She was smiling at me as I walked up the ladder, escaping the open walk under the early morning sun and into the ZestAir plane where she works as a stewardess (I believe the proper designation is Flight Attendant or FA). This would be interesting, I thought. Here she is demonstrating flight safety procedures, making it look cool to grab the oxygen mask in case of a sudden drop in cabin pressure.
Then she looked at me again. This time only with a slight smile. Still sweet though, but with a clear sense of purpose in her eyes. It’s obvious she wants to walk towards me. Then she took the first step towards my direction. And for a second or two that felt like eternity, she was in front of me. She was still smiling. She opened her lips. Then she softly whispered: “Sir, please pull up the window shade as the plane is about to take off“.
Tsk. Tsk Tsk. And you thought it’s something else.
Anyway, this is the first and only time, so far, that we traveled with ZestAir. I’ve long heard of this airline, which used to be Asian Spirit before the purchase by its new boss, Zesto‘s Alfredo Yao. I’ve tried Asian Spirit in one of our trips to Boracay.
Once upon a time Philippine Airlines ruled the Philippine skies. Cebu Pacific gave PAL a run for its money, with Cebu Pacific’s low-fare offerings, fresh approach to service and, MOST importanly, commitment to be on-time 95% of the time. It was a great commitment, great until it lasted. I used to fly CebuPac exclusively during that time, but now I’m back to PAL.
ZestAir offers really low prices. But the biggest cause of my hesitation is the thought of this airline being untested. We fear the unknown, I’ve said here so many times. Because we were a big group on the trip to Bohol, it was only logical that we take the cheapest airline — ZestAir.
And boy was I wrong about my preconceived notions about this airline. Our trip to Bohol, serviced by Zestair’s Airbus A320, was full. Service was ok. I never had the experience of a Flight Attendant opening the lavatory door while I was heading towards it, holding a spilled milk bottle with my two hands (yes, I was with my wife and kid). At least they offer free juice (Zesto, of course), unlike CebuPac.
In my morning drive towards work, I always listen to Mo, Mojo and Grace Lee’s radio show over at 89.9 (hey Mo, will this qualify for the 500 grand?). They once spoke about ZestAir, about the clouds getting inside the plane. I thought this is just normal for propeller-type planes that go straight to Caticlan, very near Boracay (I prefer the low-altitude planes, rather than take the jet planes that pass through other airports, with a few hours drive before reaching Caticlan). If I remember it correctly somebody said something about never again riding in ZestAir.
Then lo and behold, as we were waiting at the Manila Domestic Airport‘s passenger’s lounge, we saw Mo, with a beautiful lady beside him, waiting for their flight. There are only two options — ZestAir or SEAir. Most probably they took ZestAir, on the way to Boracay. I could be wrong, of course.
We don’t know anyone in ZestAir and we aren’t paid to write this, but we thought we consumers should give ZestAir a full fighting chance to spread its wings. Forget the minor inconveniences, not that there was any that we encountered. I figure a stronger ZestAir could keep PAL and CebuPac on their toes. We consumers deserve the best service. That means a robust competition. (Read also NAIA and Manila Domestic Airports and Rate the Philippine Airports.)