Dubai-Manila Budget Flights via Cebu Pacific | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jun 3, 2014

Dubai-Manila Budget Flights via Cebu Pacific

Last Christmas, Ed and I got ourselves the most fantastic holiday present: the cheapest Dubai-Manila round trip tickets! We were actually experiencing the usual holiday blues until we discovered that Cebu Pacific, a popular low-cost carrier in the Philippines, launched a grand seat sale on Christmas morning. Nothing can ever beat the excitement of booking a homecoming flight, and getting it at half the price was surreal. It was our Christmas miracle.

Months later, our highly anticipated homecoming day arrived. It was our first long-haul flight with Cebu Pacific, so I have been telling myself not to expect too much from a budget airline. I know, it will be totally different from our previous airplane rides. After all, we always get what we pay for.

Cebu Pacific aircraft at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila
Cebu Pacific aircraft at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila 

Due to the major runway renovation of Dubai International Airport Terminal 1, our flight time and venue were modified. From May 1 to July 20, 2014, Cebu Pacific departs and arrives in Sharjah International Airport. Though the change wasn't Cebu Pacific's fault, we were still offered free-of-charge flight reschedule or full refund. For us, Dubai residents, it was quite a hassle to travel to and from Sharjah for our flights, yet we'd rather choose the inter-Emirate travel over the cancellation of our homecoming plans. Taxi fare on an off-peak traffic time from Karama in Dubai to Sharjah International Airport was 80 AED, while it was 140 AED for the return trip since it was during the rush hour.

Sharjah International Airport check-in gate
Sharjah International Airport check-in gate

Cebu Pacific utilizes The Big Juan, an Airbus A330-300, on Dubai-Manila flights. As expected, it wasn't as fancy as other international planes. It has 400 all-economy class seats, no Business class, no entertainment, no frills! The only inflight treat I found on my seat was the Smile magazine, which I absolutely love by the way! The leg room is okay, just perfect for our petite Asian bodies. :) 

Ed and I did a little preparation for our first ever long-haul budget travel. We wanted to be comfortable on our 9-hour journey, hence we hand-carried neck pillows and a blanket. These flight necessities are not freely offered; a souvenir blanket is worth Php 350 and a sleep kit (inflatable neck pillow and eye mask) costs Php 250. Our iPhones were there to rescue us from severe inflight boredom. Good thing, Ed downloaded new movies prior our trip. There's wifi onboard, however the access fee is quite pricey. 50 MB of internet access costs USD 10. 

inside Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila plane
inside The Big Juan, Cebu Pacific's A330-300
Ed and Lady in Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila flight
ready for the 9-hour budget flight from the UAE to the Philippines  

Food was my main concern during the whole 9-hour budget trip. I have always enjoyed inflight dining; the hot towelette before each meal, the enticing menu card, the unlimited drinks, the filling dishes and delicious desserts! Sad to say, I never had some of those on our Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila flights. Food is not included in the airfare. Each set meal costs Php 500 or 50 AED, a good amount that we can use to purchase not just one but two meals in the airport food court! 

Since we didn't take the food options at Cebu Pacific website, Ed and I bought pizza and pasta from an Italian stall, two burgers from the fast food counter, bottles of water and a bar of fine chocolate at Sharjah International Airport. A lot of passengers did the same; most were carrying food bags at the boarding gate! We survived the 9-hour flight without giving in to the hot meals offered by the flight attendant. I actually tried my very best to decline every offer. Eating pizza and pasta in an aircraft is so uncomfortable and I never enjoyed my cold burger! :(                 

take-away food from Sharjah International Airport food court
inflight dining with our take-away food from Sharjah International Airport food court

Since I wasn't happy with our take-out food, we decided not to do it again on our flight back to Dubai. Though the prices are unreasonable, we purchased our snacks and dinner on board. Anyhow, I'm after the comfort and the warmth of each meal. For our first meal, we had grilled chicken and vegetable sandwich (Php 180) and a bag of chips (Php 50). The sandwich is surprisingly tasty. It seemed ordinary, but the pesto sauce between the chicken meat and the bread is good! For our second meal, Ed had chicken barbecue and I had beef caldereta; each came with water and chocolate brownies. The serving is tad small yet warm and delicious, like every inflight meal should be!  

food options onboard Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila aircraft
food options onboard Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila aircraft

The flights to and from Manila were smooth and on-time. It was just a little noisy during the take offs, or was I just too paranoid and too focused on every sound. :) Of course, Cebu Pacific's trademark inflight game happened; just simple Q&As which lasted for about 2 minutes. Honestly, I was anticipating a longer game (Bingo, perhaps? hahaha!). Thankfully, it was so quick and never shook me out from drowsiness.  

In the Philippines, Cebu Pacific Dubai-Manila flights operate at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. It's really great for us who had connecting flights to and from the province via the same airline. We didn't need to transfer to another airport, thus transiting was a breeze! Out of all the airport terminals in Manila, I found Terminal 3 the cleanest and most organized. Government offices like OWWA and POEA are conveniently located inside the departure hall, at the far end of the check-in counters. There is a food court at the departure area with a small Jollibee store (big yahoo for my husband) and a wide-range of International restaurants.   

departure area at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3
departure area at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 
Cebu Pacific check-in counters for international flights at NAIA Terminal 3
Cebu Pacific check-in counters for international flights at NAIA Terminal 3 

Now, the big question is: Will I still fly with Cebu Pacific on my next homecoming? I certainly would! The airfare is very affordable, especially during Piso Fare or Cebu Pacific seat sale. Believe me, it is more than just swak sa budget. It is too cheap for a direct flight to Manila! In terms of comfort and entertainment, a little sacrifice wouldn't hurt. Anyhow, I'd rather grab some sleep under my own blanket than watch three movies in a row! :) 

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