Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Ongoing Nightmare With Airphil Express

To Whoever It Is From Air Philippines:

I am writing because I am very frustrated and upset at how you handle customers. I have been in circles with your agents and even your supervisors since May 24, 2012 because they have not provided me with a feasible solution to my problem.

We are supposed to leave Cebu with Booking Reference –HZXHAR on June 2 for Hong Kong and since this booking was made in April, I subsequently made reservations and paid for our domestic flights, hotels, etc. Likewise, we arranged to meet somebody in Macau on June 2 as we have already made arrangements for our transfer from the Hong Kong International Airport.

The big problem regarding this schedule change is that our flight was moved a day earlier thereby making it impossible for us to make it in Cebu on time. And what made this matter terribly worse is that I have been blatantly lied at and led on by the people I spoke to from your contact centers.

When I first spoke to LJ, she offered that if I am not amenable to the flight schedule change, I can always file for a refund! To begin with, this was not my fault that you continuously cancel flights due to this practice that has robbed off so many paying customers of their rights. To appease me temporarily, I was told to email online support, which I did right away considering that our flight is already days away. I was also given the assurance that since this issue was expedited; I was supposed to receive the email the next day, May 25, 2012.

However, May 25, 2012 came and went and I did not receive any email as promised. So I called again at 3 PM hoping to get a response before the online support group closes at 7 PM but to my dismay, I was told that the day is not yet done and I am guaranteed to get an email within the day from the online support group since there were two or three people who expedited my concern.

At this point, I have already heard of so many inaccuracies from Airphil Express. One agent, claimed that she has no direct connection with online support and the only way she can help me out is by giving me their email. But when the day went by without hearing from them, I have become very alarmed at how the company is handling flight cancellations. With no sense of accountability, I am sure the other passengers with the same predicament as mine, are on their wits end in trying to resolve this mess that Airphil Express has created for us.

So the evening passed and nothing happened, and I called yet again long distance and demanded a supervisor as I hate to be lied at and obviously I don’t want to play your games anymore because it has taken a big toll on my health. This incident has already robbed me of a stress- free vacation and I have already gotten the impression that you are training your people to intentionally lie just so you can uphold the one-sided interests of this company.

But the lies did not stop there and to my utter disbelief, I was told that it may take 2 to 3 days before I can get a reply from online support. To make a long story short, I have been led on my two or three different people that I was supposed to get an email the next day. I don’t know how I can put into words the disappointment and anger that I felt after realizing that this company is obviously playing games with me.

I spoke to Mark, one of your supervisors and I was told that he personally made an email to online support so that I can get the response that I need the next day, May 26, 2012. This is the second time that I have been asked to wait another day for a response but foolishly, I trusted the supervisor to give me results.

Today, May 26, 2012, I received nothing in my email. So I called again at 3 PM and I was told by another person that I should just wait for the day to finish as I was guaranteed to get an email today. She said that she already checked with Mark’s notes (the supervisor) and she said that surely I was going to get an email today as they have elevated my concern to the Head Office. She further said that Mark was not on duty and there was no way I could talk to him. This was a crap, I knew it from how poorly constructed her reasoning was, but I was willing to wait it out for the remainder of the day as I desperately want this issue to be resolved ASAP! To my horror and disgust, nothing came for the second time!

Now, I’m confused whether you resolve your issues at the head office, or is it solely the online support group that handles concerns such as mine? Whatever the truth is, this has gotten me NOWHERE!

I called again and the lady who was not speaking coherently conveniently cut the line off. I was not throwing insults and I was not even berating your agent but then I got cut off. Is my issue too complex that none of your agents are able to help me out? Or is this just your scheming and convenient way of treating customers who are left with very little options? Again, I was merely explaining my concern and the line went dead. This speaks a lot as to how you have been dealing with your customers, the very customers who have helped you become a competitive budget airline in this country!

I spoke to Nathan tonight, and when he blurted that my email never made it to online support, I blew up! At this point, I could not count the number of times that I have been lied at for the past 48 hours. With very little sleep from the stress that this cancellation has caused me, I am very concerned that my BP may have already shoot up because I could not actually believe that this is happening. I never imagined that Airphil Express, supposedly a reputable company, can promote and uphold such an unacceptable and shady practice.

I told Nathan that I spoke to three or four different people and they told me that they followed up on my email so for him to declare that I never sent one is a complete C-R-A-P. I explained to him that it’s absolutely impossible considering that a number of people told me that they followed up on that email. I demanded to speak to a supervisor. He was clearly a liar and he merely wanted to put me off by telling me that I never sent an email in the first place!

