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Airline Review: Philippine Airlines, Flight PR 123

by: Diana Filio
Mango Tours Travel Consultant

Flight: LAX – CEB

Date: Mar 19, 2016

Carrier: Philippine Airlines

Aircraft: Airbus 340-300

Cabin: Mabuhay(Business Class)

On March 19th, I was part of a familiarization tour group that took a Philippine Airlines direct flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cebu. Flight PR 123 is not quite your ordinary flight since it was launched only four days ago. This route also connects Cebu to other cities in Visayas and Mindanao and so can only be helpful to the already thriving tourism industry of the city and other regions involved. Needless to say, I was excited to be one of the first passengers to experience this flight since its inauguration.

I arrived at LAX at about 5:30 PM. At the check-in counters, a very familiar scene was already in place – a line of people and their balikbayan boxes.

PAL doesn’t have a Mabuhay Lounge in LAX. Instead, business class ticket holders will have access to the Los Angeles Int’l Lounge located on the 6th floor of Tom Bradley Int’l Terminal. PAL shares it with three other airlines so I was surprised that it wasn’t as crowded when I got there. The amenities are as expected: comfy seating, power outlets and free wi-fi, a few light food options, and drinks. No shower though for those who want to freshen up before flights.

From the lounge, going to the boarding gate took a bit of a walk to what seemed to be an isolated part of the terminal. We were departing from gate 140 which I found out later was one of the remote gates in LAX. Relative to the other international gates, this area looked a bit bare and unfinished. After a short wait, we were finally instructed to line up for boarding. They then directed us all outside to a waiting bus that drove to the remote jet way.

The Airbus A340’s business class cabin has 6 rows of 2-2-2 configured recliner seats. These seats can be adjusted from the upright position in to the “almost flat” position. i use the word 'almost flat' because in full recline, the back part of the seat is angled up slightly, while the foot part is parallel to the floor. Nevertheless, it is still fairly comfortable to sleep on. The seat is also wide enough that I was able to lie in a fetal position. For entertainment, each seat comes with a foldaway video screen, but the crew also offered mini iPads.

Once we were seated on the plane, the friendly crew offered us welcome drinks and handed out L’Occitane overnight kits. A few minutes after take off, our first meal was already being served. The in flight menu has a few options for dinner and breakfast and also in-between meals if you prefer that. One item from the menu I’d recommend is PAL’s signature Arroz Caldo. The service overall is friendly and efficient but there’s still room for refinement.

The plane landed at Mactan International Airport earlier than estimated but we had to wait a about an hour and a half for our check in luggage. Despite the setbacks, it was cozy ride and I was glad to finally arrive in Cebu. We were even greeted with a song by some local musicians.