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On delayed flights and being compensated
The last two times we traveled to Zamboanga City, we experienced significant delays to our flights. Last May, traveled twice to Zamboanga City. The first time, our flight to the city was delayed by a couple of hours. That led to a very late arrival and us having lunch at 3PM! Even though the airline could argue that they had nothing to do with the delay, the fact is that the reason (i.e., the standard “late turnaround of aircraft”) is very much due to their operations. Therefore, they should be accountable or made accountable for the inconvenience and discomfort.
While there was no issue for our return flight then, the situation was reversed the second time we traveled to Zamboanga. Our outbound flight from Manila was not delayed but our return flight was. This time though, the airline promptly distributed snacks in the form of water, crackers and biscuits to passengers.
I think that these or perhaps meals could be provided every time there is significant delay whether charged to the airline or to the airport depending on the circumstances. Travelers are paying for a service that are supposed to be delivered in the most efficient manner. Efficiency here should include safety so delays due to aircraft maintenance or technical issues or weather-related should also be covered when compensating passengers. Of course, cancellations would be another matter. Let’s talk about those later.
In-flight meals on board Philippine Airlines: MNL-SIN-MNL
Before I start posting about airports and air travel from more recent trips, I am posting on inflight meals on a recent international travel. Such meals are not usually served on-board domestic flight (you can pre-purchase for Cebu Pacific or purchase quick meals on the their flights).
Our first international flights since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 were supposed to be on Singapore Airlines. Inflight meals on board SIA are usually good as per our experience whether on Business Class or Economy. Unforunately, that trip didn’t push through due to a typhoon. We moved our trip and we flew Philippine Airlines instead. Here are our inflight meals on board Philippine Airlines.
My inflight meal tray included an appetizer, a bun and orange juice.
Pasta with chicken and vegetables
Beef with rice and vegetables
We were curious about the packaging for what looked like our dessert with our inflight meals.
And we were delighted about this being an Auro chocolate
Auro chocolates, I believe, currently are the best chocolates readily available on the market that are made in the Philippines via Davao.
I had chicken inasal (hidden under the carrots and broccoli) on the flight back to Manila.
More on inflight meals in future posts!
Back to ‘old’ normal for air travel in the Philippines
Before we embark on another trip this week, I just wanted to share that it seems all is back to the old normal in as far as air travel is concerned in the Philippines. There are few, if any, exceptions based on what I and colleagues have experienced while traveling domestically. The only difference now from pre-COVID-19 air travel is that people are required to wear face masks inside the aircraft. Inside the airports, masks appear to be optional though most people wear them.
The March-April 2023 issue of Cebu Pacific’s Smile Magazine features places to go while in Tokyo, Japan, a popular destination these days as foreign travel restrictions have eased.
Cebu Pacific provides passengers with their Smile magazine on-board their aircraft. Philippine Airlines domestic flights don’t have magazines (unless they do on Business or First Class) for Economy passengers. I noticed also that PAL did not have duty free items on-board their aircraft (at least for the MNL-SIN-MNL trips we had recently). I know that other airlines have resumed duty free sales on-board so perhaps this is just a cost-cutting thing for PAL. Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific’s inflight shop is open and selling souvenir items on their domestic flights.
Safest airlines in 2022/2023?
One magazine published an article recently about the safest airlines in the world. This is very relevant as people have returned to traveling during this period despite the pandemic and the new strains coming out. It is useful especially for people who are traveling overseas since airline choices might be very limited for domestic routes. Here is the article:
Puckett, J. (January 5, 2023) “This is the safest airline in the world,” Condé Nast Traveler, https://www.cntraveler.com/story/the-safest-airlines-in-the-world?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=spotlight-nl&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=thematic_spotlight_010623_2&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&hasha=cf6c402001bc473063a8744033fe9be3&hashb=ec2bb753c2e6299f5107823241955221da67bd1f&hashc=09f65c608bfb62050199733de500e3cd82827631b36d537ce8386d41a3bd1ff7&esrc=FYL_SEG_APR18&sourcecode=thematic_spotlight&utm_term=Thematic_Spotlight_Afternoon [Last accessed: 1/7/2023]
To quote from the article, the basis for the ranking is as follows:
“The site’s staff analyzes each airline’s records for crashes over the last five years, serious incidents over two years, audits from aviation’s governing bodies and associations; fleet age, expert analysis of pilot training, and COVID protocols. In addition to these criteria, each airline that makes the list is also at the top of the industry in terms of safety innovations and have added cutting-edge aircraft to their fleets, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787…”
There are not so many Asian airlines in the list especially if you don’t include the Middle Eastern airlines. Only Singapore Airlines, EVA Air and Cathay Pacific are in the list. I was expecting at least one Japanese airline and perhaps Thai Airways to be in the list. I was not surprised Philippine Airlines was not on the list considering the criteria.
