Review: PAGSS Lounge Manila Airport

Filed Under: Uncategorized

The previous installment covered the disaster which is connecting from T2 to T1 in Manila, and suffice to say that it probably clouded my perception of everything at this airport.

In this installment I wanted to take a look at the PAGSS Lounge Terminal 1.

PAGSS Lounge Manila Terminal 1 Review

Even though Philippine Airlines operates some of their most premium flights out of Terminal 1 (including to New York and Toronto), they don’t operate their own lounge in the terminal. Rather the PAGSS Lounge is used for premium passengers on a variety of airlines departing the terminal.

Let’s take a look at the location, hours, entry requirements, and then the layout and dining in the lounge.

PAGSS Lounge Location

The PAGSS Lounge is located at NAIA Terminal 1. After clearing security and immigration I headed down the hall and then turned left towards the East Concourse, in the direction of airline lounges and gates 2-7.

Manila Airport Terminal 1

However, expect to be unnecessarily stopped by a security guard and asked why you want to go to this part of the terminal, for reasons I can’t quite figure out.

Manila Airport Terminal 1

Once you’re admitted to this part of the hall, you’ll see the entrance to the PAGSS Lounge on the right, near gate 2.

PAGSS Lounge Manila entrance

PAGSS Lounge Hours

The PAGSS Premium Lounge Terminal 1 is open daily from 6AM until 12AM, which covers just about all departures at the airport.

How To Access The PAGSS Lounge

The PAGSS Lounge is a contract lounge, so there are several ways to access it.

For one, this is the lounge used for premium passengers on a variety of airlines, including Air China, China Airlines, China Southern, China Eastern, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, Kuwait Airways, Philippine Airlines, and Xiamen Air.

On top of that, the lounge is also open to Priority Pass members.

I had an invitation from Philippine Airlines on account of my business class ticket, so that’s how I accessed the lounge.

PAGSS Lounge Layout & Seating

Let me apologize for the quality of the pictures in this review. The lounge was kind of crowded when I visited and I wanted to respect peoples’ privacy, so I wasn’t able to get pictures of everything.

The lounge has one main room along the windows, which has a bunch of seating that looks like, well, just about any somewhat outdated airline lounge.

PAGSS Lounge Manila seating

Near the entrance was a communal table right by a TV, where I ended up sitting.

PAGSS Lounge Manila seating

Behind that were some more chairs, as well as some high-top seating along the windows.

PAGSS Lounge Manila seating

That’s about all there is in terms of seating, though the other side of the lounge had some model airplane displays, which I liked. There were also magazines and newspapers in this area.

PAGSS Lounge Manila airplane models

PAGGS Lounge Food & Drinks

The lounge had a relatively large food and drink selection. In the smaller room of the lounge was a bar, where there was a server who could serve liquor and coffee (best I could tell the coffee options weren’t actually barista made, but he just sorta pushed the buttons for you).

PAGSS Lounge Manila bar

Then there was a self serve area with cans of soda, fruit, veggies, yogurt, and bread.

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

The main buffet was over near the main room, and had a fairly large selection of hot and cold options.

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Manila buffet

PAGSS Lounge Bathrooms

The lounge didn’t have any showers, best I could tell, but it did have reasonably well maintained bathrooms.

PAGSS Lounge Manila bathrooms

PAGSS Lounge Manila Bottom Line

The PAGSS Lounge is a perfectly fine contract lounge. It gets a bit crowded and it has a large food and drink selection, but that’s about it.

Perhaps what’s most disappointing is when you consider that this is the lounge that Philippine Airlines is using at their hub airport. When you’re boarding a carrier’s flagship aircraft on a long haul route at their hub, you would hope they’d be able to do a bit better than this.

But for a Priority Pass or contract lounge, this is perfectly okay, in my opinion.

If you’ve visited the PAGSS Lounge NAIA T1, what was your experience like?

  1. Lower you expectations for the Philippines. Nice enough place with nice enough people. The few visits to date don’t entice me to arrange a return visit. The mangoes are very good but oddly enough the mangoes aren’t on the menu. The hotel restaurant told me I could have mangoes day or night on request for free but mangoes were not on the menu (or the breakfast buffet).

  2. No one knows where this will end. Ultimately the Chinese cannot run an airline people want to fly. A bit like the Italians build cars people want to drive (but can’t) and the Germans build cars people can drive (but don’t want to). The Germans finally hired the Italians to design the cars. The Middle Eastern carriers have resources sufficient to fill the voids left by the demise of the Asian carriers. China would rather promote Asia, not the Middle East. The rich Chinese wont fly economy.

  3. Visited a few months ago before my EVA flight to Taipei. Quite a nice little lounge with great food as long as it’s not too busy.

