Tell it to SunStar: My experience with Cebu Pacific

By Mel Allego
Tell it to SunStar.
Tell it to SunStar.SunStar file photo

I have been a loyal and paying customer of Cebu Pacific since 2001… until today.

I was scheduled to fly with my wife, nephew and niece (both minors) and my service dog, Juno, from Clark, Pampanga to Cebu City on Friday, March 22, 2024, at 1:20 a.m. for the purpose of attending my father’s 80th birthday celebration in Tuburan, Cebu.

We arrived at Clark Airport at 11 p.m. Thursday, March 21, prior to our flight to make sure that Juno would be allowed to fly with us as a service dog (a dog that has been trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability) with complete documents and permits.

However, three female Cebu Pacific check-in agents did not want to allow our service dog on the flight because they claimed that we did not indicate that we would bring Juno at the time of booking our flight.

I told the three Cebu Pacific check-in agents that I had tried to add a service dog to our flight the day before, but the Cebu Pacific website would not allow us to do so, and that I also tried to contact customer service online through Facebook Messenger, but the automated chatbot did not know how to address and process a service dog request. The chatbot kept trying to suggest options for bringing my service dog as cargo.

I told the agents that the Cebu Pacific website states that we can come two hours prior to our flight to add our service dog Juno. After a long time of discussion between the three agents that did not know or understand their own service dog policy, their second excuse for not allowing Juno was that we did not print the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) permit, even though we received the approval permit through email, and showed the three Cebu Pacific agents the email.

They required us to search for a place within the airport to print the document. After several attempts to find a place to print the permit, the BAI representative was finally called to verify our permit.

After the BAI representative validated our emailed BAI permit, the three Cebu Pacific agents then came up with a third reason for Juno not to be allowed on the flight. They said that Juno has to be muzzled. I told them that the Cebu Pacific policy states that a service dog “should remain muzzled…,” but not a “must” or a “has to,” meaning it is not a requirement, stipulation or mandate by the airline.

I told the agents that Juno has traveled on American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Philippine Airlines without having to be muzzled on any flight. I also told them that a trained service dog will behave differently if muzzled, especially when they have never been muzzled before.

However, the Cebu Pacific agents did not understand that, had no knowledge of service dogs, and insisted that they were correct despite being incorrect several times regarding Cebu Pacific policy.

The agents continued to debate whether to allow Juno to fly until finally giving us an answer at 1:30 a.m. March, 10 minutes after our flight departed at 1:20 a.m. The agents told us that they would assist and help us with rebooking our flight for the next flight at 5 p.m., meaning we would have to wait for 15 hours and 30 minutes for the next flight.

We said that because they caused us to miss our flight, it was only fair to provide us with accommodation and transportation from Clark airport until the next flight. Again, they did not know what to do and kept debating about what to do.

At 2 a.m., I finally asked them what our options were as customers and what their solution to this problem was. They just said, “wait lang po.” So we waited and waited, and then noticed that all the Cebu Pacific agents had left the check-in counters. They left us stranded in the airport after promising to assist us.

The new Clark airport is far from any hotel, and there was no available transportation from the airport at that time. We were stranded without any assistance or help from any representative of Cebu Pacific. I went to the Clark Information Desk (Lipad) and asked what we should do. I was told to file a formal complaint with Cebu Pacific and to include them in the complaint.

They told me to try going to the Cebu Pacific main office in the airport. We went there, but no one was in the office except the security officers. The officers told us to wait until a Cebu Pacific representative arrived. My nephew, niece, wife and Juno slept outside of their office at Clark Airport until 5:10 a.m.

When the representative finally arrived, I told him of our situation and experience, and that I wanted to file a formal complaint. He was kind and understanding, but told me that he had to contact his manager. After talking to his manager, he told us that we had to file a complaint online, and that our only options were: a) they will rebook a flight from Manila to Cebu at 10 a.m. free of charges and penalties, but we would have to pay for travel expenses to Manila, or b) we would be rebooked for 5 p.m.

Our goal was to arrive in Tuburan, Cebu for my father’s birthday celebration at 5 p.m. Both solutions required us to spend more money and to miss my father’s celebration. For a fault and mistake by Cebu Pacific, we were treated by management as though it was our fault.

Because of our experience, we no longer want to fly with Cebu Pacific. They left us stranded without a flight, assistance, food, water or any accommodation. Even if Juno and I were not allowed on the flight, my wife, nephew and niece should have been allowed on the flight.

Through this whole experience with Cebu Pacific, I realized that this airline does not care about its customers and is willing to allow us to be victims of bad policy and worse customer service.

Cebu Pacific does not care about minors and service dogs. We spent seven hours and 30 minutes at the airport and suffered for nothing. I will now only fly Air Asia and Philippine Airlines. If you value your time, money and self-respect, do not fly Cebu Pacific.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.