Easier to afford – Philippine Airlines PAL Business Class Review

Philippine Airlines (PAL) Business Class is often cheaper than competitors, but has different seats and entertainment on different routes, so read my review to find out what to expect before you book! Philippine Airlines Business Class offers great service and tasty food on all flights. On their new B777 and A330 planes, you will find fully flat seats for a comfortable sleep! Find out the details of the PAL business class experience below

The Philippines are a very price conscious market, and you can often score deeply discounted tickets in economy and business class. We were able to snatch business class tickets to London, roundtrip for $1,475 at a huge travel fair – what’s not to like? PAL has different business class configurations and I flew both, their Boeing B777 and the older Airbus A340. I flew their brand-new Airbus A330 in economy (read my review here) and took a peek at their newest business class product as well. As you will see, the hard product is very different by plane, so read on to find out what to look for!

Pre-Departure: Regardless of the plane, PAL allows business class passengers to check at least 30kg of luggage, more to certain destinations: To Europe, Australia and a few other locations it’s 40kg and to the US it’s two pieces of up to 23kg. I found them to be generous in the check in process and not quibble over a few grams. At the airport in Manila, PAL has separate counters for business class, and in each case I only had one person ahead of me, making the wait short. Check in was friendly and quick. On my most recent trip to London, I had booked a separate ticket for my onward flight on British Airways from London to Hamburg, Germany, and the agent was able to check my luggage through to the final destination, without any issues – different from the policies of American Airlines, Delta and United! Immigration and security were quick, and I was on my way to the (recently renovated) Mabuhay Lounge to wait for my flight. Business Class passengers have priority boarding and it was quick without issues in each case.

PAL Lounge2Service: The service throughout the flight was friendly and attentive on all four flights I took. Our flight attendant, Gwen, introduced herself at the beginning of the flight and did a great job throughout. While the staff is not as perfectly trained and disciplined as on Singapore or Cathay, they make up for it in warmth and friendliness, similar what I enjoy so much on Thai Airways, and lightyears ahead of the American carriers.
The food is consistent across the different planes and I enjoyed it on each flight. After early morning departure from Manila, breakfast was served, starting off with fresh fruit, a choice of breads and croissants, jam, butter and chocolates! I  had to borrow them from my friend, because mine didn’t last until the photo – they were delicious! I picked a Beef Tenderloin and eggs for the main course and it was ok. The eggs were perfect, but the steak was (too) well done and the potatoes were a little soft.

PAL BusClass Meal1I had a glass of Heidsieck Champagne with it, very nice! The coffee was good, but came with – gasp – creamer powder – something not uncommon in Asia. If you wanted to sleep, you could request an express meal served two hours before arrival. Snacks were available throughout the flight.  Instead, I had lunch halfway into the flight as the second meal and the menu looked like this:

PAL BusClass MealPAL seems to cater the meals without spare meals – several people didn’t get their choice for breakfast, but they got to go first for the second meal. When it was my turn, only two of four choices were left, but my favorite was among them, lucky day! If you fail at first, try, try again, and I had steak (I do like steak, really). This time, it was much better, cooked perfectly and very tender. The potato cake and veggies were as good, making that an excellent meal with no complaints. I had a glass of red wine with it and it was a good fit – and much better than what qualifies as wine these days on United! I had ice cream and a crepe for desert, rounding out a nice meal. While we were a little anxious about the connection, our luggage did make it through to the final destination on British Airways without issues!

Hardproduct: As mentioned, PAL flies a number of different planes  and Philippine Airlines business class seats vary greatly from plane to plane! Unfortunately, seatguru also doesn’t have accurate descriptions for the different planes, so read on what you will find:

Philippine Airlines A340 Business Class: On the Airbus A340, the business class cabin is in the front of the plane, with 6 rows in a 2-2-2 layout. The A340 were bought used and the seats show it – SeatGuru calls them “recliner”, the dreaded r-word for any frequent business class traveler, I’d call them angled, almost-flat. The seat moves from the seating position in stages to the almost-flat position, allowing to sit for meals, lounge for movies and fully recline for resting. It has a back massager that works pretty well. In full recline, the leg portion is parallel to the floor and the seat back is slightly angled up. While not completely flat, you don’t slide off it, so I slept about as well as on the old Lufthansa or Thai angled flat seats, but much, much better than the old United, Delta or American Airlines business class recliners. The seat is reasonably wide, well cushioned and I had a good rest, despite the early morning departure. Each seat has a personal, fold-away video screen, but curiously, the crew also handed out Apple iPad mini’s, loaded with movies, TV and games. Both have slightly different movies available, so you get a choice of films and ways to look at them.