There’s a separate list for low-cost carriers in the article and Air Asia is one though there are actually several Air Asia companies operating out of Southeast Asian countries. It would be nice to see how Air Asia Philippines compares with the mother company based in Malaysia. Cebu Pacific is categorized under LCC’s but with so many of these companies around the world, it won’t be a surprise they didn’t rank among the Top 20 either.
On the air that you breathe when inside aircraft
I am sharing a different kind of article this time. It is still on transportation but more health-related in the sense that the article’s topic is about the air passengers breathe when inside a plane. This is very relevant as we continue to grapple with COVID-19 and other diseases such as influenza, while also trying to get back to our normal activities including traveling whether for family affairs, work, recreation or other reasons.
McGee, W.J. (September 20, 2022) “How clean is the air on planes?” Condé Nast Traveler, https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-clean-and-safe-is-a-planes-cabin-air?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=spotlight-nl&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=thematic_spotlight_092122_2&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&hasha=cf6c402001bc473063a8744033fe9be3&hashb=ec2bb753c2e6299f5107823241955221da67bd1f&hashc=09f65c608bfb62050199733de500e3cd82827631b36d537ce8386d41a3bd1ff7&esrc=FYL_SEG_APR18&sourcecode=thematic_spotlight&utm_term=Thematic_Spotlight [Last accessed: 9/21/2022]
Obviously, there are concerns about the air inside the cabin. But there are other items that one needs to be mindful of if you are truly concerned with the risk of infection.
To quote from the article:
“But some experts have expressed more doubt about the ability to completely scrub the air for zero chance of spreading flu and COVID. “Transmission of infection may occur between passengers who are seated in the same area of an aircraft, usually as a result of the infected individual coughing or sneezing or by touch,” WHO warns. Cabin crew members agree with this assessment. “It’s naive to think an airline can protect passengers 100 percent because you’re in an enclosed space for however long the flight is,…””
The article also provides the following recommendations to travelers (quoted directly from the article and highlights mine):
- If you’re concerned about aircraft cleanliness, try booking the earliest flight possible that day, as most airlines do a deep-clean each night. And if your itinerary allows it, consider nonstops rather than connecting flights, to limit your exposure to multiple dirty cabins.
- Wipe down your airline seat and surrounding area with a sanitizing wipe to kill any lingering flu virus; pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
- The CDC recommends that most travelers get a flu vaccine in September or October; it also advises to get up-to-date with your COVID vaccines and boosters before any travel.
- Practice social distancing throughout your journey—at check-in, security screening, boarding, baggage claim, etc. Select seats apart from other passengers (often in the rear) and ask to be moved if possible.
- Although there is no longer a mask mandate for air travel in the U.S., the CDC still advises travelers ages 2 years and older to opt to wear a face mask in indoor areas of public transportation—such as airplanes, trains, buses, ferries—and in transportation hubs like airports.
There seems so many of what are being termed as revenge travel these days. Many people were not able to travel particularly for family (visits, homecomings) or recreation (vacations) the past 2 years. They are now traveling again as more countries open up for tourism and more people have been vaccinated or gained immunity from the virus. The recommendations above should be heeded as there’s really nothing to lose if we follow them and particularly continue good practices to avoid infection.
Inflight snacks in the time of Covid-19
Inflight, there wasn’t really much difference pre-Covid-19 and now (not yet post-Covid-19) except perhaps that the flight attendants were wearing PPEs and masks. We were on full flights both outbound and inbound of Manila and the airport terminals were also already crowded. We flew on Philippine Airlines so there was no food and drinks for sale on the flight. But they did distribute some snacks and drinks to passengers.
|Butter cookies and water were our inflight snacks for the MNL-TAG flight. For drinks you actually can opt for coffee or tea.|
|The cookies were by Figaro and not from some obscure manufacturer.|
|We had green peas and water on the TAG-MNL flight.|
|Nutrition information at the back of the pack.|
I assume that longer flights on board full service airlines like Singapore Airlines or Japan Airlines would have modified their inflight meals service in light of Covid-19. We are hopeful that we can soon travel overseas to again enjoy the attractions in other countries.
