27 September 2009 at 3:00 AM, NAIA Terminal 1
When I reached the airport at 2:30 AM, I was doubly horrified by the sight of numerous stranded passengers and knowing that I’d be among those left by the flight because we didn’t make it at 1:15 AM. Now, I’m naming this airline.
CUSTOMER SERVICE THAT’S GOING TO MAKE YOU CRY
Etihad Airways is the national airline of the UAE and I guarantee you that its inflight services and flying are of topnotch quality from and to the Philippines. It’s just that, its customer service IN THE PHILIPPINES disappointed me big time just when the people/we needed it most.
On the morning of Saturday, I was already trying to reach the numbers of Etihad Philippines to confirm flight cancellation and to course through the request for rebooking, which can’t be done online. From that day until Sunday, the calls were never attended. At early noontime of Saturday, the water favorably receded that we braved the roads going to the airport. With the horror of waist deep water in Calamba, we managed to pass by with God’s help (I leave to your imagination the impossible) and reached Terminal 1.
Joining the stranded passengers, who were a mixture of panicky, angry, emotionally and physically helpless fellows, I had to console myself. I remember the words from our highschool algebra teacher, “When you are working on an equation, work on the given, don’t look for the missing variables. Don’t complicate things.” Incidentally, from the time I set foot in the airport, there was no representative from Etihad Airways. At 9:00 AM the offices of the different airlines located on the second floor of the departure area opened, except for Etihad. 😦
I asked the (airlines) offices around. I tried to gather impressions about Etihad’s working hours, which supposedly is the same for the other airlines. It turned out that its airport employees are known for their laziness and even the people at the information counter were no longer surprised when we told them about the unattended calls since the preceding day. You probably know how it feels to be a stinking gal together with other stranded passengers. The main difference is that their airlines representatives are pacifying them in whatever way they can, luckier as they already have direction as to their rescheduled flights. While Etihad passengers were still clueless. Annoyed. Hungry. Yes, we had to feed and do other necessities at our own expense.
I was determined to be part of the next available flight. Hence, I stayed on the second floor, infront of the door of Etihad office while the others already got tired of waiting. Before 12 noon, the lady representative came. That time, there was already a queue before she got to open to the door. And I was first in line. Then she said, “Hindi sana ako papasok, Pinapunta lang ako ngayon.” At that point, I really burned but I managed to compose myself.
To cut the long story, the lady representative told us:
* That she cannot comment on why the plane flew when it was announced on the preceding day that all the flights in NAIA 1 were cancelled.
* That she cannot process a rebooking for us because the ticketing office is in Makati and we should go there instead.
* That when I asked if it’s open because Sunday is a weekend in the Philippines. She said, it’s not and we should wait until Monday to be able to rebook. What?????!
* That we would still be charged of no show and rebooking fees if we do. I can’t believe she said that.
* That when we demanded an explanation why they were not attending to our calls since Saturday morning, she reasoned it’s a weekend. At this point, I wanted to punch her. Hay. (Just a thought heehee. I’m not violent but just to let you know how I felt that moment).
* When I reasoned that there’s a calamity, so it wouldn’t matter if it’s a weekend or not, just like what the other airlines are doing, there my “saga” begun.
She: Intindihin nyo po kame.
That point, I cannot tolerate.
Me: Miss, inintindi na namin kayo simula pa kahapon. Personally, I tried to understand you why you came late today. Baka nanggaling ka rin sa baha. But what about us? Inisip nyo ba yung sitwasyon namin. Alam mo ba na lumusong na kame sa baha at kung saan saang lugar pa kame nanggaling? Dapat nung midnight pa lang, inisip na ng management yung action plan para sa mga na-stranded, yung probability na massive rebooking, kung iwe-waive ang charge or hindi. Supposedly nga ihohotel nyo kame pag ganitong sitwasyon.”
She: Eh ma’m, wala po akong magagawa. Empleyado lang ako dito. Wala sa authority ko na magrebook ng ticket.