PAL BusClass A340

On the Boeing B777, the business class is also at the front with 6 rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The seats are angled flat, although the angle is very slight and they are very comfortable to sleep on, much better than on Thai Airways angled seats – no sliding down here, due to the foot rest at the bottom. While there is no direct aisle access for all seats, they are spaced generously and have nice width, making them as comfortable as the full-flat, but narrow United seats in their 2-4-2 configuration. They have built in entertainment systems with good size screens. The selection is pretty limited with only 2-3 Hollywood A-movies and the rest B-/C- or older movies, as well as some regional favorites. The B777 is used on the flights to/from the US, so if that is your route, you are in good hands.

PAL BusClass B777

Philippine Airlines A330 Business Class (old): On the Airbus A330, PAL has installed fully flat business class seats with 3 rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The layout is a little odd in that the foot rests of two neighboring seats are above each other, putting one seat low to the ground and one higher up! PAL is currently using them on regional routes, which makes them very competitive, as even Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific often fly recliner or angled flat seats in business class on those routes! 

PAL BusClass A330

PAL is now replacing these seats on all Airbus A330 planes with their best business class offering yet. They are installing Thomson Vantage XL seats in a 1-2-1 layout, with fully flat seats and direct aisle access for everybody! It’s a long and wide seat and they will have privacy dividers in the middle. There will only be 18 of them on each A330, so prices might be a little higher than in the past!

New PAL A330 Business Class Seat

Rewards: Philippine Airlines has its own reward program, Mabuhay Miles and you still earn miles based on distance. In Business Class, you’ll earn 125% for promotional fares and 150% for all others. Read my Mabuhay Miles Review to find out, if it makes sense for you to sign up!
Redemptions for business class are good value for flights from Manila to Australia (40,000 miles one-way) or to California (58,000 miles one-way).

Insider Tip: PAL recently introduced a bidding option to upgrade your economy class ticket to business class. If you’d like to travel in more comfort without paying full price, you can utilize this option to fly business class for less! I’d recommend to try for long overnight flights!

Recommendation: Overall, I believe Philippine Airlines has an interesting offering. While in a pure product comparison, the other Asian airlines have a better hard product, when you take price into consideration, PAL has a very good offer. You can fly business class at a price others charge for  premium economy and regardless of plane type, that’s a great deal! While prices for business class have gone up recently, as long as they are cheaper than other airlines, I will certainly continue to look for good deals!
And, if you are planning a trip to the Philippines, check out my Mini-Guide Manila – it’s worth to plan a stop-over in the bustling capital city!
Would you fly PAL’s Business Class at the right price? What is your favorite thing about PAL? Let me know in your comments below!

 


Comments

Easier to afford – Philippine Airlines PAL Business Class Review — 33 Comments

  1. Business class for 4 adults 1 child age 5 manila to tokyo narita roundtrip april 10 to april 16 or april 11 to april 16
    Best price

    • Hope the 5 year old is not a crybaby? Otherwise please book economy class in consideration to other business class passengers.

    • Of course they offered “best (or cheapest) price”: PAL does not have “a class of it´s own”, obviously they buy planes sometimes here, sometimes there… according to some bargains on used planes, they can just afford. So PAL does not a business (or even economy) class to be rated – sorry.
      The meal and beverage service does not include variety – they have a fixed numbers of (expected) meal orders. If it is out, it is really “out”!
      No real business class service, no seat equipment you can trust, not really maintained furnishing. If you are lucky, you will be “lucky” – otherwise it is below international standard. “Champaign” you already get at “Air France” in Economy, so that should not be the reason to book PAL Business Class!

