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Philippine Airline - Never Again!

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Toronto, Canada
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Philippine Airline - Never Again!

We decided to upgrade to business class on our way back to Canada and you would think it'll be an easy task ( In North America, it's just a metter of one call to the airline). Wrong! We have to make 5 calls to the 24-hour reservation line and 3 trips to the ticket centre to finally get our upgrade done. Very disappointing! Worst, the 24-hour customer assistants provides information that are in conflict with the ticket centre reps. Are they not working in the same company? The only reason we fly PAL is because it's a direct flight coming from Vancouver. However, we would rather fly with a stopover than to be subjected to PAL's mediocre service. It's unacceptable!

And by the way, this is not the only reason why we decided to discontinue flying with PAL.

Vancouver, Wn.
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427 posts
4 reviews
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1. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I have read many negative reviews for this airline. In spite of this fact I am using them in April for my next trip for the following reasons: non-stop flights to Manila, early 6 am arrival and late 11 pm departures allowing maximum use of the std. 21 day visa, and I was able to book at a vary attractive price. I maybe sorry after using them but I have low expectations. As long as the plane arrives safely and my luggage is there upon arrival, I am prepared to be crowded into the cattle car and either read or sleep for the 12 to 13 hour flight.

Orange County, CA
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35 posts
8 reviews
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2. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I use PAL exclusively since they have the cheapest business class to Asia. That said, you get what you pay for. It's not as nice as Singapore or EVA, but the price is 40%-50% less. I'm happy to pay that price to get out of the cattle car- 17 hours in Economy is brutal! I also read that PAL is renovating their 747 fleet to lie-flat business class and AVOD for both Mabuhay and Fiesta Class. All new interiors and seats. Can't wait for that. Their current condition can be classified as 'worn-out'. All 4 747's in PALs fleet will be retrofitted by the end of 2009. I think there is at least one in service already, doing the trans-pacific flight (SFO or LAX). Went back to Manila this past Dec08, but was not lucky enough to get on that one retrofitted plane.

philippineairlines.com/news/31oct_pals_jumbo…

I use them once or twice a year for the past 8 years to the Philippines, LAX to MNL. Non-stop is the way to go (actually a technical stop in Guam on the outbound leg). Haven't had a problem with them at all (knock on wood). Decent service, FA's are attentive enough for me, food is edible and sometimes tasty. Never lost a bag. And even lucky enough to not have any delayed flights at all..in 8 years! But like you, I keep my expectations low...just in case. I'm not trying to promote them either. The less people use them, the better (keep my business class tickets price low, hehehe). Can't wait for the retrofit. I fly business class on Singapore Airlines and sometimes EVA, from LAX to Taipei on business trips, and the lie-flat seats and AVOD are awesome. (my work pays for those tickets).

As for ticketing - When you think about it, ticketing is really only a small part of any airline service these days. It's all online, and if you do it correctly the first time, you never deal with that aspect of your travel again. It's only when YOU make changes, that you start to deal with the agents and offices, etc. Granted, sometimes changes are needed, and in the States it's as quick as one phone call. But you need to accept that this is not the States or Canada. Even PAL in the states is so much easier than dealing with them in the Philippines. It's just a phone call or two. The Philippine offices are just slow. I dealt with them before in Makati, and now accept that this is just how it is the Philippines. Just do your ticketing right the first time ;~)

Toronto, Canada
7 posts
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3. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I guess it's a matter of prioritizing on what's more important when you travel. Setting your expectations, it's definitely a choice.

We fly a lot. We are in a situation where we can be really flexible with our travel plans. Extend our holidays, upgrade, last-minute travel, it's our lifestyle. This is the reason why airline's customer service is paramount to us. We've used quite a few airlines and PAL just doesn't cut. It'll be hard for me to give good words about PAL if someone asks.

Orange County, CA
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35 posts
8 reviews
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4. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

Love that lifestyle CANtrip09. Wish I could travel last-minute, extend holidays, etc. For your case, customer service would be very important.

