Phillippine Airlines (PR or PAL) today (finally) introduced the online redemption of reward miles for flights in their loyalty program Mabuhay Miles. Previously, you had to either visit an office or call to make an award redemption. By allowing online redemptions, PAL removes one of the biggest obstacles to Mabuhay Miles members and finally arrives in the 21st century. But there are still some hurdles – read my report to find out what you need to do!
Redeeming reward miles for a Philippine Airlines flight was a big hassle. Until recently, you had to visit a PAL office to book your reward ticket, making it almost impossible for any traveler not living in the Philippines to participate. Recently and without announcement, PAL allowed to book an eticket award flight by phone and go straight to the airport, which was much better, but still far from ideal: My award reservation of a simple one-way, non-stop flight took several phone calls and 2 hours of my time to accomplish – when most airlines, including local low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific, have allowed online redemption for year.
Now, the 21st century has arrived at Philippine Airlines and you can finally redeem your miles online for flights. But not so fast: in an effort to protect your privacy and your miles, you first have to verify your account ownership through what they call the “Know Your Customer” process. And this requires you to visit the PAL office in Manila, provide government ID and a unique email address!
Fortunately and just before I broke down in tears, my account was pre-qualified. I assume that having been a member for years, having booked online with a confirmed email address and having redeemed by phone previously, with a passport check when picking up my reward ticket at the airport, enabled me to skip the process. Your mileage may vary, so check your own account to see if you are pre-qualified as well. If you are a new PAL customer, interesting in joining the program, I suggest to call PAL’s customer service to see what you can do to verify your account.
This appears to still be a soft launch, as there is no link on the Mabuhay Miles or Philippine Airlines websites yet to redeem your miles online. I received a link in the announcement email that takes me directly to a new booking screen, offering the choice of booking with currency or Miles:
Once you choose your flights, dates and Mabuhay Miles to pay, you get to the booing screen that looks just like revenue bookings screen, with a clear indication of the miles and cash required by cabin class, as well as the lowest price available on three days before and after your desired date.
You are able to see how many seats are available at that miles price – Mabuhay Miles has multiple award prices for saver and flexible tickets, making this helpful!
Philippine Airlines does include a surcharge on award tickets, in addition to government taxes and fees, but the government doesn’t allow fuel surcharges for any flights originating from the Philippines, so the amount is relatively small.
I was able to go all the way through the booking process to the payment screen but did not complete my trial booking!
Bottomline: It was high time for Philippine Airlines to introduce online award flight redemption in their loyalty program Mabuhay Miles, especially considering that they are aiming to become a 5-star airline! With points & miles fraud rampant across Asia, I do appreciate the additional safety measures, but it still makes it next to impossible for foreign travelers to enjoy the benefits of the program. This seems to be a “soft launch” with limited access for pre-qualified members, so we’ll have to see how this looks like once the roll-out of the new feature is complete.
I for one am excited about the online redemption and it will make me more likely to fly PAL in the future! If this has got you excited too, check out my other reports and review of Philippine AirlinesL
Philippine Airlines – Overview
Philippine Airlines – Mabuhay Miles Loyalty Program
Philippine Airlines – Facts & Figures
PAL Business Class Review
PAL Economy Class Review
PAL Mabuhay Miles Lounge Manila Review
Ready for your trip with Philippine Airlines – plan a stop-over in Manila with my mini-guide – all you need to know on 1 page and in 5 minutes – why you should go, where to stay or eat and what to do!