Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Tablet Check-in: Cebu Pacific

8:33AM this morning, amidst the throng and the din at NAIA Terminal 3, a Cebu Pacific employee walked up to me and asked if I had any luggage. I said "none", and she asked me about my flight details. I asked why (thinking she would direct me to a counter but..), she said "I will check you in sir"! And I said something like "ows?!" as I looked at that thing on her left hand - a tablet!

So I gave my details, showed her my ID and she tapped on that thing, voila! That strip of paper came out from that other gadget hanging on her pocket - my boarding pass!
Just like that. Yeah, ganun lang!

I am no gadget freak, but, this was the first time I encountered such a thing - even if I travel almost every week - and yes, I was fascinated. Nice one, Lance! Nice one!



Thursday, January 02, 2014

Oh No, Not The Lighter! Oh Yes, The Lighter!

Let's go "lighter" talk.

Yes, that thing you always look for to set the birthday cake candle afire. Same thing most wedding coordinators usually panic for at church ceremonies because "candle sponsors" did not bring matches! Yep, that thing that always comes in handy when a thread comes dangling out of your shirt or pants while you're already out painting the town red.

THE Lighter!

One of the most popular brands proliferating on this planet is as pictured above. The nameless ones are cheaper, usually referred to by Pinoys as "Made In China" for indeed, almost all of them are!

So, is it really not allowed in the airplane? Yes... BUT!

"Ano nanaman ang BUT na yan" you may ask? That is our topic this time.

In all the world, it is 'supposedly' not allowed BUT not so much taken seriously by the authorities. Why? Because indeed, the risk factor is too negligible! Try asking around if you find any airline passenger carrying disposable lighters if they have ever been lately apprehended at the NAIA, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod or Iloilo Airports. None, right? Unless pinag-tripan sila nung mga authorities - which happens! Or unless their disposable lighters looked so fancy or beautiful that they want to keep - which is even the most usual!

But why was my disposable lighter (a very expensive one at P15 hehe) taken by this security officer at one airport? The answer: because he (security officer) is a damned apprentice. A student actually from some school or college where graduates become one of those security people that man this area of an airport. Was he correct doing this? Technically yes. Even legally!

What was wrong however was: after groping me, he asked me to remove the lighter from my pocket, took it from my hand and placed it atop the 'dead' x-ray machine with eyes flickering as if he won the lotto!

What did I do? I took the lighter from where he placed it and said "You don't get that from me yet, I am just going to check in and will still go out of this airport to smoke. You can confiscate that if I am already entering your security check going to the pre-departure area. Besides, when you take anything from a passenger, you should explain why you are taking it".

Stunned ang kalbo, whahehehe! And when I looked at the real police officers in charge of this place who were just sitting nearby (because these apprentices were 'overly' doing the job for them), I saw some smile as if saying "wag mo nang patulan yan"! Yes, these real officers are already too familiar with my face having been in front of them almost every week since April 2013 - even earlier!

Where/What airport was this? Ah you don't wanna know hehe. That which was almost completely wiped out by Yolanda! This actually happened a few days before the storm, just a day or two after the sementeryo holidays, I think! And here's my wicked news: after smoking outside, I went back inside the airport, waited for my flight, boarded, and arrived home still with my expensive fifteen peso lighter hehehe! How did I do it? Seeeecreeeet!

Anyway, let's talk about how dangerous this thing is, and here we go...

Butane. Yep, that is (supposedly) the contents of every disposable lighter or any of its isomers like methylpropane, and I hear (or did I smell that?) that some use methane. All are highly flammable liquids (reason they're being used to light a cigarette). Katakot ba?! However, for a conflagration to take effect, you must have a lighter big enough not fit in your pocket hahaha!

Oh yes, if you were planning to burn something inside a plane with your lighter, you probably will be successful. But someone else can do the same with a match and other igniters. But if you were just carrying that disposable lighter because you need it to light a cigarette once you're out of the airport, what are the chances that it will accidentally cause harm? Very slim!

Here's an example to show a point --- many smokers who have accidentally or ignorantly placed their lighters on a car dashboard on a hot sunny day will tell you that the lighter just bursts with a very soft "pffft" sometimes even inaudible and that's it, the lighter is already empty of any liquid gas with a hole on the side and useless! That is on a very hot sunny day in this country, where you even have to leave the automobile doors open for a while before getting in. When does an airplane become as hot as that, aber?! And note that there becomes no fire, because there is no fire! The gas contents of a lighter is just fuel not fire. That's why there is a flint that you have to flick so that fire is created.

Okay now, let's take the scenario of your lighter inside the aircraft. Let us say you break it (which is hard to do by the way ha?) whether accidentally or willfully. Then what? Wala! It will just vaporize and suctioned to the air vents together with all passengers' exhalations and farts! Why would it en-flame when there is no flame, right?

If at all you wanted to burn something in an airplane with your lighter, chances are, before you even get successful to flick a fire, someone will have already seen and restrained you! But why would you? You are also inside that flying metal in the first place. Ano yan, harakiri? How many lighter-carrying smokers who ride airplanes would want to do that?