      • Just to clarify with some facts: PAL’s fleet has an average age of 5.5 years – which is less than half of 5-star airline Lufthansa’s 11.4 years and lower than many well-reviewed airlines. While they did take over some Iberia A340 in the past, all recently added planes are new.
        I found their meal service to offer more variety than the typical “beef or chicken” on US airlines, but certainly not the type of variety you get from SQ’s or Thai’s “book the cook”. I did not find them to run out more frequently than other airlines.
        I’m not sure what you mean by “real business class service”, but I found service to be consistently more friendly than any European or US airline I’ve flown. The equipment is in great shape (as you’d expect with a fleet age of 5.5y).
        True, Air France serves champagne in Economy – but I’d still take PAL Business Class over Air France Economy any day… And the service on PAL Economy is still friendlier than in any cabin on Air France!

    • The Manila Travel Tour Expo has been on the first or second weekend of February in the last few years. The dates for the 2017 event have not been announced, but you can check HERE in the future.
      Keep in mind that at the last expo, PAL did not offer the best deals on Business Class, but some of the Middle East carriers did: We snatched business class tickets to Europe on Oman Air for $1,800 – a lot less than PAL for a better hard product. I will report on the flight when we get back!

  2. I fly Melbourne to manila regularly .. in the past always went Qantas which has a daily flight from Sydney only.. however for the past few years I have been on the direct PAL flight , always business class and like you say in your review their lie flat bed on their A330 is perfect for an 8 hour flight … would never fly Qantas on this route for multiple reasons, older plane used, nearly flat fall off the end seat ,(worst design ever for any seat known to man )… service and food no better than PAL, and the inconvenience of Sydney centrist Qantas flying only into their NUMber ONE hub of Sydney… so thankful I gave PAL a go, and for all their Philippines quirks, would never consider Qantas for the Melbourne route again …

    • Thanks for sharing your experience on the A330 in business class, glad you enjoyed it. I have yet to try it myself and look forward to it! The route to Australia would be perfect! … and I had to chuckle at the “Philippine quirks” – I think I know what you mean 😉

    • This really depends on the ticket class/price you have paid, how full the business class cabin is and how much business class tickets are. I’d try the following:
      – Look up business class fares (let’s say it’s $2,500 round-trip US-MNL
      – Look up the seat map on your flight – how many seats are still open (let’s say half of the seats are still open)
      – Take the price of a one way business class fare, deduct your economy ticket and calculate the delta (example: $3,000 biz – $800 eco = $2,200 rt /2 = $1,100
      I’d offer 30-50% of the difference – or $330-$550 in this example. PAL used to sell these upgrades at the airport for $500. If you go to the upgrade bid, it will show a minimum price. I’d bid at least 10% over the minimum, as many people will just put in the minimum…
      Ultimately, you’ll have to bid what it is WORTH TO YOU! Good luck, hope this helps! Please post here, how it worked out for you! I’m sure other readers will appreciate the input!

    • PAL doesn’t fly to Atlanta, so you’d have to either choose a different carrier or connect via Los Angeles or San Francisco.

  3. What cracks me up when flying PAL is all the people doing the rosary before takeoff and then clapping upon landing…do they know something others don’t?

    • The prayers are not uncommon for religious people – on many airlines in majority muslim countries there are actually travel prayers on the welcome video before departure.
      The clapping upon landing I’d guess is more due to many new / infrequent fliers, similar to leisure airlines in Europe.
      Different cultures, different habits…

  4. I will fly PAL from Toronto to Manila in 2 months time. I tried them few times before on this route. I agree with foods, etc, but their economy is a 3-4-3 configuration which is a squeeze (besides the expensive economy fare). Need to reconfig their economy. But latest news is that they are flying direct this coming few months and hopefully thereafter.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree, the economy cabin on their Boeing B777 is a tight fit in a 3-4-3 configuration and that will not change with their new B777 either. I have reviewed their economy class here
      The soonest I’d expect a non-stop flight from Toronto to Manila would be with the delivery of their new Airbus A350 in 2018, which should have a much nicer cabin, too. It has not been announced where those new A350 will go – in addition to the US and Canada, a number of destinations in Europe are also under review. I wouldn’t hold my breath!