Another goodbye jumbo?
With the phaseout of the Boeing 747, there was much expectation for what was supposed to be its successor in the Airbus A380. The latter was hailed as the worthy successor to what was probably the most popular and versatile plane in the B747. Unfortunately, after so many orders for the A380 were delivered and the plane being deployed by major airlines along the long-haul routes, it is now being reconsidered. Here’s a nice article on what is perceived as the decline of such supersized aircraft.
Alexander, K (October 22, 2021) “3 Reasons Behind the Premature Demise of the Airbus A380,” Medium, https://kevinaalexander.medium.com/analyzing-the-premature-demise-of-the-airbus-a380-c56d50ec827d [Last accessed: 1/5/2022]
On my first plane rides, and dreaming of supersonic travel
Even before this race to space by billionaires, one option for travel captured my imagination and attention – supersonic travel. I cannot remember exactly the first time I was on my first flight but I know it was a trip between Manila and Iloilo in the 1970s. Iloilo is the home of my father and we basically had only two options to get there – airplane or ship. While maritime travel was much cheaper, it took a day one way to get to Iloilo and vice versa. We didn’t want to waste two days especially as my father took leaves from work when we went on vacation so air travel was usually the choice especially for the shorter Christmas breaks. We usually took the ships in summer.
My earliest memory of flight was on a turboprop airliner. This was a Philippine Airlines (PAL) Hawker Siddeley HS 748. My first on a jet plane was on a BAC 111 on the same route and the same airline. There were no competition then for domestic air travel. Following are the photos of these two aircraft that were the workhorses of PAL until the 1980s.
The fascination with flight and aircraft included a dream of experiencing supersonic flight. The only ones that time were the Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. The Tupolev had a rather short service with the last commercial flight in the late 1970s. Also, the politics at the time meant it was highly improbable that I could have a trip that involved this plane. The Concorde had trans-Atlantic flights and I also dreamt about traveling around the world. I thought maybe I can save up for a one-way trip between Europe and the US. Unfortunately, that opportunity never came up. My first international flight was in 1996 when I rode on a Boeing 747 from Manila to Narita. I did eventually travel to the US and Europe but these were after the Concorde was decommissioned. That was probably mainly due to the following incident in this article:
Cloudberg, A. (August 29, 2021) “Death of a Dream: The crash of Air France flight 4590,” Medium, https://admiralcloudberg.medium.com/death-of-a-dream-the-crash-of-air-france-flight-4590-84c8a9e6c74a [Last accessed: 9/1/2021]
Will there be supersonic services in the future? Probably not. However, the aircraft designs of the future should satisfy ones needs when traveling on these planes. One just wonders how much air travel will change due to Covid-19.
On airline travel in the time of Covid-19
I haven’t been on a plane since February 2020. That is almost one year next month. I have friends though who have traveled by air recently. They had to follow certain protocols before departing and upon arrival at their destination. These include testing for the virus and observing quarantine especially upon their return to Metro Manila and prior to returning to their respective homes. Fortunately, all have been testing negative for Covid-19 and were able to come home safely.
Here is an interesting article on air travel, particularly how airlines and airports are handling passengers during this time when processes need to consider the prospects of getting infected by Covid-19:
Marshall, A. (January 21, 2021) “The Art and Science of Boarding an Airplane in a Pandemic,” Wired, https://www.wired.com/story/art-science-boarding-airplane-pandemic/ [Last accessed: 1/26/2021]
I am anxious about being required to travel for a project we are currently doing for a major city in Mindanao. While our clients have been very understanding about our health concerns, it might be inevitable for some of us in the project team to travel by March 2021 to present the findings and recommendations of our study. I will continue to update myself about travel guidelines in preparation for that likely travel.
On the DOTr Guidelines for Public Transport – Aviation Sector
Here are the guidelines for the Aviation Sector. My only comment here is that many people are anxious about when they can travel again, particularly to other parts of the country mainly for business or to go home (e.g., many students have been stranded in the cities where they go to school and away from their hometowns). Part of this anxiety is the thinking that airfares will increase significantly as airlines are forced to reduce capacities for their aircraft to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Gone, probably, are the discount fares like the Piso fare promos.
Related to this, I have received emails from 4 airlines I frequently used – Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines. All provided updates on their respective efforts to ensure the future air travel will be safe, health-wise. As for the airport terminals, that’s another story…