Monday, December 15, 2008

Comments on PAL

I'm disgusted with PAL and their lack of customer service.

To make a long story short, my mother in law had contracted e.coli from a cold smoked salmon salad she ate on a PAL flight from Manila to Bangkok, Thailand earlier this year. My husband and I didn't eat the salad, nor did other passengers we happened to meet whilst in Bangkok. Although there is no concrete evidence of her contracting e.coli from the salad PAL served (i.e. having a sample of the salmon tested, etc), it is pretty evident she did contract it from what she ate on the plane considering it was her first meal that day and her previous meal was 8 hours before that.

She missed touring Bangkok cause she was vomiting and severely ill. When we got back to Manila (had trouble with PAL AGAIN but that's another story) we checked her into UST hospital where she was treated.

The thing was a chain of events. My mom in law ended up spending 10 days in 2 hospitals. She was staying at UST then cause of the unsanitary conditions, ended up contracting klebsiella.esbl (a very NASTY bacteria resistant to most antibiotics) during her stay there and ended up at St. Luke's hospital.

To say the least, my mom in law NEVER wants to visit the Philippines again (can you blame her after what has happened) and we're still trying to fight for some compensation from PAL.
Anonymous on September 25, 2008 11:18 PM

Ive always enjoyed the service that PAL offers. ive never had any experience with their reservations offices but their ground and flight crews are some of the most pleasant Ive experienced, I live in the New York and fly via San Francisco to get to Manila. After having to endure "service" from American domestic airlines, PAL, is definitely a whisp of fresh air.
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 12:03 AM

Bryan boy had thesame experience like you. Check out his blog.
People that work in LAX nicknamed PAL as the PLANE THAT's ALWAYS LATE, coz THEY ALWAYS ARE! And when they're late, airline people give you a meal coupon with an attitude, as if I should be grateful that I was given a free meal coz they were late! Jurrassic talaga! And the sad thing is, THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT ME AND YOU! You think your letter means something???? This is just business as usual for them!
ilovekimmel on September 26, 2008 2:31 AM

I have my own share of disgust with PAL, back in '02 (indeed that was the last time I boarded PAL) we were bound for LA and at the Terminal 2 as a standard procedure everyone checked in 3 hours before the flight. To our dismay, the plane was supposed to leave by 10pm a couple of "late business class" passengers delayed the flight schedule. Their reason, they called that they were running late and has to make the flight (they might be that important or maybe they just wanted to make their money's worth for being in a MABUHAY Business Class)! My my we were in outrage just becuase we were riding coach even the time for boarding was adjusted for them. While inside the plane, obviously the Flight Attendants (but I would like to call them Stewardess because they are OLD and or RETIRABLE looking gals) expected angst among the passengers that they weren't attending to us that much. I was given an attitude just for asking for a cup of water. That's the crappy service you get $1500 worth. It's giving me goosebumps everytime I think about it! That was a 13 hour flight that I can no longer take back "sigh!"
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 3:47 AM

what do you expect? PAL means "PALPAK" (defective) and PALENGKERA (ill-mannered staff). what else is new in Philippine Custumer Service???? NOTHING. You can't blame them though, if you have a GOVERNMENT like the Philippines', do not wonder anymore.
Comment by Who Am I? on September 26, 2008 4:24 AM

Hi Bri,

Thank so much for posting my letter (and thanks to my friend who forwarded the letter to you).

My letter may not change PAL but at least I know I did something. I'm tired of complaining every time I get a lousy service and writing PAL is my simple way doing my share. Maybe, just maybe, they will listen. If not, it's not my loss.

One thing I was hoping when I wrote this letter is encourage others to come out and share their experience as well.

And thank you Brian for posting this letter here. I posted it in my blog ( but of course, only my friends read it. Haha! Now I know more people will be able to read this, and hopefully more people will share their own experience.

If you have the same (or worse?) experience, please drop a comment on my site.

Michael on September 26, 2008 5:45 AM

There are a lot of issues regarding PAL.. "Plane always late" is the most classic. Yup, they got a lot of rude employees but not all of them though.

Cebu pacific is the best right now in terms of service.. :):)They also have many promos which make it possible for any "juan" to fly with them. Also all of their Planes were brandnew airbus A320. Or is it A319?

