Philippine Airlines Launching Direct A350 Flights From Manila To New York

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Philippine Airlines doesn’t get a huge amount of coverage on this site — they’re not a member of a global alliance, and their premium products have not been very aspirational, although Ben described their Boeing 777 service from New York to Vancouver as a ‘pleasant experience.’

Philippine Airlines has for several years operated flights from Manila to New York JFK, via Vancouver.

Now, the airline has six Airbus A350-900 aircraft on order, with options for a further six more, which will replace their aging A340 aircraft. The first of these aircraft is to be delivered this month, with 30 seats in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 241 seats in economy.

A350 Routes

The first long-haul route for their A350 is Manila to London Heathrow, which currently operates as a direct Boeing 777 service.

But what I find exciting is that they will, later this year, introduce the A350 onto the New York route. The range of the A350 will mean that they can operate the flight non stop, without the need for the Vancouver re-fuelling stop.

From October 29, 2018, Philippine Airlines will operate the following schedule:

  • PR126 Manila to New York, departing 9:00pm arriving 11:35pm (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturdays)
  • PR127 New York to Manila, departing 1:45am arriving 7:15am (+1 day) (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sundays)

At 8,520 miles each way, the new direct flight will join the top 10 longest flights in the world, being just longer than the Singapore to San Francisco route, but just shorter than the Singapore to Los Angeles route.

As you can see below, without the Vancouver stop, the direct flight takes a slightly different route.

A350 Product

Fortunately with a new plane type, Philippine Airlines is also upgrading their hard products. Here is their 777 product, currently on the Manila – Vancouver – New York route in a 2-3-2 arrangement:

They’ve chosen the Thomson Aero Vantage XL 1-2-1 model, which is the same seat as you will find on the Qantas A330, and the new Delta One Suites (with their added sliding door).

It’s a solid hard product.

Here are the seat finishes, as installed on their A330 aircraft (images from AusBT):

There is also a small premium economy cabin a 2-4-2 layout with 38 inch pitch, and a fairly standard 3-3-3 layout economy section.

Bottom line

I’ve only flown Philippine Airlines once, in economy, on a much shorter flight to Hong Kong, and wasn’t in a hurry to repeat the experience.

But with new planes, new products, and direct flights, they’re becoming a great option for those who want to fly direct between these cities.

These new aircraft types are making direct flights between far flung cities a reality, and it’s a very exciting time to travel by air.

Is anyone planning to fly Philippine Airlines on their new A350?

  1. Ben’s friend Sam Chui will be joining the delivery flight from TLS to MNL this July 14-15.

  2. I am not sure how Philippines Airlines is doing today but once it was broke and I see the new A350 purchase as a bold move. Great for passengers of course. My experience with Philippines Airlines has always been pleasant, both for local and international flights. Never took Economy class and it was a few years back. I think they have improved the service further since then.

  3. I heard rumors of PR starting to codeshare with DL soon; will that actually happen when the route starts

  4. FINALLY! I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR SO LONG ALREADY FOR THIS POST! @Nicola Philippine airlines so far are trying to become a 5 Star airline and they recently just become a 4 Star airline. They also are having a321neos on order also having fully flat business class in a 2-2 configuration like AAs a321neo. They’re using these planes for Manila-Brisbane route.

  5. I fly to Singapore from New York once a year in business class. I would be open to flying PAL as I’m not wedded to a particular alliance points-wise, but what worries me is the transfer process in MNL. My understanding is that their business class lounge is not particularly good and that Manila is not a particularly efficient place for transfers. Any news on their ground game at their hub?

  6. Wow! When I saw a promo for these nonstop flights a few weeks ago from PR they stated they were flying 777. This is an awesome upgrade from the 777.

  7. @Justin they’re currently building a much bigger lounge at MNL (scheduled to open in the next few months apparently).

  8. Interested in the connecting possibilities between JFK and CGK/SIN, and the schedule, with early arrival in Manila seems very well tailored for that. I’m much less loyalty oriented than I used to be, and would be happy to trade off miles for a good business class fare with a convenient schedule and what looks like a perfectly good seat.

  9. If priced competitively, this could be a viable alternative for people traveling to other points in Southeast Asia.

  10. @idp5601 they’re currently using Terminal 1 exclusively for their domestic and international flights and that’s where this new lounge is being built. From what I’ve read, the government is forcing airlines to move their domestic flights to Terminal 2 and international flights will move to Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. I wonder if they’ll build a whole new lounge on which ever terminal they end up with for their international flights.

  11. @idp5601. Good to know on the new lounge, thanks! I wonder if PAL is aiming to make a similar transformation as Garuda. My understanding is that Garuda was a mediocre airline for a long while but then with careful investments in its premium products managed to transform to offering something really competitive.

    I usually opt for lower priced business class fares for my NYC-SIN trips. In general, I’ve found mainland Chinese carriers offering fares for just over $3,000, the ME3 for around $4,000-$4,500 and the European and good Asian carriers at $5,000-$6,000. I’ve been able to find good PAL fares around the high $3Ks-low $4Ks mark, so that would definitely be something I would consider IF they have an up-to-date hard product and a decent premium transfer process on the ground.

  12. Spend a lot of time for work in Manila and refuse to fly PR. Their staff especially on the ground has a old school Philippine mentality. Do not trust their maintenance of planes from a old school airline.

