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Sexta-feira, 27 de Junho de 2008
First flight on an ATR 72-500


Picture of Cebu Pacific ATR 72-500 by Laurent of (seen here as he lands in Toulouse during one of the test flights)

Configuration of Cebu Pacific's ATR 72-500

I have just arrived from the airport and still excited about my flight. This is not actually about my travel destination but basically a flight report on ATR 72-500 of Cebu Pacific, the first time I flew on one! And this is also my first time to write an authentic flight report. That means I flew just for the heck of it!

Here we go!

Cebu Pacific

Date: 16 June 2008
Dep: Laoag International (LAO)
Gate: Monogate
Boarding Time: 1920
Dep Time: 1955 scheduled, 1957 actual
Load: 100%
Seat: 19D/16
Class: Economy
Aircraft: ATR 72-500
Aircraft Registration Number: RP-7251
Weather during take off: Broken Clouds
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Gate: Monogate
Arr Time: 2115 scheduled, 2115 actual
Weather during landing: Broken clouds, scattered rain shower

I have been stressed out (this is an understatement) for the past weeks and I felt I needed a break. Sure, for me, that "break" means flying or going to a new place or a combination of both depending on my tight budget (always on a tight budget, lol!)

I was choosing between flying to Laoag City and experience the new ATR 72-500 of Cebu Pacific and do a quick side trip to Abra and Ilocos Sur or to Iloilo City which I have never visited yet and fly with Philippine Airlines' Airbus 320 (which I have flown a couple of times) to see the new and nice airport. I chose the former.

Due to lack of time and non-availability of seats going to Laoag Airport with Cebu Pacific, me and my sister decided to take the bus. I don't really like to travel by bus unless I am traveling to a new place and there are new things to see along the way. For me traveling to a new place is as important as the flight experience. And since I am always on a tight budget, I try to squeeze in those desired 'flights' into my travel itineraries thus resulting to a less comfortable accommodation or mediocre food. I don't mind though. I always rough it.

The bus ride (10 hours) was surprisingly nice because it only had one stop which was Pangasinan. Usually, the regular air-conditioned buses that ply the route stop in every province.

There were bunch of European youngsters on board and I asked one of them (in French) if they're French and one of the ladies said yes. And they're going to Ilocos. Would be nice to practise my French with them. Oh well, too bad I did not get their email addies.

Anyway, after 2 days in Ilocos Region (yeah, that's quick), I had to return back to Manila. So I should go to Laoag City and fly from there. This would be the fastest way to get to Manila because Laoag is only an hour away (depends on the aircraft used) by plane. The thing is, going to Laoag City from where I was is way too complicated. I had to take the jeep to go the capital and from there to Narvacan (Ilocos Sur), another bus ride; and again took a bus from Narvacan to Laoag via Vigan. From the Farinas bus station in Laoag, I rented a tricycle for 100 pesos going to the airport. But if you have the time and willing to walk for some distance, take the jeepney going to Gabu. The (broken) trip took some 4 hours.

The good side is: I was able to fly!

Laoag International Airport

This airport is the northernmost international airport in the Philippines by geographical location. It has a 2,420-meter runway and is considered as an alternative/secondary international airport by the Philippine Air Transportation Office.

Well, the airport terminal is far cry from the international standards for an international airport. It really needs improvement. But the airport staff were all friendly though. I would not mind using it again.


I arrived early. There was no queue at check-in at Cebu Pacific desk. The agent was efficient. I requested for the window seat on the last row. I got it.


I should have had plenty of time to watch takeoffs and landings. But no. Only Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines would land at that time of the day and Laoag Airport is not really a plane spotters' favorite. I had some snack because I knew the thing with budget airlines )no free meal or no meal at all!). I was amongst the first into gate, settled in until the aircraft was ready for boarding. Boarding was efficient and took place fairly quickly. The flight attendants were professional enough. Before boarding the aircraft, I tried to snap some photos but it did not work. They came out dark. Too bad. No aerobridge was used so we had to climb up the stairs to get to the aircraft. Anyway, right before I got in, I gave some pat on the aircraft rear door for taking me to my destination. Then the beautiful flight stewardess greeted me courteously with a smile. What a nice welcome.

