Trip Index (what we have published so far):
Last week, I had the chance to fly Philippine Airlines From Guam to Manila and then from Manila to Davao. Philippine Airlines is probably the last non-aligned Asian airline, despite its 74 years of existence – the airline has been slow to modernize and use its location as a hub for US-bound flights (though the Manila to New York service has just resumed).
The airline mostly operates domestic flights as well as to places with a large overseas Filipino population like Dubai.
I flew Philippine Airlines Economy two years ago on a ‘well-aged’ A340 and found the experience just about OK. I did not have the time to write an economy class review for that flight at the time.
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Philippine Airlines Economy Class Review Guam to Manila (PR111)
This time, I used Philippine Airlines from Guam to Manila on an A320. The aircraft was very new and the interior was as clean as it gets. For the 3.5 hour flight, both food and drinks were served, though the food was NOT edible.
The flight was pretty empty and the middle seats were not filled. Since this is a South Pacific route, it turned out to be bumpy and this flight was constantly rocking up and down.
The flight attendants were friendly and ran the service efficiently. The one-way was priced at $200 – not really cheap, but in general, Guam does not see low airfares.
Philippine Airlines has a new terminal for most of their flights – it’s already aging too much, but it has quick immigration, some decent coffee shops and pretty speedy WiFi. It’s in stark contrast to the ridiculous old terminal where most non-PR airlines depart from.
All in all, this was an enjoyable flight – it’s very much what you can expect from this route. Check-in and boarding were rather chaotic but service was friendly and warmhearted, which is what you would you expect from Philippines Airlines (or in fact from much of the Philippines, no?)
Philippine Airlines Economy Class Review Manila to Davao (PR1815)
For the flight to Davao, I was required to check my carry-on – not because the flight was full, but because I had exceeded the weight limit by 7kg (15.5 pounds). For the international flight, that hadn’t been an issue at all, but in Manila the weight limit on carry-ons is strictly enforced. Before you go through security, someone weighs your bag and there’s no way you can go through with more than the 7kg limit. Otherwise, the process is as lax as it gets. Luckily, you can check a bag for free with PAL, so this is not a scam to make money from you.
The departure area has 5 gates and all show departures for Davao and Cebu. Of course the screens are all broken and don’t show any actual departure information. There are no announcements either – you just have to be vigilant and look for the ladies holding up little signs with boarding information.
Much to my surprise, the aircraft this time was also brand new – a huge A321. It came in an all-leather configuration and premium economy looked liked a full-featured business class.
The flight is only 600 miles and was over quickly, after a snack and drinks.
I paid $50 for a 60-mile flight – not super cheap, but fair enough. There were no lines, but also no lounges and a fair amount of chaos, but it all worked very well in the end.