It saddens me that PAL is not performing up to it's standards as the Flag Carrier of the Philippines.As the official plane of our country, they are our window to the outside World and any image they have whether good or bad will reflect a lot to the foreigners.

Our airports also needs a lot of change.
Comment by ara on September 26, 2008 6:32 AM

I used to love PAL because of their direct flights but last January I was on my way to Jamaica via Vancouver and requested for a window seat away from the children (no offense but I haven't had any sleep because of work) and the person at the check-in counter scolded me about hating children because I was single and didn't have any of my own. He told me once I become a mother I would understand and gave me an aisle seat next to a little kid who cried the whole trip. Crazy! What about customer service? All I wanted was to get some rest. *sigh*
Ramel on September 26, 2008 8:40 AM

The way to teach PAL a lesson is not to book a single ticket from them anymore. They used to be the one and only airline in P.I.

Customer service? Hah! Lucky you if they will just pout on you ! I dont know why? Even pinoy crew at fastfood/restaurants here in the US (Jollibee, Chowking, Goldilocks) arent trained well on customer service. Nada, zit, zero. That's why you would only see 3 or 4 people standing in line.

Back to PAL - Cebu Pacific will give a run for their money. Where in the world they would play parlor games and give you prizes inside an airplane. Only Cebu Pacific does that. Smile? They will give you all the smiles you want.

Still, spend your money to a competitor instead. That's the only thing you can do and sooner, they'll feel the pinch.
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 10:44 AM

I do hear a lot of "horror" stories about PAL. Curiously though, I, nor anyone from our family has yet to experience any of these with the airline, not even "plane always late". We did encounter a canceled SFO-MNL flight once, but PAL made sure all passengers were re-booked for the next flight and billeted in a nice hotel for the duration of the wait. We do fly quite frequently, and have tried other airlines as well. Our worst experience so far is with a domestic US carrier -- 9hr delay and not even a drink was offered to us passengers. To cut the long story short, Pinoy service is still tops!
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 11:21 AM

Put up a website for (Philippine) AIRLINE GRIPES,

maybe as part of ?

let people submit their stories. If possible, even videos, as proof. For those submitting stories, if possible also, jot down the names of the personnel who need additional "customer service" training, flight number, date, time and airports of departure and arrival.

Turn on the voice recording feature in your cellphones, to document your conversations with the airline personnel, if you can not turn on the video feature in your cellphone.

Of course, we know that if the owner of the blog is Philippine-based, they can be FORCED, pressured, or intimidated to close down their blog, if they are going against a giant. So, think ahead. I am not sure if TRUTH is a defense against LIBEL in the Philippines. Sometimes, the "giants" in the Philippines, just use their money to harass people who complain by filing lawsuits against them. It is a tactic often used in the Philippines, that even Brian had experienced, threats of lawsuits.

Brian, it looks like Filipinos now find a good place to air legitimate gripes in your blog. Maraming salamat, po.
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 11:42 AM

"I decided to make a reservation and was told to pay for it on or before Sept 15. Given that you have very limited sales offices, and only one (Cubao) near me, I was only able to visit on September 13, a Saturday."

"But alas, to my surprise, it was closed. It is closed every Saturday afternoon and whole day of Sunday. On weekdays, you’re only open until 5pm! Why a sales office with limited locations would close on weekends I beyond me. Cebu Pacific is open until 9 or 10 pm, 7 days a week!"

Is Philippine Airlines propped up by sales from tickets, or subsidized by public taxes? This does not look like they have any motivations in making as much sales as they can. How much is the CEO of Philippine Airlines making, salary, bonus (why would he have a bonus?) , others? How much are the people behind the counter making, bonus, benefits? Their motivation level for making sales and making repeat customers seem to be low.
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 3:37 PM

2 words - Third World !
Anonymous on September 26, 2008 4:19 PM

I am glad we didn't try PAL at all. We will just stick to Tickets are cheaper and the service is excellent.
Canadian on September 26, 2008 4:59 PM

Just like the Chinese, Filipinos in the Philippines are the worst when it comes to customer service. Every time I go home I dread encountering a problem with any business there because I know I won't get anywhere and I'd be endangering myself with a possible heart attack due to anger!