      • Hi
        That all sounds great and helped a lot to calculate fares
        But do you know the cost of business class flight from Melbourne to Athens return
        On pal or Oman. 7 June 20 to 7 July 20
        For 3 pax
        Thanks
        Jenny

      • I suggest to search with Kayak – they help you find the lowest fares and best web sites to buy the tickets from.
        That’s how I find the best deals…

    • Nice overview of the PAL A330 busines class – I yet have to try it!
      This is the old seat though and PAL is in the process of removing them from their A330, replacing them with the much better seat in a 1-2-1 layout, so these won’t be around much longer.
      Here is my introduction of the new seats!

  5. What’s the difference between first class and business class?
    Do senior disabled veteran get discounts?
    How much is a RT LAX to MNL to LAX business class in the
    last week of Sept 2018 for two seniors.

    • Philippine Airlines doesn’t have a First Class cabin, their Business Class offers fully-flat seats on long-haul flights comparable to other airlines business class.
      I’m not Resident Filipino Senior Citizen get a 20% discount on domestic flights, I’m not aware of any discounts for foreign seniors or veterans.
      You can find fares for your route & dates at Kayak

  6. I have always had a great experience when flying Business Class with Philippine Airlines. It is much more expensive than Economy Class but in my personal opinion it is worth it.

    • Glad you’ve always had a good experience with PAL Business Class.
      And in my experience, it’s getting better: Better seats on new and renovated planes as well as better food (at least in my experience!).
      Unfortunately, PAL has raised prices significantly for Business Class – making them sometimes more expensive than airlines I think are even better, like ANA! I recommend to compare before booking…

    • That’s a hotly debated topic, with passions running deep on both sides.
      I understand that most business class travelers on long-haul flights pay for the additional privacy and the chance to sleep. My general take is that a plane is a shared space and all passengers need to be considerate of other travelers, regardless of age.
      On one flight, I was seated next to a mother with her baby in business class and was worried about my ability to get a good rest. To my surprise, the baby didn’t make a sound during the trip, yet I was kept awake by two drunk men who talked loudly for hours! On other flights, I’ve seen kids run wild on the plane, while the parents are watching a movie and are not paying any attention, keeping everybody awake!
      I do think it’s very hard for toddlers to fly, as they might be frightened and can’t be reasoned with – they just cry, to no fault of their own! But that still makes them a burden not only for the parents, but all passengers. I think parents should consider that when planning a trip and decide wether it is necessary now or can wait till the kids are old enough to handle it more easily. Ultimately, that’s the parents decision and they are also accountable for the results.

  7. I was at a Philippine Airlines business class flight last year from Manila to Los Angeles, CA : Here are my observations:

    1. The female flight attendants are much nicer and more attentive.
    2. The flight senior attendant /purser -an older male, took his sweet time to use the restroom and made the paying clients/passengers wait. I was one of them…when he got out of the restroom, he didn’t even apologize from the people who were in line for the restroom . My thoughts: employees should not be using the business class bathrooms.
    3. The other male flight attendant was not consistent in asking all passengers if they wanted to drink the champagne which was supposedly rated top 5 in the world. The ice cream was not served consistently as well. He picked and chose who wanted ice cream.
    4. The bathroom was unhygienic/unsanitary as a soiled/wet rug was left in the corner or the side of the toilet bowl. It should be picked up and thrown away.
    5. Food was okay. Cant compare it to Japan Airlines or Singapore Airlines Business class.
    6. The seats need to be clean and shampooed.

    If anything, I will ride Philippine Airlines again because of the service of the female flight attendants and because it is the only airline that offers a direct flight to LA.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, looks like it was mixed with regards to the crew on your flight.
      One think I do like on PAL, SQ, etc is that they do clean the bathrooms regularly during the flight – something you won’t find on the US carriers these days…

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