Flying with a new airline can be scary if you don’t know what to expect – particularly if you’re shelling out on tickets.
However, it’s worth a shot if it means flying direct to a location that would otherwise be a challenge to reach.
From September 15, Philippine Airlines will introduce its new Airbus A350 on its routes from London Heathrow and New York JFK to and from Manila, Philippines.
Ahead of the launch, we spoke to the airline to find out what passengers can expect from Business Class – as well as Premium Economy and Economy – on the new aircraft.
Scroll down for a look at what it’s like to fly with Philippine Airlines, from beginning to end.
Philippine Airlines, founded in 1941, is the Philippines’ national airline, based out of Manila. It flies to over 40 cities worldwide, and over 30 points in the Philippines.
It’s the only airline that flies non-stop between London Heathrow and Manila.
From September 15, PAL is introducing its new A350 aircraft on its Heathrow-Manila and New York JFK-Manila routes. Here’s what you can expect.
Business Class passengers flying from Heathrow have access to the Aspire Lounge before their flight, where they can take advantage of a self-service buffet, bar, business zone, showers, and Wi-Fi.
Meanwhile, here’s what the PAL lounge looks like in Cebu, the Philippines.
There are three classes on the A350 — Economy, Premium Economy, and Business. Here’s what Business Class looks like.
The airline says the cabins have up to four times less noise, as well as controlled temperature and humidity to help reduce jet lag. Business Class has a 1-2-1 layout.
That means every seat has direct access to the aisle.
The new reclining 78-inch lie-flat bed seats come complete with USB sockets, noise-cancelling headphones, and private storage.
The new features sound like a step up from aircraft of the past. Nando Demarchi, who reviewed the Manila to London route on the old A340 for TravelCodex in February, said the seats “were not maintained very well” and the cabin was hot. However, he added that they were comfortable to sleep in.
The A350 also has AC power outlets in Premium and Business Class, as well as an in-flight entertainment system with movies, TV shows and music, a selection of newspapers, and an in-flight magazine. In Business Class, the HD screens are 18.5 inches.
Here’s what they look like in Premium Economy, where there are 24 seats in a 2-4-2 format. The seats — with a pitch 38 inches and width of 19 inches — have an 8-inch recline, leg rest, and foot rest, as well as power ports and a bottle holder along with the standard front pocket.
Here’s what they look like in action.
There’s free WiFi for all passengers, and you can also pair your screen to your mobile device.
Business Class passengers can make use of a “Dine on Demand” service with Champagne on tap. You’ll be offered a welcome drink and a canapé when you arrive.
There’s also plenty of wine on the menu.
There’s a free in-flight meal in each class, with food that’s “a mix of Filipino,Spanish, Asian, and American” cuisine, according to the airline. In Business Class, you’ll get two meals, as well as snacks in between if you’re hungry.
Here’s what the food looks like in Business Class, where you’ll get the likes of stuffed tortellini with spinach and ricotta cheese with mushroom sauce, or Adobo — stewed chicken in spiced soy-vinegar marinade served with bok choy, shimeji mushrooms and steamed rice.
According to a Demarchi of TravelCodex, “Everything was cooked to perfection and the meals tasted wonderfully. These were two of the best meals I have had on an aeroplane.”
Meanwhile, here’s an example of an economy meal.
Passengers in Premium Economy and up receive amenity kits, as well. They currently include products from French brand L’Occitane.
According to Demarchi for TravelCodex, the kits contain socks, eye shades, a dental hygiene kit, comb, and L’Occitane branded tubes of lotion, lip balm, and cologne.
When it’s time for bed, Business Class passengers can take advantage of the lie-flat bed and duvet on the new A350 — or they can simply relax in their chair, which has a lumbar massage feature and an air cushion to adjust seat firmness.
The mood lighting in the cabin apparently helps passengers adjust to the time zone of their arrival city.
The airline employs more than 8,200 people across its routes — and service from the cabin crew gets good reviews.
Demarchi called the service “outstanding,” adding: “The flight attendants really did everything they could to make our flights more enjoyable.”
It was given a Certified 4-Star Airline Rating by Skytrax in 2018 “for the quality of its onboard product and staff service.”
PAL told Business Insider it “aims to become a 5-star airline by the year 2020 through introducing yet more improvements to its onboard products and services.”
Demarchi, who wrote that he only travelled with the airline as a mistake, said that overall, he enjoyed the experience and would fly with them again.
“I was worried about Philippine Airlines because I couldn’t find any good reviews of them but I’m glad we flew them,” he said. “We didn’t enjoy the seats but everything else was perfect.”
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