I spoke to Ms. Cherry another supervisor, and she heard me out. But then again, she has no solution to my problem and told me flat out that the reason is that there are no managers who are working on the weekend, hence nobody can attend to my concern. She further said that I may be getting a response from them on Monday. Although I appreciate her effort in assuring me that they have all the documents on hand for this complaint, I am still very upset that this is the same delaying technique that this company is conveniently using for passengers like me who are due to travel very soon.

After making 7 to 8 calls and two sleepless nights, this issue remains unresolved and I have a terrible throbbing headache to nurse. I also don’t know how this email can make a difference. I am resigned to think that Airphil Express treat their customers badly and they have the poorest customer service in the country.

With this cancellation, we are losing our domestic flights, as well as the hotel that we booked on Cebu for our stay on the 1st of June. To add to that, we also made arrangements for our transfer to Macau on the afternoon of our scheduled flight. And what they can offer me is a refund! How convenient! If only it were that easy, so I am sharing this in the hope of finding the other passengers on that flight, who surely made reservations for their vacation way ahead of time. Airphil Express has robbed us off a stress free vacation, we need to be heard.

Tickets To The 15th Hot Air Balloon Festival


Hooray! I finally got tickets to the 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I am ecstatic and happy at the same time because these didn't cost me an arm and a leg. For only 150 Php per ticket, I got an any day pass, which is valid today until Sunday, February 14, 2010. If you want to purchase tickets, you can head to your nearest SM Mall that has a ticketnet outlet. They don't do online reservations, but I think they have plenty of slots left. Here's the link to their website.

I also found out from the marketing group of Subic, that this year they are going to display some very unique balloons. S is just excited, and she can't wait for Saturday. They have a lot of activities planned, and you can check it out on their website -

I just have one big problem though ---- We need to wake up so early so we can be on time for the balloon flight! Ugh, wish me luck!

An Untimely Farewell To North Park On Valentine's Day

North Park Dishes

Lapu-Lapu Fillet with Soft Tofu - Php 268

Boneless Honey Lemon Chicken - Php 195

Salted Garlic Squid - Php 178

North Park Special Toasted Noodles - Php 238

Yang Chow Fried Rice - Php 138

For this year's Valentine's Day, we decided to have early dinner at North Park. This restaurant has long been a favorite of our family because they have plenty of Chinese comfort food in their menu, and the dishes are reasonably priced. With clean and comfy interiors, it's really a place where you would love to visit especially during special occasions. We decided to have our usual order, so I figured that there was nothing really special with that!

When they served their complimentary soup, hubby warned us not to have it because it may contain too much MSG. I just took a few spoonfuls and that was it! When the food arrived, I was happy that the food is still very flavorful - the very same trademark that we have been going back to North Park for. But the fried noodles didn't have as much meat or even vegetables as before. It used to be so loaded with shrimps, meat, etc..but I guess this dish seriously got affected by the crisis. Anyhow, I was very pleased with the fish fillet, lemon chicken and even the seasoned squid. S loved the lemon chicken, which also happens to be our staple during most of the well celebrated traditions every year. Everything was going fine - or so I thought!

The short drive home didn't actually go so well. I felt my mouth going uncomfortably dry, and I suddenly felt really dizzy - the feeling that you badly want to go sleep that's really hard to put off. And to top it all off, I had throbbing headache and a racing heart! I drank lots of water, but the uncomfortable thirst was still there. After a while, I was alarmed because I suddenly had chest pain! Then it all sank in - I think I am having an episode of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is a reaction after the intake of too much MSG. The symptoms include headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, a feeling of facial pressure, tightness of the jaw, burning or tingling sensations on the other parts of the body, chest and back pain. Too much MSG may also cause arterial dilatation (widening of arteries). While this syndrome may have been discovered in the late 1960's, many Chinese do not believe that it exists. It is presumed that it may just be a hypersensitive (allergic) reaction.

Whether I had Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or an allergic reaction, it really didn't matter anymore. Hubby vowed never to eat again at our well loved Chinese restaurant. It's sad, but I guess I just have to find lemon chicken elsewhere.

SCTEX - The Road of No Return

It was already mid morning when we headed to the 15th hot air balloon festival. It was not what we initially planned since we knew that the balloons take flight early morning. But since cousin O arrived at around 4 AM, there was no way we could leave early. So by 9 AM, we were still at the North Luzon Expressway, wishing that we had left earlier. I didn't really bother checking the directions going to the event because I had assumed that my beloved companions knew where Clark Freeport Zone was!

