Trip Index (what we have published so far):
AirAsia recently moved up its investment into the Philippines’ low cost airline market with the acquisition of Zest Air. AirAsia has become a cornerstone of flying in Asia and it has successful expended its business model from Malaysia to Thailand and Indonesia.
However, the Philippines is a difficult market to enter, because of the lack of civilian airport infrastructure, the dominance of Philippines Airways, the low yields on many routes and the limited tourists that the Philippines receives.
I booked my flight for just $14 for the 250-mile journey from Davao to Cebu. The fare then more than doubled to $34, since I added a check-in bag at the time of booking.
Davao Airport is a tiny affair, with just one terminal area. The check-in line was long (as there was another flight to Manila at the same time, which clogged up the two agents), but it moved fairly quickly.
I asked to keep my carry-on with me (a Travelpro, which fits perfectly in the overhead bins), but it was 14.4kg. There are scales all over the check-in area and the check-in agent made it clear that it would not be accepted in the cabin, so I was happy that I had paid for the check-in luggage.
We boarded 45 minutes before departure time, but boarding was so orderly and quick that we actually pushed back 30 minutes before our scheduled time. We took off 2 minutes later – way ahead of the scheduled time. We took off into the cloudy skies and what followed was a constant turning and rolling, left to right.
Since we only flew 250 miles, we never made it above 30,000 feet, but there were a number of thunderstorms in our way. Turbulence was not a big deal, but I think we only went straight for the last 10 minutes of this flight, so it was an interesting flight path.
The plane itself was brand new, with the comfy leather that AirAsia now uses, but with a seat pitch that was just too small. I realize that the average size of the local customer is smaller than me, but for me it was as small as it gets – more than 2 hours in the seat would have been highly claustrophobic.
After all the turning and rolling ended, we were at 10,000 feet when approaching Cebu – it’s a beautiful approach path. We landed into Cebu and of course the terminal signs were broken, so we had no indication where our luggage would come out (most airport signage was constantly broken in most airports in the Philippines during my week there).
If I’d have had less luggage, $14 for a 45-minute adventurous flight all over the beautiful Philippines coastline would have been a steal, but $34 was still a great deal.