This is a part of my vacation to Vietnam and Philippines on August last year. I took a chance to try Philippines Airlines business class from Manila to Jakarta. And since there’s still less report of PAL on Flight Report, so I’m going to post it here.
Generally, ticket price on PAL is actually quite costly, including its J class, given the fact that they are the only full service carrier that serves direct MNL-CGK route. The main competitor is Cebu Pacific as a LCC. But I found that in terms of hardware and overall J class product, PAL is still behind its ASEAN counterparts and also making it less competitive due to the higher price. PAL is also not a member of any alliances, so for miles hoarder, they seem less attractive.
But PAL crews excel in representing the Filipino Hospitality. The service is genuine and they always make sure that you have the best of what they can offer. This is the part that I like the most from them.
PAL uses a dedicated Terminal 2 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). I proceed straight to the business class check-in desk. There’re no other passengers when I came, so in just couple of minutes, I got the BP and lounge invitation to PAL Mabuhay Lounge.
NAIA T2 all the way to Mabuhay lounge:
Entrance to Mabuhay Lounge:
So to start it all, I decided that I needed to take a shower and actually, I also wanted to check how the shower was like at their own flagship lounge. You need to hand over the BP to the receptionist before using it.
The shower room was quite spacious and was separated into dry and wet area, where they put an ottoman chair at the dry area for ease of putting belongings or changing clothes. The shower itself is well stocked with bathing items and the water pressure was also good. However, hot water was not running for unknown reason, so I had no other way but to bear the cold water.
After shower, now’s the time to have something to nibble and just lounge around inside. Food and beverages came in many varieties, dining area was also spacious. For the start, I had the “Arroz Caldo” or Filipino style chicken porridge.
Second round with Diet Coke:
Spending almost an hour inside the lounge, boarding call commenced. The gate was not far from the lounge. Apparently, all passengers had to be bused to the aircraft, perhaps due to airport congestion that let the aircraft parked far from the gate. There was no priority boarding for J class passengers and I had to take the same bus with Y class passengers.
Once on-board, a friendly purser and one FA welcomed me and showed me to my seat. It turned out that I was the only passenger in business cabin that day. Business seats on this A320 have 3 rows with 2-2 configuration, so load factor was 1 out of 12. Looks like PAL needs to work hard to fill its J class for this route. The seat itself is of recliner type that PAL also uses it to Taipei and Fukuoka route.
One of the FAs came to my seat and asked me what to have for welcome drink. I asked for her recommendation and then she brought me a glass of “iced tea” which was actually iced lemon tea because in Philippines, iced tea always comes with lemon in it. The tea was so refreshing with a scent of mint as well. Really love her recommendation.
The seat itself has a PTV mounted at the back side, unlike Garuda aircraft where the PTV is stored inside each armrest. Small pillow already available in each seat, however, the cushion is quite thin. The seat is also equipped with footrest. A thick and fluffy blanket was also prearranged on the seat.
The purser gave me a headset which in my opinion was really simple for business class and looked like it should have been given for Y class if it was on other airlines.
Around 20 minutes after take-off, the FA began the snack service by giving me some pre-packed peanuts and I opted for white wine for the drink. I noticed on this flight that they did not provide a menu card, so the FA just simply explained the menu they brought that day and let you choose. As far as I remember, there were 2 options for main, Filipino food and western food.
After snack service was done, dinner service commenced and I chose Filipino food. Apparently, they served it course per course, begin with starter which I believe was chicken cold cuts with green and red capsicum and potatoes. This was amazing in terms of taste and presentation. Good job, PAL!
And then, they cleared off the plate and put the main dish in front of me, which was prawns and rice. This was also amazing and delicious. I really love the catering and the way the presented the dish.
A great dinner service from PAL.
After this, we still had a remaining 3 hours before reaching Jakarta. And as usual for me, I spent the time by watching the moving map and sometimes also had a sneak peak on their inflight movies and music. Watched some Filipino movies and tuned into Filipino pop songs.
At this time, the purser took his nap just behind my seat since no one other than me was in business cabin. The other crews were in the galley resting and chatting to each other.
So it seemed like there was no other service after dinner from the crews, but they did sometimes walk into the cabin to check my well-being.
The flight went uneventful with frequent turbulence due to tropical storm in Luzon area and also some turbulence all the way along northern part of Borneo. However, the captain managed to get us safely to Jakarta with minimum hassle. Good job Captain.
So after exactly 4 hour flight time, I finally reached Jakarta at midnight. Last look to the aircraft:
Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Lounge
Manila - MNL
Jakarta - CGK
Business class product on Philippine Airlines in general is on par with other ASEAN carriers, however, given the price and quality of hard product, seems like it's not really value to the money spent. But still in my opinion, the catering out of Manila is superb and the crews are really professional yet attentive to passengers and they always make sure that you are well pampered along the journey.
I hope PAL will invest more on its hard product to make it comparable to other big players in the region.
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