Flight Review: PR502/PR209 – SIN-MNL-MEL – Philippine Airlines Business Class

It must have been over 30 years since I last travelled on Philippine Airlines so I was actually very excited for this flight. Prior to the day, I have read numerous nightmarish stories about the transit experience at Manila International Airport but pretty decent reviews on the Philippine Airlines onboard experience itself, so I was very curious to see how bad or good it really was.

When I arrived at Changi International Airport to check-in for my flight, I was literally the only passenger in the area. The process was fast and efficient as you would expect from Changi. My bags were tagged all the way to Melbourne and I was then invited to the SATS Lounge just past immigration. The agent presented me with both boarding passes but no further instructions on the transit process in Manila.

Today’s flight was operated on an older A321 and like a little kid, I stood by the window at the boarding gate just admiring the livery and the team on the tarmac getting the plane ready for departure!

Boarding commenced on time and Business Class passengers were invited to board first.

Whilst the economy cabin looked very full, there was only three of us in Business. This cabin had a total of 8 Business seats. Upon boarding, I was greeted by a crew who brought me a drink and a hot towel. There was a menu card in the seat pocket and I was really curious to see what lunch was going to be!

Lunch was promptly served after take off and I had the roast chicken option which was delicious!

During the flight, I asked for a cup of coffee which also came with a local treat.

There was no Wifi on this flight but limited entertainment options were available to stream on your own personal devices.

Here are some pretty nice views on our approach into Manila!

Upon deplaning, there were ground staff on hand to direct all transit passengers to the Transfer Desk. It was only a short walk away from my gate, and at the transfer desk, they checked our onward boarding pass to ensure that we were at the right terminal. Flights to Australia require an in-person secondary screening of bags. I was told to go to the baggage room across from the transfer desk to identify my bags. However when I went there, I was told that my bags were not ready and they generally only ready for inspection about 2 hours before departure. I was then directed to go up one level to the departures area where I was free to relax at the Mabuhay Lounge.

As I had a very long transit of nearly 7 hours, I spent most of my time in the lounge just catching up on some work and some Netflix on my laptop! I also decided to walk the entire terminal several times over just to clock some steps. A word of warning – Manila Airport is not Changi. There is nothing fancy about this airport so if you had a longer layover, I would strongly suggest you consider going out of the airport, perhaps to Resorts World adjacent to the airport.

Whilst I was relaxing at the lounge, about 2 hours prior to departure, I heard my name over the PA system and I went over to the lounge reception. They directed me to the baggage room again where I had to identify my bags, open them for screening, and then lock them again. Once that was done, I was free to go back to the lounge to await boarding.

Whilst the airport was rather peaceful and quiet for most of the afternoon, it was teeming in the evening, when most of Philippine Airlines’ long haul flights were scheduled to depart. There was a secondary screening area for all Australian flights where cabins bags were screened again and documents checked before passengers were allowed into the gate holding area.

Once onboard, it was a totally different environment! Crew were especially welcoming and friendly, and the Business Class hard product itself was very impressive for the price of the airlines’ Business Class fares!

A very refreshing cold towel and a glass of juice was very promptly served once I was seated. I was also very eager to check out the menu and was subsequently not disappointed at all with the catering out of Manila.

Entertainment was fast but limited. In fact, I didn’t bother watching any movies because I felt like I could use the time to catch up on my much needed sleep. There were no bedding cover provided but the pillow and blanket provided was good enough for me. With such competitive Business Class fares on Philippine Airlines, I would not hesitate to fly them again.

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Andrew is a self-confessed guru when it comes to frequent flyer programmes. He claims that he is more familiar of the terms & conditions than the one who came up with the terms & conditions. His dream is to be able to feast on cookies day and night without getting fat.