Flight Report:  KIX-MNL on Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 827 (17 February 2019)

From the shiny new aeroplane to the on-time arrival, I think Cebu Pacific (5J) did a pretty good job on our outbound flight from Manila to Ōsaka. Now let’s see if they can do just as well on the homeward journey from Japan to the Philippines.

Welcome aboard Cebu Pacific flight 5J 827.

Note: Schedule/route information, equipment type, pricing, and other details are accurate only for the specific flight reviewed here. This information might not necessarily apply to previous or future flights, even by the same airline under the same route and flight number.

This report covers the second half (5J 827 / KIX-MNL) of a round-trip MNL-KIX-MNL itinerary. Click here to read my report covering the outbound leg (5J 828 / MNL-KIX).

For the sake of brevity, I’ve used the airline’s IATA code (5J) throughout this report, instead of the full name “Cebu Pacific”.

ROUTE MAP

OVERVIEW

Note: All times are local. Please note that Ōsaka, Japan (GMT+9) is one hour ahead of Manila, Philippines (GMT+8).

FLIGHT DETAILS
Airline and flight number : Cebu Pacific (5J) 827
Route : Ōsaka-Kansai, Japan (IATA code: KIX) to Manila, Philippines (IATA code: MNL)
Date : Sunday, 17 February 2019
Scheduled departure time : 2055
Actual departure time : 2110
Scheduled arrival time : 0015+1
Actual arrival time : 2353

EQUIPMENT AND CABIN
Aircraft : Airbus A321-200 (CEO)
Manufacturer : Airbus
Registration number : RP-C4113
Passenger capacity : 230, all Economy Class
Cabin configuration (seat maps) : Official Site
Travel class flown : Economy

RP-C4113 was the very same plane we’d taken from MNL to KIX just a few days earlier (as 5J 828). This was her on the afternoon of the 14th, sitting on the tarmac at MNL T3.

Gorgeous, isn’t she? I’ve always thought that 5J’s current livery is one of the best in the skies. Incidentally, RP-C4113 was only delivered in April 2018, making her less than a year old on the day of our flight.

Here she is on the tarmac of KIX a few days later, having just arrived as a different iteration of 5J 828.

Aerobridge connected, support vehicles ready to spring into action. Before long, RP-C4113 will be ready to take us back home as return flight 5J 827.

PRICE

Our reservation was for two people under a single booking reference. Splitting all costs down the middle – with the exception of baggage, since we were sharing a single prepaid allowance (I’ve added the total amount of that below) – the price per person comes to PHP 16,302.93 for the round-trip MNL-KIX-MNL flight. This breaks down as follows:
– Base fare = PHP 7,976.00
– Fuel surcharge = PHP 1,346.00
– Passenger service charge (PH) = PHP 550.00
– Passenger security fee (JP) = PHP 148.98
– Passenger service charge (JP) = PHP 1,311.95
– Administrative fee = PHP 600.00
– Seat selection fee = PHP 500.00
– Travel insurance = PHP 450.00
– Baggage = PHP 1,700.00
– Travel tax = PHP 1,620.00
– Travel tax handling fee = PHP 100.00

The total price includes the PHP 1,620.00 “Travel Tax” that residents of the Philippines (with certain exceptions) must pay when flying out of the country. Although mandatory, it doesn’t have to be paid at the point of booking: passengers can settle the tax at the TIEZA counters in MNL’s international terminals. That said, I usually add the tax immediately when purchasing a ticket online (if the option is available), because that means one less queue to deal with at the airport. Just bear in mind that if you do decide to pre-pay, 5J will charge an extra PHP 100.00 as a “handling fee”.

BAGGAGE

Passengers flying with 5J are not entitled to a complimentary checked baggage allowance. If you’ve got luggage to put in the hold, you’ll need to pay extra for the service.

Three weight classes are offered: Standard (max 2 pieces totalling 20 kg), Large (max 3 pieces totalling 32 kg), and Extra Large (max 4 pieces totalling 40 kg). Rates vary by destination and by how far in advance the purchase is made. On this particular route, prepaid baggage added immediately at the point of booking is priced per leg as follows (subject to change without notice):
– Standard: PHP 850.00
– Large: PHP 1,400.00
– Extra Large: PHP 2,000.00

The carry-on allowance is 1 piece weighing no more than 7 kg, plus 1 additional small item such as a handbag or laptop case. There are also limits on the dimensions of each piece of luggage.

