AirPhilExpress Customer experience

In this day and age, every single peso that you save is important. It’s a practical person’s world now and understandably so. Budget airlines are a good way to save some hard earned money if you need to travel for business or even leisure. There are several budget airlines that are available for you to choose from, however, if you must choose one, we strongly suggest that you stay away from AirPhilExpress.

Our experience with them covers almost every single process, from pre to post flight. I have written about it on my personal blog and have restrained myself from posting anything until we have gone through the process of a redemption but since the redemption experience was a fail as well, we do believe that it is time the public understands why we say you should go with anyone else but AirPhilExpress.

In bullet points, the experience I’ve had with them are as follows (Which you can read in detail here, here and here):

  • Their website was giving me a fatal error. Pages won’t load and there’s no information on how to contact them (at that time) This error lasted for four days!
  • The check in staff in Iloilo was not as well trained as one would hope and gave the same answers over and over again.
  • The plane was dirty. There were empty food boxes left in the seats. The FA didn’t even apologize for it.
  • I believe that they don’t understand the meaning of safety. The seats are jammed too close together, the seats are old and we even dismantled the seatbelts just to prove a point. We put it back again though.
  • They use Facebook as a medium to communicate with a formal and serious complaint, which in my opinion is totally unprofessional.
  • They claim to respond to complaints real time but it took them 3 months to reply to mine. I even had to teach them how to do their job.

It even came to a point where the Chief Executive Adviser contacted me because I started posting about the whole thing on my personal blog, in Facebook and in Twitter. I started connecting with other customers who had valid and serious complaints as well. And Dave and I started using SEO to move it up the search engine rankings. The entire complaint has died a sad death because I never received any more responses and I think I was even blocked (or deleted) by Brian Hogan because in my several attempts to email him, I only got a mailer-demon message.

I was willing to let it go and just chalk it up to a bad experience and vowed never to use their services again. But, as life and fate would have it, we would cross paths again.

We have an important business trip to Bacolod and due to the sheer mass of our schedule we only had the opportunity to book the flight the night before we had to leave. After looking at our options (due to another scheduling conflict) it seemed that only AirPhilExpress was our only option. I thought it was a good idea to see if they would be able to redeem themselves this time. So, with a bit of dread, I called them up. The call center agent, Pamela Benting (I don’t even think that’s her real name), was very enthusiastic and I saw a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, that peppiness would eventually be a negative point against her.

I don’t normally use a credit card for over the phone or internet purchases. It’s the paranoid in me. So, I asked if I could pay for it in cash over the counter since I did that before. Pamela explained that since the booking was for a flight that was less than 72 hours, we had to make a payment at the ticketing office. I said I understood and I asked what my cutoff was. She checked the system and said I had to make a payment at 2:30 in the morning. Take note that I was speaking to her at 11 in the evening. So, I clarified that this is 2:30AM and she affirmed. I asked what time the ticket office would open (just in case it’s 24 hours or something) and she said “Our ticketing office opens at 3AM. You have to make a payment at 2:30 or else your reservations will be cancelled.”

I was astounded. I asked Pamela if she understood the sheer ridiculousness of the situation to which she responded with: “That’s what the system showed here ma’am” This time, I was just so frustrated. I just came back home a few hours before from Boracay and I’m dead tired and grumpy. I explained to her that this was just stupid because they were setting unrealistic and impossible standards. She cheerfully responded with “Yes ma’am!” At this point, I asked for her manager.

She put me on hold for 2 minutes and came back to thank me and to inform me that her manager will just say the same thing. I totally lost it at this point.

“Are you telling me that your manager will say the same silly thing? Are you telling me that you have the same authority as your manager? Then why do you have managers?! I want to speak to your manager and I want to speak to him or her right now.”

She went away to “call” her manager and after 2 minutes of being on hold, she came back with the same statement. At this point, there was no redemption in sight and if anything AirPhilExpress actually buried themselves into deeper trouble than before. I thanked her and congratulated her for a job well done (sarcastically) and asked for her manager’s name (Mylene Brittania) and informed them that I will let the public know about their terrible customer service.

I then checked Cebu Pacific’s website and they had excellent service. Though my flight was less than 72 hours, the agent (Kristy) researched on the options, gave us tips and informed us of the number of available seats. (So that we can determine and see the level of urgency in getting a flight). They are a budget airline as well but they don’t scrimp on where it counts.

The truth is, you get what you pay for. In the budget airline industry, you will have issues and you will have things that are less than ideal (like leg room). But if this is how you treat your customers, I wonder how you treat your planes. AirPhilExpress is notorious for having cancelled or delayed flights. The internet is peppered with blogs and forums and Facebook statuses and Tweets that are all about how terrible AirPhilExpress is.

My verdict? Avoid Air Phil Express like the plague. If you must travel, call Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines or Zest Air. If you can’t get flights from these airlines, cancel your flight and book it another time but Air Phil Express is like signing up for major disappointment and frustration.



4 Comments on AirPhilExpress Customer experience

    • David

      People go with Air Phil Express because of one simple reason, the price. They are an economy airline and that is why many people choose them. That being said, all business experience issues and get better or worse over time.
      However, no matter what the business is, it should address concerns in a professional and timely manner.

  1. Nicole Joo

    This is only an isolated concern. I hope you have to understand that PAL Express is using a system that generates a fix deadline. The reservations agent will mention a deadline from the system. If you are Ms. Pamela, what will you do to solve your problem? If your loyalty is with Cebu Pacific, why did you tried to contact PAL Express hotline prior in calling Cebu Pacific?

    • David

      Hello, I see from your IP address that you are within the ePLDT Ventus call center, which handles calls for PAL and Air Phil Express.
      In my opinion, you get what you pay for. Air Phil Express are a budget airline and so they try to cut the costs as much as possible, which does cause some problems. PAL are not budget and as such, they offer a much better experience. However, complaints and issues should be addressed professionally.
      While we understand that your system sets an end time for payment, why should that be the problem of the customer? Fix your system! The ticket office opens at 3am and yet we are told that we need to make the payment by 2:30 at the latest. The staff were telling us to do something that they knew was impossible.
      The worst thing is that clearly you know your system has issues and yet you dont fix it, you just dump it on the customer. This is not good service at all.

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