Me: Alam ko. Naiintindihan ko na wala sa authority mo na magrebook. Pero responsibility mo na magpakita ng mabuting customer service. At responsibility mo rin na i-inform yung immediate superior mo kung ano ang sitwasyon sa office nyo sa airport ngayon. Kase, kung hindi mo sasabihin, ia-assume nila na everything is under control. Tingnan mo yung ibang airlines, nagagawan nila ng solusyon. Simula 3am nag oobserve na ako dito, kayo lang sa Etihad ang walang ginagawa. Actually, sa office nyo lang ang walang tao (representative).
She: Hindi nga ako dapat papasok. Pinapasok lang ako. Kung gusto nyo po, overseas na lang kayo magparebook.
Me: Last resort na yun. Tapos kame yung gumagastos sa calls coordinating to your office in another country. Baka gusto mong i-check yung terms and conditions upon purchase of tickets. Na in case of change in booking, ang instructions eh to contact the nearest office, tapos sasabihin mo overseas kame magparebook. Fortuitous event ito, kaya sigurado ako may ready action plan, down to waiver of charges pag may calamity or emergency.
She: Wala po akong magagawa
Me: Ako may magagawa. Pag nakabalik na ako sa Abu Dhabi, magfifile ako ng formal complaint sa Etihad main office dun. Sasabihin ko yung klase ng customer service na pinakita mo dito. Hindi lang yun, pati yung mga na-gather kong information tungkol sa katamaran nyo at hindi pagsagot sa telepono.
She: Naku ma’m, wag naman po kayo magsumbong.
Me: Gusto kong ma-rebook ngayon. I-earmark nyo sakin yung available seat. Willing ako magbayad ng charges kahit hindi dapat. Basta, kelangang makasabay ako sa susunod na flight (1:15 AM).
She: (Tinawagan nya boss nya). Ma’m hindi daw po kame makakapagdesisyon dahil weekend ngayon.
Me: Dahil weekend? Anong klaseng excuse yan?
She: Ma’m wala po kameng magagawa.
Me: Yun lang ang kaya nyong gawin? Titigil kayo? Nakikita mo ba kung gaano kadaming stranded dito sa airport. Uupo ka lang dyan kahit alam mong merong pwedeng gawin?
She: (Pagkatapos ng isang oras ng pakikipag usap kung kani-kanino). Ayan, ma’m pwede na daw po kayo marebook. Saka wala na pong charge dahil fortutious event nga daw po.
Me: (Ngumiti na ako). Salamat. Sa susunod ayusin mo ha.
Nakakainis lang. Kelangan pang takutin para gumawa ng paraan. Sabi nga di ba, kung gugustuhin talaga, may paraan.
NAIA 1 MAKE OVER, PLEASE?
Since I was stranded in Terminal 1 for at least 20 hours, it felt like I’ve been its long time resident. I already memorized the partitions, number of counters, and other things that you wouldn’t imagine I would ever pay attention to.
* It has only one food kiosk that serves siopao, siomai, sandwich, beef steak, sodas, etc. which are all overpriced. That’s monopoly.
* There are no computers for free net surfing, which is available/common in international airports
* The people at the information counter are so attentive and composed even if they’re already on duty for straight 24 hours.
* One of the guards stationed near the terminal fee counter “loves to sit”. Ayaw nyang magpahiram ng upuan.
* There’s no charging booth. Lucky are those whose phones were accommodated through the information counter.
* The offices at the second floor of NAIA 1 are kawawa naman. Mukhang abandoned areas yung ibang cubes.
* The elevator was not functioning that day. According to one employee, that was only for that day. I hope he was telling the truth.
Due to absence of charging station, you have to charge at your own risk. I found this (top) outlet going to the comfort room. I unplugged the sort of TV (I don’t know what’s its purpose) and charged my phone. But it’s quite high I needed to make ends meet. So I chained my bags. This lady followed. She held her phone while charging.
You will notice I intentionally packed so light not because of the typhoon. I was avoiding to check in any luggage since I can only have limited time in Abu Dhabi airport as I was reporting to work straight after a quick shower.)
