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Flight Review: Philippine Airlines Airbus A321-200, Hong Kong - Manila, Economy Class

Festive Philippines

The flight between Hong Kong and Manila is relatively short, and only a handful of airlines ply the route. So which airline offers the best deal? It all gets down to service, price, and scheduling - but not necessarily in that order.

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Here I am with the professional friendly  yet professional flight attendants aboard Philippine Airlines flight 321 from Hong Kong to Manila.

When I decided to attend TBEX Asia Pacific 2016, I had at least three options in terms of airlines: Cathay Pacific Airways, Cebu Pacific Airlines, and Philippine Airlines.

Cathay Pacific and Philippine are both legacy air carriers, and Cebu Pacific is budget, or low-cost, carrier.

I have flown on all three airlines at least once. My decision on which airline to take got down to  two factors: scheduling and price. Service was not a major consideration.

In terms of price, Philippine Airlines had a considerable cost advantage over Cathay Pacific, so Cathay was easily eliminated. That left Philippine and Cebu Pacific.

It's hard to make a direct comparison on fares when comparing legacy carriers with budget carriers because budget airlines tend to advertise a low price and then charge you for this, that, and the other thing.

I took Cebu Pacific to Cebu a few years ago, and I did like the in-flight service. The flight attendants were extraordinarily friendly.

But I didn't  like the schedule. I had only one option: to depart past midnight and arrive in the wee hours.

Philippine Airlines had five flights per day, which meant I could fly when I wanted to fly.

That meant I didn't have to wake up at the break  of dawn, could avoid the morning rush hour, and could arrive at my hotel with some time to chill out before dinner.

The Plane

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Philippine Airlines Airbus A321-200 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Photo Credit: RM Bulseco

An Airbus A321-200 was deployed on the route. The airplane is a single aisle aircraft. The airplane is designed for short to medium length routes.

 The Stats

  • Flight Number: 319
  • Departure: 1.20 pm
  • Arrival: 3.35 pm
  • Flight Time: 2 hours 25 minnures
  • Aircraft: Airbus 321-200
  • Seat Number: 44C
  • Cruising Altitude: 37,000 feet

The Seating

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Interior of a Philippine Airlines Airbus A321-200. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
  • Business Class: 12 recliner seats that recline 120 degrees with 37 inch pitch and 21 inch width
  • Premium Economy:  18 standard seats with 34 degree pitch and 18 degree width
  • Economy: 169 standard seats with 30 degree pitch and 18 inch width 

Comment: the seat was a bit cramped, but what else would you expect in Economy Class? Fortunately, the flight wasn't full - and it was short - so it didn't matter.

The In-flight Service

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Pork with cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms over rice: surprisingly tasty! Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

We were offered a chicken or pork entree.Chicken seemed to be the preferred option of other passengers, but I opted for the pork, and I enjoyed it.

My dessert? Creamy coffee flavoured cake, and it was delicious.

Best of all, we were offered wine - not bad for economy class, but this is the norm for legacy air carriers in Asia.

The flight attendants were both professional and friendly.

The Welcome

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Here I am posing with staff waiting to clean the plane. Never have I  received a warmer welcome!

I've flown more than a few times in my life, and I have NEVER received the welcome I got when I left the plane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

True, I was the last person off the plane because I wanted to do a photo shoot with the flight attendants, and I could only do that after all of the other passengers had left.

But ... I've done this before. Several times, in fact. And NEVER have I ever been greeted by staff waiting to clean a plane with such warmth or enthusiasm. I fact, I don't think I've ever been greeted. Rarely a smile.

Some of them waved. Some of the screamed, "Welcome to the Philippines!" Others screamed, "Enjoy your stay!" One said, "Have fun!" All of them smiled.

And for the record, this was a self-funded flight. The cleaning staff had  no way of knowing I was a travel blogger and I would write anything about them. 

The warmth and enthusiasm seemed genuine.

Welcome to the Philippines!!! 

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