So in general, that disposable lighter is not such a cause for alarm - reason why many airport authorities ALL OVER the world ignore it!

Well, you might want to know about this twist... did you know that in some countries (like the UK), disposable lighters cannot be placed inside a checked-in nor hand-carried baggage BAGKUS it should be carried by the person in his pocket? Yes, ganun! The reason is that, when the little thingy is inside a bag, it might keep moving causing friction to let the flint ignite a spark and burn nearby items like your clothes and other materials to produce a real dangerous fire.

That said, so what are these newby, apprentice policemen confiscating my expensive fifteen-peso disposable lighter for? Haay naku, let's just call that as 'laws not keeping up with the times'. But mind you, once another"air-incident" happens with these pesky lighters involved, that law will naturally be strictly enforced hehehe!

Lastly, let us say it is indeed dangerous and must not be allowed on any airplane. So why are most airports all over earth not confiscating it?! Yep, almost every airport that uses x-ray machines to scan your things won't give a hoot if your checked-in or hand-carried luggage contained one or two or three disposable lighters! Wag naman sangkaterba hehe. Did you know that even as cargo, these things, especially in large quantities are categorized as DG? Yep, Dangerous Goods! Then again, the authorities of so many big airports don't mind if you were carrying one or two or three!

BUT, watch out for small, feeder, rural, barriotic, manual airports (not only in the Philippines but in many other such airports worldwide), they will confiscate it!

Okay okay, I said "Seeeecreeeet!" above on how I conceal the pesky thing during over-acting screenings at mano-mano security areas. Do you wanna know? Ah, I do a whole lot of tricks like placing it in the very middle of a folded shirt, wrapping it with my "used" underwear, placing it inside my "used" socks, at the bottom of my toiletry kit and other parts of my backpack (internal and external) or parts of my body that those guards don't usually grope at.

AND...

In a lot of cases, I "hide" my lighter in the most obvious place where they just don't look - my hand! Yep, I carry it with some papers and the likes, sometimes even with a glass of cold coffee, while I raise my arms to allow them to frisk my royal body! Haay naku hahaha!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

No Need To Print Plane Tickets?

Wheh?!

Let me quote the whole article:

"No need to print plane tickets: DOJ says e-tickets will do

Posted at 09/11/2013 2:50 PM | Updated as of 09/12/2013 10:26 AM
MANILA, Philippines - There's no need to print your plane tickets anymore. Passengers at all international ports of entry and exit in the country may present their electronic tickets using their smartphones and tablets.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that the advisory from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agency, the Bureau of Immigration (BI), is effective immediately.

"This is another step to improve access to basic government services. We shall continue to work with all stakeholders to inject common sense and process logic into our systems," De Lima said.

The new policy is by virtue of Operations Order No. SBM-2013-003, entitled "Removing the Requirement of Presentation of the Printed Hard Copy of Return and/or Onward Passage Ticket," dated August 12."
'via Blog this'

Okay, thanks but... ho-hummm! This is like telling all Filipinos you need not wear a uniform when you reach your second grade in elementary school. But you were/are required to wear a complete uniform in Grade 1. Therefore, you might as well wear that uniform when you reach grade Grade 2, right?

It's like this:

1. Majority of tickets are bought 2-way (meaning going & coming or "back & forth")
2. When you print, both flights are (usually) in just one sheet of paper, right?
3. You cannot, may not, will not be allowed to enter the check-in counters without a physical ticket!

THAT #3, makes Mrs. De Lima's 'news' some kind of nonsense to majority of us travelers. Why? Because those damn "jaguar" (yes, the dya-gwar, the blue guard, the guardia, the SG, the sekyu) at airport entrance, won't allow you to enter without showing your passport and a printed ticket (as if they know how to tell if it was real or not)!

So, whether your immigration officer wants to see that return/onward ticket or not, you already have it, and that sheet of paper is almost always tucked in your passport together with your boarding pass and baggage claim checks, right?

O eh ano, magpapakahirap ka pang mag-open ng iPhone or iPad mo, just to search for the e-ticket image or record locator? Eh, ayan bitbit mo na!

Hep-hep, don't you tell me you can enter terminal 3 without showing a ticket! To the lobby yes, but just the same, there is "jaguar" at the cordoned-off area of your airline's check-in counter. He will look for your ticket and passport (ticket and ID if domestic flight). Unfortunately, these guards are not of the BI but of the airport authorities under DOTC (I think).

Nice try BI/DOJ, but hooo-hum. Can we please hear better news? How about demanding that ALL immigration officers be friendlier with a genuine happy smile in their faces at all times? I can even help you do that, if need be :)!

Oh well...




Friday, November 09, 2012

Can’t Modify e-Ticket From Travel Agency

A friend sometime ago asked me about this and I wasn’t really sure of the answer so I said I will take note of that and ask my airline friends. But I haven’t yet got to asking when it also happened to me. Well, what a chance experience! I mean it was nice this happened to me so I now know the thing first-hand.

