Last week, I had my long-awaited vacation with friends. After grueling months of work, I needed a break from everything. Little did I know that my vacation would start with a ruckus.
The ticket we bought from Zest Air was the 7:40AM flight. We bought it a couple of months in advance since it was a promo. People actually warned me about this airline but I thought what the heck, I've flown about three times with Zest Air and in cases where my flight was delayed, it was only a few minutes to an hour. I've experienced more delayed flights with Cebu Pacific.
Upon leaving the house at around 5 in the morning, I received a text that Zest Air experienced some problems and our flight was moved to 9 AM. Ok, fine, it's still ok to leave early since we did not want to mess with the morning rush hour. By 9 AM, we were informed that the flight was moved to 10 AM. By 10 AM, people were really anxious already. I was one of the people asking why the delay is so long already. Several flights have already left and we've been stuck in the airport for hours and we should have boarded half an hour ago. The staff were saying that there's still no plane, the plane is just leaving this certain place blah blah blah. They then told us that we will leave by 11 AM and they will give us the next plane to arrive. Apparently, our original aircraft had a problem and they had no backup planes. They said they would also give us compensation and meals for our inconvenience. Every so often, someone would stand up and complain, etc and the staff just continued giving excuses. We were even asking for the manager and the supervisor but no one would come out and face the concerns of the people. Our day was already wasting away when we could have been to Boracay already. Plus, we were also panicking since a couple of our friends who were already in Boracay said that there's a liquor ban by 12 noon and they cannot buy all the alcohol we need that would last us for three days.
By 11 AM, there's still no plane. They told us to line up in front of gate 4 (which is far away from the customer assistance desk where the Zest Air staff were staying). So by 11 AM, passengers were already lined up but still no plane. People continuously complained and demanded as time passed by. We also requested for a change in our return flight and they said they would give it to us without any fees and penalties. By the time we boarded the plane it was already past 12, we were hungry and cranky already. The plane left Manila by 1 PM after the manager, Raphael Lopez, apologized and said blah blah blah for a couple of minutes. And guess what? While we were already on air, the flight attendants announced that there were about 130 passengers but the meal loaded was only for 90 people so they will just distribute the meal upon landing. WTH?! Imagine our frustration and anger on this. But fine, we'll just sleep it off. Upon landing, our meals were given. Tada! It wasn't worth all the time and effort we wasted.
I vow that I will never ride Zest Air again unless I have no other choice. Yes, it's a budget airline but how they went about the situation was just not right. They shouldn't have given hope that we could leave soon every hour and they shouldn't have lied to us. They may be trained not to tell the passengers the real deal but the passengers deserve a right to know what time the flight will be really able to leave. Their customer service just sucks. And when we went to rebook our ticket, the staff in their ticketing office was condescending and it turned out that the accommodation of return flights to be rebooked was not well coordinated so we wasted another hour in their office.
My advice to travelers, don't be a thrift freak too much. Sometimes, when you think that you are saving, you are actually wasting not just money, but time as well.
Note: We were also told that Zest Air was bought by Air Asia. I'm not sure if this is a rebranding strategy because the name Zest Air is already sullied or what. Still, I will not risk another vacation by booking a flight with Zest Air or Air Asia. And oh, I just remembered, a colleague who booked with Air Aisa in Clark also had a delayed flight, I think it was a day of delay or something like that.