What do you expect, it's the common thread that runs among the people from the top (government, justices, legislators, etc) down to the rank-and-file. Two years ago, while applying for a business permit at a DTI window, I was totally helpless when my turn came at 5 minutes to lunchtime, only to be told to come back an hour later as they were closing for lunch break - what a total waste of my time and the others who were in line too. And to think I am a Fil-Canadian trying to contribute to the Philippine economy!

A nationwide education to correct this problem is clearly needed but, alas, knowing the Philippines - it's absolutely hopeless!
Comment by Rexler on September 26, 2008 8:58 PM

Cebu Pacific?
Yeah, right.

Where in the world would you find an airline that has nothing:
no newspapers
no blankets or pillows
if you want refreshments, you have to buy it from the FA (50 pesos for a can of soda or a cup of noodles)

One time, with a very long queue at the check-in counter, CebuPac cancelled our flight to HK, 45 minutes before its scheduled departure. Other airlines would book you in a hotel and schedule you for another flight. Not with them. No apologies, and no one from the airline came over to talk to us passengers. The people from NAIA just told us about the cancellation, with an advisory to call The CebuPac hotline to resked. Even sadder was the number of OFW passengers who came from the province and had no option but to stay and wait it out at the airport to wait for a flight.

A few years ago, me and my friends were on a CebuPac flight to Bohol. During take-off, the cabin started filling up with engine exhaust, the smoke alarms blaring bloody hell. While ascending, the flight attendants started passing around sheets of toilet paper drenched in water, telling us to cover our noses with them. After a few minutes, the pilot comes on the PA:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some techinical difficulties. Please put your head between your legs and assume the crash position."
Everybody was in shock. Too stunned actually with what was happening that fortunately, no one panicked and chaos did not ensue. 20 mins later, the pilot comes on again:
"It seems that we will have to turn around and go back to the airport to change planes. Thank you for your patience, we will be landing in MANILA BAY in 15 minutes."
I swear on everything I hold dear to me that those were his words. Landing in Manila Bay. Really.
90 mins later, we were boarding another plane. There was a foreigner in a CebuPac uniform at the foot of the stairs seeing us off, probably one of the company's higher-ups. He goes:
"Thank you so much for your understanding. Now, please pray."
Needless to say, I never rode CebuPac again.
6 months later, I tell this story to a clients who happened to be a CebuPac pilot. He never heard of the incident. Apparently, they kept it under wraps.

My point is, PAL and CebuPac are both crappy. PAL has actually improved as of late, and I have not had any untoward incidents with them in the last two years. If anything, I like PAL better because they have their own airport. NAIA Terminal 1 is just hell with a couple of runways.
Anonymous on September 27, 2008 1:09 AM

Yeah, PAL has its own "airport" coz they don't want to share it with any other airlines. Lucio Tan wants a monopoly! That is how he competes, or any big old fart in the Philippines for that matter.
When FVR became president, he "opened up" the sky to other airlines because he believed in a FREE MARKET. The more competitors that are out there, the better for the consumers. That is how Cebu Pacific came to be.
But what the heck! Only in the Philippines right?
Anonymous on September 27, 2008 5:00 PM

Best time to visit the Cubao office is 830am when it opens. Do your research first. Check online for flight schedules/availability and fare. Call reservations, book the flight and get your confirmation number. Present number to agent in Cubao (20 total seats), she prints e-ticket, forwards same to Cashier for either cash or credit card payment. The time spent in the new Cubao office should not exceed 30 minutes for the early bird.

Lesson of the story: Make it easy on yourself!!!
Anonymous on September 27, 2008 11:43 PM

When PAL opened direct flights from Vancouver,Canada to Manila. I was so happy and immediately booked and paid returned flights last May of this year for me and my mother and also did the same for my brother and his family. I ,however, had a shock of my life when I checked in at the YVR (Vancouver) airport, The ground staffs where so unprofesional,impolite, no smiles, and no help at all. My bag was in excess at that time and the guy at the counter said it's heavy and cannot accept my bag and if I can move somewhere to remove the excess. I offered to pay whatever amount to cover the excess weight but he refused and he insisted that I come back if I am done. I left the counter out of disgust and start looking for a spare box or bag but stores at the airport are already closed at that time. So, I have to improvised, got to a corner ignored everybody passing and staring, opened my baggage and made some bunch of plastic bags and wrappers into a package. Such a hassle ! and not to say, the indignity! I went back to the check-in counter and they almost again did not accept my bags. You know, I got irritated the entire flight and vowed not to fly PAL again. I hope somebody at PAL reads this! You people need to work on your customer service skills and services!
nEd* on September 28, 2008 6:36 AM

