[Click above for the video review.]
Airline: Philippine Airlines
Flight Number: PR530
Route: KUL-MNL; Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA) to Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2)
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Airbus A321 neo
Delivered: August 2018
Flight Duration: 3 hours 25 minutes
Distance: 2493 Miles
Today we have another review of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) Airbus A321neo Business Class product. This is the return flight of our trip from Manila to Kuala Lumpur. You can watch the outbound flight here. The Business Class cabin on this aircraft is laid out in a 2-2 configuration using the lie-flat B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, which are plenty comfortable for the sub-4 hour flight back to Manila. I was able to get a couple of hours of comfortable sleep during the flight. Only 3 of the 12 seats in business class were occupied on this redeye flight, so we got an exceptional and attentive service from the crew. The meal service was done about an hour after takeoff. It’s worth noting that the food on this flight was catered out of Kuala Lumpur, which was nicely presented, but a little lacking in taste. In my experience, PAL’s catering from Manila is much better.
What I liked:
The Airplane – The Airbus A321neo is very quiet even during takeoff when the engines rev up, thanks to the next generation jet engines. The cabin noise throughout the flight was also not as bad as other narrow body planes like the 737 or even the older A32X planes.
The warm PAL service – We had an exceptional crew and the service was warm and very attentive. I think it also helped that there were only 3 passengers in business class, so the crew was able to work at a much leisurely pace. Pre-departure beverage service was offered during boarding and the purser personally introduced herself and addressed us by name. Our glasses were proactively refilled, and our empty plates were promptly cleared.
The seat – Though not all seats have direct aisle access, I actually really like these B/E Diamond seats. The seats are very comfortable for sitting, lounging and sleeping. The adjustable armrest gives you a little more room when in lie-flat position. Noise canceling headphones, full-size pillow, and thick blanket are provided to business class passengers. I had a whole row to myself, as there were only 3 of us sitting in business class. PAL keeps their cabin cool, which makes me sleep easier. I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep during the 3.5 hour flight to Manila.
It was OK:
The Lounge – PAL uses the Plaza Premium Lounge in KUL, which in my opinion is actually better than the Mabuhay Lounge in Manila. The lounge is pretty expansive and offers plenty of seating for its guests. There is a good selection of both hot and cold food items on their buffet spread. There is a bar where you can order some freshly made coffee drinks and cocktails from the baristas. There are also a few shower rooms in the lounge. The showers are pretty Spartan but still a nice sight when you want to freshen up before a flight.
The IFE System – PAL’s new IFE system on their Airbus A321neo offers plenty of media content. There are dozens of new and classic movies, TV programs, music, and other PAL feature shows. My only complaint about the IFE is the monitor is way too reflective, which makes it hard to see anything on the screen especially when the cabin lights are turned on. All you’ll be able to see on the screen is your reflection.
The Food – Catering out of KL is OK, but I think the food tasted better on the outbound flight from Manila. After takeoff, our tables were set, and the flight attendant delivered the appetizer tray. The starter dish was seared cold tuna loin, which was nicely presented and tasted OK. I ordered a glass of champagne along with the meal, which is Louis de Sacy. A selection of warm breads were offered soon after. For the main, I opted for the beef short ribs caldereta with rice. The beef was tender, but there was hardly any meat–it was mostly fat. The rice was also a bit hard, and the sauce was spicy, but tasteless. For dessert, I had some haagen-dasz ice cream which was a nice end to the meal. Hot towels were distributed right after the meal service.
What I didn’t like:
MNL (NAIA) Terminal 2 – PAL uses the dreaded NAIA Terminal 2 in Manila, which is in my opinion very poorly laid out and managed. The terminal building is always bursting at the seams, especially when multiple PAL flights just arrived. The immigration line is always long, which adds a considerable amount to your travel time and stress.