And when I got in, yayyyy! The aircraft still has the smell of new! This is a spanking bran new aircraft! The blue/green leather seats looked good. Anyway, I have been following its delivery from Europe to Manila and now I could not believe I was to fly on it! The aircraft was spotless and immaculately clean! Besides it was my first time fly on an ATR 72-500 so I got excited even more.

The take off

I noticed that the ATR 72-500 had a short takeoff roll. It was smooth and quiet yet a powerful take off, even on climb out. It has to be one of the smoothest take-offs I have had. It's a peaceful and serene aircraft to enjoy a flight on.

The flight

The flight was short at only a little bit longer than an hour. Strangely there was no service on board. I mean, no food whatsoever. The flight was 1.25 hours and I was expecting some free drinks. I have flown with Cebu Pacific going to Hong Kong and back and on both legs, drinks were provided for free but other items such as the sandwiches or cheesecakes were sold for a small fee. Anyway, maybe this is the thing with their domestic flights. I'm not complaining though.

5J ATR 72-500 aircraft is configured in a 4 abreast Y class (2-2). I found the seat width to be adequate in every way. It was one of the most spacious short haul Y seats and leg rooms I'd ever been in, which as someone 5'10" is nice. My flight was 100% full. No IFE system.

Aside from occasional turbulence near Manila, the flight was pretty smooth.

When we were 92 nautical miles to Manila, the captain made some announcement about the weather in Manila and the estimated time of arrival. He also welcomed us to the city.


Landing was also smooth. And this has got to be the best aerial view of Manila I had so far.

Baggage claim at the domestic terminal was OK. But the only thing that I did not understand was why would the guards collect the terminal fee receipt before the passengers go out (and I think also the carry-on tag given by Cebu Pacific). Hey, that's for my collection!

Conclusion: ATR has already landed on my favourite aircraft list! I enjoyed the flight and hope to fly on it again. And kodus to the pilots!

Anyway, hopped a cab and to office I went. :)

Here are some photos of my journey:

Abra road

A ricefield in Abra

Tobacco plantation in Abra

Ilocos Sur-Abra boundary

This is the "Junction" )or the locals would simply call: "Diangsiyon") in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. I got off here to take a bus going to Vigan and Laoag. This direction is going to Manila.

Going to Abra

Going to Vigan and Laoag

Inside the Farinas Bus going to Laoag via Vigan. This is a scenic road but due to my proximity to both seat mates (left and right), taking photos was impossible and I had no way to hold the camera steady enough.

Tobacco plantation in Ilocos Norte

Tricycle ride going to the airport..........

The entrance (Laoag International Airport). Not so "international". The trouble is that there's no public transportation to and from the airport. Yeah, there is a jeepney but you have to walk to get to the terminal itself, and it not that near. It's either you have a car or rent a trike.

Check-in counter of Cebu Pacific (right) and ticketing office of Philippine Airlines (left)

Pre-departure area (you have to be at the centre because the farther right or left you go, the hotter it gets because the air-conditioning system is only focused on the centre)

Airbus 320 of Philippine Airlines (registration number: RP-8609) arriving from Manila at 1825; when it took off, the ATR of Cebu Pacific landed.

Interior of the Cebu Pacific ATR 72-500! I don't like the green/blue combination but the cleanliness of the aircraft and its smell made it up for me. I must tell though that Cebu Pacific's livery has got one of the worst colour schemes around.

The safety card. The lady sitting beside me was wondering why I was taking all these pictures. She could have thought it was my first flight ever! Lol

I like the boarding pass though

Leg room (not bad for a small plane). Nice surprise!

