After 3 wonderful nights in Boracay, we again had to hop onto another flight to Manila. I had booked on Airphil Express (a wholly owned subsidiary of Philippine Airlines) as it offered the cheapest fares from Caticlan to Manila. However it was still not cheap at about S$120 per person. Also, the airline has also changed by earlier booked flight departing at 1pm to an earlier flight at 1150am without seeking my consensus! To make things more absurd, my original booked flight at 1pm is still operating!! But I am too lazy to complain though… To note, it seems that airfares out of Caticlan are significantly higher than from Manila to Caticlan. I can only guess that it is due to the props unable to carry full load of pax to depart from Caticlan due to the short runway. Therefore, they might have to charge more for the return flight to offset the empty seats. Some travellers would also fly back to Manila via Kalibo (a 90min bus ride from Caticlan) as it is much cheaper than from Caticlan,
After a short boat ride across to Caticlan and a 5min van ride to the airport, we arrived at the terminal building about 1.5hrs before departure. A new departure hall has been built to replace the old one and we would be checking in from the new hall. There are also plans to extend the runway of Caticlan to enable A320s to land.
New Terminal building
Check-in counters. One check-in counter was allocated for each of the 3 airlines (Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express and SEAir) flying to Caticlan. Cebu Pacific operates the most flights, with more than 10 flights a day departing from Caticlan! Fyi, Caticlan airport only has daytime operations and therefore no flights would operate in/out during the night.
Got my boarding pass. A proper boarding pass is used!! As usual, only 10kg check-in luggage allowed and passengers would need to be weighed individually. Just stand on the weighing scale used to weigh luggage during check-in!!
After check-in, we proceeded to one of the cafes opposite the terminal building to grab a drink before proceeding to the departure gate area. A terminal fee of 20 pesos has to be paid (much lower than the 200 pesos for domestic flights at NAIA). The waiting area is open-air with rows of seats, a cafe and a souvenir shop.
A portion of the runway could be seen from the waiting area. Some plane-spotting could be done, even though there is not much variety. Throughout my half hour wait, a SEAir Do328 departed while 2 5J ATR72s landed/departed.
SEAir Do328 taxiing to end of runway foe departure.
5J ATR72 taxi for departure
Our flight was slightly delayed due to the late arrival of aircraft. Boarding process only started at 1145hrs. We had to walk out onto the tarmac and to the aircraft parked near the arrival shed.
A 5J ATR72 taking off
01 May 2011 Airphil Express 2P 56 Caticlan (MPH) - Manila (MNL) Dash 8 Q300 RP-C3017 Budget Class
The albino Airphil Express Dash 8 Q300 that would fly me back to Manila. Not sure why the plane was not repainted in 2P's livery though.
Boarding the plane. My first time on a Dash 8.
Boarded the 58-seater prop. Welcomed by a cheerful crew member in 2P's orange-coloured polo-tee and beige shorts. Really casual uniform!! A male and a female crew on this flight. The seats are upholstered in blue.
Boarding in progress. The flight was about 80% full (even though it was sold out on the net). Weight restrictions perhaps?
Seat pitch was surprisingly good.
In the seat pocket were a safety card..
.. and the inflight magazine.
Parked at the tarmac. Boarding was completed within 10mins and engines were started. The flight time was announced to be 50min.
Manual safety demo was performed by the female crew with voice-recorded instructions.
We immediately proceed to taxi to Rwy06. Passed a decommissioned Yak aircraft which had overran the runway some time ago.
Turning onto the runway and backtracking to the end.
Backtracking down the runway and making a u-turn at the end. Note the public road at the end of the runway with no fence between it and the runway. All traffic across the road at the end of the runway is also stopped by guards at the gantry posts beside the runway.
As mentioned that the runway is very short at only 900m, the plane then actually reversed right to the end of the runway to maximize the available takeoff length! Every meter counts!!
Then brakes were locked, engines spooled to full throttle, brakes released and we blasted down the runway fighter-jet style and being pushed back into our seats!! Awesome!! Island of Boracay can also be seen after takeoff.
Another island above Boracay.
More beautiful scenery during ascend. It was another beautiful day for flying.
After seatbelt signs were off, a crew member went down the aisle with a BOB menu card offering BOB service, but no takers for any food or drinks on this flight. Then the 2 crew disappeared into the galley behind to have their meals. No other service or entertainment on this flight.
Cabin view again.
Very soon, the pilot came onto the intercom with some flight information and announced our approach into Manila.
Start of descend into Manila.
The crew then reappeared from the galley and prepared the aircraft for landing. Approaching the southern suburbs of Manila.
As there were some arrival traffic, we had to fly out to sea and stay in a holding pattern for a while.
After circling for a few minutes, we resumed our approach. Gears down!
Final approach into Manila.
The approach was a bit bumpy and landing was rough. Probably due to strong winds.
We parked at a remote stand at T3 and disembarked. Ferried by bus to the terminal building.
Last look at the albino Q300.
Another Airphil Express Q400.
Airphil Express A320
Cebu Pacific A319
Very empty baggage reclaim area of Terminal 3. Half of it was closed off.
Airphil Express baggage belt.
Caticlan (Boracay) - MPH
Manila - MNL
Airphil Express is just like any other budget airline, bringing you from one destination to another and thats it. Nothing much to comment about (other than the rescheduling of my original booked flight). 2 nights in Manila before my first SQ business class experience!
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