Friday, September 13, 2013

Philippine Airlines Introducing New Budget Fares, Reduces Baggage Fees

In an effort to increase its competitiveness and to become the preferred airline in the Philippines, Philippine Airlines has announced that beginning on September 18, 2013, it will introduce simplified pricing on all of its domestic flights with the introduction of four new fare classes including a budget fare class to compete directly with low cost carriers.

philippine airlines budget economy
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The airline plans to roll out four new classes of fares to meet the needs of its diverse customer base. These new classes include: Budget Economy, Regular Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class. Passengers will also be able to benefit from discounted baggage fees and new discounts for travel by students and senior citizens. In addition, Philippine Airlines announced that it will no longer be charging a fee to re-accommodate passengers on earlier flights on the same day of travel as long as the passenger travels on a standby basis pending availability of space.

Budget Economy Class
The airline's new Budget Economy Class is intended to provide price sensitive budget travellers with access to PAL's range of services and to compete directly with Cebu Pacific and other low cost carriers. It was previously believed that the airline would be introducing a new budget economy class seating product. But passengers that book Budget Economy Class will enjoy the same seating as Regular Economy passengers. However, they will be not be offered any complimentary baggage allowance or be able to earn Mabuhay Miles. Fares purchased in this class are non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be changed within 24 hours of departure. But unlike travelling on other budget carriers, complimentary snacks will continue to be provided on all flights with the exception of Q400 turbo-prop flights.

Regular Economy Class
Passengers that book in Regular Economy Class will not notice many changes from PAL's existing products and services. The free baggage allowance of 10 kilograms will continue to be offered and passengers may accumulate 100% of the Mabuhay Miles that they are entitled to for each flight sector. Unlike Budget Economy fares, Regular Economy fares can be cancelled and refunded for an applicable fee.

Premium Economy Class
Premium Economy Class is designed for passengers who seek the amenities of Business Class but cannot afford it. In addition to a free baggage allowance of 20 kilograms, Premium Economy passengers will also be offered an increased seat pitch of 34" to 35" on board the aircraft for added comfort. Cancellations, refunds, and changes are also permitted at no charge. Snacks and full Mabuhay Miles accumulation is also included. Unlike the other economy classes, if a passenger fails to show up for a flight, a refund is possible but a fee will be applied.

Business Class
Business Class is the highest level of service available on PAL domestic flights. Passengers are seated in a dedicated cabin with enhanced comfort and amenities. In addition to receiving a 30 kilogram baggage allowance, passengers will also enjoy a heavier snack and 125% accumulation of frequent flyer miles. Changes and cancellations are all permitted at no additional charge.

All passengers regardless of booking class will be entitled to re-accommodation on an earlier flight at no charge if they happen to find themselves at the airport earlier on the same day of departure as long as there is space available on the earlier flight.

As part of the new simplified fare structure, Philippines Airlines will also be applying its discount program for students, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities to both PAL and PAL Express flights. Seniors and Disabled Passengers are entitled to a 20% discount of all fares with the exception of promotional fares. Students can obtain a new discount of 20% on all flights and fares with the exception of the Budget Economy class.

Lower Baggage Fees
One of the most significant changes that will make a difference to the traveller's budget is the new prepaid baggage packages. Unlike previously where passengers were charged PHP200 for each kilogram of excess weight over and above the included complimentary baggage allowance, passengers will now be able to book and pre-pay for an increased luggage allowance.

For passengers travelling on Airbus operated flights, the new fees range from PHP200 for 15 kilograms up to PHP1,250 for 45 kilograms. On Q400 flights, passengers are only permitted to purchase up to a 10 kilogram allowance for PHP200. Excess baggage charges will apply to anything over the 10 kilograms. In addition, passengers will save significantly if they pre-purchase their baggage allowance rather than purchasing at the airport. As an example, if a passenger required an extra 15 kilograms for an Airbus flight, the cost would be PHP200 if purchased in advance but if you arrive at the airport without baggage allowance, the fee at the counter would be PHP560. Passengers will also have the opportunity to book and pre-pay for sports equipment carriage but this will be separate from the traditional baggage allowance.

The new domestic simplified pricing will take effect for both PAL and PAL Express flights on September 18.

11 comments :

  1. Good for Philippine Airlines. This is a great step forward, or is it really? PAL has not been doing so well on domestic flights, especially this past year. Ticket sales and passenger numbers have been down. The cancelling of different promotions such as the midnight sale didn’t help either.

