Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Philippine Airlines: Truly Shining Through


So I've already written about God of Carnage, the primary reason I flew to Manila for the weekend.  Now, allow me to talk about part of the experience that's usually skipped when people relate their stories.  Let's talk about airport time--specifically NAIA Centennial Terminal (otherwise known as Philippine Airlines Terminal or Terminal 2) and the short couple of minutes I spent there before ultimately boarding my flight back home.

The day after I had the pleasure of watching a play at the RCBC theatre, I was scheduled to return to Bohol.  It was a rainy Monday morning when I woke up and I really didn't want to get out of bed.  Sleep was a formidable challenge the previous night since my brain didn't seem to want to get over the play.

Alas, I had to get up.  My cousin, who had a retreat trip to go to that day, was creating an infernal racket in the room.  I took it as a sign.  I leaped out of bed and onto the dining table for some brunch.  Come 10 minutes past noon, I was all packed and ready to leave.  By that time, my cousin had already left and it was just me and the house help.  I bid her goodbye and exited the condo building to wait for a cab.  That's when the fun began.

It was already 12:25 the next time I checked my watch.  I was still standing there waiting for a cab.  By then, I had already started to perspire and the lotion applied to my arm made it gooey and slippery.  My happiness level dropped dramatically and it was almost as if I didn't get to see Lea Salonga and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo in a play the previous night.

Thankfully, enough, a cab stopped right in front of me a minute later.  I must have been absorbed in deep thought because I only noticed it when the driver called my attention to ask me where I was headed.  I stared blankly at him for about ten seconds before saying "NAIA 2, Manong."  Inside the car, I thanked him for stopping in front of me despite not being flagged down.  He asked me what time my flight was and I responded saying it was at 2:40PM.  He replied with a worrisome tone and I started sweating again.  "Hindi mo ba alam na SONA ni PNoy ngayon?  Ang bigat ng traffic!"  (Didn't you know the president is to give the State of the Nation Address today?  Traffic is very heavy!)

I sat in the cab through San Juan City, through Mandaluyong City, through Quezon City which was where I began to panic after checking my watch and seeing that it was already 1:35.  I remarked, "Hala, Manong! Mga isang oras na lang, flight ko na.  Mahuhuli na po ako."  (Goodness, Mister! My departure's just an hour away.  I might arrive late.)  He responded saying he'd take me there before 2:00.

We entered Pasay City shortly after.  It was 1:55 when we finally made it to the airport compound but I knew Terminal 2 was a long way from there considering the traffic.  I restrained myself from making growling noises.  You know, that noise you make when you're frustrated or irritated.

It was 2:05 when we reached the terminal.  I rushed in after paying my fare.  I wanted to thank him for trying his best but, considering the time, every second from then on counted.  You can't blame a man for being afraid of missing his flight.  Inside, I ran from counter to counter looking for "Tagbilaran City" but I didn't find it.  Hopeful that my eyes might just have failed me, I checked for a second time until I finally realised it wasn't there anymore.  The check-in counter for my flight had been closed.  I felt like hell.

Worried, exhausted and frustrated, I dropped my bag on the floor, grabbed my hair, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and uttered random French words to myself.  It was then that I noticed a member of the ground crew approach me.  He asked me where my destination was and upon learning that it was Tagbilaran, he led me to a random counter where a nice lady took about 10 seconds to print my boarding pass.  "That was quick," I said.  She responded, "Sir, your flight is now boarding passengers.  Do you mind just carrying your bags instead of checking them in?"  "As long as I'm allowed to board, that's perfectly fine," I replied.  She then told the guy who led me to her, "Make sure he gets to his gate fast."  Ladies behind other counters told me, "Good luck, Sir! Double time, okay?"  I was chaperoned through security check up to my boarding gate.  Then he said, "You're good to go now, sir," and left before I got the chance to thank him.

When I was finally seated inside one of Philippine Airlines' new A320 aircrafts, I said in my head, "Wow! That's what you call 'real service'!"  I've had the same pleasant experience with a different airline overseas but I didn't expect this kind of service back home.  I should really learn to have more faith in local companies.  I was very happy they went an extra mile to get me onboard and I commend them for their excellent service.

I guess you never really know how good a choice is until you find yourself in deep shit and they pull you out of it with ease.  Such an experience made me realise that PAL truly is shining through.

It isn't just because of the company's policies, though.  I believe PAL's greatness is also largely because they have employees who have proliferated among themselves a culture of honourable service that has only gotten better over the scores.  I just wish all the people who've helped give the airline its glimmering name be made happy for it.  You know what they say: "A company is only as good as its employees."

Thank you, NAIA Terminal 2 ground crew!

Thanks to that guy who approached me!

Thanks to the nice lady who checked me in!

Thanks to the ladies behind the other check-in counters who wished me luck!

Thank you Philippine Airlines!  MABUHAY!