Home Travel Inspiration

FLIGHT TEST: Philippine Airlines Flight 212, Sydney to Manila, Economy Class

We were lured by cheap flights to Tokyo with a short stay in Manila but were impressed by the service and offerings of the Philippines’ flag carrier. 

We were lured by cheap flights to Tokyo with a short stay in Manila but were impressed by the service and offerings of the Philippines’ flag carrier. 

Philippine Airlines serves Sydney daily and Melbourne and Brisbane five times a week each. The airline’s recently launched flights to Perth operate thrice-weekly.

I’m flying out of Sydney with my family for a trip to Japan via Manila. I am writing this from Manila after an awesome few days of relaxation and catching up with friends and family.

This is not the first time we’ve used Philippine Airlines to connect to destinations beyond Manila. Not only is it usually a cheaper offering, but we often take the opportunity to check out some of the Philippines’ famous islands as a lovely stopover.

Before the flight

When it comes to flying, there are certain things I like to do myself, like choosing my seat. However, when attempting to manage our booking on the Philippine Airlines website, I noticed that our daughter was booked as an adult. I didn’t think there would be an issue and entered our details. But of course, an error popped up as her passport details showed she was clearly a child. None of our information was saved, and the time to enter the details was wasted.

I reached out to the airline via Facebook Messenger (a popular communication method in the Philippines). I explained the situation. The response was quick, though it did not provide a solution. They advised me to refer to our travel agent, which I did while chatting with the airline. The agent confirmed the booking was correct and that the issue was likely with the airline’s customer-facing website.

While I had hold of the Philippine Airlines staff, I got them to add special meals, which was done quickly. The service agent did offer to add our passport details but understood publishing them in Messenger might not appeal, so they also provided other ways to contact support. 

I went with a VOIP call. There was no wait, and while they could not fix the situation either, they did confirm that my eight-year-old was indeed not an adult and that we should not expect any issues with our flights. The Philippine Airlines agent further took our passenger details and tried to upsell us to secure seats. Aisle seats required purchase, but we thought we’d try our luck and find seats together at check-in. I did, however, book my daughter and husband in window seats (the plane was a 2-4-2 configuration) with the hope that I’d be able to get next to at least one of them. 

I received an email reminder to check in 24 hours prior. I chose to download the app and check in from this. Doing so was simple. 

On the ground

We arrived at the airport almost three hours before departure. This meant there were no lines, and we were almost unprepared for the bag drop. Do we take our big winter jackets on the plane or rely on the blankets? SPOILER ALERT: I should have brought the jackets.

Check-in staff were friendly and accommodating while we stuffed our jackets into our bags. They confirmed seating and that special meals were booked. They were also helpful in directing us to the lounges. 

Boarding Philippine Airlines flight 212
Waiting to board

We spent the duration of our time in the airport in the SkyTeam Lounge. A review of this will follow. 

Important note: all the super fancy skincare options at Duty-Free have made it really hard to sample their wares pre-flight. I had to make do with the lesser fancy brands.

Onboard comfort

There are benefits to travelling with children. They’re smaller and bring less stuff so you can take up all their room. But even within the limits of my own seat, I was quite comfortable onboard this Philippine Airlines flight. In Economy, the seat pitch is 32 inches, while the width is 18. 

My general policy is that I won’t recline my seat for day flights of less than ten hours, and the seat’s comfort helped me do this. 

There wasn’t much in the back of seat pockets bar the safety card and a sick bag, adding those few precious centimetres of space. USB and headphone ports were easily accessible, and we made full use of the three blankets between us. It was cold!

The tray table was able to be pulled closer, but that still did little to stop my daughter’s inevitable ricey mess that accompanied lunch. 

The fun stuff

Philippine Airlines offers 127 movies from which to choose. And the selection was great. Given that we can pretty much stream everything these days, it was great to have the opportunity to watch things I can’t normally access on Aussie streaming services. I got into some really solid Filipino films (that aren’t the corny rom-com offerings on Netflix). I highly recommend Sakaling Hindi Makarating, which also goes by its English (and inferior) title, The Amazing Journey of the Letters which is practically a postcard for the Philippines beyond its well-worn beaches. I also got to watch Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday to prep me for the coming onslaught of catching up with family. 

My husband watched a couple of Japanese films, and my daughter seemed to have watched everything but still managed to play with every toy in her bag.

My daughter unboxing the Philippine Airlines amenity kit.

WiFi is only available on selected Philippine Airlines flights, and if it was available on ours, I did not use it. In general, 10MB is free, but anything more starts from US$9.98 (for one hour). Unlimited WiFi will set you back US$24.98.

The food

I ordered a VOML and my daughter a VLML, but we were served the same thing: a yummy tofu stir-fry with rice and beans. The meal was accompanied by a quinoa salad, sultanas, and dried apple for dessert. In the last couple of hours of the flight, we were served a grilled vegetable panini and another packet of dried fruit. The Philippine Airlines cabin crew kindly offered my daughter a cupcake when they saw she was not a fan of the snack. They also repeatedly offered snacks when my daughter and I chatted with them while waiting for the lavatory. 

The gap between meals was a little long for my daughter, who snacked on things we brought from home. 

The details

Date of travel: Friday, 3 November 2023
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 59H (aisle)
Luggage allowance: Economy passengers can check in 30kg each

Philippine Airlines flight hacks

Those seated in Row 59 get two windows, which means you can get some great photos as you come into land. My daughter thought it was extra special to have two windows. So, if you’re into that, choose Row 59. 

And for those travelling with kids, Filipinos LOVE kids. This was no different pre- and post-boarding but also during the Philippine Airlines flight. My daughter is a tall eight-year-old, but we were still prompted to board with those travelling with infants and young children and were given priority upon arrival. She’s finally starting to pay off.

The writer was not sponsored by Philippine Airlines, and the airline did not review or approve the content before publishing.