PAL welcomes Airbus A321



With the recent lifting of the ban to fly to Europe, Philippine Airlines (PAL) is making up for lost time.

After announcing the move to transfer all but three of its domestic routes to sister company PAL Express, the country’s flag carrier immediately expanded its fleet.

On Aug. 8, PAL welcomed the newest addition to its fleet—the Airbus A321-200 was flown from the production site in Hamburg, Germany, by a veteran crew led by pilot Roland Narciso.


The new aircraft is described as the most efficient, single-aisle jetliner ever built. It will be used for PAL’s Manila-Cebu and Manila-Davao routes which are among its busiest.

The delivery of the first A321 is part of PAL’s long-term commitment to upgrade its fleet to give passengers the best service.

PAL has placed an order for 55 more aircraft worth $7 billion—the largest aircraft purchase in Philippine history.


Improving service

The new plane measures 23 feet longer than the A320 and offers a tri-class cabin. It sits 12 in business class, 169 in economy and 18 in the new premium economy class for a total of 199, making PAL the first airline in the country with tri-class seating.

“Our focus has really been on improving service. This, with other recent moves of the airline, is geared toward giving the customers what they want. If they just want a good, basic reliable service, our sister airline can take care of that. But if they want a higher level of service, then they have this one,” says Ismael Gozon, PAL SVP for operations.

CAPT. ROLAND Narciso flew the A321-200 for over 18 hours from Finkenwerder Airport in Hamburg, Germany. PHOTO BY PJ ENRIQUEZ

While the aircraft pretty much handles like the A320, according to Captain Narciso, it is what PAL has done to the aircraft’s interiors that sets it apart from not only its budget competition but also from the rest of the fleet.

The beige-and-blue scheme is welcoming, not dour or staid. It echoes the Filipino’s warmth and hospitality. It’s also quite soothing to the eyes, a far cry from the loud colors used by other airlines.

EIGHTEEN Premium Economy Seats will provide passengers more leg room and comfort. PHOTO BY PJ ENRIQUEZ

The seats have been upgraded, their ergonomic design providing greater knee and leg room.

In business class, the seat has a 37-inch pitch and passengers can recline their seats to a full 120 degrees. (The seat pitch is the distance between the backrest of one seat and the backrest of the seat directly behind it.) Other seat amenities include a six-way adjustable headrest and extendable leg-rest.

For people who just can’t seem to fit into economy seats, the new premium economy class offers more space but with slimmer design and a 34-in pitch.

BEEF Adobo Flakes designed by chef Fernando Aracama. PHOTO BY PJ ENRIQUEZ

The seat pan can also slide forward when you recline the backrest, optimizing passenger space for greater comfort.

Economy class passengers will still enjoy the 30-in seat pitch.


Big deal

Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Chicken Sausage by chef Clifton Lyles. PHOTO BY PJ ENRIQUEZ

All seats have universal sockets so you can charge your laptop or iPad during the flight, while premium economy and business class passengers have USB ports connected to their seat monitors.

Food, even on short-haul flights, is a big deal. World-renowned chef Clifton Lyles has joined PAL as corporate chef to plan a new and tasty in-flight menu.

THE AIRBUS A321-200 measures 146 feet long, offering a tri-class cabin with unique amenities. PHOTO BY PJ ENRIQUEZ

Lyle says his goal is to dispel negative notions about airline food. His latest creation is a basil and sun-dried tomato frittata with chicken sausage. The light, peppery, sweet flavor of the basil complements the sour taste of the sun-dried tomatoes.

PAL also tapped guest chef Fernando Aracama to come up with an amazing entrée of Beef Adobo Flakes. Adobo flakes, when kept long and reheated, tend to taste “rubbery,” losing their crispiness. Aracama’s flakes are crunchy, crumbling in your mouth with a subtle sour-salty and garlicky taste.

A second A321 will arrive later this month, to be followed by the airline’s first A330-300 HGW in September. It’s an A330 wide-body variant that can fly an additional 220 km, compared to the earlier model, with a heavier payload. Picking up this plane should be an interesting adventure.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • blue_lights

    Nice plane! Too bad their service sucks.

    • dgboy

      i disagree

      • blue_lights

        Well, that’s your prerogative.

        In my opinion, their service is crap compared to Japan Airlines, Cathay or EVA Air, but better than Delta. Then again, Delta’s on-time rate is still better than PAL (Plane Always Late).

    • Kronos2

      It’s pathetic to learn that PAL is Asia’s first airline only to be surpassed significantly by other Asian airlines who consistently maintain their status in the top 10 airlines in the world. PAL is so bad in its cabin service towards travelling kabayans thats why I always prefer to fly Singapore or Malaysia airlines.

    • Mickey Mao aka Chairman Mouse

      ….and bad leadership problem too…..what can you say if a chinese “taipan” from my motherland like Lucio Tan leads a Filipin company?….BAD…BAD….SERVICE.

  • unokritiko

    Another plane under SMB but subsidize by the govt!! its a new one but the guarantor for this is the govt when this PAL does not pay.
    This is good for the civil aero board to have not grant zesto air permit but the things i want you to know is the mother of disaster to come and just luring to come!!!
    yes gentleman and ladies, it is very near unless this CAB change the
    traffic to its originality.Just last evening this past sat 17 aug
    bet 9 to 11 pm an international plane due to land in runway 06 was given
    a turnaround approach due to a next plane also in landing was near in
    distance were a possible collision at landing may occur!!!
    the misapproach plane turn 45 deg to the LEFT which is a normal procedure
    and take the proper altitude for her second landing attempt.
    If a local commercial plane is also taking off at runway 13 then a disaster is imminent and they will collide in the air because right after their take off they
    are obliged to turn their aircraft 45deg to the LEFT also just right
    after airborne. Usually in the past, a plane taking off at runway 13
    takes a straight out as standard procedure.
    Whoever makes this rule for plane taking off at runway 13 is no pilot at all. he is not thingking about flight safety.

  • Kronos2

    Am not impressed till I see a significant improvement in PAL’s service and attitude by its FAs on International flights travelling Filipinos.

  • GungGung

    DOTC/CAAP should reject the name PAL Express.. the name Express should not be used for planes that are often late!!!

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