“Will you be okay?” Daddy Park asked again and again nearly every single day leading to our departure. His nervousness was making me nervous, because if I do anything wrong I knew I was going to get a big “I knew it! My worries WERE valid!”
We were heading back to Manila (from Beijing) for two-and-a-half weeks to attend my younger cousin’s wedding, and a ton of work that only he could do was forcing Dear Hubby to stay behind. When traveling, he’s usually in charge of the logistics while I handle the two kids.
Well, not on this trip he’s not. (We can’t reschedule. L2’s the flower girl, you know, I had explained to my hesitant husband.)
Because, as any parent will know, flying with toddlers is always a challenge. Choosing the right airlines, however, can make it a bit less of a hurdle. Like that time when we flew with Korean Air, for example, which we really enjoyed.
But what was it like to fly with toddlers via Philippine Airlines (PAL)?
When We Were Calling To Inquire…
It took me awhile before I finally found PAL’s China call center. I went to the Chinese Contact Us page, but all I found was an e-mail address, a link to their Customer Feedback page and their Philippine mailing address. I found another number but that was a dead end as well. I eventually got the number from someone in one of my Filipino Wechat groups. (You’ll find it near the end of this post!)
Fees for Young Children:
And so I dial the number and finally make my important inquiry:
Hi! I’m flying to Manila with my three-year-old and my one-year-old. How much of the original flight price would I have to pay for them?
Depending on your airline, infants generally either don’t pay or pay very little for their space on a flight since they either sit on their parent or guardian’s lap or stay in the bassinet. Kids beyond the infant stage and up until a certain age automatically require seats, but again depending on the airline they sometimes still get discounts.
Your older daughter will have to pay 80%, answered the multilingual Customer Service agent on the other end of the line, while your younger daughter can get 90% off.
*Celebratory fist pump dance!*
90%? Not too bad!
Booking Philippine Airlines from Beijing
So I quickly Googled the web address and started booking tickets for three people: myself, my “child” and my “infant”.
PAL defines Adult, Child and Infant this way:
“Adult: A passenger who has reached his/her 12th birthday as of the commencement of travel. An adult traveling with children must be at least 18 years old”
“Child: A passenger who has reached his/her 2nd birthday but not his/her 12th birthday as of the date of commencement of travel.”
“Infant: A passenger at least 16 days old and has not reached his/her 2nd birthday as of the date of commencement of travel. We follow One-Infant-Per-Adult Policy.”
There are three main ways to book a flight. One is to directly call the reservation hotline. The second is to book through the airline’s website and the third is to go through a third-party company like Ctrip. For those who have Alipay, I highly recommend just booking directly with Philippine Airlines’ main website.
Though I could have booked with the reservation hotline, I was very discouraged by how my calls kept getting disconnected in the middle of my succeeding questions and so dismissed that option. I had also tried to check out other options via Ctrip but abandoned that idea after learning that Ctrip does NOT permit online booking of one adult + 1 child + 1 infant. They will allow us to book for 1 adult + 1 child/infant but NOT both child and infant. So the only option left was to book through the main website.
After filling in the blanks with our personal information (Name, birth of date, etcetera) and our ages (1 Adult, 1 Child and 1 Infant), I moved on to the Payment page. (You have the option of choosing seats in advance, but I didn’t click on that).
There are two modes of payment for international flights via PAL: Alipay and Credit Card. If you have Alipay on your phone, you’ll know how easy it is to use compared to paying by card. All I needed to do was to scan the QR code to pay and answer a few security questions. I did it so quickly I surprised even myself!
For Those with Infants, Take Note!
At least 24 hours before your flight, I recommend calling the hotline to ask for the following:
1. A bassinet for your little one;
2. Food for your little one;
3. If you can’t get a bassinet, ask the staff if they can reserve seats that have a wide legroom for you.
My husband and I usually request for a bassinet, even though the kids are already way beyond six months old (although you probably won’t get it if your child is over a year old). This is because getting a bassinet automatically means you get front row seats of the Economy Class, since that’s the only row with a wide legroom that families with young children can sit at (children cannot sit on Exit rows for safety reasons). Who doesn’t want some legroom, especially for those with young kids who hate sitting for long hours?
Last time we had a bassinet on a Philippine Airlines flight, the bassinet was on the floor in front of us. When we didn’t want to use it anymore (or rather, when L1 absolutely refused to go into the tiny bed as soon as she was awake) we asked the staff to help us set it aside. Taadaaa! Leg space!
Also, one of the services provided by PAL is baby food (I think we received Gerber bottles last time). But baby food will only be provided if requested at least 24 hours before departure. Therefore, request for it soon as you book those tickets otherwise your child will only have normal food. (If that’s okay then no need to ask for baby food ahead).
Traveling with kids can be quite a challenge, which is why customer service agents are generally kinder towards those with young children. Unfortunately PAL has this new rule where they now charge for the first few rows of seats in the Economy Class, which means getting seats with legroom means paying a bit more unless the airline provides you a bassinet. Nonetheless some agents will still try to find seats that are most convenient for you. Just remember to ask! 🙂 (For more information on traveling with infants via Philippine Airlines, click here.
The PAL crew were generally very kind with us. While L1 was napping, L2 wanted to go to the toilet. Uncomfortable asking my neighbors, I beckoned one of the roaming staff and and asked her to help me watch L1 while I L2 and I went to the toilet. Sure! she answered, and soon as L2 and I left our seats she stayed on mine. Later on, L2 and I returned to our seat with a quick report of how everything was fine.
When both kids were awake and grouchy, I requested for a few packets of peanuts in an attempt to calm my cranky kids down. The staff were kind enough to also bring drinks as well later on.
Though initially getting in touch with Philippine Airlines was quite stressful, the trip itself wasn’t so bad. The staff were very kind and the peanuts and unlimited drinks helped a lot. Not just that, we didn’t even have to ask twice for anything. It was as if having kids made us a priority. We liked our trip and would definitely ride it again!
Okay. And now for the giveaway everybody!
This is my first giveaway ever, and I’d really love to have you join me!
This round trip flight to Manila is extra special to me, because it’s the first one that I traveled solo with the kids and the flight where L2 transitioned from “Infant” to “Child” (she was considered an infant going to Manila, and a “child” coming back). Not just that, it’s the first time either of my kids got to celebrate their birthday in Manila (referring to L2). So yes, I decided to get myself a little remembrance!
And this is the reminder I decided to get:
It’s really a tiny model airplane that I decided to get as a reminder of that adventure. And because I wanted to share the blessing, I decided to get two: one for us and one for another lucky winner to be chosen by L2.
So no, this post isn’t sponsored by Philippine Airlines. It’s a birthday giveaway from our newly turned two-year-old to you. 🙂
To participate, simply answer these two questions in the comments section below:
1. What are the colors on the Philippine Airline logo, and
2. What are some tips or suggestions that you might have to make flying with kids more enjoyable?
This giveaway closes this Saturday, June 3, 7PM Beijing Time. 🙂
Looking forward to reading your tips! 🙂
Philippine Airlines’ Beijing customer call center can be reached at 400100275. Languages available are Cantonese, Mandarin and English. For more information, please visit their website here.
Pal logo photo is from here.
The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to those who joined, and congratulations to Nina, the winner of the giveaway! 🙂