Travel Hacks: How Flying Coach on Philippine Airlines Can Feel Like Business Class

Everyone would love to travel in Business Class all the time. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly within budget for most of us. Especially during long-haul flights, the extra leg room and mobility can mean the difference between having great trip or an extra day wasted recovering from a nasty flight.

I recently flew a total of 18 hours from Manila, Philippines to Toronto, Canada. I chose to fly with Philippine Airlines (PAL) and here’s how I made it a pleasant flight without spending twice as much for an upgrade.

  1. Book early for great deals: PAL usually offers a BUDGET ECONOMY class airfare. You’re basically still getting the same service as everyone else who is flying coach. The only real disadvantage is that you earn half the Mabuhay Miles (Pal’s Frequent flyer Program.) However, this also means you pay between 10-30% less. (The percentage isn’t accurate but I’m just estimating it from what I’ve observed in my most recent flights.) Book early because these seats run out fast!
  2. Buy CHOICE SEATS: Now that you’ve saved a significant amount of money on your base airfare, you can use some of your savings to buy bulkhead seats or exit row seats. I know this isn’t the same as the flatbed that you can get in Business Class, but being able to do a full stretch for your legs during the flight is a huge bonus. You are also able to freely get up and move around without having to disturb your seat mates. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for the Business Class ticket, you’re now just paying the price of a regular coach ticket but with extra space.

    Check out all the extra leg room that I got. I managed to fully stretch my legs for the duration of my flight.
  3. Update your Mabuhay Miles: Another way to actually get an upgrade is to use your Mabuhay Miles. It’s free to enroll in the program and apart from your actual flown miles, you can also earn by using the new Mabuhay Miles travel card. It’s a re-loadable card that you can use like a debit card anywhere that Union Pay is accepted. Each Php100 you spend is equivalent to 1 mile. You can use those towards getting upgrades or free flights! (visit for more information).

    My Mabuhay Miles Travel Card
  4. Enjoy the Inflight Menu Featuring Aristocrat Restaurant Favorites: A big bonus for those who were born somewhere in the 80’s is that you can go on a nostalgic trip down memory lane to back when Manila wasn’t full of hipster restaurants. PAL has teamed up with Chef Glenda Barretto and Aristocrat Restaurant to serve travellers with one of the most iconic and enduring local dishes: The Aristocrat Boneless Barbecue Chicken with Java Rice. I can’t tell you enough how excited I was to eat after I saw this on the menu. Clearly, you don’t need to pay extra to be enjoy a great meal on-board a PAL flight! The boneless chicken was served with Aristocrat’s very own java sauce and atchara. What a treat!
    Aristocrat BBQ Chicken and Java Rice

    The first 10-hour leg of my flight started off with the early dinner of Aristoctat barbecue. I also had a lemon peppered chicken sandwich midway through the flight.

    After I dozed off for a few hours, I woke up to my favorite breakfast of pork tocino with garlic rice! They even served this with spiced vinegar, exactly the way I would have it at home. The way I see it, I wasn’t missing out because I was flying in coach. The food was great! As if I wasn’t stuffed enough, the 5-hour leg from Vancouver to Toronto also consisted of another meal. I had Korean beef bulgogi with rice. I know that airline food has a bad reputation, but PAL clearly put in the extra effort to please our taste buds!

    Pork Tocino for Breakfast
  5. Catch up on your favorite shows or movies you’ve missed!: I hardly have time to go to the movies when I’m back home so I was pleased to find a wide selection of the latest releases on PAL’s inflight entertainment system. They also have episodes of some of the most popular TV series. My only complaint is that they should probably put in more episodes of each series. At the very least include full seasons. I was pretty annoyed that Episode 1 of Season 1 was missing when I tried to watch Riverdale. It started on Ep. 2. Like, really? Nevertheless, this kept me up and entertained for most of the flight.
    Inflight Entertainment System

    The entire flight went by so quickly and I didn’t feel like I flew halfway across the globe. I arrived feeling fresh and ready for an adventure. I felt well-rested and didn’t suffer from jetlag. Best of all, I didn’t have any aches and pains from sitting so long since I was able to move around freely and managed to get up and walk around whenever I started to feel stiff.

    It was a great experience flying long-haul with Philippine Airlines and I highly recommend it for your next big trip. See you on-board soon! Stay tuned to hear about everything I’m doing here in North America. I’ll be posting updates soon!

Visit to catch their seat sale from Nov. 6-19, 2016.