    Do not believe the 4-star rating. It is obvious they bought it just like Lufthansa bought their 5-star rating. Also they might be getting a new lounge but I am sure the bathroom area (ie comfort room) will be awful with the mandatory Philippines sewage smell.

  13. @Mark: yes the government is making them change terminals. Getting between terminals is a nightmare. Have to leave airside, deal with crazy traffic to get to another terminal, then go through security. Need at least 3 hours to be safe doing this. What they should do is have transfer buses go between terminals airside. But that will never happen in the Philippines. No motivation … oh I mean grease money to make that happen.

  14. @Justin, They’re making considerable investments to update their hard product and they’re retraining their ground staff and flight crew to provide a better product. I can’t speak as to how the transfer process is in Manila but having flown with PAL on and off since 2005, I’ve seen a lot of improvement.

  15. So are they pulling out of Vancouver entirely? Before the JFK route, they used to do a Manila-YVR-LAS triangle.

  16. @boris tv. Manila can be a nightmare. Terminal 3 isn’t so bad. However Cebu is great. Just opened a new terminal too which is pretty nice There are lots of options via Cebu now and hopefully the Los Angeles flight will be reintroduced

  17. @John P, Vancouver-Manila is a separate flight. The only things they’re stopping is the Vancouver-JFK leg since JFK to Manila will be a direct flight as of Oct 2018.

  18. @Boris TV, Their maintenance is actually handled by Lufthansa Technik. The Lufthansa Technik also has regional customers for the MRO services like JAL, Korean, Asiana, EVA, etc. for line maintenance and Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc. for base maintenance. I guess if you don’t trust PAL’s maintenance, I’m not sure you should be flying the other airlines listed on Lufthansa Technik Philippines website just in case that particular aircraft you’re flying on was maintained in Manila.

  19. @Justin Yes PAL is revamping its lounges. It has one 900 sq meter mega Mabuhay under construction in NAIA T2 and a 750 sq meter NAIA T1 lounge also being prepared for Middle East flights. The changes PAL are making are drastic, there seems to be something new with the airline every week. PAL also has dedicated buses for terminal transfers.

  20. I have lived in the Philippines for a decade and travel long haul at least once month and regionally weekly. Still, for international flights, PAL is almost always my last choice given the excellent options one has for business and first class products flying this part of the world. Colleagues and friends that travel similarly tend to also fly the likes of SQ, CX, the ME3, etc., as opposed to PAL. The few that I know that do take PAL regularly tend to do so because they prefer a direct flight as opposed to a layover in the likes Singapore or Narita.

    While I have always found PAL to be warm and friendly inflight, they do not have a sophisticated product when it comes to lounges, wine offerings and dining. While PAL is still a far better experience overall than flying US domestic in first class, Asia is not the region to be the below average carrier.

    Likewise, dealing with them on ground service routinely left me with a negative impression or a reminder of why they were not my first choice.

    Still, it is good to see them upping their hard product and I hope this trend continues.

    The Philippines is a heavy travel market, but it is primarily full in the back of the plane so one can get good prices up front if booking properly.

  21. @Mark haven’t you heard the news? The terminal reassignment is suspended as of the moment. PAL will stay in T2 for a few more months.

    @Max I agree, the meal quality and ground service leave a lot to be desired, but hopefully they rectify that in the upcoming months.

  22. Flying in and out of MNL it’s all about the terminal, with Terminal 3 being best by an exceptionally long way. They did renovate Terminal 1 last year, but that was more or less a paint job in the common areas. QR is still in T1 and their shared lounge is utterly shameful and most certainly was not renovated. Also T3 has the only on-terminal car park. T3 has by far the best eating options with even a Mary Grace, which is pretty much as good as it gets in PH for expats. So that means you’re looking at CX/SQ/EK as your best flight options for international. I guess QR @ T1 is usable but make sure you have the Grab app for pickup. With a dedicated Grab stop that part works well. Do not consider the Park&Fly near T4 – you’re car will be returned to you with a cockroach infestation. I took us a week of daily fumigation to get that sorted. Plus they don’t carry out the cleaning options properly should you be tricked into buying those. It’s a shame because they have a monopoly on MNL park & fly and the service could be good – but isn’t. Philippines writ large – either very good or very bad and never in-between !!!

  23. @Steve the 750 sq. m lounge being built at T1 for middle eastern flights will also be used as an arrival lounge for flights from SFO and LAX. These flights depart at T2 but arrive at T1 due to overcrowding at T2.

    They’ve recently became 4-star airline this February. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they earn their 5th star in 2020 or 2021. Afterall, Skytrax has long lost their credibility when they awarded 5 stars for Lufthansa. Ben has been commenting here about the dubious rating system used by Skytrax. But I believe Garuda, EVA and Etihad are deserving. PAL is also known to be very influential in the Philippines and the owner is a billionaire owning several corporations, much like a ‘chaebol’ in Korea. They have the money and they could pay anyone. Despite PAL currently bleeding money, the owner loves it so much and is a source of prestige for him and his conglomerate. For once, he sold 49% stake to another conglomorate well-known for their beer in 2012 but this was quickly retaken in 2014. But right now, it’s rumoured that they want to sell at least 40% stake to a foreign airline, and some say it’s ANA or Qatar Airways. Having a 4-star rating will make them more attractive to investors. And this will also most likely pave the way for their entry into an airline alliance and get their 5th star from Skytrax.

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