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:27
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Cebu Pacific Hong Kong-Manila-Hong Kong

Airbus 319 of Cebu Pacific Airways (click on the picture for the name of the photographer)

Flight Details

Cebu Pacific

Date: 20 January 2007
Dep: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Gate: 1
Boarding Time: 0655
Dep Time: 0800
Load: 100%
Seat: 25A
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Arr Time: 0945
Weather during landing: Broken clouds

My first trip abroad with my parents. My parents availed of Cathay Pacific travel package while I went for the cheaper Cebu Pacific (or is it really cheaper??). I only bought the airfare and stayed at the hotel where my parents stayed, lol.

We went to the airport early at around 3am because my parents' flight was scheduled to leave at 6am (although my flight with Cebu Pacific left at 8am). With Cathay Pacific, check in was a breeze though the outsourced check-in agent could have put some smile on her face even a little. She did not even key in the Finnair Plus numbers of my parents correctly. Apparently she was arguing with someone else before she sat at the check-in counter to attend to the passengers.

Anyway, check in at Cebu Pacific was OK; agent was cool.

The take off was smooth and we climbed up quite fast. It was a sunny day and the view from above was quite impressive. The pilot was a bit chatty (I like it this way actually) and he informed us about the places and interesting points that we saw such as Hundred Islands and the mountains near Manila before taking the route to China Sea direction.

The in-flight service was like any other budget airline; you have to buy your food. But there were games though and some prizes were model aircraft and some T-shirts. But one good thing happened when the plane arrived in Hong Kong airport: the 4 Embraer 170's of Hong Kong Express were parked near the runway and it was a sight to behold! It was my first time to spot some Embraer E-Jets (I was supposed to go to Laoag Airport simply to spot an E170 of Hong Kong Express but they no longer fly to this northern Philippine city so I had to see them in Hong Kong! And now, these E-Jets are now being operated by Air North in Australia and some went to Kenya and now operated by Kenya Airways).

My parents arrived at their hotel first and I met them (with another cousin who is working there) at the hotel room. I changed my clothes and we went to the harbour area of Kowloon; walked around for a while and bought some food to eat while exploring the other parts of the city.

Victoria Peak

We went to Macau in the afternoon and took the ferry. When we got there, we immediately went to the city centre, at the Largo do Senado. This plaza seemed to be transplanted from Portugal and the surrounding area was bustling with activities. Remember that Macau is a centre for gambling. Too bad, we were not there to gamble. No money, lol.

The weather was chilly and I liked it. I felt it was even more chilly in Macau than Hong Kong. And of course, Macau is a former Portuguese colony and some vestiges of Portuguese culture still can be seen and felt. Even the passport stamps were in Portuguese and Chinese, and English.

We went back to Hong Kong late evening. After hurdling the long immigration line in Macau, we got another 14-day stay in Hong Kong and another stamp in Portuguese, heehehehheeh.

The next day we explored Hong Kong and met up with some friends and former students of my mother who are now working in Hong Kong. Nice reunion.

Cebu Pacific

Date: 21 January 2007
Dep: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Gate: 42
Boarding Time: 2116
Dep Time: 2200
Load: 100%
Seat: 22F
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Weather during take off: Rain showers
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Arr Time: 2345
Weather during landing: Hot



Hong Kong International Airport is without doubt one of the best airports in the world. I always enjoy using it. It's the first airport I travelled to.

The check-in agents were nice and efficient. I requested for a window seat and they gave it to me. And when I was about to go to the designated gate, I was interviewed by chance by an airport staff asking me things such as my impression of the airport. Well, I said nice things about it which was actually true. I went to my gate and did some plane spotting. The boarding gates of HKG are good places to plane spot.

The flight

The equipment was an Airbus 319 which had surprisingly more legroom than Airbus 320. I just slept and had to be ready again during approach Manila. It was a night flight so there's not much to see. That's what I hate about flying at night.

