Monday, September 20, 2021

Sanchez: Delays, nth time

I WENT to NAIA Terminal 2 at 12:30 noontime to beat the monstrous traffic along the way. Better an hour or two early than late.

But then this was in Metro Manila. Two predictables: the bumper-to-bumper traffic at daytime, and Plane Always Late. Wait, this is not a dig on PAL. Cebu-Pacific is also a PAL in that sense.

I was supposed to be also wrong, of putting my foot in my mouth for these PALs. After all, last month, Jose Angel Honrado, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, gave his marching orders to flag carrier PAL and Cebu Pacific.

During that April 2015 meeting, GM Honrado chastised the companies, that what causes flight delay is not necessarily air traffic congestion but airline companies falling short of meeting their flight schedules.

These airline companies have made the NAIA airports their favorite whipping boys as the excuse for the flight delay.

NAIA records indicated that delays in the first wave of flights from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. have affected succeeding flights for the rest of the day. Call that the domino effect, the chain reaction of the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events.

From a three-day average in January this year, 27 flights were delayed during the first wave leading to an average of 103 delayed flights for the rest of the day. Likewise, 10 delayed flights were recorded from a three-day average in February resulted in 45 delayed flights throughout the day.

According to the GM Honrado, NAIA is sufficient to accommodate all flights so air traffic congestion cannot be the basis for flight delays. The real culprit was caused by prolonged aircraft servicing on the ground and late arrival of aircraft from its point of origin.

The only problem is that Honrado is a general manager, not a general of the Philippine Air Force. I wonder how serious PAL - the real PAL, that is – in taking his marching orders. I suppose not, judging from my return from Manila to Bacolod. I was supposed to board the Mnl-Bcd flight at 3:30 p.m. for my 4 p.m. flight home.

Then that dreaded announcement. Because of the late turn-around of flight from Tuguegarao, the estimated time of departure for Bacolod was reset to 5 p.m. The time came and we were still stuck inside the departure area. We finally boarded at 5:45 p.m. But then we have to wait some more in the tarmac.

The plane arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airport at 8:30 p.m. (2030 HH). By that time, I knew there would be no dinner at home and most of the restos along the way home would be closing.

PAL issued an apology for the delay, citing "unavoidable reasons." What's the reason for the late turn-around of plane in Tuguegarao, no one bothered to explain. I'm sure it wasn't traffic congestion.

Perhaps, this is a better explanation. According to its Commitment to Customer Satisfaction which however is "APPLICABLE only to PAL flights to or from the United States," PAL is committed to providing the total quality travel experience to all our customers. ...Our aim is to accord our customers an experience which they would remember us by, through a consistent effort to enhance our service delivery and regular trainings of our employees."

I guess that Commitment to Customer Satisfaction is not applicable to Filipinos taking domestic flights. Still, I agree that PAL has accomplished its goal of according its customers an experience which they would remember the airline.

Yes, I will never forget why customers still call you PAL. I would have taken another plane if your competition is vying for BETTER airline services, not copying the experiences that we, the passengers, will always remember.

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