MANILA, PHILIPPINES, CALIFORNIA -- Alright, I know complaints about Cebu Pacific Air are plentiful, but I want to add my story here because the airline refuses to allow us to file a complaint. Besides, better to warn potential customers than just file a complaint that gets filed away and never looked at.
They wouldn't allow us to board our flight because they wanted to let it leave early. Seriously.
Here's the long version. Two of us had a flight Caticlan (Boracay) to Manila, 4 hr layover, then Manila to Seoul. The first flight was at 10:20 am.
We arrived at 9:30, plenty of time to check in and board the flight (after all, it's a tiny airport with a single gate. However, as we tried to check in, they told us we were too late. They said our flight was leaving in a few minutes. I told them the tickets said 10:20. Their answer, "Well, the plane arrived here early, so we're going to let it go now. You should have checked in two hours before." In other words, because we weren't there at 8:20, we weren't allowed to get on our flight.
We could see the plane from where we were - it was just outside the window behind the check-in counter. All we had to do was walk through the door and up some steps to get on the plane. We had already been through security. They refused to let us board the plane.
At first I discussed it calmly, but as it became clear they were serious and not just trying to make some point / threaten us, I asked to speak with the manager. During the 20 minutes we were at their counter, they changed their story a few times. Basically, they ended up offering about 3 reasons we weren't allowed on the plane. 1) We should have been waiting from 8:20 in case the flight was early. 2) We were overweight on luggage (but they soon realized they were wrong on that point - we had 18 kg and paid for 20, but they initially claimed we only paid for 10). Finally, a manager was called in about 9:45. This manager said it was past 9:35 (45 minutes before the flight), so they couldn't let us on. In fact, we had been at the counter arguing with them the entire time. But the manager insisted we had just arrived.
The flight ended up leaving at 9:50 - a full 30 minutes before it was schedule to depart.
Then, they told us we could book a whole new ticket for 1 pm (paying the full price). But that would make us miss our international flight. So they said we could fly Caticlan to Cebu, then take a Cebu to Seoul flight. BUT they wanted to charge us the full price for the Caticlan-Cebu flight AND the price difference of Cebu-Seoul. When they calculated it, they expected us to pay nearly $500 per passenger for these changes.
When I tried to get the manager's name and service ID number to report her, she refused to give it to me. When I looked at her ID badge, she claimed I wasn't allowed to do that because, and I'm not joking here, "I'm a citizen and you're not. And this is a democracy." The most absurd thing I've ever heard.
In the end, we paid $100 each for standby on a Philippine Air flight to Manila that left at 10:45 (which we boarded at 10:30), plenty of time to catch our original Manila-Seoul flight.
Oh, they also initially refused to give us our luggage and passports back. (The luggage was just inside the check-in desk area - I had to reach over the scale to grab it and they threatened to arrest me for trespassing or violating security or something. They had never even checked us in / processed our papers or luggage.)
Pretty sure this is just a scam to make more money. Will never use them again. (Had previous bad experience where I wasn't even allowed to book flights because their online system was down and they wanted to raise the price by $300).