Tried & Tested

Flight review: Philippine Airlines A321 business class Singapore-Manila

5 Mar 2024 by Hannah Brandler
Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)


Philippine Airlines operates flights from Singapore Changi airport to Manila Ninoy Aquino International airport, using A321ceo aircraft.

My flight (PR502) was a morning departure of 1035, arriving at 1425 local time in Manila.

Philippines Airlines operates from Changi Terminal 1, which has access to the wonderful Jewel complex so it’s worth arriving early to experience this.


Visitors to the Philippines must have proof of a departure ticket and have registered with the eTravel system up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in the country.

The digital eTravel system is a free-of-charge platform for all passengers arriving in and departing from the Philippines, and requires information such as purpose of visit, passport, flight and accommodation details. You will receive a QR code via email once completed, which may be required at immigration.

I checked in online, however was not able to download my boarding pass – staff needed to confirm that I had a departure ticket. I arrived at the airport at 0725 for my 1035 departure.

The airline’s check-in desks were located at lane 14 – right at the end of the terminal – and there was a dedicated lane for business class passengers as well as two economy lanes, a lane for hand luggage only and a lane for those who had checked in online but needed to drop off their hold luggage.

Check-in was quick and I was provided with a physical boarding pass as well as a pass for entry to the SATS Premier Lounge.

Before reaching immigration, passengers’ passports and boarding passes are checked by security staff. Once through, there are lots of automated immigration lanes which scan your passport, capture your photo and scan your fingerprints. Unfortunately, the automated lanes weren’t working for me, so I had to go to the manual check but this was a short queue as most people did not have issues with the e-gates.

SATS Premier Lounge, Changi airport (photo: Hannah Brandler)

The lounge

Philippines Airlines does not have its own lounge at Changi airport, but instead uses the SATS Premier Lounge, located on the first floor of the departures area. The lounge is open 24/7 and accessible to business class passengers and Priority Pass members.

The lounge is made up of two rooms and is an open-plan space, with plenty of seating, some indoor greenery and wall art depicting Peranakan tiles. I sat in one of the booths, which are more private and include plug sockets.

The lounge provides buffets with hot and cold food, as well as alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and spirits), filtered taps for drinking water and sparkling water, fridges of soft drinks, tea bags, two coffee machines (and cold milk in the fridge).

During my visit, buffet items included cereals, fruit, yoghurts and cold salads, while there was also hot food such as congee, fried rice, paratha, dumplings, nonya chap chye (a Peranakan mixed vegetable stew), chicken curry, waffles, noodles and a DIY laksa station.

SATS Premier Lounge, Changi airport (photo: Hannah Brandler)

Further amenities include great complimentary wifi, showers and massage chairs. There is a sign recommending that guests only use the massage chairs for 15 minutes to avoid passengers hogging the pampering area.

It was fairly quiet when I arrived but got a lot busier towards 8.30am. The lounge was clean throughout, with staff making sure to replenish food items, wipe down surfaces and collect your used plates.

To avoid the busy buffet area and clattering of plates, you can instead sit in the separate room off to the side which has a calmer feel thanks to water features.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)


Gate D47 was announced at 0945 and located a ten-minute walk from the lounge. The gate featured a charging station at the far end for those that needed to boost their battery.

Boarding commenced by group number at 1015, with business class boarding first. Once boarded, friendly staff introduced themselves and served passengers a refreshing apple and carrot juice or a banana smoothie. The pilot greeted passengers with the warm Filipino greeting of “Mabuhay”, and announced that the flight time would be approximately 3 hours 25 minutes.

Seats featured a menu for the inflight dining service, and staff took orders at 1035. We took off at 1105.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)

The seat

The A321ceo seats 199 passengers across two cabins, with 12 seats across three rows in business class and 187 in economy.

Business class has a 2-2 (AC-HK) configuration and was only half full during my journey, so everyone had a seat next to them free.

