My Mom and my sister flew to Tacloban City this afternoon via Air Asia Zest safely and on time. Thank God their flight pushed through despite the sad announcement a week ago, that all Air Asia and Air Asia Zest flights from December 22-28, 2014 were cancelled.
Early in November of this year, I booked a flight bound to Tacloban for my mom and my sister for their planned Christmas/New Year vacation in Samar. It wasn’t the cheapest but the rates were fair enough for flights on a peak season. Using Dragonpay Direct Debit as mode of payment, we saved around P500 from the total amount because there was no additional service charge unlike if we paid through credit card or other payment options.
A little over a week ago, I received an email and a text message from Air Asia Philippines saying that their flights to-and-from Tacloban from December 22-28 were cancelled. Here’s what they said…
“Dear Guest, Please be advised that due to the closure and extended repair works of Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the following AirAsia Zest flights between Manila and Tacloban have been cancelled from December 22 to 28, 2014.”
I tried calling their hotline for two days after receiving this message but it was queuing the whole time. On the third day, I finally got hold of one of their customer service representatives, who, aside from repeatedly saying “sorry for the inconvenience”, also kept on stating the same information as what I received on the email and SMS over and over again without giving any resolution.
I was extremely disappointed. First, the flight was cancelled and we were only informed a week before the actual flight. Second, I thought they will give us an immediate refund or maybe try to help us book another flight with another airline but they said they can’t and they don’t. And third, knowing that it’s “peak season”, all flights with the other airlines were fully booked and tickets were all sold out at the bus terminals. So we were left hopeless with no option available whether we travel by land, air, or water.
Three days after they announced the cancellation of flights, they emailed and texted me again…
“Please be advised that Air Asia Zest will resume flights between Manila and Tacloban on 23 December 2014 following an announcement made by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to re-open Daniel Romualdez Airport.”
My mom and my sister were no longer expecting that they could go home for New Year but this message brought back the hope and excitement in them.
We had our last minute shopping yesterday mostly for pasalubong and made sure all their bags were prepped and packed before they left for the airport this morning. They got to NAIA Terminal 4 three hours before their flight and we thought they’re good to go until another set of challenges came up while at the airport check-in counter.
They exceeded the maximum baggage allowance that they paid for which was only good for 30 kilos and their stuff were 8 kilos more! They were charged P2,800 which is more expensive than my mom’s one-way flight ticket and is equivalent to the amount of fare for 2 passengers had they travelled by bus. Another sad thing was, my Christmas present for my mom, a set of imported perfume and lotion, which I’ve been keeping for a few months now because I wanted to give it to her this Christmas, was also confiscated while checking in because it was mistakenly placed in one of their carry-on bags.
It was already late when they realized that they should have checked it in and paid the charge instead of leaving it in the happy hands of the check-in staff. I wonder how many lotions and perfumes these employees have confiscated and how many of these items have they brought home already. Or do they really return these things to the owners when they come back and ask for it?