I arrived first in Manila and I waited for my parents for some minutes. Taxi ride was expensive (made expensive by the drivers actually) so we took a bus to Cubao and a taxi going home.

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:20
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Manila-Laoag with Philippine Airlines Airbus 320

Airbus 320 of Philippine Airlines by KL Yim of Airliners

Flight Details

Philippine Airlines

Date: 31 December 2006
Dep: Manila (MNL)
Gate: S01
Boarding Time: 1715
Dep Time: 1735 scheduled, 1735 actual
Load: 100%
Seat: 028A
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Arr: Laoag International (MNL)
Arr Time: 2115 scheduled, 2115 actual

31st December 2006. I did not really have plans of going to the province to celebrate the New Year's Eve. It's not that I didn't want to go (my parents have visited me already). I have this thing about travelling by bus. Sure it's not more dangerous than any other means of transportation or anything but going to my province by bus would mean I'd be glued to the seat for 10 hours! But when my parents left the house going to the bus station, I felt somewhat guilty that I'd be the only one (along with my sister) not present in the New Year's reunion. So I told them I'd go home. Not by bus though but by plane. My sister agreed and asked me to pay for her airfare and she'd pay me back when we get to to the province. I called up the Philippine Airlines call centre and got some expensive fares. The agent advised us to buy the tickets at the airport because we really had no time to buy it at their town office.

At the airport office, the passenger whose planes were taking off in an hour or a couple of hours were given priority so we only had to wait for some minutes.

Airport Centennial 2

My first time at the Centennial 2 Terminal. This is used by Air Philippines and Philippine Airlines for both its domestic and international flights. It's way better that the domestic terminal used by Cebu Pacific and other local-based airlines and the Terminal 1 which is used by foreign carriers.

Our flight was to leave at 6pm and would arrive in Laoag at around 7pm. We did not actually think about the dates and the hours when we booked this flight. A mistake that would make this trip messy.

We had a rough take off but all in all it was a good flight. The passengers were given some free snack and drinks. My sister even got a 2-liter mineral water courtesy of the flight steward, lol.

When we arrived in Laoag, we were the "stars" of the arrival hall because the attention of some airport staff and passengers were on us because we were asking aroung on how to get to Narvacan (Ilocos Sur) where to take another bus to Abra. Perhaps we were the only ones who just popped out in there without arranged transportation to the city proper. The other passengers were met by bunch of jeepneys and shuttle services from respective hotels.

Turned out that no bus had schedule trips on that day! It's a tradition that no trips on the 31st of December, at least beginning of the afternoon until the following day. And to make it worse, there was no jeepney to take us to the city centre which is sveral kilometeres away if I'm not mistaken. We had to rent a jeepney to take us there and whew for a whooping 300 pesos (normally, it only costs no more than 15 pesos).

We decided to go to the Farinas Bus Station to spend the night cos we would be safer there than go to the town plaza and wander around. But then we decided to sleep in a budget hotel and spend the night there and then go to our province the next day. I felt bad because we would be spending the New year's Eve in that filthy hostel and not with our family.

Anyway, I was already already sleeping when suddenly the friend of my sister and brother-in-law was knocking at the door and told us to get our things and go with him. He billeted us in Fort Ilocandia! That was cool! Another five-star acommodation for me, lol. But anyway, I would have preferred to spend the New year's Eve with my folks in our province.

On New Year's day, me and my sister wandered aroun the Fort Ilocandia resort for a while before going back to Farinas Bus station. It was a mess because there was a limited number of seats for that bus bound for Manila and there's a sea of passengers but thanks to the charms of my sister, we got those 2 precious seats for us.

Took the bus going to Santa (Ilocos) and took the tricycle to Narvacan and then a jeepney ride going to our destination town. My sister and her husband met us tere and we hopped on their car going to our town. Tiring trip but funny at the same time. lol.

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:20
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