Philippine Airlines is the Philippines’ flag carrier. It has flown the skies for over 50 years now. It had its dark ages, when service was down and people opted to fly with other up and coming airlines. But I have to say with my flying experience with them last year, I have renewed my faith in this organization. It’s not among the world’s best. But it has found its charm back, if you ask me.
I almost never fly with Philippine Airlines. If I fly to Europe, I almost always fly with KLM. And to the US, I use Delta. For domestic and Asian trips, I would either take Cebu Pacific, Air Asia or Jetstar. PAL is usually more expensive, whether you fly domestic or international. But it has its perks, flight attendants are more attentive and friendlier. Snacks/ meals and a generous baggage allowance are included in the ticket price, You don’t need to line up at the airport to pay for travel tax because you may opt to include it in the ticket price as well. It has its own terminal, well-lit, spacious. But steel, armed chairs at the departure gates, not enough foodstalls, and at one time, JUST ONE TOILET for the entire terminal!
Last year, February to be exact, and this was after the big annual Travel Expo, my cousin called me at the office to check out a promo at the PAL website. They were selling business class round trip tickets to London at ECONOMY PRICES! I told her not to play devil’s advocate with me, because I had already planned to go to the US for my major trip of the year. She hinted for me to just take a look. But before I knew it, I was booking a ticket of my own!
I was so excited because I have not flown on business class before. And imagine the perks of flying in style, earning business class miles, for the price of economy. Not to mention gaining access to the Mabuhay Lounge. It was my first time to enter, and the first time I tasted the award winning Arroz Caldo. It is the recommended item on the menu even in-flight.
So glad too that I had 125% credit for mileage for that business class flight. Thanks to that, I was almost able to accumulate enough miles to be upgraded to the next tier of Mabuhay Miles membership. But I was 295 miles short! And I could not take another flight in the last few days of the year, so I had to let that go.. Together with one whole year of taking a cup of arroz caldo before every PAL flight.
But I am going to rave about being able to redeem enough miles for a return ticket to Singapore.
Redeeming miles used to be very customer-unfriendly. But not anymore. Im surprised that PAL improved on it a lot, and booking my award travel was a very pleasant experience.
If you have enough miles, which you can check online, you just need to call PAL reservations to book your desired flight. I was given around 10 days to purchase the award ticket. Before it had to be 3 days after you book the flight, and it had to be done in one of their ticketing offices. Otherwise, you will have to go through the entire process again. This time, I could settle all the fees and charges over the phone, by dictating my credit card details to the agent. Im so happy it has become this convenient.
Because of this, I am a converted PAL flyer. As I said, it is still way below par from the world’s best. I have much to say about domestic travel with PAL and PAL express. But what I can say, it is genuinely Pinoy. Friendly smiles onboard, generous baggage allowance for the typical Pinoy traveller who brings along everything, and brings home just as much, same hospitality. 🙂 Thank you PAL for bringing back the Pinoy heart inflight.