Philippine Airlines Considering Flights From Vancouver To Chicago & Houston

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Philippine Airlines has been putting effort into the passenger experience lately, and part of that is updating their longhaul fleet. The airline is retiring their outdated A340-300s, and is taking delivery of 777s and A350s.

The airline now has eight 777-300ERs, with a further two to be delivered in the coming months. The airline also has six A350-900s on order, which they should start taking delivery of next year. Because of their outdated fleet, the airline wasn’t able to operate a lot of ultra longhaul flights nonstop, though that’s finally changing. This potentially has some interesting implications for their US route network.

At the moment Philippine Airlines operates 4x weekly flights to Toronto, and 4x weekly flights to New York. The catch? All of these flights operate via Vancouver, so you can’t fly nonstop.

Given the stop, Philippine Airlines doesn’t have much of a competitive advantage. However, I certainly don’t mind the ability to book cheap business class tickets between New York and Vancouver in what’s a very solid business class product.

Philippine Airlines’ 777 business class

As of December 16, 2017, the Manila to Toronto flight will finally operate nonstop, and the airline has plans to do the same for the New York route as of next year. The catch is that this will come at the expense of their Vancouver to New York flight, which I’ll miss.

However, it looks like we might get some other fun fifth freedom routes out of this. Philippine Airspace quotes PAL’s president as saying that the airline wants to start nonstop flights from Manila to New York using the A350 as of June 2018, and nonstop flights to Seattle as of the last quarter of 2018. Even more interesting (at least to me)? PAL wants to add flights to both Chicago and Houston, via Vancouver.

Per the story:

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista disclosed that they are also in the final planning stage for route expansion to the United States with Chicago and Houston added to its international network via Vancouver using Boeing planes. Chicago will be flown 4 times a week while Houston will have thrice a week service.

Meanwhile, direct flight from Manila to New York and Seattle will also be added to its international network beginning summer of next year with New York flown by A350-900 in June, while Seattle will be added sometime on the last quarter of next year.

Bautista added the airline is just waiting for final regulatory approvals from the US DOT before making official announcement for the new routes.

Presumably the airline would have pick-up rights in Vancouver, meaning you could book PAL just between Canada and the US. Once the airline no longer operates flights from Vancouver to Toronto and New York, presumably they’ll target other markets, and it seems like Chicago and Houston are among the first markets they’re targeting.

While Illinois and Texas rank as third and fourth when it comes to their Filipino populations, we’re still talking about only a small fraction of the Filipino population in California. For example, based on the data I’m seeing, there are fewer than 140,000 Filipinos in Illinois and Texas, so I’m not sure that’s enough to sustain a flight, especially one where the airline doesn’t have a competitive advantage, as it’s making a stop anyway.

Again, I’d quite like a flight like this for the ability to book it between the US and Canada, but I’m not sure how this really makes sense.

What do you make of PAL’s US expansion?

(Tip of the hat to Singularity)

  1. Overly ambitious and I doubt that these flights will make money. Virtually no connections for them on either end and PAL isn’t in an alliance. Don’t see these flights lasting very long.

  2. Why do you think that they haven’t joined an alliance? I know they are not great, especially compared to neighbouring countries’ airlines, but they are not terrible.

  3. Considering PAL is not in any airline alliance liked One World, Star Alliance and SkyTeam it will be very difficult to open new market like Houston which is dominated by Star Alliance Carriers such as BR, CA, NH, SQ and UA also note that Korean Air is pulling out of Houston this October 10, show how tough is it to compete in market dominated by Airlines Allaince as for Chicago I’m not sure which carrier dominates the route either AA or UA but as Lucky Stated thier is only a small fraction of Filipino liveing in Illinois it possible to funnel passenger from the central US but it will be still challenging considering the market will be limited.

  4. Seconding what Anon said. What exactly about their J product is solid? In your own review you note that the product is angled 2-3-2 on all but two 777s, the blanket is what you’d get in Y on most airlines, the headphones were crummy, the lavs were no-frills and pretty basic, the IFE was of terrible resolution despite having a decent library, and you needed to add additional padding to the seat because it wasn’t comfy enough on its own.

    I’d argue that there are much better ways to get to SE Asia and the Pacific Islands.

  5. I have flown PAL locally in Asia but never transpacific. I’d be willing to try them out given that my experience with them has been positive.

  6. Anon I agree the 2-3-2 configuration is already dated compared to what most airlines have offering direct- aisle access is must now on international business class ! I would argued that even thier recently refurbished A330s have a much more superior then what is even on newer B77W !

  7. This would be really interesting and I hope it works out. I have 2 Filipino friends who live in Houston and they prefer to fly SQ to go to MNL despite the 2 stops mainly due to price. If PAL is cheaper, I can see people opting to fly PAL instead.
    As far as alliances go, I think PAL wants to be a member of an alliance but each of the 3 alliances have SE Asian market covered already.

  8. I do think the PAL Business Class is solid – the B777 seats have a very slight angle and are just as comfortable as UA or others. Food is also good and service is better than any of the US3. It’s not the best business class, but considering the price, it’s solid value!
    They are keeping the 2-3-2 layout on the new B777 for operational reasons – it makes it easier to swap planes on different routes. And, yes, I’d wish they’d use the same seats as on their new A330, they are much nicer:
    PAL is pursuing an alliance – while they haven’t said much lately, they indicated that they want to work through their partners – my bet is on ANA and StarAlliance!
    I wouldn’t hold my breath though for these new routes – they are also looking at more routes to Europe, including Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Hamburg for their A350… their future destinations change every time they make a speech, so I’d wait till they make an official announcement before getting excited!

  9. I’m a Filipino and it’s not worth spending your money in Business Class of PAL. Not value for money, poor amenities and poor in all sense. They are expensive, I will spend a few more dollars and fly JAL or ANNA. Never PAL!

  10. Flown YVR-JFK segment a few times. A great flight to have between Vancouver and New York – it made fares between these cities affordable (Philippine Air economy fare commonly found below $400), and it’s not a red-eye flight on the way to NYC. Food on the flight is OK, service is great. Plane’s interior sometimes worn and dated; a bad layout 3-4-3 in economy.

    Though I prefer to fly Cathay, I will miss this flight once New York becomes non-stop for PAL – it adds choice and keeps fares on the route down.

  11. You have to count Filipino that lives neighboring states of Illinois like Michigan Ohio Missouri Indiana, we are hoping that PAL will open flight via Chicago.

  12. This would be interesting. To those complaining they aren’t part of an alliance, this may make them reconsider. They do have codeshares however. Afterall, it was just a few short years ago (2011, to be exact) China Airines (Taiwan) joined up with SkyTeam.

    Also having flown from Chicago with Korean and Cathay, I would appreciate the added competiveness for a Philippines flight. My tickets for economy have ranged from $900 to $1800 and avoided the $2k+ flights. Maybe, just maybe I can consider splurging on a Business Class ticket.

    Plus add no more 15 hour layover (sometimes 4 hour) at Incheon and being rushed with a 1.5 hour layover in Hong Kong.

  13. My brother, two sisters and I, plus our families, go to the Philippines at least once a year, and would TOTALLY support and welcome a direct ORD-MNL flight, even if via Vancouver to start. We live in Chicago, and there are a lot of Filipinos not just in this state but driveable from ORD. Great idea and long overdue!

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