Friday, September 30, 2011

By taking the side of PALEA, are we defending MEDIOCRITY and POOR SERVICE?

Apart from getting from point A to point B, there are a few other things that make for a good flight on any airlines.

To me, the most basic concerns have to do with a number of things:

Ticketing Operations.
Airlines ought to have flight schedules and up to date booking details available on their website.  The only thing that really trumps booking yourself online is having a number to call and having someone reasonably intelligent to help you figure out the best flight schedule.  Moreover, I like the idea of airlines keeping track of the number of times I have flown with them and I love the idea of being entitled to special privileges when I rack up a certain number of miles.

Check-In Counter.
After spending an inordinate amount of time in traffic going to the airport and then having to go through all sorts of security checks, I don't want to be given the additional hassle of having to wait in line just to Check-In and have my baggage stowed.

In-Flight Food and Service
Most flights I've been on recently are relatively short hops within Asia but I do care about the food I am served and how promptly I am given assistance with a number of things.

Baggage Handling.
After arriving at my destination, I don't want to have to wait long for my baggage and I don't want to see my baggage damaged or opened.

Sure, there are other things such as whether the In-Flight Entertainment is any good, whether I can actually do some work while in my seat, whether the seats are actually comfortable, and other stuff.  But, I usually don't mind these things too much because, unlike travelling by land or sea, I expect my travels my plane to be short, uneventful, and if possible, restful.

The most recent episode of PAL vs. PALEA has made me try to think and try to remember my experiences on-board the Philippine flag carrier.

So far, nothing good or bad really stands out in my memory.  Of course, my personal observations aren't any gauge for saying that Philippine Airlines service is at all remarkable or truly bad.  So, let's see how other sites have rated the airlines and what reviews have been given.

Airline Quality dot Com is the first one that comes up in Google Search and it basically gives Philippines a 6.1 out of a possible 10 or if you want to state it differently, PAL got a MEDIOCRE score.  Meaning, the service was not bad but it ain't that good either -- which kind of bolsters my earlier impression of their service.

The site indicates that 146 reviews were registered and listed below are some of the negative reviews that are weighing down the score of Philippine Airlines.

On September 16, 2011, R Sahana from Indonesia says:
CGK-MNL-FUK. The seat was old, the plane was dirty with water flowing from the lavatory. There's no pillow or blanket left for me, no explanation just they left me freezing. The food is okay, on my transit time at NAIA they gave passengers a coupon for breakfast but they don't give any information as to where we can use it. Shocked that there was no personal TV and the headset do not work well. 
12 August 2011 by J Slazenger   (Taiwan)
TPE-MNL-VAN. The food is awful, seats are old, worn out and cramped (Airbus A340). Service is poor with stewardesses and ground staff dismissive, if you can get their attention. Shared TV with few screens. They now charge $50 for an exit row seat. If you need to transfer in Manila be warned: the transfer process involves a lot of pointless hanging around.  
29 July 2011 by Jonathan Williams   (Thailand)
If you're flying to Manila, you can avoid the awful international terminal by flying Philippine Airlines (PAL). In the past 3 months, I have flown twice a month on PAL and over 70% of the time, they are late. It's only when you're checked in and sitting in the lounge that the inevitable delays are announced. Even 4 hr delays appear to take PAL by surprise. The aircraft are ok, cabins a little shabby.  
9 June 2011 by J Topel   (USA)
SFO to MNL Roundtrip. Flying to Manila, the sinks in the lavatory was clogged and dirty water was overflowing. The security tape around the toilet had peeled off. The service was substandard. When processing through Manila Airport to return back to SFO, three security check points failed to detect two bottles of water, bottle of gel, lighters, and a small pocket knife I used while fishing. The flight back, was substandard - 14 hours of no entertainment because both our screens wouldn't work. The flight attendants didn't care, and their subsequent customer service support was very poor.  
19 May 2011 by N Villareal   (Australia)
MNL-SFO-MNL. Service extremely poor Manila to San Francisco travelling with a child. We were charged US$100 for requesting bassinet seats for our child and the lady beside us travelling with babies wasn't charged at all! We then discovered no bassinets were available. We completed a formal complaint on the plane regarding the overcharge and no response from Philippine Airlines has been forthcoming. On the way back from San Francisco to Manila we were only charged $US50 for seats with a bassinet. The policy isn't consistent! Terminal two in manila travelling to SFO was just appalling - the lines were not organised.

