Is Philippine Airlines Business Class Competitive?

Just this week, Philippine Airlines unveiled its latest business class seat, which will be featured on seven of its new and upcoming Airbus A330 aircraft. In his welcome letter to passengers in the May 2014 issue of Mabuhay Magazine, PAL COO Ramon Ang had this to say about the new product:

Philippine Airlines Business Class on New A330-300 HGW 
Image Source: Philippine Airlines / Mabuhay Magazine
Laid out six abreast, the V-shaped, double-seat structure of the Equinox 3D lends itself to a unique configuration. When moving to the bed position, the window seat moves up to armrest revel while the aisle seat moves down to just above the floor. The design allows for easy egress for the window-side passenger. 
Of course, the seat comes with the full range of amenities: Electrical leg rest with ottoman, retractable privacy divider, in-seat power supply, USB port, bottle holder, reading light, coat hook, electrical seat controls, and ample stowage space to keep all belongings at your fingertips. 
PAL’s new business class in our tri-class A330-300 HGW aircraft is your luxurious, state-of-the-art home in the sky.
For PAL, this may seem like a milestone to be proud of. However, in the grand scheme of things, PAL’s competitors have gone through equally great lengths, reforming their business class seats once every four to five years.

Philippine Airlines A321 Business Class
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
Below is a sample of what selected competitors of Philippine Airlines have to offer:


ANA 787 Long-Haul Business Class / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Boeing
ANA 787 Regional Business Class / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Boarding Area
"ANA Long-Haul 787 Business Class"

"ANA Regional 787 Business Class"

A Comparison Table of Philippine Airlines Business Class versus ANA

Click Image to Enlarge

Etihad Airways Current Business Class
Image Source: Etihad / Click for Additional Photos
New Etihad A380 Residence Suite / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Etihad
New Etihad Business Studios / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Etihad
"Etihad Airways New Business Studios"

"Etihad Airways New Business Studios"

"Current Etihad Airways Business Class"

A Comparison Table of Philippine Airlines Business Class versus Etihad

Click Image to Enlarge

Cathay Pacific Long-Haul Business Class / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Cathay Pacific
"Cathay Pacific's New Long-Haul Business Class"


Delta Business Elite / Click for Additional Photos
Image Source: Delta
"Business Elite Class on Delta Boeing 747 Fleet"

A Comparison Table of Philippine Airlines Business Class 
versus Cathay Pacific and Delta Airlines 

Click Image to Enlarge
In addition to the aforementioned features, one of PAL’s unique selling points is that it claims to have a Business Class that passengers can afford.  In order to test the truth in this statement, we compared Business Class fares on Manila-Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita), Manila-London and Manila-Los Angeles routes to assess PAL's fares versus their competitors.  The all-in fares for a randomly selected date are shown below:


Current as of May 6, 2014 / Stated in US Dollars
Click Image to Enlarge
In this example, the outbound flight was on August 10, 2014, while the return flight was scheduled for August 14, 2014. The prices include all taxes and surcharges except those payable at the airport. The airfares were based on website bookings. The flight times and connecting schedules were not considered as we evaluated the price ranges only.

Business Class on Philippine Airlines Boeing 777 Fleet
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
The correlation between the “quality” ranking of the airline and the cost of a Business Class seat is inconsistent. For example, while Cathay Pacific is rated as a 5-star carrier, you may find prices that are comparable to Philippine Airlines, a 3-star carrier. Moreover, the highest possible Business Class fares shown in the chart in excess of $8,000 for a return ticket are rarely paid unless a passenger is in a real hurry to travel. If a firm has a corporate account with airlines or travel agents, they might even see lower prices than what is published here.

Philippine Airlines Business Class - Boeing 777 Fleet
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
Although Philippine Airlines just launched its new Business Class product recently, other carriers have already been a few steps ahead promoting new products and state-of-the-art features to help the business traveller feel at ease while at 35,000 feet above the ground. Given the shortcomings of the new Philippine Airlines Business Class, passengers could also consider other products such as Cathay Pacific's Premium Economy, which offers a competitive experience and enhanced service at a more affordable price. Since Philippine Airlines does not consider Etihad and Cathay Pacific as carriers they hope to emulate, it is always a good idea for passengers to compare PAL Business Class seats against others carriers to find out what else is out there. This will help to provide important insight into just how far your money can go if you choose to fly premium or simply want an enhanced experience.

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