Friday, July 29, 2005


A few months ago I wrote an entry about
Philippine Airlines (BRAVO! BRAVO! April 2005) because I was glad to see that their cuisine was gaining rave reviews on the website It really did seem like things were looking up over at our national carrier. Unfortunately, I flew PAL a few days ago (Manila - Saigon) and I am unhappy to report that things are not all that well on the ground at Asia's most mediocre airline. Just arriving at the PAL Centennial terminal was already an indication on how unprofessionally things were being run. Not only did the terminal stink like an unwashed dishrag, but ground crew service was way below par. My check in girl was surly and the staff behind her seemed to enjoy talking to each other more than they did the passengers. I was also rather horrified to see porters - still in their uniforms - smoking cigarettes and making "tambay" (hanging out) inside the airport's concession, "The Tinder Box". All seven of them were boisterously chatting away, unmindful of the obviously irritated foreign passengers beside them. Oh and that was only half the staff, the rest were SLEEPING ON BENCHES right beside the boarding gates. Ridiculous. And the BAD service didn't stop there, the security personnel also just sat around - literally - (listening to loud radio music and once again chatting away) while the passengers disembarked from the aircraft. Moreover, the plants in the airport were dead, the paint was peeling off the walls, and the public areas were littered with beat up furniture that nobody seemed to be using. But worst of all (and this was what really got my goat), the signage at the airport was slap-dash. In public areas, the signs that say, "Staff only", "Do not enter","Keep door closed", or "These are the customs regulations.." were ALL WRITTEN BY HAND OR BY PC AND POSTED ON THE WALL WITH SCOTCH TAPE! Jeez, it looked both dirty AND amateurish. Why doesnt anyone buy a proper printer and a lamination machine? Believe me, this would do wonders in giving the Centennial Airport a more professional (and SAFER) image. C'mon Lucio Tan, it's already bad enough you usurped the terminal for PAL - it was supposed to be the domestic terminal for ALL airlines before PAL monopolized it - do you have to add insult to injury by running the place like a jeepney terminal? Apparently there's just no giving you nice things. A little public art, and an upgrade of service and CLEANLINESS can't be THAT hard to achieve, can it?

Oh and by the way. The food on my flight sucked too. The fish was dry.

Photo: Just a few of the signs posted up with scotch tape. Note lounging security on the left and crappy mismatched furniture. Shameful.