My First Philippine Airlines flight

My 1.6 million miles of flying has never before included the Philippines or Philippine Airlines! That changed with this, my 1181st flight. PAL became the 96th airline, I have ever flown. (Not long until my 100th airline).

Booking: 7/10

PAL’s system feels a little clunky. After selecting date and routing, the airline presented us with a seemingly confusing array of fare choices! It is really both extremely helpful in choosing the right fare and time and completely overwhelming!

They do have a helpful summary explaining what each fare type includes:

We chose the cheapest fare possible for $USD61 (3,405 Philippine Pesos), as we were not checking any luggage in, were locked into the date of travel and were not interested in the points. We then paid for a “choice seat” which was $USD5 (250 Pesos). Total fare was $66 which was cheaper than the “Premium Economy” option of $103. Philippine Airlines, like Air Asia and other low-cost carriers, attempts to sell insurance.

Check In: 9/10

Online check in worked really well.

Boarding: 7/10

The airline began a series of announcements that sounded like a final call, quite early. Unsure of arrangements at the airport and having heard horror stories of Manila Airport, we rushed through security, which was not too bad. We got to the gate and found we were boarding almost immediately. We were bussed out from the gate, a process which was not too traumatic.

A very warm welcome as we walked onto the plane. Once on board, we waited for the remaining passengers to be bussed out, a process which took 45 minutes! It seems very inefficient to have a plane sitting on the ground for so long!

On Board: 7/10

A very standard Airbus 320. I have travelled on almost 100 of them and have a very slight preference for them over the 737 (which I have flown over 360!).

Mabuhay (Business) has 12 recliner seats with a pitch of 36″ and width of 21″.

In Fiesta Economy the seats have a 31′ pitch and a width of 18″. The seats appear to have the same colouring as many bus companies around the world!

My seat in the emergency exit had great leg room.

Two clean and functional lavatories were located at the rear of the 320 and one in the front of Business Class.


A thorough safety briefing included a check to see if we were suitable occupants of the emergency exit. The crew took safety checks very seriously, which was reassuring to see. This has not been my experience with Air Asia, for example.


An on time gate departure from Manila was rendered irrelevant by the long line of planes waiting to take off and land! We smoothly lifted off into the sunset!

Meal: 3/10

The snack was not at all memorable. Other airlines can manage a slightly better offerring on a short flight! Other airlines can produce a slightly better offering on a short flight! Lots of plastic packaging to dispose of, not making it great environmentally.This is an issue with the Philippines which has major garbage disposal issues.

Pleasant enough service.

Entertainment: 1/10

There is an in-flight magazine and drop down TV screens in Fiesta Class. No wi-f i which is surprising considering the addiction of Pinoys to Facebook Messenger, Line and WhatsApp! Bring a book (like I did!) or finalise your Cebu adventures (which we also did!)


We landed smoothly into a dark Cebu, a few minutes after schedule. We found our car service that we had booked for the ride into the city, figuring we would not risk an airport taxi. It turned out our car was stuck in traffic, so we had a bit of a wait for it. Maybe, we should have taken an airport car!

The Verdict

My Flight Rating: 76%  (3.8 out of 5)

About the Airline: Philippine Airlines was founded in 1941. This makes it the oldest commercial airline company in the Asian region operating under its original name. The airline was one of the largest in Asia before the 1997 Asian Financial crisis which saw it go into receivership for almost ten years from 1997 to 2008. It has re-emerged from receivership and is attempting to re-establish its place but the world has moved on, is my sense.  PAL faces massive competition from Cebu Pacific, Air Asia Philippines and SkyJet.

Skytrax: PAL has a three-star rating from Skytrax. Skytrax customers rate the carrier: 6/10.

My overall rating of  Philippine Airlines: They were pretty decent actually. I can’t really rate them after one short flight but I was pretty happy.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives the carrier 5and ⅝ out of 7.

Frequent Flyer Program: Mabuhay Miles. Members of Etihad’s Frequent Flyer program can earn miles on PAL as can ANA customers. I did not earn any miles.

Positives: Service,  Punctuality, Attention to Safety

Negatives: Take your own snacks, the ultra long boarding time, no wifi

Would I fly them again? Yes.


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  1. the flight is one hour long and you’re complaining about the snack and no seat back entertainment?!

  2. Air travel today is more of need rather than a ‘want’. It has been commoditized to the point of being an evil necessity for many travelers, so if I were given a one-hour opportunity to experience an airline–I’d say it’s just another seat in an air bus. It only becomes remarkable if the flight was exceptionally awful, or remarkably exceptional–neither one is the case for 98% of the commercial airlines in major markets. Most travelers don’t care much about snacks or WiFi on short-haul flights (unless you’re an airline critique 😉 )
    ps Nice pictures!

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