[Click above for the video review.]
Like my previous review, I really like Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) onboard food and service. The catering has been mostly very good and well presented and the crew are usually very attentive, professional, and well intentioned. For this flight, we took one of PAL’s densely configured Airbus A330-330. While the seats are fully flat, the cabin felt a bit tight as the seats are configured in a 2-2-2 configuration. Come fly with me to Hong Kong on PAL’s business class.
What I didn’t like:
Transfering from NAIA Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 – For this flight, we were connecting from our flight from San Francisco. Our flight arrived at Manila’s NAIA Terminal 1 and we needed to transfer to Terminal 2. For this, we needed to approach the transit desk. There is no way to seamlessly transfer terminals airside at MNL. The transit desk, while clearly visible upon arriving was a bit disorganized. Upon checking in, they had us take a seat and we waited a good 30 minutes before the staff walked us through transit security, back to the departures level, and down another set of escalators to the bus. Then upon arriving at Terminal 2, we had to undergo another security screening and up the stairs back to departures. The whole process took about an hour, which can be harrowing if you have a short connection in Manila. Make sure you have at least 2-3 hours to connect to your next flight.
No IFE – This plane was not fitted with any in-flight entertainment, but does offer streaming to your own device via the MyPAL app. Business Class passengers were provided with iPads minis during the flight.
What I liked:
Onboard service – was excellent and the crew were bubbly and very chatty. The food onboard was decent and nicely presented.
The food – PAL offers consistently good catering on their flights, and this one was no different. The meal onboard tasted fresh and delicious.
It was OK, I guess…
PAL’s Mabuhay Lounge – The Mabuhay Lounge at NAIA Terminal 2 was a night and day difference compared to their lounge at SFO. The lounge, while not huge compared to other airlines lounges in the respective hubs was cozy and there were plenty of seating. The food options were also nice and plenty. Don’t forget to try their signature chicken arroz caldo while you’re there.
The seats – were PAL’s last generation flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. These aren’t the same Vantage XL seats that have direct aisle access. PAL flies this configuration mostly on Middle Eastern routes. The seats recline all the way to a full flat bed. We were seated in seats 3A and 3C and the seats were perfectly comfortable for the short flight to Hong Kong.
Philippine Airlines really excels in offering a very heartfelt and warm onboard service during the flight, not to mention excellent in-flight catering even for the 1 hour 40 minute flight to Hong Kong. The seats are comfortable enough for this short flight, but they lack any kind of storage and IFE, so this may be problematic for longer flights. The missing link here is the transfer experience in Manila, and the Mabuhay Lounge which is long overdue for an overhaul.