HOW TO ENTERTAIN YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE STRANDED IN TERMINAL 1
* Engage yourself with the laptop or PSP. In my case, I didn’t bring a laptop, I was accessing through the mobile. While PSP’s battery died and they don’t have a 3-hole outlet for the recharging.
* Sleep at your own risk
* Spend time at the x-ray counter, discreetly, and study/observe the bags/all the things passing through the x-ray. Just like what I did. I enjoyed and learned a lot. Lol.
* Do a soul search/reflect. I think I did in passing.
* Write on a journal. I wanted to, but I’m too lazy to pull out the moleskine from the pink bag.
* Try all the food from the lone kiosk in Terminal 1. Lol.
* Socialize with the other strangers who were stranded.
* Be an extension of information counter, i.e. help passengers with their queries, etc.
I both love and hate this experience, i.e. the flood, the difficulty of reaching the airport, being stranded, being treated not so pleasantly. But I learned a lot. It’s humbling and awakening. To be patient as much as possible and be assertive when necessary. But most of all, it was a test of faith.
0 thoughts on “Sleepless in NAIA 1”
adventure sa loob ng airport…mabait ka pa nga eh..he he he…saka girls scout,isang matalinong pamamaraan ang ginawa mo…:)
.-= ever´s last blog ..sAgOT KaY OnDoY =-.
grabe! 20 hours! you were so patient, at mag-isa ka pa ha!
nice story, although i’m sorry you were at an inconvenience. but i guess, it was exciting in a way! buti na lang you were able to get on the next flight. the service was a total bummer. i hope you’re still going to file a complaint. 🙂
wow… grabe sa paghihintay. kudos to you and you survived. I can just imagine myself really losing my temper pag ganon. 🙂
.-= cza´s last blog ..Love…. =-.
oh gawd, parang movie, actually makakagawa ka ng movie from your experiences eh. i think it’s best if you would formally file a complaint. people in the service industry should be thinking more of others/customers than themselves. ano ba naman na ulit ulit nyang sinasabi na di sana sya papasok — siguro nabatukan ko na yan 🙂 (jokes lang di ako maton)
.-= Photo Cache´s last blog ..Sky Watch #62 =-.
Wow, the conversation with the customer service is panalo. I salute you for the calm, you have composed yourself in such a pitiful situation. Glad you’re safe.
.-= sheng´s last blog ..Compassion – his way of saying it =-.
wow 20 hrs. grabe sobrang nakaka-stress yan talaga. hirap pa lalo kung wala ka ng battery to call, or aliwin ang sarili mo.
good thing at nakarating ka ng safe dyan
.-= upto6only´s last blog ..Skywatch Friday: Calmness =-.
Wow, what an experience! At least you were able to fly on the next flight.
.-= Josiet´s last blog ..Underworld =-.
galing mo, jo!
i congratulate you for your self-control. i would have punched that lady at Etihad Airways! i hate, hate the line—“wala akong magagawa, empleyado lang ako dito”. that kind of frontline employee should be thrown to the kangkungan!
.-= luna miranda´s last blog ..Comfort eating =-.
true yean…sindak muna bago kumilos…good that you were able to make it to the next flight 🙂
.-= Amelia´s last blog ..For Her =-.
“try all the food on the kiosks at NAIA 1” – the horror!!! lol
buti nga dun sa customer rep na yun. i should really read the fine print para pwede ako magsabi ng mga ganyan-ganyan pag kelangan. 🙂 it pays to be informed and to know your rights. 😀
again, glad you’re safe back diyan! pero tampo pa din ako, di moko pinasalubungan ng Lamborghini ng mga boss mo diyan. 😛 lol
.-= bursky´s last blog ..Ondoy surprise! =-.
nakakaloka naman ang experience mo sa airport. but at least you are safe.
buti na lang resourceful ka hehe 🙂
and thank god for all entertaining gadgets one can own nowadays, it can really help kill time while waiting.
.-= ibyang´s last blog ..Australia Extends Help to the Philippines =-.