For the fine print and other details, read the guidelines for checked luggage and carry-on luggage on 5J’s official website.

AIRPORT

All regularly scheduled international flights to/from Ōsaka Prefecture use Kansai International Airport (IATA code: KIX).

It has all the facilities one might expect of a well run international gateway, but lacks the size and noteworthy architecture of other airports in the region (such as the Seoul area’s ICN, for example). Boring, yet in a good way, in that KIX does the job well but doesn’t offer much else.

A handful of budget airlines use KIX’s purpose-built Terminal 2, which was designed from the ground up as an LCC facility with just one level and no aerobridges. However, other LCCs like 5J – as well as all full-service carriers – are currently assigned to the much larger Terminal 1 (T1).

Please refer to the airport’s official website for further details. Japan-Guide also has a useful KIX page outlining the many transport options between KIX and the surrounding region.

CHECK-IN AND BOARDING

At KIX, one counter was reserved for the use of passengers who had already checked in online.

Our assigned boarding gate for this flight was number 6, located all the way at the tip of T1’s north wing. Thankfully, KIX’s people mover system did most of the legwork for us.

Note that most of KIX’s restaurants are landside, and most of the duty free stores are airside in the midsection. By the time you reach the boarding gates in the wings, your available options for shopping/dining are reduced to small kiosks, convenience stores, and vending machines. It’s important to keep this in mind before one passes through immigration/security and before one boards the people movers.

Right, here we are.

All-economy service, so no special lane for Business Class passengers. Boarding was conducted in the usual fashion, starting with rows near the back of the plane and moving towards the front.

Gate 6 is fitted with two aerobridges, but we were using a narrow-body jet so only one was deployed.

SEATING AND CABIN INTERIOR

Each of 5J’s new Airbus A321-200 (CEO) aeroplanes has a single-class cabin fitted with 230 economy seats.

Of course, even in an all-economy cabin, not all seats are equal: 5J charges higher prices for certain places depending on legroom and their position within the aircraft. On this particular route and type of aircraft, seat reservations added immediately at the point of booking are priced per leg as follows (subject to change without notice):
– Premium (row 1-2, 11-12, 27-29): PHP 650.00
– Standard Plus (row 3-10): PHP 400.00
– Standard (all other rows): PHP 230.00

The seats on the bulkhead-free port side of row 1 appear to have the most spacious legroom on this aeroplane. The window seat is disadvantaged due to the interior wall angling inwards as it meets the door frame, but the remaining two places enjoy about as much open space as a market square. (Then again, one should bear in mind that those waiting for their turn to use the forward lavatory will tend to congregate hereabouts.)

Here’s a picture of the seats in question, taken as we were boarding the outbound MNL-KIX flight (5J 828).

Note that the seats on the starboard side of row 1 have the forward galley bulkhead in front of them, although their legroom still looks generous when compared with the standard rows further aft.

Here’s the row next to the second starboard door. Lots of open space, but no window. (Obviously the tiny porthole in the door doesn’t count.)

And now we come to one of the standard rows, identical (in terms of pitch) to most of the other rows in this aircraft.

5J’s website claims that the standard seats on their A321 have 28 inches of so-called “seating space”. I’m not certain whether “seating space” is simply seat pitch in 5J’s marketing parlance, but subjectively, I felt that there was enough room for my legs to stay comfortable across the entire flight.

Note that I’m not an especially broad or tall fellow, so larger folk may find these same seats a bit tight.

Here’s a picture taken from my seat, looking towards the front of the cabin.

We paid extra to secure seats in row 5 on the initial MNL-KIX leg, mainly to improve our chances of getting out of the plane (and hence earlier through immigration/customs/baggage) ahead of the crowd. Since speed in disembarking was less of a concern on the homeward flight, we chose not to reserve seats and simply accepted the assignments given to us at the counter. This landed me in 35E, a middle seat close to the rear of the fuselage – far from my preferred location but with less damage dealt to my travel budget.

Nothing on the seat back except the usual tray table and pocket. The tray table is rather small, although it’s possible to slide it forwards by a few inches to create more room in the back.

Here’s a picture of the tray table taken on our previous leg, 5J 828.

The table might be lacking in size, but it does have an extra feature. Look closely and you’ll observe a small ridge near the back edge – a simple device holder for smartphones or small tablets. 5J won’t provide you with built-in IFE, but on its newest planes they’ll at least make it easier to enjoy whatever digital entertainment you may have brought on board.

