PAL Express Flight Review: Manila to Davao (Round-Trip)

My father has never been to Davao so I decided to take him using my Philippine Airline's (PAL) Mabuhay Miles as soon as a weekend opened up. I had enough for both of us but I would have to start from zero after this trip. Much to my delight, PAL had a 50% promo discount when I made my purchase at its office, leaving me with some points still for another domestic trip. Thank you, PAL!

pal express review
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My dad and I arrived three hours early to give us time for lunch at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2. We checked in first using the senior citizens' counter and headed straight to the cafeteria (Level 1) next to the ticketing office. Afterwards, we returned to wait at our gate. 

pal express review
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Predictably, I busied myself online using my own WiFi access. At our table, there were two Japanese men trying to log in using PAL's free WiFi but they were having a problem. So they asked the Filipina seated beside them, who was not making any more progress than they were. One of the Japanese men looked at me and before he could say anything, I told him not to expect much. The Caucasian guy seated beside me chuckled. The Japanese guys continued to stare at me so I added, "Don't expect anything at all." The Caucasian guy started snickering and was soon joined by the Japanese men who have come to accept their situation.

pal express review
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It was almost boarding time but there was neither personnel nor an announcement at our declared counter so I went to check the flight board announcement and saw only a dot next to our flight details. Upon returning to my seat, I saw someone behind the S4 counter so I went up to her confirming our gate. She asked for my flight number, which I couldn't remember but I told her I was flying to Davao at 3 p.m. She still insisted on the flight number. (Surely, there was only one flight flying to Davao at 3?)

I told her I couldn't remember so she asked for my boarding pass. Unfortunately, I didn't have it with me at that moment as I had left my stuff with my father. Like a sad comedy sketch, she once again asked for my flight number, with a frown on her face this time. I resisted the urge to frown back as I repeated myself to which she finally replied, "S5." I thanked her and went to check S5 which like S4, had no announcement. I decided to just wait for the actual boarding time to determine our gate.

Ten minutes passed after our supposed boarding time. We were still waiting so I checked the monitor once again and saw that our gate was S4 but there was still no announcement at the counter although this time, there were people behind it. So I went up to them and had my gate confirmed as well as my obvious observation that our flight will be delayed. A few minutes later, I saw the ground crew put up the Davao sign and announced belatedly how our flight would be delayed due to the “late arrival of our aircraft from Cebu.” But not long after, we started boarding.

pal express review
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As I was with a senior citizen, our line was shorter. We hopped on a shuttle bus and fortuitously, my father and I were standing where the exit doors opened, making us the first to embark on the plane.

pal express review
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pal express review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
pal express review
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
In all my years of flying, I have never had the experience of being the first passenger to enter.

As soon as all the passengers were seated, the captain announced that our take-off would be delayed furthermore due to congestion. We were queued at number two and it took us more than half an hour before finally taking off.

pal express review
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To while the time away, my father perused the menu which showed San Miguel beverage products. He commented how it will probably change now that PAL is back with Lucio Tan who has his own beverage brands. (Curiously though, PAL does not carry Ramon Ang's Coca-Cola products.)

Looking out the window from my middle seat, I saw that indeed we were number two with Cebu Pacific ahead of us, and finally leaving us as it took off. I tried to take a picture but all I got was an opaque window. Then I heard a beeping sound coming from above my head and saw the seat belt sign blinking rapidly signaling our take-off at a time when we were supposed to be landing in the land of durian and mangosteen.

I then noticed the temperature getting cold so I switched off my air-conditioning vent. My father was feeling uncomfortable so I requested for a blanket only to be told that they were not offering "complimentary" blankets and that I had to purchase it for P500. I explained that I wasn't asking for a free souvenir but for my father to use who was starting to rub his arms to keep warm. The attendant tried to pull the price list from the pocket in front of my father but I stopped her seeing the futility of it all. This made me wonder about our flight---were we flying PAL Express? 

pal express review
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And then I saw “La Isla,” the in-flight magazine of PAL Express, tucked in my neighbor’s pocket. The pockets in front of my father and I had none so I pulled it out from my neighbor’s pocket.

pal express review
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Our e-ticket did not indicate that we were flying PAL Express nor were we informed upon purchase at the office. Not that it would have been a big deal for me, except for the blanket business.

pal express review
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Anyway, my father just opted for the complimentary cup of coffee to keep warm which did the trick. We saved the free wheat crackers for later consumption. After the food service, they rolled out the souvenir cart brandishing the blanket for sale...

davao airport
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An hour later, the captain announced the start of our descent and our estimated time of arrival. I don't know if it was intentional but he had a momentary pause like a game show host before he completed his sentence. "We will be landing at…(I could almost hear a drum roll)….five minutes past six." 

davao airport
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After a smooth landing, we had a short walk towards the baggage claim area which already had the priority baggage on the carousel. Ours, being ordinary, came out fifteen minutes after.

davao airport
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davao airport
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Ciao, Davao! 

davao airport
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A few days later, we were headed back to Manila where we encountered a bit of a problem with our boxed suha (pomelo). My Davao-based uncle gave us two boxes causing us to exceed our baggage weight limit. So the obvious solution was to hand-carry it, right? The man behind the check-in counter just mumbled that it was our decision to make. I was a bit puzzled at his attitude but just shrugged it off.

davao airport
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After paying the P200 terminal fee and passing through security clearance, a PAL representative stopped us, telling us that hand-carried fruits were not allowed on the plane. Why didn't the check-in guy say so? The neighboring Cebu Pacific representative joined in telling us that hand-carried boxed fruits were not allowed on any airline but Cebu Pacific accepts bagged ones. My uncle then had our fruits transferred to a bag but it turns out that PAL had a stricter policy of no hand-carry fruits whatsoever, regardless of packaging. I was now ready to say goodbye to our suha and make some airport staff happy when the same PAL representative who stopped us handed me two claim stubs as he took away our bagged fruits for check-in at no extra cost. Problem solved. Thank you for your kind understanding, PAL. It makes me equally understanding for the two-hour flight delay "due to the late arrival of the turn-around aircraft from Manila."

davao airport
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The waiting area was a bit warm so I transferred to the seat nearest to the air cooler which alleviated the situation just a little bit. 

davao airport
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davao airport
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davao airport
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Finally, the aircraft arrived and a few minutes later, we boarded but it took us another thirty minutes to depart.

philippine airlines flight review
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Upon take-off, we encountered some air turbulence which was mercifully brief.

philippine airlines flight review
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After which, crackers and drinks were offered and then things were quiet for the remainder of the trip. 

philippine airlines flight review
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On our way to baggage claim, I noticed that PAL has now implemented a separate baggage retrieval for its business and priority passengers which does not include us so we had to wait for twenty minutes before our baggage came out which has become par for the course at NAIA so I have become used to it.

philippine airlines flight review
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Until next time!

---THE PARANOID TRAVELER

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5 comments:

  1. Philippine Flight Network, together with Philippine Airspace blogspot and Airline News Philippines, doesn't provide article about Oman Air's Manila inaugural flight.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why philippineflightnetwork.com, philippineairspace.blogspot.com, and airlinenewsphilippines.worldpress.com doesn't provide articles about Oman Air's inaugural flight in Manila?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is our article on Oman Air's inaugural flight: http://www.philippineflightnetwork.com/2014/12/oman-air-begins-muscat--manila-flights.html

      Delete
  3. carousel #2 has been reserved for priority tagged luggage. It has been that way for a long time already.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 뱃할맛이 나는곳 먹튀검증 안전한메이져

    ReplyDelete

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