I actively participate in Cebu Pacific's wall discussions on Facebook. I've seen people rant about how they are treated like pigs and left without food and accommodations because of a delay or a cancelled flight. I explain to them that it isn't budget carrier policy to give out food and accommodation due to force majeure or the rather vague "aircraft situation," as stipulated in the terms of carriage. It's unfortunate, yet as a budget carrier, they operate at limited passenger liability and the smallest cost.
What recently caught the ire of people is what were presumed to be money-making tactics of Cebu Pacific, the fuel surcharge and the Lite Fares scheme. They went off as far as saying that Cebu Pacific is involved in deceit, ergo they called on to boycott the company. Read more...Let me explain the fuel surcharges first, also "YQ" under "Taxes and Fees" in your booking. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has approved a $10 fuel surcharge per way for all Cebu Pacific's international flights. Indeed, with the rising prices of jet fuel, it's justified. Cebu Pacific started implementing the surcharge on international flights last March 14.
What was not mentioned in a number of news articles is that the CAB has also approved a fuel surcharge for domestic flights. I found this at a Manila Standard Today article:
"The CAB approved a fuel surcharge of P50 within Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The agency also allowed Cebu Pacific to collect P100 in fuel surcharge between Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Cebu Pacific said it would hold off adding fuel surcharges on all domestic flights for as long as possible." (Link to article)
It would seem that Cebu Pacific wanted to introduce the fuel surcharge through their trademark "Piso Fare" promotion last March 27. If last year, a domestic roundtrip piso fare would only come to around a hundred pesos, this time around with the fuel surcharge, a two-way fare to anywhere in Mindanao was a little less than 600php, 400php of which was fuel surcharge.
I still booked flights, thinking it was a smart shock absorber before implementing the increase. However, I did think that somehow what they said to Manila Standard was not true; they really wanted the increase immediately. I'm not against it, since it is their company's prerogative, but it would have been better had they provided implementing guidelines or even a simple advisory beforehand. They just executed it in a promotion that got everyone confused with the calculation of fees, including frequent passengers like myself.
Meanwhile, effective April 1, 2011 is the Lite Fares scheme. Refer to the promotional material from Cebu Pacific below:
Simply stated, you are henceforth booking a no-baggage fare by default. Note that the basic 15kg allowance has been increased by 50php from the previous 100php and more notably, the 15kg international baggage allowance was increased from 100php to 350php.
Additionally, with this scheme, passengers are now allowed to book higher baggage allotments at corresponding prices. This is similar to the discounted Prepaid Baggage Allowance feature before that charged the following on top of the default 15kg: extra 5kg 480php, extra 10kg 960php, extra 15kg 1440php, and so forth.
Doing the math, the new Lite Fares scheme is more advantageous than the Prepaid Baggage Allowance feature and even more so than paying excess baggage, which has been recently increased to 150php a kilogram for domestic routes. But of course, you have to predetermine your baggage needs at the time of booking or up to 24 hours before the flight.
I'm rather ambivalent with this Lite Fares Scheme. On one hand, it means an increase by 50% to the default 15kg baggage allowance for domestic routes and an increase of 250% for international routes. Plus, it's an additional complication in the booking process. On the other hand, there would surely be others who would benefit from the greatly reduced large baggage allotments, notably OFW's coming in from abroad and entrepreneurs.
With these increases, some may feel aggravated, as an increase is an increase. But the riding public has to understand that there is such a thing as inflation, especially with the skyrocketing prices of fuel. Note too that airlines have to seek the approval of the civil aviation authorities first before effecting fee changes.
Even with these changes, I will still fly with Cebu Pacific for their dirt cheap promo fares. You see, the advantage of the airline industry in the Philippines is that we have other low-cost carriers competing for our money, and whoever offers the lowest fare dominates.