11 Oct2013

Really, they are. I always trawl the internet and react to any published special fares since I travel to Cebu, and elsewhere, fairly often. I pride myself in nailing 12 roundtrips to Cebu on PAL at a fabulous price of PHP2,000 all-in in the first hours of a special promo, and if my credit cards didn’t malfunction in such a booking frenzy, I could have booked a dozen more tickets… Many folks bitch about the price of airfares these days, but to be honest, they are pretty darned low, PERIOD. One of the cheapest and safest ways to transport yourself long distances is by air. I used to travel to the U.S. 35 years ago, and the price of the economy ticket from Manila to New York is nearly identical today in dollar terms as it was 35 years ago… that’s truly an amazing feat that results from far more efficient planes and incredible competition. If a Manila-London roundtrip airfare in 1975 was $1,000 (roughly), and there was just 3% price inflation added onto that price annually, then the ticket today should rightfully be at about $3,000. But guess what economy fare Philippine Airlines is offering on it’s about to be launched Manila-London route (777-300ER 12.5 hour non-stop flight)? It’s just $1,052! That’s amazing if you ask me. And no, I am not paid to write this post, I fly PAL domestically 60+ times a year, and I was just stunned to see the fare, and did a bit more number crunching.

Here is the approximate cost of flying roundtrip to different destinations, taking into account mid-November travel, the cheapest on-line PAL fares quoted, and all-in (none of that added baggage BS, seat selection, food selection that other airlines fool their clients with):

$77/Hour – Manila to Seoul, $616, 8 hours (relatively pricey to fly to the land of kimchi)
$66/Hour – Manila to Tokyo, $496, 9 hours
$66/Hour – Manila to Hong Kong, $200, 3 hours
$65/Hour – Manila to Basco, Batanes, $196, 3 hours (Hard to get to, low traffic, no choice)
$43/Hour – Manila to Sydney, $682, 16 hours
$43/Hour – Manila to Toronto, $1387, 32 hours
$42/Hour – Manila to Cebu, $85, 2 hours
$42/Hour – Manila to Davao, $126, 3 hours
$42/Hour – Manila to London, $1052, 25 hours
$37/Hour – Manila to San Francisco, $958, 26 hours
$36/Hour – Manila to Bangkok, $220, 6 hours

And just in case you are wondering, assuming a jet plane travels at say 600 miles per hour, that means the cost of travel ranges from 6-12 cents per mile, or say an average of 9 cents per mile traveled or just under 4 pesos per mile. How does travel by taxi cab compare?

Manila taxi cabs – PHP22 or 51 U.S. cents per mile! (Flagdown PHP40, PHP13.60 per kilometer, no waiting time assumed)
New York City taxi cabs – PHP108 or $2.50 per mile!!!

So cab rides, in older, less safe vehicles with much higher risk of non-fatal and fatal accidents, without lavatories, no food and drinks, no movies (sometimes tv), no magazines and a lack of pretty cabin crew, are far more expensive for the distance traveled… :)



  1. Cynthia says:

    Hi Marketman, i like your analysis. It has now actually convinced me to find the cheapest rates through the internet. We travelled to the US earlier this year and had to pay USD 1,200 per person to LA via Japan Airlines. PAL at that time had a higher rate maybe since it was peak season.

    But I do agree that with more players in the industry, rates have been competitvely lower than ever! Just a minor correction on your USD 3,000 – with a 3% increase, it should be USD 1,030 :-).

    Oct 11, 2013 | 10:57 am


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  3. ami says:

    Ah yes, PAL’s offering of the new Manila-London route is quite tempting and at 12.5 hours to boot.

    MM, are you subscribed to a website that’s why you know beforehand when these sales happen?

    Oct 11, 2013 | 12:10 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    Cynthia, that’s 3% assumed inflation every year for 38 years compounded, or 1.03 raised to the 38th, so the price would treble to $3,000 as stated in the post. :) And 3% is a rather conservative figure annual inflation figure, when you compare the rise in say college tuition rates… one could argue that travel is sometimes more enlightening than a poorly delivered college class… :)

    At Harvard, for example, the tuition in 1975 was approximately $3,750 and this year, roughly $38,000 (this is for tuition ONLY, not room & board, etc.), so the price of college rose 10-fold, while the price of an economy ticket from Manila to London has basically remained the same. Data for tuition from this site.