And to keep those devices fully juiced up, they’ve even fitted USB power points under the seats.

The remarkably slim profile of these seats might deceive one into thinking that they’re as hard as wooden benches. On the contrary, I found that there was plenty of yield where it was needed most. Both the seat proper and the headrest featured thicker layers of padding than the middle backrest, the resulting firmness of which provided good support for my upper body.

One VERY important thing to bear in mind: the seats on this aeroplane do not recline. Perhaps in anticipation of a backlash, 5J’s onboard announcements describe the seats as optimised for passenger comfort even without the ability to lean back. Whilst opinions will vary – with different physical conditions and characteristics coming into play – the pre-determined angle gets my nod of approval where comfort is concerned.

The armrests can be fully raised, which might interest those hoping to turn empty rows into makeshift beds. Whether the cabin crew will allow them to stretch out in this fashion is another matter.

Now for a shot of the overhead panel.

If one is faced with urgent needs of a personal nature, there are four lavatories to choose from: one in the front, three all the way in the tail.

CATERING

Hot meals can’t be purchased on board; they must be pre-ordered online (up to 24 hours before departure). For PHP 350.00, 5J will serve your selected main course and a complimentary beverage of their (not your) choice – in my recent experience, it’s always been a small bottle of chilled sweetened tea.

I chose not to pre-order anything for 5J 827, but you can check out the in-flight meals featured in my reports covering 5J 5054 (MNL-NRT) and 5J 5057 (NRT-MNL) to form an idea of what to expect. As of this writing, both of the meals I selected for those flights are still on the menu.

Even though hot meals aren’t available for onboard purchase, the in-flight menu does offer a selection of snacks and beverages. All with the usual sky-high mark-ups, of course. (The menu card shown here is from a December 2018 flight, but it’s no different from the one used on 5J 827.) Availability isn’t guaranteed, as I discovered during the previous leg when the flight attendant told me that the “Mini Angus Buns” weren’t in stock.

Tempting, but 5J 827 was a late evening flight and sleep took first priority. Unlike on the previous leg – when most of us in the group ordered something off the menu – the journey passed without anyone in our party sampling the airline’s edible merchandise.

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE AND AMENITIES

I’m usually provided with a pillow and blanket when travelling to Japan with full-service airlines. Not today, though: 5J is an LCC and such creature comforts are far beyond scope.

A 5J-branded sleeping kit with blanket, eye mask, and inflatable pillow (PHP 600.00) is available for purchase. As for myself, I was quite happy to go without.

I can’t comment at all on the cabin service as there was no interaction between me and the attendants manning 5J 827. That said, I don’t recall seeing or hearing anything that would give cause for concern.

SEAT POCKET CONTENTS

I didn’t rifle through the contents of my seat pocket this time. However, since we were on the same aeroplane that brought us to KIX just days earlier, I imagine the haul would have been identical to the one on 5J 828 (when I took this picture).

IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

Non-existent, unless you’re generous enough to count the in-flight magazine as “entertainment”. (We’re on a budget carrier, after all.) Let’s move on.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I’ve taken many flights with 5J (as well as other budget carriers) through the years, so I know the limitations of their service and I adjust my expectations accordingly. With that in mind, I was quite satisfied with how they operated 5J 827.

The outbound schedule on 5J 828 isn’t one I’d normally choose (evening arrival in Japan, ugh), but I was travelling with other people and we had to settle on an option that worked for everyone. As for the return on 5J 827, the evening departure from KIX is something I’d more readily go for, since this allows me to maximise my sightseeing time on the last day.

Regarding the in-flight experience, I was rather pleased with the seats – though at least one member of our party took issue with the fact that they don’t recline. There was a fair bit of turbulence during the flight, but nothing that would give cause for concern over either the hardware or the skill of the people operating it.

All things considered, I’ll gladly fly with 5J again if the prices are right. That said, I’m not likely to book the outbound 5J 828 leg in the future since the schedule doesn’t suit my preferences. They do have a daytime arrival on the Manila-to-Tōkyō run that I’ve taken a couple of times, which might also work well on a longer holiday (covering both the Kantō and Kansai regions, for example) when paired together with 5J 827. In any event, this positive experience on the Ōsaka-to-Manila route will only help cement 5J’s position as a competitive option amongst the airlines I look at when planning trips to Japan.

Cheerio.

One response to “Flight Report:  KIX-MNL on Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 827 (17 February 2019)

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