When availing of Cebu Pacific promo bookings, your ultimate objective is to spend less to book air tickets. However, the Philippines’ largest carrier having the most destinations might be a bit tricky cost-wise.

You ought to be aware of the opt-in fees that come with the default booking procedures and be sure to reverse the pre-selected choices with a price.

After a few user experience upgrades, booking at www.cebupacificair.com has become more convenient and more user-friendly, thanks to improved speed, better page layout, and even a choice of typefaces.

However, Cebu Pacific is not necessarily the same old Cebu Pacific Air which touted low-fare airline with better on-time flight schedules that rival Philippine Airlines (some of us can remember that on-time performance badge on its web pages, taking pride of the 80% or better on-time departures).

While we cannot blame the carrier for the delay woes tarnishing its reputation — congestion at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport in desperate need of expansion upgrade and rising tourism numbers that boosted airlines to increase flight frequencies or expand their network of destinations — it is partly responsible for mechanical problems or pilot errors stranding airplanes or overshooting them on the runway, and flaws within its system.

Now, let’s talk about fees when booking online. In the past, Cebu Pacific has been proud to be associated with low-fare seats to boost its patronage and take a slice of the bulk of the domestic travel market.

But the carrier has been changing its image a bit, removing elements that link to its former low-fare identity, though not wholly. A not-so-subtle approach was to charge passengers extra for luggage, seats, meals, and other facilities traditionally granted for free.

While Philippine Airlines has generously offered a 30-kilogram baggage allowance to international passengers, Cebu Pacific charges about $30 for the same luggage weight. Considering meals served in both PAL and Cebu Pacific as equal, passengers who wish to eat during flight will have to pay about $6 extra for a chicken tocino meal.

Cebu Pacific breakfast meals option.
Cebu Pacific breakfast meals option.

So if you’re a no-frills traveler — someone who doesn’t bother bringing check-in luggage, prefers to take meals before or after the flight, and doesn’t mind sitting in the aisle, middle-seat or window side not to mention the cramped seats — Cebu Pacific will be a choice airline for you.

But going online, there are a few things that the airline will assume you’ll be willing to pay, and therefore set the default as “yes I am willing to pay for them”.

Cebu Pacific Travel Insurance

Purchasing travel insurance is like buying yourself peace of mind, knowing that when things go wrong, such as luggage is lost or damaged, a flight is delayed or you were involved in an accident, you are covered with compensation.

Not all travel insurance policies are made equal. A common gripe among passengers is that some travel insurance terms and conditions hide certain conditions that disqualify an insurance policyholder from making claims. These conditions always come in a fine print that few passengers care about reading.

By default, travel insurance is included in an online Cebu Pacific booking. Not that it’s required, but it’s good to have. However, during an airline booking procedure, a passenger doesn’t have enough time to review its terms — Cebu Pacific has set a time limit for booking sessions. So booking travel insurance without knowing its terms is like buying a product without knowing if it’s what you are looking for but just because a salesman makes a hard sell.

We still recommend you getting travel insurance. For example, the credit card you use when booking your Cebu Pacific ticket may offer complimentary travel insurance (kindly check), or you can purchase it separately and have enough time to review its terms. So if you have other options, you can click on the tab “cebtravelsure” and click on “No insurance.”

 

Pre-Selected Cabin Seats

Booking for seats with Cebu Pacific does not give you enough advantage as you’re not sitting on premium upgrade seats such as those in exit rows that offer more legroom (but flight attendants ask you to read the safety instruction card so you can manage to help out in times of emergency).

By default, Cebu Pacific pre-selects a seat for you across all sectors (if you have connecting flights). The problem with these seats is that they’re entirely normal seats buried in the economy class section. You can still get the same seat when you show up at the check-in counter without getting charged.

In the example below, a pre-selected seat at 26C is nothing special, yet a passenger gets charged HK$60 (US$7.67) online by default.

Under the bill of rights of air passengers, all confirmed bookings deserve a seat so you don’t have to worry about not getting a seat when you check in. So this pre-selected seating feature is simply a money-making enterprise that charges some passengers who are unaware when booking online.

There are some exemptions, though; for example, you are traveling with babies or persons with disabilities that require a special location or a big group of people who wish to be seated together. But for the most part, getting charged for ordinary airline seats is just bad practice.

To cancel the pre-selected seat, and avoid getting charged, click on the encircled text “No seat selections.”

 

In-flight Meals

Cebu Pacific does not serve meal options in some flights, such as those booked one day before the flight. But in general, the carrier does not pre-select the food menu for passengers to opt out just like insurance and seats as described above. But that’s according to the last check we did.

If you wish to order and be served meals during the flight, you can always book and select meals. But if your flight is short and you’re not interested to pay for extra meals, ensure that this option is not selected.

Check-in Baggage

Like many other low-fare airlines, Cebu Pacific charges its passengers based on the weight of luggage they bring. By default, Cebu Pacific assumes travelers to get on board its flights without luggage for check-in. That means passengers can add the desired luggage capacity (15kg, 20kg, 30kg, 40kg) based on what they’ll bring.

Therefore, make sure that if you don’t select any add-on baggage with you, you live with that commitment. You can still purchase it online at least a day before your flight, but if you bring heavier luggage and are charged for extra, that’s likely more costly for you.

Sports equipment

Bulky items such as oversized musical instruments, sports equipment and the like are also charged extra by airlines, notably Cebu Pacific. But like meals and luggage options, they are not charged by default unless you declare them.

Worldwide Fund for Nature

Airlines often partner with charity institutions to promote goodwill and lift up their reputation. One example is Cathay Pacific’s Change for Good which collects spare change from passengers to be donated for UNICEF’s fundraising efforts.

Cebu Pacific chose to partner with WWF, which is a good choice. However, it might not be the best opportunity to seek donations during a booking process when passengers try to book flights the cheapest possible way. Sure, some are willing to donate, so it’s still worthwhile.


We can only wish Cebu Pacific made it more transparent how the donation was calculated, and what programs WWF does to fight against global warming and climate change. A link to another page with an elaborate explanation helps encourage more donations.

Conclusion

Booking at Cebu Pacific is a seamless process, if not without these extra pit stops such as opting out of fees for seats and insurance. For budget-conscious travelers, we hope this helps you save a little more, if you are not yet aware of these “hidden charges.” The guidelines provided here are accurate as of the last time we did a check-in. The process may have changed so extra diligence is needed to ensure you don’t pay the extra fees for stuff you won’t avail.