By the time we entered the SCTEX, we were puzzled as to why we had to choose between exiting to Clark North or to Clark South. We cleverly chose the Clark North Exit where at one point on the road, I saw plenty of kites hovering over a makeshift tent on the other side of the road. I told hubby and cousin O that we must have taken the wrong turn. They nonchalantly dismissed my sentiments, and headed straight to the 55 km SCTEX stretch leading to Subic! So when we had to pay our toll fee, we got the biggest surprise of the day. We were on the wrong road! I was right all along!

And so we were officially lost! At about almost noon time, we were already in Subic, which was more than 55 km away from our original destination. I haven't been there for the last 5 years, and the place seemed so empty and deserted that my husband likened the setting to that of the movie, "The Legend". I must admit that I had to agree with him - it felt like a ghost town.

We headed to Xpressly Xpresso where cousin O recommended their cold coffee concoctions and their extra sized pizza. At half past twelve, we were starving, but only hubby was patient enough not to complain of the slow service because he already devoured his order of baby back ribs. At Php 190, it was cheap as compared to Manila standards The meat was juicy, and I liked the sauce because it was sweet and tangy. Their spaghetti with meatballs was pretty good. I happen to prefer spaghetti sauce that is a bit sour. The pizza was a bit overrated, but it came out really cheap for the price of Php 699. I like how the crust stayed crispy after being lavished with sauce and toppings. The experience was not so bad, and although I wasn't really impressed with their giant pizzas, I was happy with their cold coffee offerings.

All Meat Pizza - Php 699

Baby Back Ribs- Php 190 - It was all gone before I could even tell hubby that I needed to take a picture!

Spaghetti with Meatballs - Php 190

Since we were already in Subic, we wanted to check out their duty free shops and catch the hot air balloon festival later in the day. We went to the Royal Duty Free Mall, and they did have some items cheaper than the ones here in Manila. They had fitflops at the nearby store but the price was pretty much the same to what we have here. The Nike outlet stores also had some items that were on sale, but it is still not comparable to the Nike Outlet stores in the States where you could buy decent sneakers for $30.

We would have wanted to continue on with our duty free explorations, but S was in a somber mood because she thought that she would see hot air balloons after the long drive. So off we went to the 55 km drive back to our original destination - laughing our hearts out for being so dumb with directions and for taking the "road of no return". You see, if you take the SCTEX to Subic, you could no longer turn back after missing the exit along the way.

Happy Times at the 15th Hot Air Balloon Festival


I was picturing vibrant colors illuminating the bright blue sky. In my mind, it was the perfect day to watch hot air balloons because it was not too hot, and it was already midafternoon when we arrived at the venue.

We finally made it to the 15th Hot Air Balloon Festival! After burning liters of gas and a lot of wrong turns, we found ourselves in the makeshift tent where hordes of people are lining up to get tickets. They didn't mind the heat, or even the long wait because it was just a happy day! In seemingly happy dispositions, families came equipped with mats, portable chairs, coolers and other picnic paraphernalias.

Cousin O wanted to relive her childhood memories by flying a kite. Without batting an eyelash, she chose the butterfly kite because she figured that it must look great up in the sky. But after more than 45 minutes and plenty of failed attempts to get the kite flying, cousin O was already frustrated. We still had an hour or so wait before the organizers begin the preparations for the night glow, so we made kite flying a really serious business!

But no matter how hard we tried and what we did with the kite, it just wasn't meant for flying. We figured that it must be among those models that need to be included with the "kite recall". We blamed the faulty design as many other kites from the same vendor were floating effortlessly on air! We laughed hard when we saw a kid that just basically threw his batman kite on air just to get it to fly. He made it took so easy!

The organizers actually had plenty of activities in store for the day. One of the things that S enjoyed was watching the paratroopers. I am so afraid of heights, so I would never venture in any kind of extreme sports that had anything to do with jumping off planes, or cliffs even! But looking at those paratroopers in the late afternoon sky was just so relaxing.

It was already dark when the participants started to inflate the balloons. There were interesting designs like the sun, turtle and even a barn with peeking animals on the windows. They were really cute, but they were only halfway inflated because the wind was so strong, and it made the preparation really difficult. S counted the inflated balloons, and she said there were only 10. Sigh!

When the organizers decided not to force the night glow because of the winds, we called it a day. I can't bring myself to complain because we never made it on time for the hot air balloon flight. We were too late, and we ended up somewhere else. But seeing S happily waving at the paratroopers and saying hi to her favorite half inflated balloon designs, I felt that it was all worth it. That day, she reminded me that we need to be like kids sometimes. Because despite the day's twists and turns, in the eyes of S, it was still the perfect day.