PAL’s inaugural nonstop flight to Manila takes off from NY

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – After a much awaited new service feature, Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 127 finally took off from the JFK International Airport at 2:10 A.M. on Oct. 30 to a nonstop journey bound for Manila flying across the North Polar regions. The brand-new, ultra-modern Airbus A350 295-seater, was carrying a total of 246 passengers according to Josh Vasquez, PAL-New York Area Manager.

“Passengers were all excited about this new nonstop flight service,” said Vasquez. “In fact, some passengers have postponed their travel plans set for earlier departure to wait for October 30 and experience PAL’s nonstop flight service.”

PAL sales agents checking-in passengers for the PR127 inaugural non-stop flight to Manila. | PAL Photo

Previously, passengers had to go through intermediate stop-overs in Canada, the U.S. West Coast or airports in other Asian countries, usually by connecting from one flight to another. Vasquez said that with this nonstop flight, passengers save about 3 hours of their time.

There were no ceremonies at the airport to launch the historic flight. Instead, it was more symbolic. Passengers were welcomed with some balloons and flowers set up at the check-in counters displaying PAL colors of red, blue, yellow and white.

Bongga! says a passenger

Edward Michael Cruz, one of the passengers from Manhattan, was very pleased with his trip. In a text message obtained by the Philippine Daily Mirror, he said, “Bongga!,” referring to the new aircraft and his in-flight experience.

The A350 aircraft has a spacious cabin designed for rest, relaxation, fine dining and wide choices of video entertainment. It has special LED mood lighting, customized especially for PAL, giving passengers a more intimate in-flight experience that helps them adjust to time zone and day versus night changes. The long-haul flight has state-of-the-art engines that generate less noise according to PAL.

The Economy class cabin, PAL said, has a total of 241 seats in 3-3-3 configuration. It offers passengers roomier leg space and greater seating comfort, adjustable 4-way headrests, ergonomic armrests, and personal TV screen.

“It was convenient,” Cruz added. “Also, no need to be stressed if there is a delay to a connecting flight. Especially with maximizing luggage allowances, there is less of a chance of losing them.” He mentioned that his checking-in was slow, only because he had “a family ahead of him who had a luggage that exceeded the weight limit.”

Cruz said he did not delay his trip just to be on this flight. “It so happened that the price point was the cheapest for the dates I was looking for after comparing it with other carriers,” he said.

Balloons with PAL colors of blue, red, yellow and white welcomed passengers as they check in at JFK International airport. | PAL Photo

He arrived in Manila at about 7:00 A.M., Wednesday, Oct. 31 after a 16-hour flight time. In command of the aircraft was Captain Ruel Isaac and Captain Randolf Kier. Joining them at the flight deck were: First Officer Philimerif Vinarao and First Officer Leo Parcon. Flight Purser Roberto Casuela led the Cabin Crew roster.

The Business Class has seats that turn into full-flat beds and direct access to aisles wherever a passenger is seated, PAL said.

Flight schedule

The PAL service between Manila and New York City gives passengers the flexibility to choose from a wider selection of departure days.

PR126 departs from Manila at 8:10 P.M. and arrives in New York JFK at 11:15 P.M. (local time) on the same day. By November 5, Manila departure will shift to 9:00 P.M. and arrival in New York JFK remains at 11:15 P.M. Starting December 6, PAL will start serving the MNL-NYC route five times weekly with the introduction of the 5th frequency (every Wednesday).

From October 30 to November 5, PAL will serve the New York to Manila route four times weekly (Tuesday/ Wednesday / Friday/Sunday). PR127 will leave New York JFK at 1:45 A.M. (local time) and touch down in Manila is at 6:25 A.M. the following day. By November 7, arrival in Manila will be at 7:25 A.M. (departure from New York remains at 1:45 A.M. local time.)

Starting December 13, PAL will operate the 5th frequency (every Thursday) out of New York. All PAL flights to New York will depart from NAIA Terminal 2. PAL flights from New York will arrive at NAIA Terminal 1.

However, PAL flights to and from Canada, that is, Vancouver and Toronto, will use NAIA Terminal 1 as their point of departure and arrival in Manila.

The PAL check-in line gets long as passengers prepare to board flight PR127 bound for Manila. | PAL Photo

In the past, according to Vasquez, based on their “consolidated feedback from their sales and airport teams, passengers are mostly coming from New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.” With the introduction of the nonstop flight service, demographics may change.

On its 74th anniversary on March 15, 2015, PAL returned to New York after 18 years with a four-times-weekly service from Manila to JFK New York via Vancouver, Canada. Chairman Lucio C. Tan and President Jaime J. Bautista were both on the inaugural flight, which was warmly welcomed by the Filipino community on the U.S. East Coast. New York is PAL’s fifth destination in the U.S.

PAL earns two 4-Stars on its wings

In February 2018, PAL was certified with a 4-Star airline rating given by London-based Skytrax, the international air transport rating organization, after a “tedious auditing of its in-flight and on-ground services.” PAL joins 40 other airlines in the said 4-Star rating and is the first Philippine airline to receive such distinction from Skytrax.

In September 2018, PAL earned another 4-Star honor to its wings. APEX, a world-renowned global, non-profit airline customer association, certified PAL with 4-Star Major Regional Airline 2019 rating. The award is the result of a fully “Certified, Validated, Verified” rating program based on passenger feedback on PAL’s over-all flight experience in five sub-categories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity. APEX is the New York-based Airline Passenger Experience Association.

Overall ratings were certified by an external audit firm hired by APEX. The association processed verified itineraries that were validated by geo-location from over 50 million verified airline generated itineraries. More than 500,000 flights by passengers from around the world were rated throughout the year ending on July 31, 2018.

PAL New York Team

The PAL New York team is composed of Josh Vasquez, Area Manager; Dondi Arcangeles, Station Manager; Leah Trinidad and Rolly Junio, Duty Managers; Charisse Rodriguez, Account Manager; Erwin Del Rosario and Gina Arguelles, Customer Service Representatives. Arcangeles, Trinidad, and Junio are all in-charge of airport operations.

As more A350 aircraft are added to its fleet, new services to other destinations in North America and Europe are being eyed.  Seattle, Chicago and a point in Western Europe are being considered according to PAL


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