NAIA 1 as it is is already bad. But being stuck there for 20 hours is really horrendous. Etihad Airways should have a contingency plan for its stranded passengers – they have a responsibility to you as a paying passenger even more so when there are natural events that affect your travel.
.-= Nomadic Pinoy´s last blog ..While I Was Away =-.
hi! im with etihad but i work in abu dhabi. what happened to you in manila was unfair. even if it was something that was beyond etihad’s control, they should have compensated you. im not sure of the exact details, but after a certain number of hours you should have been given monetary compensation. im not sure who you should call or send an email to, i guess you would have to contact the call center for this. anyway, i do apologize that you had to go through this. no one, most especially those who have crappy airports should experience this ever.
so sad to know that the system is still unstable despite its existence for quite some time now.
.-= dong ho´s last blog ..islands magazine and the philippines =-.
grabe ang experience mo. buti na lang mahaba ang pasensiya mo. kakainis yung girl kahit nagbabasa lang ako. What if bigla na lang bumaha sa place or sa booth niya, wala rin ba siyang magagawa, magpakalunod na lang siya? lol. Mga ganyan dapat takutin talaga. Buti ka pa may means kahit magcharge. Sana di na maulit
.-= redlan´s last blog ..LIZARES MANSION AND THE BAHAY KUBO =-.
sorry to hear about what you have to go through. Nagkataon lang na grabe talaga ang perwisyo na dinala ng bagyong Ondoy.
Airline bookings in Manila is always a drag because of the culture of inflexibility. Very restrictive ang policies sa atin – too many approvals, paperwork required for a minor change ugh 😦
.-= bw´s last blog ..A Different Kind of Help =-.
I sure hope you still file that complaint. Like what you said, if no report is filed, the airline will think that their service here in ok, when in fact it’s not. It reflects rather bad for the airline hindi ba? That way, retraining will be done sa employees for the benefit of the people. What if this happens again? Kailangan ba makipag away pa ulet just to get them to move?
.-= Rico´s last blog ..Pinoy ako =-.
Naku, iniisip ko pa namang mag-Etihad on my next travel. Glad to know that you were able to have your flight rebooked. They should really do something about their Customer Service. If they will not take excellent care of their customers, no matter how good their facilities are, they will eventually lose them.
.-= dyosa´s last blog ..I FOUND A FROZEN WHITE HAT =-.
so eto pala yung gusto mo na ikwento sakin when u called me while i was confined hehe. buti nalang at di mo to nakwento mo via phone kundi eh na high blood lang ako sa kausap mo. que horror sa paghihintay and congratz sa pagpipigil na hindi maging violente haha! 😛
.-= dyanie´s last blog ..quick update =-.
gosh! 20 hours, stranded sa airport? grabe naman experienced yan wits. but glad to hear na nakabalik ka ng safe sa abu dhabi. sana nagfile ka pa rin ng complaint sa customer service ng airline na yan. mga ganyan tao dapat talagang turuan ng leksyon otherwise ganyan lang yan lagi.
.-= blue rose´s last blog ..Updates in bullet! =-.
Gosh! I don’t think I could last 10 hours! I would cry, most probably, and go home. It’s great you made it a learning experience.
I’ll be flying Etihad and as I searched some infos about the airline, I found your blog.
It is amazing how you handled the so inconvenient situation, I can almost imagine how it felt to be stranded and unattended by the people who should take the responsibility!
At the same time you made me laugh with all the things you have noticed inside the airport, what to do when your starnded inside and how to charge your dead battery at NAIA hahaha.
Thanks for your educational and amusing blog 😉
tolerance 101! lol, saludo ko dahil nkapag pigil ka pang manuntok..hahaha nakakaubos ng pasensya yung CSR na naencounter mo, after all the difficulties youve been through just to make it to the terminal on time.. kudos! sana nakapg file ka ng complaint. its been almost 4 years, buti im sooo intrested to find out what happened, hee hee. tnx for sharing, ill be flying with them next day, best luck to me!