I’m talking about those e-tickets issued by travel agencies. Here’s the story:

On a recent off-site activity, client opted for the package where they take charge of my transport and accommodation. So I received an electronic ticket from them. It looked weird to me (since am not used to having this kind of e-ticket printout) but just the same, it was a ticket. It did contain the usual information we are used to seeing – plus a bit more, and in a different format!

Days prior to the flight, I toyed at the idea of extending my stay in Davao so I could use a day or two to roam more of IGaCoS beyond the beach resorts. So I opened the Cebu Pacific website to retrieve my booking. It was there okay, but I could not see the “manage your booking” portion. There was nothing I could click to do the changes I wanted. So I txtd a friend and she advised that if the website would allow me to do some changes then fine, but if it won’t, then I have to go back to the travel agency for them to tweak it. Argh!

Like the travel agency is located somewhere south of the city while I was/am from the north! I checked my schedules for the days prior to departure and there was just no way I could spirit myself to that place. That easily, I dropped the idea of changing my ticket’s itinerary and/or exploring more of Samal. Oh well, bummer, but that only meant I should follow my original plan of doing business in Davao instead of stealing a day or two from my “busy schedule” to roam more of Samal hehe. Next time, I told myself!

That very night, I chanced upon a friend who also works for an airline, and he was with another friend who is an ex-airline employee and now working for a travel agency! They were on the way to some “two-bottles” for the night and asked me if I wanted to come along. Whatta chance! So I said yes! And of course opened my little ticket issue for discussion… and these you have to know folks!

One of them said “it’s just like the way old non-electronic tickets were issued”, only the issuer (meaning the travel agency) is allowed to change it. Why? Because of the fare computation things. Meaning if that ticket is touched by any other entity, that last touch might prevail and eventually be the transaction to be honored by the airline which the original issuer (travel agency) might stand a chance to lose in the sale. Unfair, right? Complicated thing to explain, but I totally understood.

Then again, it is the electronic age where tickets are bought and passed around like and as fast as txt msgs, di ba?! Some of these airline-travel-agency business relations, standards or procedures may have to be changed with the times. Just wishful thinking really, though I strongly believe they should look at this thing. Take my case for an example. Let’s interpret the case:

My client already paid for my ticket, and clearly, it was already a sale for the agency howsoever its terms with the airline might be, right? If I wanted to change it electronically on the Cebu Pacific website, then I should be able to do so without prejudice to the sale/earnings of that travel agency, right? Or without additional expense to my client who originally bought my ticket, right? For in fact, have you ever experienced changing your booking online where it yielded a “credit back’ or “sukli” to you? Hehe, am not sure it happens with these online things! So, I pay extra to Cebu Pacific and no one should lose.

Having said that, I do not mean to declare that I am absolutely correct. I mean I may be right on the point of view of being a passenger, but the intricate logic and mathematics about airline and travel agency relations might make it impossible. As of now anyway. My two friends agree on that point, though we continued discussing the matter all night. And we were like foolish senators trying to think of possibilities to make this thing more convenient for the masses – over bottles of beer hahaha!

If you don’t understand this topic, don’t squeeze your brain more, it’s complicated. But if you think you can fathom some of the intricacies, go on and think with us. The bottomline should be passenger convenience. And this is not as if it can be done overnight. I think they’ll have to bother the whole industry with such an issue if they want to give in to what I, a mere crazy passenger, wants for my convenience!

Here is an example to get the thing clearer: You were in Manila and you wanted a ticket for your new househelp who will travel Iloilo-Manila on December 15. By December 10, Inday, the new househelp txts she cannot fly on the 15th because of some important domestic activities but would be very much fine to come on the 17th – which is not an issue to you. But by then you were in Saigon for business, so what do you do with her ticket? Call the travel agency? Then have them email the copy of the new ticket to you? Which you will have to re-email or fax to some friend or pawnshop in Iloilo for Inday to retrieve it from? And how are you going to pay the travel agency for those changes (since you are away and cannot personally present your credit card)? Ah, hassle!

Why couldn’t you just do the changes you like on the web and pay for the extra charges using your own credit card, wherever you are, without bothering the travel agency anymore? It should be that simple. But as of now, it is not!

So, the verdict… Do not buy tickets from travel agencies if you are not sure of your dates! Do it on your own and on the web. You could even chance upon those zero or piso fares!

Kawawang travel agencies, as it is, many of them have started losing business due to the online convenience of electronic bookings – which are always cheaper anyway! Let’s bet, 5 or 10 years from now, someone who buys tickets from a travel agent will be considered weird. Wanna bet? Ngayon pa nga lang eh, my friends went on a chorus saying “why did you get your ticket from an agency in the first place, don’t you have a credit card?” whahehehe! Amen!

Now, therefore, wherefore, heretofore, bapor… to my clients and would-be clients, please do not buy my tickets from those travel agencies. If you can’t do it yourselves online, tell me so, for I can do it in just a few clicks. It’s easier and cheaper that way! Plus, I really could use the convenience of being able to change my itinerary online!

 

 

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