    It is clear to me that PAL is in a bit of an identity crisis and seem to be lost, not really knowing which way to go. Should they remain a full service airline or should they go low cost? Introducing the airphilexpress concept was not a bad idea in itself but fighting a much larger competitor such as Cebu Pacific remains a challenge. When Cebu flies ten times a day from Manila to Davao and airphil can’t do the same, then they need to find other ways to “stand-out” and try to attract the customer. They are often forced to lower ticket prices to be able to compete and that hurts profits. The greaseless peanut and drink is always appreciated but offering a full service with extra legroom on these routes is not ideal either because the tickets are more expensive than the competitors. Merging airphil back into PAL (PAL Express) is not a bad idea, joining forces with main carrier PAL and offering more flights as a result. I will still miss those beautiful bright orange jets.

    Short Haul Domestic Flights

    One of the reasons low cost airlines are so successful on shorter routes is that they can squeeze in more seats compared to the classic airlines, allowing them to offer lower prices. The Airbus A320 is the aircraft that is most used on domestic routes by practically all airlines in the Philippines. On PAL, you have Business (Mabuhay) class, “regular” economy (which is, the word says it, just a regular economy seat) or on the overwing “premium” seats. If you have the money to pay for the extra service and space then there’s no problem, but did you know that for all the other seats (that’s almost 70% of the entire aircraft), Philippine Airlines offers LESS legroom on their Airbus A320’s than on ANY other airline in the world? PAL has added an extra row of 6 seats (row 28), bringing all the other seats closer together from the over-wing emergency exits all the way to the back. Correct me if I’m wrong but there is not one single A320 on this planet that has worse seating. Cebu Pacific, SEAir/Tiger Airways, Air Asia/Zest Air, Jetstar, you name it, ALL have more legroom. “Simplified fare structures they call it”. Same seating as regular economy passengers? I don’t think so.

    Competition

    It is good for PAL to compete against airlines like Cebu Pacific but then they should at least do it on the same level. PAL should ask themselves whether or not it is worth keeping a Mabuhay class on domestic routes. I know this will reduce the flexibility of aircraft (the same plane coming from Hong Kong can not just convert to a full economy class in Manila and continue to Iloilo) but as the fleet grows over the next few years, so will flexibility. It would be better to have full economy aircraft on domestic services. Turn the entire domestic network into a low cost model. This includes selling snacks and drinks. Don’t forget the connecting passengers from international flights who expect a full service. Reward them with free drink and snack vouchers. It’s ok for internal purposes, but don’t confuse the general public mixing the name PAL with PAL express. Keep it simple… “Philippine Airlines” period. Oh, leave out the dancing during safety demonstrations.

    Continued below...

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  2. ... part 2

    International and Long Haul

    As for Long haul, once again, PAL seems to be confused. Do they really want to copy Cebu Pacific with a 436 seat A330-300 layout and fly long haul with this? In all my years in aviation I have never seen anything like it. When I tell other people in the aviation industry around me they raise their eyebrows in disbelief. Maybe airlines should start doing what European low cost airline Ryanair once suggested. No more seats, just standing space only. A good publicity stunt to attract attention but nonetheless, where are the limits? where does this end? Filipinos are people who rarely complain and airlines know this. Does this make it right? What are they going to do with the badly needed foreign tourists or businessmen, the ones with money? Do you want them to fly your airline for the first time and have them tell you afterwards, “NEVER again”?

    All PAL international flights should have the full comfort and service that people expect of a reputable airline. I have said it before, long haul low cost does not work. 436 seat aircraft are not made for flights of more than 4 hours. Some day PAL will want to join an airline alliance such as Star Alliance or One World. In order to join they will also need to meet certain requirements. One of them is the level of service offered, which is another reason PAL should keep a full service level, at least on international flights. So far, Philippine Airlines is a very good company with a very strong brand name and an overall good reputation amongst Filipinos and foreigners. It is the flag carrier of the Philippines and they deserve to be successful.

    ...Just my two cents

    ReplyDelete
  3. Today May 2016 I flew to Hong Kong on the new A330-300. I flew PAL because of their safety record and the flight availability and schedule. But I was disappointed with that drinks like bottled water is rationed. The meal is just enough only for a young teen boy. No more fruit, no more coffee or tea. And the seating is so cramp you should take extra care even when you read a newspaper. No more video monitors, no more air flow control and no more button for attendant assist alert. The push button recliner only 15 degrees, practically nothing. With higher airfares and lower fuel cost today, aren't the carriers going too far in overcharging?

    ReplyDelete
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