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A Budget Flight That’s Worth it: Flying with Philippine Airlines [MNL-SIN Economy Class] Review

As of July 2, 2018, Philippine Airlines started deploying their A321neo for flights between Asia and Australia. Recently, however, they started diversifying. As with newer models, the aircraft comes with a number of improvements over its predecessors. One thing to take note of is that the A321neo sacrifices the maximum number of passengers for a more comfortable experience—which, for me, is worthy of praise.

TL; DR

The new A321neo was a recent addition to the Philippine Airlines Fleet. That being said, its Economy Class is good, and is quite comparable to their new Premium Economy. still, for an Economy seat, it was relatively good.

PROS: A refreshing and slightly more comfortable take on the Economy Class seats. Decent in-flight entertainment.

CONS: Limited Wi-Fi connectivity and limited storage space below seats.

Booking

I booked this flight through the Mabuhay Miles website. It’s easy to use and fairly straightforward. Here’s a screenshot from the website itself. You’ll find a booking segment on their homepage.


https://www.philippineairlines.com/en/ph/home

I paid for this trip using my PNB World MasterCard, netting me a total of 1,476 Mabuhay Miles which I can use for some other flights.

This credit card is known for its low point-to-mile conversion of P33 = 1 point = 1 mile! It also has some other features that might benefit you.

*Update*
PNB has recently changed their point-to-mile ratio to be based on the Total Banking Records of the individual. The most common condition now would be P55: 1 mile. But it is also possible to get a ratio as low as P30: 1 mile with a TBR of PHP100 Million.

PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles Mastercard

Airport Experience

I got to encounter a lot of things during my trip to Singapore. Although I only booked Economy, my experience was still pretty decent. NAIA is a rather decent airport with its fair share of inconveniences, but when you get the timing right, it’s pretty quiet and spacious.

Thanks to my Elite Status with Mabuhay Miles I got to experience premium services. For those of you who don’t know yet, you can also use this check-in area if you have a PNB-PAL World MasterCard.

The Mabuhay Miles program has made my travels more convenient, even when I only booked Economy, I was able to use the business class check-in area.

This was thanks to my ELITE status— it’s something you can achieve by accumulating 25,000 flight miles on Philippine Airlines and Code-Share flights.

Check in was a breeze – being an ELITE member, I had priority status for my upgrade, I had an additional luggage allowance of ten kilograms (except to/from USA, Canada, The Middle East, Japan, and Guam) and you get a priority tag to boot!

Unfortunately, the flight wasn’t full so I wasn’t able to get an upgrade to business class.

After checking in, I spent the rest of my time in the Mabuhay Lounge (Check my in-depth review of this lounge here) where I was welcomed with a good selection of snacks and a comfortable place to wait for my flight.

There weren’t a lot of passengers in the lounge, but there were few staff that catered to me. They were very attentive.

Boarding

Again, thanks to my ELITE status, I have a priority lane when it came to boarding, I essentially got to skip the line even though I just booked Economy.

It may not look like it in the picture above, but the staff gave us the warmest of welcomes as we boarded the plane.

The in-flight crew of PAL provided another level of warmth and kindness, making us feel the true essence of Filipino hospitality throughout the whole flight!

Seats and Seat Configuration

On the way to my seat, I passed by the Business Class section. There were two seats on each side which looked very comfy. I’ll be making a review about this as soon as I get to experience it first-hand, so stay tuned!

EDIT: Here’s part one of my two-part review on PAL’s Business Class Product!

Before I finally took my seat, I really had no expectations about its comfort factor. To my delight, I got a relatively comfortable seat, for economy.

The seat pitch reached up to 32-inches and the width is around 18-inches. It also has a recline of up to 5 inches. It’s enough to make you feel comfortable, but does so by sacrificing a bit of storage space below the seat.

Every seat had a 10.1-inch myPAL eSuite Personal TV, with your own personal headset and a 4-way headrest. You could say that it is quite comfortable. I might even say it’s one of the better economy seats available in routes to and from the Philippines.

The headset provided was sealed in a plastic bag.

The thing that made these seats a touch comfier were the armrests. They weren’t fixed in place, which means that you can put them up and have a more spacious seat.

If you’re lucky and you don’t have anyone sitting next to you, you can pull them up and enjoy the extra space! Not having fixed armrests made the ride feel less cramped — something that will be appreciated by those who are particular of their personal space.

As with most PAL flights, however, WiFi is more of a luxury than a given, so you won’t really have access to it unless you pay for it (I didn’t).

Seat Recommendations

When it comes to economy class, the standard for recommended seats applies to the A321neo. The first seats are usually the best because of the extra legroom that they offer. The most notable ones are seats 42A and 42K which have the equivalent of one more chair’s worth of legroom in front!

You can also consider seats 61B, 61C, 61H, and 61J for the same reason.

61A and 61K, however, are seats that you should avoid for multiple reasons: its tray table is within the armrest, reducing the seat width. Not to mention you’re missing a window and you have no floor storage for your luggage.

Other seats that should be avoided are the row furthest back because they’ll have limited recline and are very near the galley and lavatories.

Service

My flight from Manila to Singapore was relatively short, but for an Economy Class seat, it was a very pleasing experience. The FAs were nigh omnipotent because as soon as someone needed their attention, they would come quickly and care for them to the best of their abilities! Comparing it with my previous flights in Economy Class, this one is way better, especially when it comes to comfort.

Overall Experience

PAL made a good choice catering to their passengers. They focused more on the quality of their flight instead of packing in as many passengers as they can on board. The lack of free Wi-Fi and the relatively limited storage space below the seat wasn’t much of a big deal for me—as they were overshadowed by the new and somewhat more comfortable take to the traditional economy seat.

If this is how comfortable it was flying in their Economy Class, then I’m looking forward to experiencing their Premium Economy and their Business Class seats.

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