This the second instalment of my 4 part series from my previous trip to the Philippines.
This series of reports covers;
PR 510 SIN- MNL Economy (previously) PR 2696 CRK - BSO Economy (you're here!) PR 2697 BSO - CRK Economy (soon!) PR 507 MNL - SIN Business Class (soon!)
This trip i could consider that dream do come true. 6 years ago when i started working overseas and decided that im going to accumulate and save Mabuhay Miles just to use for this destination, Basco, Batanes.
Batanes is in the Northern part of Philippines, an isolated islands where the only option to get there is trough plane. With its un spoilt beauty of nature and very unique surrounding makes this place a must see in the Philippines. Most of Filipinos knows how beautiful Batanes is, but only few can see it as Airfare are expensive that ranges from US$200-$300 for a more than an hour plane ride. Previously, only 2 or 3 airlines cater to this destination, that makes the fare expensive, due to popular demand and with the help of LCC and Boutique Airline, Basco now has at least 4-5 flights a day. You are lucky enough if you managed to get it less than $100 from promo fares or Travel Expo.
For the past few years im really saving my miles. With my accumulated miles its enough for a round trip to Toronto for my Mom to use or 3 return flights for my parents and I to Basco. Since, my mom declined to visit my Aunt in Canada, well Batanes it is.
Redeeming Mabuhay Miles is so easy, i just call the ticketing office and tell them what destination i want to use and for how many passengers, in just 10 mins, almost done, i just have to go to their office to pay $2 for each passenger and fill up the redemption form. Unfortunately there is no way for me to pay that amount trough online.
PAL previously offers MNL-BSO route, as per Philippine government try to decongest Manila Airport, Philippine Airlines transfers all their turboprops plane to Clark International Airport. That makes Basco can reached though Clark Airport if you are flying with PAL. Other airlines still operates in Manila.
Clark International Airport is about 2 hours drive out of Manila. Philippine government trying to make CRK as a secondary Manila airport. CRK is very convenient for all Norther Luzon passengers, they dont have to go to Manila to catch their flight most of Domestic and some International Airline serves Clark already.
As our flight is at 6am, we arrive Clark international Airport before 4am.
International and Domestic Check in hall shares the same terminal, on that morning there were 3 domestic flight and 1 Singapore bound flight. Terminal is small and efficient, when you got in the building its already check in counters, on the left are doors for boarding gates, and offices on the 2nd level.
CRK curb side.
FIDS before you enter the terminal
For Domestic flights, Check in counter opens 2 hours before the STD, when the time we queued for check in agents are still preparing their desk and in few minutes the starts accepting passengers. I already did mobile check in a day before the flight so we queue at the bag drop counter, there are only 3 groups ahead of us while other passenger did not opt for mobile/online check in, their queue was already snaking but steadily moving a bit fast, even faster that online check in counter, Even though there are only 3 groups ahead of us, it took us at least 20 minutes before we got our boarding passes.
Boarding pass view via Wallet. Looks simple and clean, more colour would be cooler for me. But this type of boarding pass is not widely used in the Philippines, (or i don't know whether they accept this as a real boarding pass)
Before you enter this hall leading to the boarding gates, you have to pay 150 pesos as a terminal fee, this fee was not included on the ticket you've bought and needs to pay separately. adjacent to thsi hall is the International boarding gates.
Final Security Check, i hate it when they always asked to remove the shoes for screening, was that in the Philippines only? as i don't experience this on other countries.
After the check you are now at 1 big hall as waiting area, there 4 door/gates one gate per airlines. and food stalls are still close.
There are few charging stations, some paintings and murals on the walls. what strikes me most are the toilets, there 3 toilets, 1 each for Male and Female (the usual), the third one is for (nope, not even for PWD), a LGBT toilet. this is the first time that i saw an establishment that has a separate toilet for LGBT. I applauded CRK for this bold move. CRK is a Gender responsive airport, written below the rainbow. Just dont have a chance to see how was LGBT toilet looks like.
As the Boarding time comes, crews explains the boarding procedure, Mabuhay Miles higher tier comes first followed by elderly and with kids then the other economy passengers. We were the first one get on the bus. All passenger for that flight can fit into 1 bus, makes the plane half full. when we reach our plane, when the bus door opens, most of the passengers rushed to get on the plane. We let them board firs and i have a lot of time for me to take photo of plane. This is the 2nd time i rode this type of plane, and now a newer version Q400.
I found that the seats are comfortable enough. some inflight magazines, thou magazines are outdated, its already April but March issue are still in use. plenty of legroom. iIts been a while that i been on a PAL express operated flight, and im surprise that they still have La Islas magazine, i thought they are now using Mabuhay magazine, the mainline PAL's Magazine. I just noticed that if you are sitting by the window, the wall curved to the floor, that makes your feet slightly deflected out wards the wall, impossible to make you feet flat when sitting straight.
some view from my seat. Another PRs pencil plane, 3K just landed from Singapore, 767 UPS plane. MH and Indigo planes at SIA engineering.
We depart ahead of schedule. view from take off. Mt Arayat and paper mill (where i used to work).
When cruising altitude was reached and seat belt sign was off, i unbuckle my seatbelt and headed to the lavatory, there is only 1 lavatory on this plane located at the front section. since it his first flight and im the first one to used it, it was clean and amenities are basics.
As i return to my seat, cabin crew are preparing for snack service. PR offers snack/bread on their domestic flight with water as beverage. the bread is in decent size and fillings are generous, enough to sooth a grumbling stomach. and crew are doing their refills.
As we start our decent, we saw a glimps of Batanes and we approach the airport we did a 1 round about, and its favourable to us to see Batanes from above.
We land at Basco ahead of schedule, and that was the hardest landing that i have experience in my entire life, once landing gear touched the ground then followed by full reverse/break. I was trying to take a video of the landing but i dropped my phone due to hard landing. Just found out that Basco's runway is only 1.75km long that is why the plane needs to stop immediatly. Airswift and SkyJet are preparing to go back to Manila.
Basco Airport is small. There is no baggage claim area nor a conveyor belt for the lugagges, not even a wooden conveyor like in Coron, Palawan. You have to pass by this arrival hall, you need to go out from this room while ops is unloading the bags from the plane to the hall, once all bags are in, passengers are called and ask to claim their bags, and there is one personnel that manually check if you got you own bags.
And we are now in Batanes!
This concludes the second part of my flight trips. on the next part, ill share with your my return flight and the beauty of Batanes.
Thank you for reading!
(Comments/critics are welcome)
Clark - CRK
Basco - BSO
This is the first time that im redeeming a travel reward flight, and it went smoothly and easy for me. as i read from other post that some airlines passengers experienced having difficulty on redeeming flight reward as it is always full.
I'll give a good points for PR on their ontime departure and arrival. Cabin crew, as always one of the best, very professional, polite and friendly. On the short flight i dont mind if magazines are outdated, view from the window is an entertainment itself. Having a free light snack is very good gesture and it really makes a difference comparable to other airlines.
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