The seats feel a little dated, designed in a beige and cream colour scheme, plus brown armrests. Each seat features a pillow, blanket and a physical menu leaflet.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)

I found the seat comfortable, but the features are really quite basic. There is an adjustable headrest and just one seat recline button in the armrest, but no footrest.

The tray table is concealed in the armrest and a little fiddly to fold open. Aside from this, there’s a small table between seats, with a drinks-sized table that slides out from here.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)

Seats are equipped with AC charging ports and a USB slot in the armrest. There is no IFE monitor on this aircraft, which is a shame.

Instead, passengers are meant to download the myPAL Player – a free inflight entertainment app that allows customers to stream almost 100 movies, 120 TV episode and over 800 songs on their own device.

I wasn’t aware of this before the flight so unfortunately wasn’t able to download the app prior to boarding, as it requires an internet connection.

For those that thought ahead, they must enable wifi on their personal device once onboard and connect to the myPAL hotspot before accessing the app. The wifi, however, didn’t appear to be working for this flight.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class (photo: Hannah Brandler)

Food and drink

Passengers on this medium-haul flight are offered a hot meal comprising of an appetiser, an assortment of breads, a choice of three mains and two desserts.

While the website has a dedicated page allowing guests to check the F&B menu ahead of their flight, this did not work for my flight.

The service kicked off at 1145 with a warm towel and a delicious bowl of salted cashews, and concluded at around 1210.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class food (photo: Hannah Brandler)

My flight menu was as follows, with each course served individually:

  • Appetiser: Poached chicken in Szechuan sauce, served with mesclun, red chilli and spring onions
  • Mains: Stewed beef brisket with pickled red chilli and radish, served with cabbarge, bok choy, carrots and steamed rice; pan-roasted seabass in a mustard tarragon sauce, served with cherry tomatoes, green beans and roast potatoes; pork asado served with green beans, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and steamed rice
  • Desserts: Mango pudding, followed by Haagen-Dazs ice cream

There are also a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on offer, and I had a glass of Louis De Sacy, Grand Cru NV Champagne.

Philippine Airlines A321 business class drinks menu (photo: Hannah Brandler)

Unfortunately, the dining experience was quite disappointing. The tray table is not very sturdy and feels narrow, meaning that the tablecloth hangs over the sides.

In terms of the food itself, my seabass was quite overdone (and conversely not that hot), while the potato wedges were soggy and the accompanying bread was rather stale.

The flight

Staff were excellent throughout the journey, with an attentive and warm demeanour. Passengers are also provided with a customs form to fill in during the journey, and staff are available to help if you have questions.

There is a washroom at the front left of the aircraft, just beside the cockpit, which was cleaned regularly by staff and they would notify you when it was available.

I was thankful for the empty seat next to me, which meant that I could spread out and rest my laptop on the neighbouring table while I ate. Otherwise, it’s impossible to work/watch something while eating due to the small tray table.

Manila airport (photo: Hannah Brandler)


We started to descend into Manila at 1400 and landed early at 1416, with a quick disembarkation at 1425.

Those with connecting flights were given priority for disembarking, with business class passengers to follow.

Filipino passengers can use the e-Gates at immigration, while foreign passport holders must queue up at manual checkpoints. This was incredibly quiet and I sped through. I had to provide a QR code with my eTravel form and my photo was taken.

Bags arrived quickly at the carousel and I was ready to depart at 1435. We were ushered through customs, however, and no one took our customs form that we had filled out.

Philippine Airlines A321 views (photo: Hannah Brandler)


This is a rather basic but comfortable seat for a short- or medium-haul journey, with excellent service from warm staff. Make sure to download some TV shows or work ahead of your flight to avoid being bored during the journey. The catering, too, needs an upgrade.


Flight duration 3 hours 25 minutes

Configuration 2-2

Seat pitch 37 inches

Seat width 21 inches

Price A one-way business class flight from Singapore to Manila starts from SGD 1,146.30 (£674) in March


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