Thursday, September 6, 2007

Stranded!

Here's a photo essay on what you can do while stranded in an airport terminal -



A number of you might have read my crazy "Dear Charo" Twitter posts during the day. It went like this -

11:03 AM me: dear charo, ako'y sumusulat mula dito sa paliparan ng iloilo, gumising ako ng alas kwatro ng umaga upang di mahuli sa aking flightngunit datapwa't nang kami'y palipad na biglang umapak ang pilot sa brakes at kami ay paulit ulit na nag headbang

11:04 AM makakatulog na sana ako nun charo. sabi ng aking katabi pataas na kami nung biglang pilit ihinto ng piloto ang eroplano
natakot ako charo, isker! isker na isker!... to be continued... back to work muna.

2:34 PM me: dear charo, i'm still here in iloilo and trying to figure out the reason behind why i got stuck here for 10 hours now
2:35 PM naisantabi ko na ang takot ko sa nangyari kanina at handa na ako sumakay ulit ng eroplano, para lang makauwi!
me: ito nga po sa tingin ko tataba ako sa kakakain... kain kain to the max... sige kain muna ako ulit... brb

To make a long story short (yeah this is the translation), I got up at around 4:30 in the morning to be at the new Iloilo International Airport by 5:30 a.m. so I could catch the 6:45 a.m. flight. My flight was originally slated at 10:10 a.m., but I had to move it earlier because of some appointments. Yeah, yeah I always keep a crazy stream of activities every single day.

The plane was taking off already (I was almost in lala land by then) when the pilot hit on the brakes (thus the headbanging). It took a while before he mumbled something about "error in the cockpit" and then later on said, "erroneous reading". By then, I was wide awake and freaking out with my now new found friend Chat. Who wouldn't?

Anyway, the pilot said that it seemed that it was just an erroneous reading and announced that we just had to wait for the brakes to cool off so we could try taking off again. Ummm... erroneous reading??? So we tried taking off again, this time the plane glided along the runway slowly, but hit the brakes immediately at some point. Something was terribly wrong and the baby crying just pronounced that reality even more.

So, we had to get off the plane and wait at the terminal for more than an hour before any announcement was made. "We'll update in an hour." Another hour passed and then another hour and another... let's just say we finally managed to get back on the plane at 3:30 in the afternoon.

8 hours of delay equals three very important canceled meetings for me, lack of sleep, waiting for my nose to fall off because of the cold (they should've offered blankets or something!), and let's just say a lot of things got ruined as well within the day. But! At least:

(1) Nobody was hurt and the trouble came up before we managed to get up on the air;
(2) The airline fed us well;
(3) I managed to be productive (thanks to Globe Visibility); and
(4) I have a new found friend!

My Dad told me to ride another airline next time coz they have better maintenance. I was truly terrified on the ride back to Manila coz there was obviously still something really wrong with the aircraft (it was flying really low and slow!) and it didn't help that the stewards looked terrified themselves. I heard some really scary incidents about this airline (yes, crashes), but since it's very convenient to book online with them I've been using them more often than not in my trips. Hmmm, but then again lately they're becoming quite notorious in delayed flights as well. I don't even want to think about what could've happened if the "error" showed up mid-air. Pffft!

Thank God I got back in one piece.

Note to self: Do not watch "Air Crash Investigations" the night before taking a plane trip.

27 comments:

  1. That's scary. What airline was it?

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  2. Yeah, I was following your twits. At least, you were entertained by songs from the group Menudo. Hehe.

    Thank goodness you were able to fly back safely.

    Take care!

    --- Prudence
    http://tesstermulo.com

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  3. Hi aileen,

    I was reading your twits all day long but couldn't reply to you.

    There are only a few things that could abort the flight that way, and when you said "erroneous reading" and that the plane was flying "low and slow", it's obvious that it's an engine problem.

    The "erroneous reading" must have been something about the power of one of the engines not reaching full throttle.

    Cebu Pacific actually has some of the newest planes in the country (average of 2 years old). Their last plane crash was in Davao in 1998, on a kind of plane they're not flying anymore.

    I flew on Cebu Pacific last weekend (from Kalibo, Aklan -- not too far away eh?) and the flight was fine naman, both ways. PAL is only re-fleeting recently. They're getting brand new planes as well.

    If it makes you feel better, PAL has recently revamped their domestic reservation site to be as user friendly (if not better) than that of Cebu Pacific.

    I don't know how this will make you feel but -- the company maintaining the planes of both PAL and Cebu Pacific is the same.

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  4. @em - Cebu Pac po

    @prudence - oh yes! Menudo! Miss ko tuloy si fafa Ricky Martin! He was my very first crush I think.