Again, not trying to promote PAL. If money was no obstacle, they definetly would NOT be my first choice (I like Singapore Airlines the best). As the other post mentioned - 'as long as the plane arrives safely and my luggage is there upon arrival' - I'm happy with that. The price point is important, but also the 'non-stop' is big with me. With a couple of kids to tow around, I hate to be running thru terminals trying to make connections. And since the toughest part of flying is takeoffs and landings - the less you have of those during your trip, the better your odds are of making it to your destination ;~)

And I do like PAL's FF miles program. J class accumulates FF miles rather quickly, so I've been able to get many class upgrades and free tickets. Saved a lot of cash in all my trips to the Phils. Only issue with it - they do not have a lot of code share partners.

happy travels!

fairfield...
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891 posts
1 review
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5. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

CANtrip09,

In defense of PAL, I've flown with them since 2000. I vacationed in the Philippines twice a year, at least, sometimes more. I've patronized them, joined their Frequent Flyer Mileage program, (my current membership now is Premiere Elite, the second tier. First is Elite and the top is the Million Miles) and thus, rewarded with class upgrades(Business Class) everytime I travel with PAL.They are now in the process of eliminating First Class section. I've had not travelled economy class since I earned my Premiere Elite membership. PAL rewards its dedicated, loyal, frequent flyer customers. I believe no other airlines will offer you the same program, not even close.

If you fly PAL just once, then, in comparison to other airlines' service, would be "average".

I'll keep using PAL for my trips to the Philippines. I've been very satisfied with this company.

Enjoy your trips....:-)

Papalo

Toronto, Canada
7 posts
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6. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I realize PAL caters mostly to a certain demographic. It is evident when you fly with them. It has loyal clients and probably the only one that fly nonstop from Westcoast to Manila. Could be a reason for complacency, maybe.

I cant' help but compare it with my experiences with either Thai or Singapore Air. These two are on top of their league. Well, I learned that satisfactory customer service is really relative!

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines
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10,778 posts
1,977 reviews
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7. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I am luckier than Americans or Canadians, because from Melbourne or Sydney it is only a direct eight hours to Manila if on Philippine Airlines (they do the 'triangle' the two different possible ways so some days a Mel passenger must fly via Syd or vice versa).

Yes, my preferred airline is Singapore Airlines too.

However in defence of PAL when its Internet site allowed me to book a Cebu - Puerto Princesa flight that actually only operated every second day, the airline immediately put me up at Days Inn near Mactan Airport with full board.

PAL could do with refitting all its international aircraft to have an entertainment system like SQ and yes domestically in the Phils. I prefer Cebu Pacific (newer planes and younger flight attendants) but I have to give credit to PAL for accommodating me immediately the mistake was known.

Manila, Philippines
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732 posts
21 reviews
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8. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

Really sad to hear about your experience with PAL.

There have been negative reviews with the airline, specially in the past. but when other Philippine carriers came in (Cebu Pacific, etc.), a lot of people realized PAl is really one good airline.

Like what other posters mentioned above, not to promote PAL, but really, Philippine Airlines is my preferred airline as well. It aint perfect, but I guess Im lucky that I have not experienced anything that would make me not travel with them anymore. I've flown with SQ before and I agree they're one of the best in the region, but there are lots of things (fares, schedules, service, safety, etc.) that make us choose why we fly with our chosen airlines.

On flights to Vancouver we've tried flying Cathay via Hongkong, and several times with JAL, but really nothing beats the nonstop PAL flight, whether flying coach or specially if your flying business class. A bowl of arroz caldo is a good comfort food for long haul in business class!

Hope you'd give them a chance again in the future.

Atlanta, Georgia
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10 posts
14 reviews
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9. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

philippine airline is one of the worst airline in the asia. i ve flown with asiana,korean air,singapore,thai, cathy pacific. but philippine airline doesnt even come close to competeing with these airlines. thier service, and staff is awful. only good thing about philippine airline is its very cheap compare to other airlines, i guess what you pay for its what you get!

vancouver, bc
13 posts
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10. Re: Philippine Airline - Never Again!

I've flown PAL a few times over the years from vancouver to manila and ALWAYS had problem with them.

Even their attendants are most of the time "snobbish", they are probably used to working on the domestic flights where they give u snacks and that's all they do, well, ladies and gentlemen u are actually expected to attend to the passengers needs, not just prance around the aircraft and ignore passengers.

Now i fly JAL and sometimes China airlines which offer better service.