  4. Years ago before PR had this massive wave of expansion, they were based under one roof in terminal 2. The government decided to reshuffle some flights where most of the international carriers move to terminal 3, domestic flights are in 2 and some remaining international carriers along with all of PR’s international ops move to 1.

    IIRC, they are building their own lounge in 1.

    IMO, what PR needs to improve on is the ground and airport experience, IT and consistency.

  5. I was in this lounge last month .. it’s fine .. a little busy sometimes but fine otherwise. Food selection was good by PH standards 🙂

  6. “Perhaps what’s most disappointing is when you consider that this is the lounge that Philippine Airlines is using at their hub airport.”

    Not only that, but Kuwait Airways has bigger signage than they do…

  7. I stopped there on my way to Taipei. It was better than a United Club, but fell short of a true international lounge. Still beats the terminal though!

  8. I visited the ‘actual’ Philippine Airlines lounge in the main terminal in MNL and believe me, it is no better that this contract one reviewed. It is one of the poorest ‘Flagship’ lounges i’ve ever seen – which is a pity as onboard PR have really improved their premium offering.

    The PR Mabuhay lounge is small, cramped, dated, dark with food options no better than reviewed here.

  9. Looks quite good IMO. Especially compared to the rest of the terminal! Looks also much better than PAL’s domestic lounge.

  10. The terminal has improved significantly in the last 10 years. It still has long lines at times and gates can be crowded but it’s way better that it used to be.

    Lisbon and for that matter Heathrow this week make it look good.

  11. Bottom to Better
    1. MNL T4
    2. MNL T2
    3. MNL T1
    4. MNL T3

    Best Lounge experience offered: Cathay Pacific Lounge @ MNL T3

  12. Lucky, I think your grumpy mood did cloud the review of the lounge:
    First off, the staff at the entrance to that terminal wing is there to assist people, so they don’t walk all the way down the wrong hallway by accident. There are plenty of inexperienced travelers and tourists unfamiliar with the terminal, so providing this service makes sense. All you have to do is, is smile and say “lounge” and you are on your way without even showing your boarding pass.
    The PAGGS lounge was completely renovated about a year ago and has all-new carpets, furniture, etc. I’d consider it nicer than any US lounge, save for maybe Polaris. The same applies to the generous selection of cold and hot food. I’d also consider it the nicest lounge in T1 and better than PAL’s own Mabuhay Lounge in T2.
    I also would consider the service better than anything you’ll find in the US – the bar staff will not only make you a coffee or pour a drink, they’ll serve it wherever you are seated, so you don’t have to wait at the bar. When was the last time that happened to you in a US lounge?
    PAL doesn’t have their own lounge in T1, because it’s overflow from T2. The whole airport, including “their” terminal 2, are operating at more than 30% above design capacity, so it’s crowded. PAL has proposed an expansion of their T2, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to be approved by the government and completed any time soon…
    Lastly, the “disaster which is connecting between T2 and T1” was partly of your own making: PAL offers airside transfer, making it similar to any other transfer between terminal. And if you miss that and exit by accident, you could walk to T1 or take a grab, getting you there in a few minutes, if you are in a hurry. Granted, it’s not well signed, but what MNL (and other developing country transport infrastructure) lack in signs, they make up for in staff: just ask any of the countless airline or airport staff to assist you and they will be happy to point you in the right direction. This applies to much of SE Asia – I can’t recall a single case in many years here that my request for assistance was ever rejected…
    If you ever come back to the Philippines, and it’s well worth a longer visit, let me know and I’ll be happy to help ensure that you (and Ford) have a better experience…

  13. @Mike O – not “all of PR’s international ops” are in T1, PR flies twice a day to SFO and LAX from T2, once daily to LHR and HNL. That’s most of their INTL traffic. Plus, as was mentioned, the Mabuhay lounge in T2 is no better than PAGSS in T1.

  14. They appear to have upgraded the bathroom, which was, IIRC, all but unusable the last time I used that lounge.

  15. @Andy F

    I should’ve been more clear that that’s what the government is planning to do. As for when, nothing definite as of yet.

  16. …Philippine Airlines operates some of their most premium flights out of Terminal 1 (including to New York and Toronto)….

    It’s your own standard of “premium flights”, not everyone’s, Kid.

  17. When I visited, a uniformed Ethiopian Airlines crew (Flight Deck and Cabin) was using the lounge to relax before their flight.

    Were the windows clean? When I went through, they were so dirty!

  18. Thank goodness Qatar moved from T1 to T3 – this used to be the lounge they used too. Nice that they’ve given it a lick of paint. The ceiling used to have black stains around the air vents. The NAIA lounge I want to try out is the new CX lounge in T3 – looks nice from the outside.

  19. The Mabuhay lounge is just horrible. The SQ lounge looks ok. Staff were always friendly but the food was usually ordinary

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