    @jon limjap - thanks for clarifying, it was quite frustrating that they did not bother to explain what it really was and just left the passengers to fend for themselves. Everybody was quite jittery especially since the mechanics were on the plane with us too! I think they could've handled the situation with better care. I had at least 6 Cebu Pacific
    Air plane rides for the month of August alone and it never had any problems except for some delayed flights and and one where they said they needed to do some fix-ups. I'll tell my Dad that it's the same company maintaining both airlines, I got quite a scolding when I got home haha. I'll check out PAL's booking system come October when I do my rounds again. Salamat po!

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  5. Hi Aileen,

    I made a mistake.

    I verified with my friend who works at Lufthansa Technik (which maintains PAL) and he said that Cebu Pacific isn't maintained by them, they are maintained by a company named ASPI. They only happen to do it in the same hangar/facilities.

    So I guess your dad was right after all.

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  6. @jon limjap - thanks for the clarification. well, there are pros and cons still... one has new planes, the other doesn't. either way I think if it's your time, it's your time and at the end of the day when I book my flights there are many other factors to consider and for me the number one consideration is "booking convenience" then "price" (they are almost the same now anyways). I'm still going to send in my "feedback letter" to Mr. G :)

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  7. what an experience. your Dad is right. take the flag carrier. and don't take airbus too. :-)

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  8. oh i can so relate! I was folowing your twits and it reminded me of my plight on a flight back home to davao in 1999! remember GrandAir?

    We were already flying for 15 minutes when the plane suddenly turned back. When we landed, the pilot announced that they were instructed by the ATA to return to the airport since the right engine was busted! Sa'n ka pa diba? We had to wait for more than 10 hours before they told us that our flight was gonna be postponed - to the next morning! Tambling lahat ng tao!

    buti na lang they housed us at the now-defunct(i think) Philippine Village Hotel.

    Fast forward to 2004, I was on a PAL flight from Naga to Manila... same thing happened! No hotel accommodations though, since we were up in the air after 7 hours.

    And... ay teka, blog mo pala to, comment lang pala dapat! hehehe

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  9. ernie agtarap4:52 AM

    Wow, an International airport in iloilo. nice.

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  10. Anonymous8:21 AM

    I am a recent convert. I used to fly Cebu Pacific all the time, primarily because of their convenient online booking also. But after I went to Cebu, and saw their oh-so-sikip seats, I decided to try PAL's online booking. And yes, they've changed it and it's user-friendly na. Oh, and sometimes, their rates are lower than Cebu Pacific's, plus they have free snacks pa din. haha.

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  11. dhon jason,

    You're out of luck.

    Even PAL is shifting away from the old Boeing 737s (most of which are 20++ years old) to newer Airbus A319 and A320s -- to be able to compete with Cebu Pacific.

    Boeing's older 737s are gas guzzlers, and their newer models are more expensive than Airbuses.

    PAL is keeping its 747s, however.

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  12. Aileen,

    You're still lucky, as compared to these guys:

    http://blog.kapenilattex.com/2007/06/28/a-tale-of-two-consumer-abuses/

    Unlike them, you got a lot of food, and you were let out of the plane!

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  13. @paul - my knees are still shaking!

    @dhon - yes I will try out booking with PAL, I hope they've really improved it


    @aj - isker isker diba

    @ernie - yes! di hamak mas maganda kesa our domestic airport

    @anonymous - I will :)

    @jon limjap - okies, I'll read after my speaking engagement :)

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  14. aw may Gawd!!! Now that's a hassle!

    Glad you got back safely.

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  15. Naku naman, buti okay ka lang. Scary thing to happen, baka ako hindi na ako sumakay sa erplen.

    *hugs* Tama, at least the issue happened before the plane left and at least the company treated you well.

    -kwee-see

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  16. Agree with PAL's perks but last time I flew with them (June) the ground staff were still getting used to the eticket. My printout had to be shown to the supervisor on both flights to be verified. I never had that problem though with SIA or Cebu Pacific. I wish PAL would improve on that score.

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  17. @jozzua - thanks po, I probably haven't completed my mission on earth that's why :)

    @kaoko - hugs! attend ako mamya ng blog & soul!

    @em dy - that's weird! well i hope they've been trained by now to recognize an e-ticket! the guards at the domestic airport are used to it already probably because of cebu pacific. oh well...

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  18. @jon limjap - On http://blog.kapenilattex.com/2007/06/28/a-tale-of-two-consumer-abuses/ I am so in trouble... my travel agency booked me on that airline! OMG!

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  19. Scary, scary! Pero nice shooting sa airport ha. =)

    Marami ka pang tutulungan sa mundo. =)

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  20. @markku - coming from you that is such a huge compliment!!! hihihi. so may pag asa pa ba ako maging matinong photographer?

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  21. aileen: YAIKS! All I wanted was to make you feel better that when you got stranded at least you got to stay at the terminal and you got fed and you can move around and surf the net and...

    DOUBLE YAIKS!

