Hello Saigon Series: First Flight Out and Back

7:55 PM

I’ve never been out of the Philippines until last July 2, 2010. It was my first flight to another country and I was taking it alone. My colleagues took an earlier flight and I was left at the office due to my workload. So right before I headed to the airport that Friday night, one of our seniors briefed me on what I was supposed to do.

I was carrying three pieces of luggage and a tarpaulin. I had my suitcase, my carry-on bag and a laptop bag. I had to pay for excess baggage at the Cebu Pacific counter. They don’t accept dollars as payment. Our office gives out our per diem in dollars so luckily I brought some extra money in Pesos for the excess baggage.

packed at the office

I grabbed a coffee at the SBC branch inside the terminal while waiting for my flight. The flight to Vietnam from Philippines is just two hours and a half, the same length of my trip from the office to our house when there’s heavy traffic. I boarded around 9:30pm. I filled out my immigration form while inside the airplane to avoid having to struggle with my luggage and the form before lining up in the immigration counter. Our senior advised me to have my passport details ready and attached somewhere to avoid having to bring out the passport for the details. It lessens the risk of dropping your passport. Everyone knows your passport is like your life when travelling.

SBC Black and White Mocha for the flight

I had no hassle during my flight to Vietnam. Going back to the Philippines was a different scenario.  I was going home with the team and we had A LOT of luggage. One of my colleagues bought more than a box of Northface bags since they are really cheap in Ben Thanh market. You can buy a Hotshot or the likes for around 190,000.00 dong. That’s roughly Php450.00. Far from the Philippine market price of around P3000.00. But one important thing: never do panic buying if you’re not prepared to pay all those excess and unexpected check-in baggage.

Before heading to the airport we all thought we can carry THREE bags inside the plane. We were the first one to check-in but were the last to leave the area because of multiple problems. First, the big mountain bag was not allowed to be carried. Either we distribute the bags’ contains to smaller bags or we check-in the whole bag and pay. Since some of us bought smaller bags, we decided to distribute them. Unfortunately we then had more than we could carry. Apparently they only allow TWO hand-carry unless one contains a laptop. We had to check-in more than we expected just to be allowed to proceed to the waiting area. The Cebu Pacific supervisor even had to allow us to check-in three bags for free just so we could proceed with each of us carrying just two bags (three for those who had a laptop).  It was so frustrating trying to meet the required two bags only especially if one bought two many stuff. Luckily, I my baggage was exactly 14.5kgs and I had no other things to check-in.  It wasn’t the case for my other colleagues.

Repacking to be checked-in

My bad luck came at the immigration line. I wasn’t aware that the immigration form we filled out on our trip to Vietnam was to be presented on our way home. Since we swapped bags just to resolve our problem with the check-in counter, my immigration form was somewhere inside the waiting bay already with my colleague. I was almost crying since I was really hungry with all that waiting and we only had ten minutes before the gate opens. I think the immigration office felt bad for me since he allowed me to pass without the form. As he stamped my passport, he told me to be careful next time. I smiled and thanked him. I doubt I’ll forget my form during my future trips with that kind of experience.

After being in Vietnam for ten days, it sure felt great to see Manila lights as we landed in NAIA. My first out-of-the-country flight experience taught me the steps to actually boarding my flight. It’s more than just stepping into the airport with your passport and your luggage.

Also, don’t forget to also keep an eye to your belongings once you step out of your service to the airport. We almost lost a couple of documents that we placed in a bag when we were Tan Son Nhat International Airport. It’s difficult explaining your dilemma to guards who speak little English.

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  1. Wow, nag-repack kayo sa airport o_O buti nakabalik ka ng buhay xD Cheers! :D

    PS: Si Cams ito. xD

  2. yes super task ung repacking namin O_O we had to go back to the check-in counter more than twice. Oo buti hindi ako naiwan sa Vietnam :)))



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