Cebu Pacific Air started their 9 hour direct flight from Doha to Manila last 2015. When I first learned about this, I was kinda hesitant to try it due to comfort, entertainment, food, plus the ticket cost is not that cheap unless you were able to score a piso fare. But all these hesitations slowly went away when I heard from some friends that their experience with the airline was not bad after all.
Last April, I finally decided to give it a try. I used the travel voucher given to us by Cebu Pacific last year, when they made changes on one of our flights. This voucher entitles you to book one round trip ticket, with 15-kilo baggage, to any destination where Cebu Pacific flies. It is not entirely free though, as there are taxes and other charges that you need to pay. In my case, I paid a total of Php 4,470 (QAR 331), which of course was already cheap.
The day of the trip came. I reminded myself not to expect so much because Cebu Pacific is a budget airline and I got my ticket for free. I arrived before 1:00 am at the airport even if I did a web check-in and the flight was at 4:05 am. On my way to the check-in counter, I was surprised to see a huge amount of Kabayans lined up. Initially, I thought that they were on a group tour that needs to check-in all together. Sadly, I was wrong. They were Cebu Pacific passengers waiting to be allowed to enter the check-in area, because there were only 4 counters working that time, and if they let everyone come in, it would be crowded. Counters were increased afterwards which made the process faster.
It took me almost 1.5 hours to finally checked in. I asked one of the staffs regarding their counters, they told me that there were a lot of flights that day and Hamad International Airport only provided them with 4. They don’t even have a separate counter for web check in, so everyone will have to go through the line I’ve mentioned.
Inside Hamad International Airport
We departed around 4:30 am instead of the initial schedule. Our flight to Manila was not packed, there were plenty of vacant seats, thus giving some passengers the chance to occupy the whole row. The seats are fine, though it’s not as comfortable as the one in bigger planes. The leg room is spacious enough, especially for petite women like me. As expected, there’s no in flight entertainment except for their Smile Magazine, which got loads of information about traveling. Make sure that your laptops or phones are fully charged if you’re going to use them during the flight, as there are no outlets available to charge them. You also need to bring your own pillow and blanket, as these are not provided for free. Blankets cost Php 350 (QAR 25) while the pillow with eye mask was priced at Php 280 (QAR 21). The usual Cebu Pacific games was also held, though I was too sleepy to participate.
My ticket does not include meals, so I just bought sandwich and water at the airport. You can also purchase meals from their website, but you have to do it 24 hours before the flight. In case you missed buying beforehand, then no need to worry, since there are various food options that you can buy from the flight attendants.
We safely landed at NAIA Terminal 3 around 6:05 pm. Despite the late departure, we were able to arrive earlier than the expected time.
After spending 2 lovely weeks in the Philippines, the day to bid goodbye finally arrived. The airport was kinda busy that day, and I was a bit late for my flight going back to Doha. Again, there were inconveniences encountered with checking in. I’m not sure if it was because I am late, but they still don’t have a separate counter for those who checked in online. Anyway, I made it to the plane and we left Manila 45 minutes behind the scheduled time.
This time the flight was fully booked. I felt so bored on the entire trip, thus the reason why I bought coffee and adobo rice. I also tried to chat with my seat mates and it kinda lessen the boredom. I don’t know why, but I felt that it was the longest flight from Manila to Doha that I have ever experienced. We arrived in Doha around 7:50 pm, which was 30 minutes behind the ETA.
Adobo rice that took them 30 minutes to prepare at Php 350 (QAR 25) and Instant Coffee at Php 50 (QAR 3.7).
The whole flight to and from Manila went smoothly, though I was a bit bothered with the sound of the engine every time we take off. They used Airbus 330 on both trips, and it was smaller if compared to other international planes. This 400 seater plane does not have business class seats, all are standard economy.
So now, your question might be “Would you still fly with Cebu Pacific from Doha to Manila?” Probably YES, if I can get a round trip air ticket that is less than QR 1,500. I’m fine with all the inconveniences as long as I will arrive safely to my destination. But, if the ticket is more than that amount, then I might think twice and look for other airlines instead.
Conversion used: QAR 1.00 = Php 13.5