    Saw your twits. You got chosen for what? :)

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  22. Hi Aileen,

    It's really a pity that the Cebu Pacific ground staff were not able to handle or treat you better. That is indeed one of the major shortcomings of the company-poor handling of paying customers by the ground staff. They are often clueless as to how to handle situations like this.

    With regards to the "erroneous reading " you refer to, all Airbus aircraft are equipped with an electronic systems monitoring computer called an 'ECAM'. Sometimes it gives spurious or false warnings but even these have to be treated as if they were actually occurring malfunctions. This is probably what happened during your takeoff roll. The flight crew reacted to the warning only to find out it was spurious. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and the crew reacted in a safe, proper, standard and prudent manner, erring if ever on the safe, conservative side.

    PAL and Cebu Pacific are using the same Airbus A320 series aircraft but Cebu Pacific has by far the greater number of new equipment. In fact, Cebu Pacific has the youngest fleet in Asia. PAL maintenance is done by Lufthansa Technik while Cebu Pacific uses Singapore Airlines. Both are internationally renown and highly competent in their field.

    As far as safety record is concerned, Cebu Pacific had that fatal crash in Cagayan De Oro in 1998 when they ere still flying the old DC-9s. PAL on the other hand has had no less than three runway overshoots resulting in substantial damage to aircraft and property, fatalities and serious injuries. These happened at Bacolod in 1997, Tacloban last year then Butuan early this year. All three involved brand new Airbus A320 aircraft, which with the exception of the Tacloban aircraft were written off as totally damaged.

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  23. just check this link...
    Click Here

    there commenting about your "Erroneous reading" article...

    BTW... what's the meaning of your "low and slow"? "stomping the brakes"... Airplanes doesn't have brake pedals..

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  24. @genno - thanks for the heads up... I am no pilot, nor do I know anything about how a plane works and the best analogy I could make about how the pilot stopped the plane was to think that it does have "brakes". I travel a lot around the country and normally the plane flies above the clouds, it was the first time that I experienced a plane "below the clouds" all throughout the flight.

    Well after the latest fiasco I've experienced with Cebu Pacific I think I'll go wait a looongg time before I ride CebuPac.

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  25. As a matter of fact, airplanes do have brake pedals, two of them!

    Here's a quote from that forum:

    That's still a lot of salt! :lol:

    No doubt the blogger is a highly intelligent, well-read and well-spoken girl. That was the immediate impression from reading her well-written blog.

    My main issue was that she used "crashes" in the plural form when in fact there has only been one fatal accident or airframe writeoff for the airline. Knock on wood, of course.

    As for your question about what the erroneous reading was, I can't help you there because I don't have the facts. But you did ask what erroneous reading would've prompted the pilots to "stomp the brakes so hard they'd need time to have it cool down."

    The impression seems to be that while the aircraft was accelerating down the runway, an abnormal indication popped up, one so scary that the pilots slammed on the brakes to the point of heating them up excessively.

    The fact is, the pilots didn't stomp the brakes. They didn't even need to touch the brake pedals. Prior to takeoff the autobrake AUTO/BRK is set to MAX and the spoilers are armed. This primes the aircraft for a no-holds-barred, pull-out-all-the-stops, throw-out-the-anchor, maximum-effort ground stop should the takeoff be aborted. And all done automatically (provided groundspeed is above 72 knots).

    When the crew saw the need to reject the takeoff (for any reason whatsoever), the thrust levers were brought back to the idle stops. This did two things: it triggered the ground spoilers, killing all lift and ensuring maximum wheel traction; and maximum wheel braking was automatically brought to bear. The aircraft was then stopped in the shortest distance possible.

    Since the aircraft doesn't know how much runway is still remaining from the point takeoff is rejected, nothing is lost by making a maximum-performance stop. When the brakes are used too gingerly, a maximum-performance stop is in the offing anyway, especially when the plane runs off the runway and comes to a grinding halt in a rice paddy. :lol:

    If the pilot sees a lot of concrete still ahead of him and chooses to modulate the decel, he can simply assume manual braking by pressing the brake pedals and disengaging the autobrakes in the process.

    The brakes absorb a tremendous amount of heat energy during a rejected takeoff. From a physicist's point of view, braking is the act of converting kinetic energy into heat. Even with the excellent carbon brakes on the A320, any RTO is bound to require cool-off time, brake fans or no brake fans.

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  26. Hi all you great people,

    if you would like to be a part of- and support a bigger initiative towards Cebu Pacific...

    -please share your stories at; http://cebupacific.wikispaces.com/

    -and join the Facebook group 'Let's make Cebu Pacific better!'; http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=160391654058&ref=ts

    You are also more than welcome to link to the group using the following image; http://jonasskafte.com/files/CPfacebook.jpg


    Thank you very much,



    /Jonas.

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