After beta-testing online reward ticket bookings for a while, Philippine Airlines is now rolling it out for all members of its loyalty program Mabuhay Miles. You will also be able to book flexible award tickets for any available seat and use miles & cash options, if you don’t have enough miles for a ticket. Online redemption is live now and the other new features are promised to become available by the end of March 2019!
The biggest downside of the Mabuhay Miles program to date was the lack of online booking for award tickets. It could take multiple calls and hours of time or even a visit to the office to get an award ticket, making the program very unattractive to non-Philippine residents. Now, finally, online redemption is available for all members! Just log into your Mabuhay Miles account and you’ll see a “Redeem Miles” button under the summary of your miles! That will take you to a typical booking screen, allowing you to search for one-way and round-trip flights, paying with miles.
Similar to cash booking, you’ll see all available flights with the prices for each leg of your trip. Unfortunately, you don’t get any indication whether the award is a “saver” or “regular” level – the award price varies based on availability, so you have to check the minimum cost of an award first to make sure you get the best value for your award ticket!
You can combine economy and business class bookings into mixed awards – this is a great feature, as you might be willing to fly in economy during the day, but prefer business class for a red-eye!
It’s also good news that you will be able to use cash & miles for an award, although typically the value of your points will be less in such redemptions – we will have to see how it works out when it is launched later this month
I’m a lot less excited about the last-seat availability introduced with these changes. Philippine Airlines is announcing that award prices will be seasonable. This type of flexible awards usually means higher prices on busy flights and fewer saver awards – in other words, your Mabuhay Miles points are likely to be worth less in the future.
Bottomline: With online redemption now available to all members, Mabuhay Miles will be much more attractive to members outside the Philippines. This should especially be interesting to customers living in the US, looking to visit the Philippines or connect to PAL’s many destinations around Asia! Now, Philippine Airlines just needs to join StarAlliance and I’ll be a very happy camper!