Well I think there are lots of issues regarding these airlines in the Philippines. I personally have a very bad experience with CEBU PACIFIC, not once but twice. And hey from what I gather its not just me on this side of the world who has complaints about this airline. And I don’t buy it that they have frequent promos, heck, so they’ve got the right to treat people like that just cause people bought a promo ticket? My experience happened last year when I went home for a vacation. I bought a promo ticket, my very first from this airline, after flying with PAL the year before which cost way too high so I said why not try the cheapest if it’ll bring me to Philippines just the same. They’ve only been operational in Bangkok a few weeks when I flew home and youd think everything’s fresh and smooth being new and all..but I got to pinas I was so shocked to see my luggage destroyed I mean completely unusable, cracked (hard case) with one wheel missing and I was so shocked and furious very early in the morning. And there was a foreigner guy who didn’t have his baggage so he reported it missing/lost ( I dunno what happened after) but me I also complained and the representative asked tons of questions and filling up the form that they have for destroyed baggage. So after that she told me that they will contact me but I stayed in there for 3 weeks and nothing. I even called a number of times but all I got were infinite ringing but no answer- the woman gave me several numbers, none worked – should I be happy? NOT I was furious and counting my days stay in the Philippines and the problem still unresolved. i even emailed them to ask them about my complain and that I only have a few days to stay in pinas..several emails and still nothing from them…so because I was in the province the whole time I was in the Philippines I said to myself wait til I get to manila..came the time I was to fly back to my workplace, before I checked in I asked them about my complaint and showed them the copy or my complaint , made a tiny bit of a scene there I said I wanted to speak with the manager who called and talked to lots of people and after just told me to just call the office because the office that they have at the airport doesn’t solve matters like that or email the office… call? Internationally?email? They must be going nuts, they wouldn’t even pick up the phone,the whole time I was there I kept trying to no avail. They didn’t even acknowledge a single email,to make the story shorter, I still have the piece of paper the representative gave me as a copy of the complaint and no, they still haven’t settled nor replied any of my emails and when I arrived in Bangkok the handle of the handbag I checked in was also broken but I let it pass coz it wasn’t expensive and it was the way the hard-cased luggage was just borrowed from a friend because mine was so huge I didn’t have that much stuff so I asked my friend to lend me his.i was so ashamed to my friend for what happened.
The second incident was just march this year when I went home for holy week and for my baby’s birthday.. still with CEBU just domestic but way to serious than the luggage thing coz I swore im never flying with the airline again (at least for domestic flights) was just after holy week so most of the people were going back to their respective workplace and so was the airport we arrived about 55 minutes b4 the departure and we were even happy that when we got to the airport the plane wasn’t there yet so there was time for picture taking and family time, when we entered the check in area it was so quite we thought that we were one of the first few people to arrive, no lines, nice…but then the agent told us that everybodys checked in already and that we’re late already and that I cant fly on that day coz the plane’s already full. I was like What?! The plane’s not even there and its still 50 mins till departure so how can I be late, I was just at this same flight a few months back and it wasn’t like this we came even later.i have my name listed on that day and I was there… I mean I couldnt miss the domestic coz I had a connecting flight that same night so I said. And then the other guy told me that im late blah blah I should be at the airport 45 mins before departure blah blah…furious already I yelled at the guy and said excuse me if you hadn’t been talking for the last 10 mins, would I have made it at the boarding area? I was here before your 45 minutes and you weren’t even entertaining anybody anymore, you’re closed already cant you see.there were a few people like me who weren’t allowed to check in because they said they were late…they came before me…how’s that? one was a pregnant woman who was just standing when I got there teary-eyed just not talking to the men at the counter… Why is that the plane from manila’s not even here yet. And he said ma’am sorry but you should check the nonsense/suggestions on your website but you wouldn’t even acknowledge a complaint? Don’t tell me about your website coz I know they don’t work.. we tried every possible way we could just so we could board that flight but unsuccessful. The pregnant woman told me that she bought the ticket 2 months back, so was my ticket how could they be full when we the people who was supposed to be on that flight are outside of the boarding area? Doesn’t make sense to me….hmmmm, wait, but it does, you see it was peak season, just after holy week, people eager to go back to manila, lots of profit for them. We bought the promo tickets 2 months back for just over 3 thousand, 2 way. And then the pregnant woman told me that the chance passengers paid more than 5 thousand just for a 1 way ticket…savvy, right? And for those of us who missed our promo ticket, our tickets were useless, so we either fly on that day or thrash the ticket, for those who really cant fly on that date must buy again, and you were hoping youd save some on a promotion, turns out it costs more…and I swear I cursed a whole lot of bad words that day…I wished they answered my phone calls coz it would’ve been a lot more satisfying for me if I aired it to whoever was responsible…I guess it’s their policy not to answer the line for complaints…what im saying is that they shouldn’t treat their customer’s like that just because they think that maybe their customers are just nobody’s because they can only afford cheap promo tickets…why in the world would you advertise promotion?
Comment by GreenMinds on October 1, 2008 4:55 AM

