Cebu Pacific Issue with Priority Boarding for Children

Cebu Pacific Logo
We just got back from our trip to Hong Kong (our review on that later), this is the first time we did two new things while on a trip with our 3-year old:

1) We flew from Clark International Airport
2) We used Cebu Pacific as the airline

I started traveling with my then-boyfriend (and now husband) a year into our relationship. Being former budget travelers, we’ve used Cebu Pacific already for our local flights. We never had issues before (except for the major costs for rerouting and re-booking), so I thought it would be a good thing to try for another international trip with our daughter. Well, I would have to say that they performed well below my expectations.

First off, during our local trips a few years ago, they had snacks and drinks even for those hour-long trips to local destinations. While they now adapt what other budget airlines do and charge for every little thing, it is quite understandable to remove the free small pack of cookies and glass of juice. Now, their pricing has become much cheaper for the base fare but everything else has a cost. For instance, you need to pay an additional P400  each way for a small luggage for check-in (15 kilos and below), with tiered pricing depending on the type of luggage you want to bring. If you want meals, you can get it for P350. While that’s generally acceptable, what I found frustrating is that now you can’t even ask for a glass of water for your kid without being charged a fee. BTW, it’s P50 for one bottled water.

Second, as a general rule (among 99% of the airlines and airports we’ve been to), priority boarding is given to those with small children. Since we are 4 families traveling with 3 toddlers, we assumed that this was the case. Upon boarding for our return trip to Manila from Hong Kong, we saw that there was a long queue. We went to the ground crew to ask if there will be priority boarding for families with small children and we were specifically told that Cebu Pacific does not follow that policy. Shocking, I know!

If this was really the case, they would probably be the only airline in the world to not have that. You see, there is much sense in priority boarding for families with small children. If you’ve ever traveled with a kid, you’d know that it isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Kids get bored. They need time to adjust to the environment. They’re difficult to get into their seats or into a bassinet. You need to work fast to get your kid into the plane while folding your stroller for gate-checking. As such, it requires time and effort for the parents to get their kids seated and settled in a plane.

So, it’s surprising that Cebu Pacific wouldn’t have this. So, I looked it up in their website and saw this in their page for Terms and Conditions of Carriage:

7.6.3 Priority boarding will be given to persons traveling with infants or children, unaccompanied minors, expectant mother, persons with disability, persons with reduced mobility, persons with medical conditions and other persons needing special assistance.

Where’s the disconnect here then? Do they need to re-train their ground crew in Hong Kong or is this a Hong Kong International Airport issue? Well, after all has been said and done, we did get on board and are safely back in the Philippines. Major hassle for all the families on-board though (there were several of course, since we were coming from a tourist destination that caters to small children). We don’t expect special treatment just because we are traveling with kids. After all, it is a choice we made, but a little bit of consideration would have been nice.

Being the country’s second flag carrier, I do hope they look into this. When I interviewed the GM of Cebu Pacific a few years ago for the newspaper I worked for, they were a proud start up airline with service at the heart of their mission-vision and they really had things going for them. It’s sad to see they are now spiraling down a slipper slope with major issues with service.

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