Friday, February 27, 2009

Zest Air : A Review

An Airbus A320 parked at the tarmac of Mactan-Cebu International Airport



Many of my friends are asking me about Zest Air, whether it is a new airline or it is reliable or if the fares are cheap and it is safe to ride in their airplanes. Zest Air is much more commonly known before as Asian Spirit. I happen to ride in one of Asian Spirit's plane last summer to Baguio City and I'm just glad that we landed safely in one of their decades old Dash-7 aircraft which even triggered my allergic rhinitis due to the aircraft's very dusty interior.

It's a good thing that Zest Air now operates only brand new turboprop planes and for the first time they acquired an Airbus plane as they are now expanding their routes. I happen to experience riding in their first Airbus A320 aircraft last December 2008 and the following are some of my rants and little praises for Zest Air.

* What a relief to finally see the Old Domestic Terminal with just several passengers. As far as I can remember even when I'm just about 4 years old on our way to Iloilo that the terminal is always full of passengers as it is the sole terminal of Philippine Airlines for all its domestic destinations. During the 1980's even at 2AM the Old Domestic Terminal is a bustling building because of people taking the "Bulilit Flights" of Philippine Airlines. Cebu Pacific Air outgrew the terminal and is now enjoying the vast space at Terminal 3.

* Check-in was fast. The flight was delayed by about 30 mins. but it is tolerable as it is the busy holiday season. No aerobridge when you board the aircraft as the terminal does not have them.

* I was assigned to seat 5A (I always request for a window seat) but inside the aircraft the flight attendants transferred all the passengers to occupy the middle part of the plane to distribute the weight & balance thing as the flight is just 1/3 full. In the end I was transferred to an aisle seat and I completely blame it on the check-in counter girl as it is her duty to distribute the passengers accordingly because she knows beforehand that we are only 50+ who will take that flight.

* I initially thought that their first Airbus A320 aircraft is brand new but I was wrong the very second I entered the aircraft just because of the smell... Yes, I know how a brand new airplane smells like. It didn't smell like a brand new airplane at all. Aside from that, the seats are not new as there is a cover on the back of the seat where a personal entertainment system of its previous owner might be placed. Then I saw the passenger safety information card, if you look closely on the picture below there is just a sticker of Zest Air covering the words JetBlue. I therefore conclude at that time that U.S.-based JetBlue Airways is the original owner of the aircraft. A funny thing is that it contains a Spanish translation targeted for the Hispanic passengers of JetBlue. I hope by now Zest Air replaced those safety cards as I think it is not that costly for an airline to print those cards so it can display their official company colors rather than the design which is only intended for JetBlue. If they want they can put a Filipino translation to replace the Spanish translation as it is more practical for a Philippines-based airline.







* Inflight service is quite good. I don't know if Zest Air is calling itself a budget airline as the flight attendants pass newspapers just like what legacy carriers offer. And then I was even more surprised when they offer refreshments of either mineral water or Zest-O juice drinks (Zest Air's majority owner is also the chairman and president of Zest-O Corp.).

* The flight ended in a smooth landing at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. When it is time to deplane I was dumbfounded to know that we need to walk all the way to the terminal as Zest Air does not use the aerobridges which Mactan Airport obviously have unlike its terminal in Manila. I don't know why, maybe because the other gates with an aerobridge are reserved for other airlines or Zest Air just does not want to pay extra to access an aerobridge. Oh well, the weather is good at that time and I need a little exercise anyway.

* On the flight back to Manila it is such an inconvenience to passengers when only 1 check-in counter is open to accommodate all of us passengers. I'm still on queue 30 mins. before the official departure time and I found out that the flight is only half-full. It didn't stop there as the flight was delayed for 2 hours and they only announced it way past our scheduled departure time.

* For the inflight service back to Manila almost everything is the same as my previous flight.

Would I fly with Zest Air again? Why not? I had also bad experiences with Cebu Pacific, SEAIR and Philippine Airlines. I BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BAD EXPERIENCE AND A BAD AIRLINE. If Zest Air would not improve their Airbus service then that would be a different story and I would tell you again about it here in my blog. It's a good start that they are now operating with newer planes to all of their flights.


19 comments:

Borneo Falcon said...

Looks like Air Asia in Malaysia but AA is using new aircraft

Christine said...

hi Carlo..love your unbiased review here....what I wrote about Zest Air in my blog was fueled by negative emotions because of what we went through with them and I'm not even a demanding customer.