Hello everyone,

I just would like to share that PAL responded to my letter. If you want updates on this, you might want to check out the blog I started for this issue (and other customer service related concerns) at

Many thanks!

Anonymous on October 11, 2008 12:17 AM

I've had it with PAL. We were flying back and forth between the US and Manila quite a few times last year, not on vacation, but for medical issues, etc. Anyhow the last time we had to fly to the US, a family member there was very ill, our flight was cancelled. The flight was supposed to leave about 10PM, but an hour after the scheduled departure, we still weren't boarding, no announcements or anything. Another hour passed and they finally told us the flight was cancelled for mechanical problems on the plane, but they didn't tell you what to do: no announcement about rescheduling the flight, what to do now that it was midnight and we were stuck in the airport. People crowded around the few remaining employees asking what to do. After asking a few employees, we finally found out that they would put you up at a hotel or give you P1000 for a taxi ride home. Since we lived close by, we opted for the taxi ride home, but there was just one person issuing the P1000; the line was more than 100 people deep, and she had to verify your ID first and then ask for your signature. People at the end of the line were screaming for them to open another line, but of course the rude Filipinos at the end of the line rushed to the front of the new line. We then had to find a supervisor to help us book our connecting flight in the US to our final destination.

Upon returning the next morning we found out that they had cancelled more than one flight the previous night before, so they were trying to cram the passengers from two flights onto one. They did this by separating families, bumping people off the flight, etc. It was total FUC****G chaos as passengers started threatening the employees. After many arguments had ensued, a supervisor finally appeared and tried to calm people down. Of course, the flight was late again as they tried to figure out what to do. Now that the flight from Manila was delayed, we would have less than an hour to make our connecting flight in the US. The staff in Manila told us there would be ground staff in San Francisco to assist us with the connection, but of course, when we arrived in SF, no one was around to help. We barely made our flight, but another passenger we met missed his flight.

PAL's staff are ill-trained, and supervisors try to hide in their offices until problems get out of hand, they don't make announcements when necessary. The employees lie about staff on the arrivals end--they have no FUC***G idea, but they will tell you what you want to hear. Additionally, they have obviously have maintenance issues due to the many cancellations and delays. On board the plane, many times my headphones or video display haven't worked. Lastly to make a flight change they force you to fax a copy of your ID with your signature to make a change. They even charged us a $150 fee to upgrade to business class.

It's really a shame how crappily PAL is run. The monopolies and corruption in this country really give people a poor impression of the Philippines.

Anonymous on October 15, 2008 6:57 PM

I have had bad experiences also with PAL that are bearable, and Cebu Pacific that I will never ever forget, but after taking other airlines in other countries, I feel that we still have a great service!

PAL always tops my list and they have greatly improved! I rode the newly configured 747-400 to Cebu and the new seats are at par with Singapore Airline's Kris World!


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