airport to avoid confrontations with the supervisor, and left with no food, nor water to appease our discontent.

It is now 1130am as I am continuing this complaint letter, and we are inside the pre-departure area. The promise of food and drink still has not arrived, and many elderly passengers are waiting by food kiosk 1418 because it was announced 30mins ago that we would be served refreshments. I have now waited a total of 6.5 hours, and still have to wait another hour until I can board the plane to Cebu.
The only meal we received during 5am-1245p. Served at 1208pm

To Mr. Perez, I am not somebody who is quick to complain or unable to sympathize when things go wrong. My work is in the hospitality industry, and we are used to customer relations and incidents with our guests. I am familiar with the reality of unforeseen circumstances when the company has no choice but decide on matters which inconvenience the guest or the customer. I also understand that  AirPhil Express tried to make a contingency plan by rerouting us via PAL to Cebu, but I would like to tell you that it is not enough. Let me tell you, in my own opinion, why this is inadequate and unacceptable:

·     This complaints stems not from the fact that you cancelled the flight, but that there was no attempt to contact many of the passengers beforehand. Apparently, it was already known since 1am that 2P 930 was cancelled, yet it was only when I reached the airport that I had any notice of the cancellation.

·     The initial option given by AirPhil Express was to move us to the 5pm flight. Only after our group complained and I mentioned that my companion was shuttled to PAL did your representative offer to shuttle us to PAL for the 9am flight. This should have been THE first option, not the last resort when people become irate.

·     It was verbalized several times that our group was CONFIRMED for the 9am flight, even before stepping on the shuttle to NAIA2. Later on, Eli changed his statement and insists he said: CONFIRMED FOR STANDBY. There is no such thing as confirmed for standby.

·     We had to wait til 830am, 3 hours after the cancellation notice, to find out that we are not, as promised, confirmed on the 9am flight, and now we have to wait an additional 4 hours for the 1245p flight, with limited seats available. That is a total of 7.75 hours of wasted time spent at the airport with no guarantee of travel. This is very INCONSIDERATE and wasted all our time when we could have gone out of the airport and returned before noon. Some people have business to attend to, some are on vacation with expenses already paid, and some have traveled far only to be inconvenienced with no water or refreshment. You failed to provide us the basics of time management.

·     When we repeatedly requested for the supervisor, Robert Perez, to come to us and explain, personally, why we are treated like cattle when we are paying passengers, we received NOTHING. No response or a courtesy visit. Matters that escalate to public unrest require a point person who has the authority to answer questions and give us concrete action. You do not leave a rank & file person to fight and become the punching bag for complaints from passengers who did not want to air out their concerns to someone who cannot do anything about it.

·     It was only when passengers began shouting and became unruly did the offer of an upgrade come out. An upgrade to business class will not compensate for the inconvenience, the distress and the lack of customer relations that was evident in this situation.

·     I would like to note, only for the record, that upon boarding the flight, I, alongside several other passengers, were seated in Economy, when it was expressly promised that we would ALL be upgraded to business class. Another false promise from AirPhil Express.*

I am a frequent traveler who flies in and out of Cebu at least twice a month for business and in other cities as well. I am used to budget airlines such as Cebu Pacific and AirPhil Express and am not bothered when flights get cancelled on the spot where I am made to wait for 2 hours. I don’t sweat the small stuff nor do I lash out over the minutest of details. But the incident today demonstrated the lack of Customer Service 101 from AirPhil Express.

It is inconsiderate to make an entire group of displaced passengers wait at the airport, saying we are guaranteed a confirmed seat for a 9am flight when we were not guaranteed anything at all. You cannot make us wait for 3 hours and then turn that into 7 hours without providing us with the basics such as water (delivered only now at 12:08p). You have no right to make us feel disregarded when a supervisor refuses to confront the situation he is being paid to be on top of,  and  refuses to address the group of passengers directly. You cannot expect us to be satisfied with your service when there is only one representative coordinating our flights, shuttling us from one airport to another, gathering our complaints but making no real action to address it.

I do not want to make it seem like we are a group of ungrateful passengers, but that is what we were made to feel, as if we inconvenienced AirPhil Express to give us a flight to Cebu after you cancel our original flight. I felt like I had to beg for water just so I can ease the dehydration I began feeling. I was made to feel like I was asking for too much when we pleaded that we please get a confirmed flight after waiting since 5am with no concrete schedule given to us.  I was made to feel like beggar when I have paid full price for service and a flight.

Being that the hospitality and airline business are both in the service industry, I’m sure you are aware that the nature of both our business stems from exactly that: SERVICE. When you take money from people who do not pay for anything tangible but the service you provide them, they expect a certain level of quality service and CUSTOMER SERVICE to be afforded to them. Courtesy, convenience and basic communication skills are requirements whether it be a budget airline, or a 5-star hotel.

I am sad to conclude this complaint with the feeling that I was shortchanged by this transaction and this situation. I paid for a budget-airline ticket, but I never expected that it meant being deprived of courtesy, decency, and consideration.  I arrived at my destination in Cebu at 4pm, 11 hours after I arrived at the airport and 8 hours after my original arrival time. The entire day was wasted on waiting for AirPhil Express to make good on their promise of a flight. Of all things promised, an arrival to Cebu, no matter the inconvenience of circumstance, was the only thing delivered by your company. You failed at every level of  professionalism and protocol and showed a clear lack of procedures in handling contingency plans.

The general lack of caring and understanding and just dealing with it nonchalantly (as if to swipe it under the rug), is so unprofessional. I suggest a major overhaul to the customer service training and a review of your protocols and procedures. I know this requires a big investment, but it will pay off – just look at your successful competitors.

I believe I am not alone when I say that feeling disregarded is one of the worst feelings you can have, and if this is the type of service that AirPhil Express admittedly provides, I would gladly move my business to your competitor budget airline who has tried and tested customer service policies that are clear and customer-centric. I will not patronize any service company who makes me feel like addressing my needs is a burden to their operations, nor will my money go towards a company who has no regard for the value of people’s time and patience.

Sincerely, and with regrets,

ToT

CC: Other Passengers
(Sent at 10:38pm via email)ToT-ers: WHAT DO YOU THINK? AM I OA?