Zest Airways Philippines — a horrible passenger experience

I just had the worst travel experience with Zest Air Philippines earlier today. I have flown with Zest Air and other budget airlines in the Philippines but I have never experienced something as bad as the one I just had this morning. I’ve heard a lot of negative stories about the airline’s horrible service but I never took them seriously. For one, I never experienced these kind of things and some events are just so inevitable that we can let it pass — especially for companies like Zest Air who does better in producing artificially flavored juices than running a small fleet of hand-me-down Airbus planes.

November 27

13:20

At around 1:20 PM last Saturday, a day before my scheduled departure from Iloilo, I received a call from Zest Air’s Manila office informing about the change of schedule of my ILO-MNL flight. It was originally scheduled on November 28 20:35 but was moved to November 29 05:55. Since I only itinerary is only until November 28, I asked the agent if the airlines could possibly shoulder the hotel expenses from November 28 to November 29. The agent assured to call back once she gets an answer from her superior. I waited until in the evening for her call but I received nothing. I tried calling her landline number but I received no answer. I also tried calling Zest Air’s hotline but I was greeted with pre-recorded messages telling me that my concerns can only be answered during office hours (Monday to Friday). Since getting through Zest Air’s communication lines seems hopeless, I decided to give up and settle whatever that can be settled in Zest Airway’s Manila office upon arrival on November 29.

Since my flight is scheduled early in the morning, I decided that it would be impractical to extend my stay with Iloilo Business Hotel. So what I did, I left my stuff in Ate Aileen’s room and decided to get it before I head out to the airport. Since I have no hotel to stay, it also meant that I won’t be getting any sleep.

November 29

01:00

Since I didn’t have a place to stay for the night, I decided to leave Iloilo City earlier so I could spend the rest of my time in the airport until my flight schedule. So after preparing everything, we went to pick up a taxi that would take us to Iloilo International Airport. Getting to Iloilo Airport by the way is not a walk in the park. It usually takes around 40 minutes to get to the airport from Iloilo City on a taxi. After getting into the cab, the driver told us that the airport would not open until 4:30 in the morning. Since airlines require its passengers to be in the airport two hours before the scheduled departure time, I left the city at 4:00 a.m. so I would be early enough for check-in and just in time for the airport to open.

04:40

At approximately 4:40 a.m., I arrived in the airport. Though the main airport gate has already been opened, the departure gate was still closed and the passenger queue had been building up. During that time, most of the ticketing offices are still closed.

05:00

After waiting the long queue, I finally entered the check-in area of the airport. The only airline receiving check-ins was Cebu Pacific. I was hoping to see someone from the Zest Air counter since it’s already an hour before my scheduled departure but not a single Zest Air employee can be found. I went up the airport to see the flight information for the day. I was devastated to find out that there are no Zest Air flights scheduled in the morning. I went back outside to see if I could find someone in the Zest Air ticketing office, but there was none. I started getting restless and impatient at that time due to stress and lack of sleep.

06:30

I went back to Zest Air’s ticketing office to see if someone has already arrived but still, there was no one. Even the check-in counters, no one from Zest Air showed up. The flight information displayed didn’t display an ILO-MNL 5:55 flight either.

7:00

Waiting for anyone from Zest Air seemed hopeless, I decided to buy a ticket from PAL so I could leave Iloilo and get fill my sleep deprivation when I get back in Makati.

22:00

I tried calling the Zest Air’s express counter in Manila International Airport. The ticketing office in MIA is the only Zest Air channel I could contact. Giving the airlines the benefit of the doubt that I got the flight details wrong, I tried asking for my flight details. I confirmed that my flight was indeed rescheduled from 20:35 Nov 28 to 05:55 Nov 29. Furthermore, airline records showed that they didn’t have an ILO-MNL flight scheduled at 05:55 Nov 29.

Also, the guy who I talked to informed me that I owe Zest Airways P1220.00 P1120.00 for not showing up on my flight.

Zest Air rescheduled my original flight to a new time where no planes are scheduled to fly. What they did cost me money, time and a lot of stress. The incident made me swear not to ever trust Zest Air again. It only happened once and I will not let it happen to me again.  I doubt AMY Holdings Corporation will take responsibility of this incident. I have heard a lot of similar incidents and Zest Airways didn’t do anything to compensate for the mistake or improve their service. I don’t expect Zest Air to compensate for the damages they caused me but one thing’s for sure, they lost one customer and they will surely lose more if they continue this kind of attitude towards their customers.

If you have other horrible Zest Air experience, please feel free to share. Zest Air already made a lot of damages in the past and we wouldn’t want other to experience the same.

UPDATE:

November 30, 10:20 a.m.
Last night, when I called Zest Air’s Express ticketing office, they confirmed with me that the fight was moved to November 29, 5:55 AM and that no Zest Air flights were scheduled on that day/time. The guy I talked to advised me to contact Zest Air’s hotline this morning to check what can be done. After calling the customer hotline (while keeping my cool) this morning, I learned that their records show that it the flight was supposed to be 5:55 a.m. on November 28. I was surprised. Since I still owe them P1120, the agent still CAN’T send me the transcript of my flight details not unless I pay the no show fee.

I was pretty sure that the agent who called me last November 27 told me that the flight was moved later and not earlier. Most parts of our conversation were about the request for hotel and accommodation compensation since my flight will be moved on a later date. Why would I request for a accommodation if she had told me that the flight was moved to an earlier time, diba? And another thing, if indeed it was moved to 5:55 a.m. on November 28, why would they leave their customers only a few hours to prepare for their mistakes? The agent ended our conversation assuring me that she will call back after she receives a feedback from her superior(s) regarding my request. Yet, she never called back.

Getting the transcript from the Airlines is hopeless since there’s no way I’m gonna pay for that P1120. Heck, why would I? I even paid for a new Philippine Airline Ticket (to get back to Manila) which is way way way more expensive than the original cost of my FAIL Zest Air flight.

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