What is it like to fly in the Philippines?
One word: Terrifying.
The main reason why I found it so frightening was due to having this view out of my window at all times:
I spent every single flight watching the propeller, holding my breath and praying for it to keep turning.
I would sit there clutching at my seat, eyes wide and knuckles white, unable to stop myself from looking outside.
In these small planes, every single movement is amplified. The turbulence throws you around, there are unexplained jerks and bumps, squeaking noises and random dimming of the cabin lights.
When the plane slows down, the propellers appear to completely stop before starting to move very slowly while you look around in horror, preparing yourself for death as the plane begins to drop.
Nobody else seemed to be even the tiniest bit worried about the violent braking, the stationary propellers and our impending doom.
But that’s not all that terrified me about the planes.
My friend and I were dropped off by our tricycle driver at what appeared to be a small, abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere – no shops, no hotels, nothing! Tuk tuks were scattered lazily outside the building.
As we cautiously entered the darkened building we followed the dusty sign directing us to the security area. Two small men standing next to a wooden table and a stool greeted us.
The guy on the left beamed widely and loudly announced that Coron airport did not have any security scanners and could we just tell them what was in our bags instead.
We exchanged bemused glances and hesitated with our answer, before the security man prompted us, “clothes? You mainly have clothes in your bags, ladies?”
He took my bag from me, squeezed it and gave it a small shake before handing it back to me.
“Have a nice flight!”
As we tried not to laugh, we carried our bags over to the check-in desk, wondering what could possibly happen next.
After the check-in staff had weighed our bags and added them to the huge pile in a corner, one of the men turned to me,
I stared in confusion and started to stammer about having paid for a seat and not wanting to spend the flight in the luggage hold. He rolled his eyes, reached over the counter, grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the luggage scales so that he could weigh me.
Relief washed over me when he didn’t throw me onto the luggage pile and let me step back down to safety.
Next, the guy reached for a nearby piece of paper and a marker pen and wrote down our seat numbers.
This was our flight ticket.
I was so amused and couldn’t imagine anything else surprising me.
Feeling slightly dehydrated by my ordeal thus far, I entered a nearby coffee shop to get a cup of tea to calm my nerves.
The room was even darker than the airport itself, lit only by three small candles placed on a table.
The staff giggled shyly and informed me that the entire airport had suffered a power cut and they weren’t expecting the power to come back for at least another month.
Surely an airport needs electricity to function?!
Before I could talk myself into my impending doom, the pilot arrived at the gate and excitedly invited us onto the plane. I took a deep breath and followed him outside as he led us onto the plane and directed us to our seats.
I was ecstatic to discover that I had yet another window seat perfectly positioned so that I could see the propeller at all times.
This was going to be an excellent flight.
…To my surprise, it was.
Despite the constant clunking and screeching noises, the jerking and braking mid-air and the torture of having to watch the propeller slow down and stop multiple times, I fell in love with Cebu Pacific airline.
About thirty minutes after take-off one of the attendants made an announcement requesting for everyone to remain silent as something special was about to take place.
The cabin filled with an air of nervous anticipation as everyone simultaneously emptied their hand luggage onto their lap.
It was time for the Cebu Pacific Game.
The attendants will take turns to list a random item, such as money, a camera or a bottle of water. The first person to find the item in their hand luggage and hold it up wins.
The prize? A Cebu Pacific bag.
As the game progressed, the attendants and passengers became more and more hyper – squealing and leaping out of their seats and into the aisles in excitement.
It was complete and utter madness and I loved it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t win any prizes but those ten minutes of excitement made me forget about my fears of crashing and every consecutive flight I took in the Philippines was with Cebu Pacific.
What’s the craziest flying experience you’ve ever had?