Ahhhhh Cebu Pacific Air, we certainly have a love/hate relationship! The Philippine’s low-cost airline definitely has its share of conveniences and benefits, but the drawbacks and hassle are almost not worth it. I’ve flown with Cebu Pacific at least 50 times in the last few years, so I’ll outline what I’ve learned and my experiences and let you decide if its worth it.
What to Know About Flying Cebu Air
First, the good stuff.
There is no better way to island hop among the Philippines 7,100+ islands that utilizing Cebu Pacific. In fact, CebPac flies to about 40 airports within the country, from Bacolod to Zamboanga. That conveniently includes most mid sized cities and tourist hotspots, such as two airports serving Boracay Island (Caticlan and Kalibo) and two ways to fly into Palawan (Coron – Busuanga and Puerta Princessa).
The airline also flies to a fair share of international destinations in Asia, including
Sydney, Australia, Siem Reap, Cambodia, eight cities in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Maldives, South Korea, Guam, Vietnam, and Thailand, among others.
The other best part about Cebu Pacific are the ticket prices. The airline is definitely the low-cost and local option if you want to book a cheap and easy ticket to anywhere in the country, with pries typically about $50-$100 to Manila from just about anywhere in the country, and prices even cheaper for shorter hops. In fact, I’ve spent as little as $11 USD for a ticket! (Plus fees and taxes, etc.) I fly around the Visayan Island region a lot, and in and out of Cebu is usually only $40 USD or less.
They also have a lot of short hops that save you a ton of time, like Cebu to Dumaguete (where I live). Althought it only takes 29 minutes in the air, it would take about 6 hours of driving and a 30-45 minute ferry ride if you were going to go overland.
Now, the bad stuff.
Cebu Pacific is notoriosly late. I mean, like, always late. In fact, at one point I kept track and out of 27 flights on the airline, they were late 22 times, canceled once, and on time only 4 times! And I don’t mean 10 minutes late, but they’re often one or even two hours behind in schedule.
I can make a joke about Filipinos always being late (the other national airline, Philippines Air, also has a bad tardiness record), but the fact is that there really shouldn’t be any reason for it, and it messes up a lot of travel plans and ends up costing you money. For instance, every single connecting flight, hotel reservation, and travel arrangement is in jeopardy when you fly the airline. For that reason, I don’t recommend flying any routes that have connections of less than 3-4 hours. It’s really that bad!
Cebu Pacific is also notoriously disorganized, the staff poorly trained (although I find them pleasant and friendly), and their system and records are often in shambles.
Furthermore, the airline will try to bleed you dry, charging, overcharging, and double charging every single chance they get. They ripped me off for about $80 in excess baggage fees that I already paid for which turned out to be their employee’s user error. They later admitted their mistake and promised me a refund, but six months later, I’m still waiting for it…in true Cebu Pacfic Air fashion! Use them at your own risk, and realize that cheap isn’t always worth the risk and inconvenience for important flights.