24 February 2010 by C Santos   (Philippines)
BKK-MNL. Flight crew was lacking. Whilst some were making an effort, one was completely unprofessional and was rude. Whatever happened to PAL Smiles and Filipino hospitality? I guess they're only reserved for foreign passengers. Everyone else in Business Class might as well sit in Economy because they get Economy service.  
23 January 2010 by James Carter   (USA)
SFO-MNL. Business class was showing its age and lack comfort. Meals average with poor presentation. The crew were literally non existent and when present, did not smile.  
12 January 2010 by R Namiki   (Japan)
KLO-MNL return flight was my worst experience. Flight attendants not friendly at all, not even smiling. Also, they let the passengers put the baggage in the overhead compartments even when the aircraft is taxing to the runway, they'll ask you to remove your seatbelt and stand-up to put that baggage. The announcements are simple and not detailed compared to the other local airlines. MNL-NRT by Philippine airlines and that was another a worst experience. My seat was broken and cannot be reclined.  
15 November 2009 : by K Page   (China)
Philippines Airlines Business Class - there is space, which you'd expect but the cabin was horrible and in my return Manila-Honolulu flight I changed seats 4 times to find a seat that worked correctly or a TV screen that would hold itself up. The plane was very old, and to be honest a bit scary. I hope they maintain the engines better than they do the cabin. I fly business class on flights over 7 hours and this was the worst experience I have ever had. This airline is brutal with excess luggage - even 1Kg is charged (on this sector) US$150 -this is what they tried to charge me for my surfboard coming back from Honolulu. The confusing part for me is they didn't charge me to go over with it so I was shocked when they tried to charge me at Honolulu. I talked my way out of it and I could see the person had heard it all before as she tired of saying the same thing. 
Another top ranking site that turns up on Google Search is Blog Hotel Club dot Com and it lists Philippine Airlines as among the worst airlines.  Here's what it has to say:

Philippines Airlines
Antiquated planes make this airline one to avoid. The service is average and needless to say, no personal screens. The planes look old and feel old. You’ll barely see the screen while you shift around in seats older than the subtitled movie you’re watching. While the seats can be cheap, it’s an uncomfortable ride.
I have yet to browse through more website reviews of Philippine Airlines, but so far, the sites coming up on top in searches all seem to bolster my impression that among Airline services, the Philippine flag carrier is pretty much MEDIOCRE.

Now, workers' and employees' rights aside, I wonder if by taking the side of PALEA we are in fact defending MEDIOCRE SERVICE.



Ben Kritz said...

In the sense that supporting PALEA ultimately is supporting the status quo at PAL, yes, I think that is the same thing as supporting mediocrity.

However, most of the problems described by people in these example comments are still going to exist after the spin-off. Flight attendants, for example, are a different union not being affected by it; inconsistent fees are the fault of management; shabby airplanes are the result of inefficient capital investment and lax maintenance standards.

So anyone who's choosing sides is faced with a choice between potential for improvement under the reorganization (the PAL side), or definite continuation of mediocrity under the status quo (the PALEA side).

Which just tends to confirm the point I made in my post in GRP that PALEA adds nothing to the customer service equation, but can only detract from it. How PAL improves going forward is completely in PAL's hands; I'm betting they'll screw it up, but giving them the opportunity to do that is still one notch better than guaranteeing they won't be able to by taking the illogical position of a couple hundred selfish malcontents.

Paul Farol said...

Right now it seems Carlos Conde, Noemi Dado, Tonyo Cruz and others are joining the pity party for PALEA workers.

I can't blame them. Somebody crying on TV and venting their worries for their families is definitely going to get my sympathy.

What I am worried about really is the 300 PAL employees who PAL claims staged a sit down strike. They stand to lose whatever benefits that are coming to them, especially if they are charged with violating the CAAP of 2008.

Didn't the PALEA leaders think the act through?

Or maybe they're in on it with PAL management, because that means they don't have to pay off the benefits of 300 employees.


Abused by management and then used as pawns by union FAT CATS.

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Ben Kritz said...

And where were all these people a year ago, or even earlier, when the PAL plan was first raised? The same question can also be asked of the union as well.

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