When we booked our flight to Manila, it was originally meant to leave at the perfectly reasonable time of 11:00am. Only a few weeks after we had booked, we received an email advising that our flight had changed to 2 hours earlier! Not ideal, given it would mean a super early start (and one of the reasons we chose Philippine Airlines was the flight time), but an earlier flight means more time overseas, right? So thanks to the kindness of my lovely mum, she picked us up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am and off to the airport we went.
Check in all went smoothly, and we wandered off to grab a quick breakfast and then make our way through to the gate. These were probably the shortest lines I had ever seen for both immigration and security at Melbourne Airport, so we breezed through to the gate and I made a mental note that perhaps flying early in the morning is not such a bad idea in future!
There was some confusion at the gates, as a different gate number was printed on our ticket and advised to us by the check in staff than the flight was actually leaving from. As it grew closer and closer to our boarding time, I was a little concerned as there weren’t many other people sitting at the gate that we were waiting at, so I went on a bit of a reconnaissance mission to find out if we were at the right gate. Luckily I did, as the flight was meant to be leaving from another gate nearby!
We boarded the plane pretty much on time, and were welcomed on board by the pleasant flight crew. The interior of the plane was a little old and tired looking, with ashtrays still in the seat armrests. However, the advantages of it being an older plane meant that the seat pitch (the amount of legroom) was better than some of the newer ones, handy for an 8 hour flight. I was surprised to see that this plane had both first class and business class! I find the majority of flights these days only have one level of premium seating available.
The economy class section of the plane was a 2-4-2 seating configuration, and Ash and I had selected a block of 2 seats on the side when we booked. I prefer this if it’s available as it feels like you have a bit more of your own personal space. There seemed to be ample room for our cabin baggage both in the overhead compartments and under the seat in front.
We settled in ready for take-off, and waited. And waited. And waited. We were starting to wonder what was going on, and eventually one of the flight crew advised that some passengers were late as they did not receive the email advising of the change in flight time, so we were going to wait for them! I had never heard of this happening before, and I’m not sure if it’s common practice. Good service for the customers that were rushing through the airport to make their flight that they didn’t know had been changed; it just would have been nice for the rest of us that were stuck on the plane if they had perhaps delayed boarding instead. The flight ended up taking off about 40 minutes late, not too bad considered, but mildly uncomfortable sitting in our seats for that long!
In terms of the inflight entertainment, there were only older style overhead CRT TV’s down the centre of the plane, and most of these were a bit worse for wear and faded. They did seem to have some reasonably new release movies that they showed, although we didn’t pay much attention as we usually bring our own movies along to keep us busy.
A meal was included in our fare (this is getting more few and far between these days!), and served not too long after take-off. I probably would have preferred if they had served it a little later so it was closer to lunch time. It did seem like they had stocked a lot more of one meal than the other, as they ran out of the chicken just over halfway through the plane. That was a bit problematic for me as I don’t eat fish, however after a bit of pleading with the staff member they were able to find a spare chicken meal for me (I know, I should order special meals, but I never think to do it as I usually expect to buy my own!). My chicken adobo with fried rice was pretty tasty, while Ash didn’t really enjoy the fish as it had a lot of bones and was a bit bland. Both meals came with the same accompaniments: a rice and lettuce salad with a creamy dressing, a bag of mixed nuts and crackers, a slice of chocolate cake (really moist and delicious!), and some choc wafer biscuits. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were also included, and staff served these upon request throughout the flight. In terms of alcoholic, it seemed to be mainly local Filipino beers that were available.
The flight overall was quite smooth and enjoyable. The toilet facilities were also quite well maintained throughout the flight, and it was reasonably clean each time I visited. Although the plane was a little old, and we had some delays and meal hiccups, I would fly with Philippine Airlines again. Although we had left Melbourne 40 minutes late, the pilots were able to make some of that up on the way over and we only ended up arriving 20 minutes after our scheduled time. Our baggage arrived quite quickly after we had cleared immigration, and then it was really time to start our holiday – stay tuned for more on the Philippines in future posts!
Have you flown Philippine Airlines before? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!