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Cebu Pacific flight review: Sydney to Cebu (via Manila)


Cebu pacific plane

From the moment you step onto a Cebu Pacific plane, you realise it really is more fun in the Philippines.

With in-flight trivia, friendly staff and an all-round feeling of flying off to a vacation, Cebu Pacific played true to its mantra "fly to more fun".

On past trips to the Philippines, I've flown with both Cebu Pacific and Qantas and as long as you bear in mind that in-flight meals and checked bags are going to cost you extra, the savings on flying budget definitely outweigh the cost of going full-service.

Flight details

  • Route: Sydney to Cebu (via Manila)
  • Duration: 7h 10m (Sydney to Manila) and 1h 40m (Manila to Cebu)
  • Flight number(s): 5J40, 5J573
  • Aircraft type: A330, A320
  • Dates travelled: 7 November 2019
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: None

Alex's Cebu Pacific flight review


  • Flight schedule from Sydney
  • In-flight trivia
  • Empty seats next to me
  • Lack of entertainment
  • Uncomfortable seats

What did I like?

  • Empty row. On the flight from Sydney to Manila, I had an entire row to myself and on the flight from Manila to Cebu, I had an empty seat next to me. While I'm sure this was luck, I had empty seats next to me on my Cebu flights when I travelled in 2017 as well.
  • In-flight trivia. Mid-flight, Cebu's flight attendants host a two-question trivia game for passengers complete with prizes. A bit of a quiz nerd, I love this about the airline. I've never come across this before and think it's a fun and friendly touch by the budget carrier.
  • Schedule. Due to the departure time from Sydney, with an early-evening arrival in Manila, there's enough time to travel onto a final destination in the Philippines on the same day. Similarly, on the return, the flight from Manila to Sydney departs after 11pm, meaning you're able to catch a flight back to Manila anytime that day. This eliminates the need for an overnight stopover in Manila.
In-flight meal on a Cebu Pacific flight
Cebu Pacific plane interior

What didn't I like?

  • Lack of entertainment. The seven-hour plus journey with no entertainment options (neither for free or available for purchase) can be a bit daunting to some. Come prepared with a good book and a device stocked full of Netflix downloads, if you can.
  • No power outlets. Considering Cebu Pacific doesn't offer you any entertainment options, those using their personal devices to watch movies or play games should make sure their batteries are fully charged or travel with a power bank. There are no power outlets on board if your device runs out of juice.
  • Uncomfortable seats. Airplane seats aren't great to begin with, but I found Cebu's to be exceptionally uncomfortable. Luckily I had empty seats next to me and could spread out in a way that was more comfortable. I imagine if you don't have that luxury, the flight would be a much more unpleasant experience.

Would I use Cebu Pacific again?

Absolutely. With this budget carrier, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The staff are friendly, I've gotten pretty lucky with seating and the scheduling of flights between Sydney and Manila is great.

I often travel budget, so having to pay extra for bags and meals and needing to bring my own entertainment doesn't bother me too much, especially if it means saving a few hundred dollars.

While I flew courtesy of Cebu Pacific on this trip, the flight prices I've seen from the airline before have been incredible. We often see sales where return tickets to the Philippines from Australia for around $300 return.

Disclosure: Alex Keshen travelled to the Philippines as a guest of Cebu Pacific.

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