Philippines Airlines are, as the name suggests, the flag carrier of the Philippines. Their saying is ‘the heart of the Filipino’ and from my experience, they really did live up to their saying.
The Airport Experience
I flew from Tagbilaran Airport on Bohol to Manila. It is therefore probably unfair to rate my airport experience as Tagbilaran Airport is tiny and rather unique!
The airport itself is a large white building in amongst a row of local shops, I found a bit confusing to even find the entrance. Eventually I found a large gate with a guard standing by and it turns out, this was the entrance. You need to produce your tickets and passport to gain entry to the airport, so no visitors past this point!
Once you pass the passport/ticket test, you then have to pass through full on airport security, your carry on and hold luggage are scanned along with yourself! There are two check in desks, one for Philippines Airlines and one for Cebu Pacific.
The coolest bit about the check in process was the retro scales to weigh your baggage. Pretty sure they weren’t exactly accurate which worried me, as the baggage allowance for their internal flights is tiny (I had 15Kgs, which I had paid extra for, the basic allowance is 10Kgs!!!)
Although I was ever so lightly over my allowance, I was not charged anything extra. It is these small gestures which can really make the difference when it comes to the whole experience.
After paying an additional 50 Peso airport fee (cash only), and passing through another set of security, I was straight into the one boarding gate, and it was packed!! Rows of seats were full to the brim with people waiting for their flight, it was cramped, hot (no air con) and dirty. I spotted a sign pointing upstairs to the coffee shop, so I decided to investigate.
It was much better up here, fewer people, a few large fans you could sit in front of and a few small market like stalls selling food and drink (not quite a coffee shop!). I was pleasantly surprised by the toilets. They were clean, had toilet seats and soap. Granted there wasn’t any loo paper, but I had become accustomed to that in the Philippines so always came prepared. Upstairs had a great view for the tiny runway and I watched as the plane before landed, and subsequent took off, and then watched as my plane came into land.
I’m not going to lie, the length of the runway didn’t help my pre-flight nerves!!!
As it neared our boarding time I headed back downstairs into the main gate, it was, as usual, packed! They also had a group of blind musicians entertaining the waiting passengers. One local was enjoying the entertainment so much they got up and started dancing!
Boarding was an interesting experience, the door to the runway is opened and it is pretty much a free for all. There were two staff members trying to check tickets as the mob of people pushed their way through the small door frame. It was chaos. The only survival method was to throw out all English tendencies to politely queue and through yourself into the middle of it all. Eventually I made my way out on the runway and took a deep breath!
The nice man at the check-in counter had given me an exit row seat for no extra charge (EasyJet etc, take note!). I was extremely impressed with the leg room on offer in these seats. The seats were that standard fake leather of such short haul flights but they were comfy enough. The leg room definitely helped but even the basic seats were pretty generous with their leg room for a short haul flight.
This was where Philippines Airlines really did live up to their tag line ‘the heart of the Filipino’. The cabin crew were immaculately dressed, constantly smiling and keen to ensure every single passenger is comfortable and happy during the flight. They really did help to put me at ease.
The flight time was around 1 hour and not long after take off, the crew came round with a free drinks service, accompanied by a delicious chunk of banana bread. I really was not expecting to be provided with a free drink and snack but again, it’s these nice, small touches, that really do make a different to the overall experience.
I would fly Philippines Airlines again without hesitation should I find myself in that neck of the woods again. They were very reasonably priced, service was impeccable and who doesn’t love a HUGE chunk of banana bread to munch on?!