More power to your blog..

the donG said...

ey carlo! thanks for this review. i was actually planning to take a flight with zest. and this at least gives me the idea of their service.

i might be flying with them soon. i like the idea of having zest-o in flight. hahaha....

Lawstude said...

that was an extensive review carlo. i have never rode zest-air before so this one is very informative.

as for the bad experience part. i certainly had my share and cebu pacific is the main culprit lol.

some airline staff can be sooo irritating that you have to show them who's the boss sometimes.

Earvin said...

Hmmm. Napaka-balanced ng review. Next time baka mag-Zest Air din ako pauwi samin. Aside sa lower ang price, siguro worth it din na i-try out ang isang bagong airline pauwi.

Yeah. A bad airline is different from a bad experience.

lordsi said...

Thank you for the review. I was checking airfares online and found an economical rate with Zest Air. I have this last minute - short notice trip to Cebu by the end of the month and I know how airfares could change althroughout the day as I'm working as a Travel Agent. Once again, thank you! I'd probably be flying with Zest Air! :-)

Anonymous said...

saan ang aiport terminal ng zest air dito sa amnila coz my friends keep on telling me to go terminal 3 for all domestic flights

flyboy said...

You wrote:
It's a good thing that Zest Air now operates only brand new turboprop planes and for the first time they acquired an Airbus plane as they are now expanding their routes

While the Chinese turboprops are new, you did not mention that the Zest Air MA60 is not certified to fly in Europe or U.S. One of them crashed in Boracay in January.

Nevertheless, it's good for consumers that Zest Air giving CebPac a run for its money. More competition will mean better service...

KarenDayle said...

Nice review you got here ..Great post

Maricar said...

to update you about zest air...they AGAIN crashed in caticlan airport on June 25...causing all flights to be redirected to Kalibo affecting othe airlines operating in peace. And they didnt even inform customers about the flights getting redirected to Kalibo. to make matters worse, they delayed our flights for 4 hours, making us travel on land from Kalibo to Caticlan in the middle of the night not to mention the ferry ride after. I dont think other airlines here in the phil would give you that much trouble. I dont care how cheap they are, nothing's that cheap in exchange for your time and safety.

Maricar said...

to update you about zest air...they AGAIN crashed in caticlan airport on June 25...causing all flights to be redirected to Kalibo affecting othe airlines operating in peace. And they didnt even inform customers about the flights getting redirected to Kalibo. to make matters worse, they delayed our flights for 4 hours, making us travel on land from Kalibo to Caticlan in the middle of the night not to mention the ferry ride after. I dont think other airlines here in the phil would give you that much trouble. I dont care how cheap they are, nothing's that cheap in exchange for your time and safety.

Anonymous said...

I think you are mis informed on zest air. You should investigate more than your piece meal review.

Kristina said...

Hi! I like this review. I have some of my own complaints about budget airlines like canceled flights without any explanation.

Let's link up!

Kristina

Anonymous said...

It was extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).

David Paul said...

Hello. That was a nice review. I hope that you continue riding with Zest Air. I am a fairly new flight attendant of Zest Air (3 months) and I am looking for comments so that we could make our inflight service better. I hope we see you on one of our future flights. By the way, starting March 1, we are adding complimentary food on all applicable flights.

David Paul said...

Thanks for your review. We hope to make our in-flight service better. By the way, starting March 1, we're going to serve (not sell) food in all applicable flights.

Eric said...

ive been flying ZA for quite some time. but a couple of weeks ago we got a 9hr delay, with the worst customer service ever. we filed complaint but they never contacted us.

http://www.byahilo.com/2010/08/27/zest-air-flights-s-u-c-k-bigtime-my-9hr-flight-delay-experience/

jim said...

Zest air, should be stressed air, sat in terminal in manila for 4 hours sunday 14th aug, then they told us the flight was cancelled,most other flights to other citys were all delayed,cant be that many storms in that many citys at the same time? 2 hrs ,3hrs, 4 hrs delays. total confusion trying to get compensated,one girl on checkin counter trying to handle angry travellers.finally went to ticketing office, total confusion there, and got oneway refund,booked with another airline,which cost considerably more,because of short notice,had to rebook another hotel room,and more taxi fares, extra meals, very much out of pocket, have flown all over the world, never experienced such bad service, fly with them again, no way! Jim from Australia.