    ami, no, I just read about the rates online on inquirer.net I think… but come to think of it, since I buy so many tickets on line, perhaps they do send me emails to warn me of upcoming sales…

    Oct 11, 2013 | 12:16 pm

  5. MP says:

    Wow, that Manila-London PAL fare Is incredibly cheap! I wonder where the stopover is? I hope they don’t use those horribly old planes they use for their other long haul flights. We flew to LA via PAL last December (it wasn’t the cheapest then but we wanted to earn additional miles) and we were on an old aircraft that had no individual entertainment sets for coach. This would have been acceptable 5 years ago but in this age when all other airlines use upgraded aircrafts (with individual entertainment sets even on coach) for long haul flights, it was pure torture! And PAL’s rates during the holidays are sky-high so one would think they would at least use more modern planes noh? We vowed to take only PAL when there’s no better option…

    Oct 11, 2013 | 5:47 pm

  6. Josephine says:

    MP that Manila London flight is direct. I’m really looking forward to PAL rolling out its direct flights to continental Europe next year as I have to do a lot of commuting for business reasons and a direct flight, and at a relatively cheap fare at that, would be really helpful.

    Oct 11, 2013 | 6:38 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    MP, London flight on their 777-300ER’s, the best plane in their arsenal, I think. We recently flew them to Bangkok in their newly leased (but previously operated I think) A321 and THAT is now officially the worst variant of aircraft in their jet arsenal in my opinion… 250 people sharing two bathrooms in a really long economy cabin was absurd. They also recently leased an ex-Iberia A330 or A340 that still had the Iberia livery except for the tail…you’d think they would paint it first before using it… The London flight is NON-STOP, making up for other downsides, it is the best connection from Manila to London. PAL is acquiring dozens of new planes in the years ahead, so hopefully things will improve… I like what the new management is doing so far from a passenger’s perspective. Even their website is so much clearer and more transparent than other local airlines, but their servers always get bogged down with the volume! :(

    Josephine, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris to follow in the next couple of months. I hope they have deals to those cities as well! A flight to London, TGV to Paris and a flight home from Paris at those rates would be a real steal… Personally, I would prefer to fly Singapore Airlines whenever possible, but with fares and new direct routes like PAL’s, you just have to grin and bear it sometimes… :)

    Oct 11, 2013 | 6:58 pm

  8. Lee says:

    Because of my work and break schedule, I get to fly from Dubai to the Philippines thrice a year. I prefer Singapore Airlines for decent legroom, good pricing and a nice layover at Changi Airport for a rewarding chicken rice meal or bah kuh teh before the flight to Manila or vice versa. I also take advantage of a Singapore airlines promo where they give a 20 Singapore dollar voucher (used to be 40 a few months ago) per boarding pass transiting through Changi. I might try a DXB-CEB route soon para may Zubuchon layover.

    Oct 11, 2013 | 7:34 pm

  9. marixie says:

    I flew to the Phil in last week of January this year. The trip started in Atlanta,Ga to SF then from there nonstop to Manila. Then connected to Davao. The trip from SF to Manila to Davao was with PAL, all business class. The trip from Atlanta,Ga to SF was domestic Delta, coach class. My total fee for all $3,300.00 round-trip. I booked thru a Filipino travel agent in Virginia. I thought she gave me a primo deal!!

    Oct 12, 2013 | 12:32 am

  10. Charly says:

    Thank you for the travel info, just book our tickets to Cebu via PAL for Jan 21. Is there a Zubuchon restaurant by the Casa Escano B&B? Thanks Charly

    Oct 12, 2013 | 1:09 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Charly, there are two Zubuchons within 5-10 minute walk from Casa Escano. To the left when you exit the gates, walk to Escario Central, our biggest branch on Escario Street. To the right as you exit Casa’s gates, walk towards Mango Avenue and at One Mango we have our original branch, a few meters behind the Sunburst Chicken restaurant. :) Marixie, current business class fares from the Philippines to the West Coast run about $2900… Lee, the small group of us meeting in Cebu this weekend will miss your presence. :)

    Oct 12, 2013 | 8:43 am

  12. corrine says:

    I hope PAL continues to improve its operations. Other international airlines are suffering.

    Oct 12, 2013 | 3:44 pm

  13. ERNIE D BAUTISTA says:






    Oct 12, 2013 | 7:54 pm

  14. Monique says:

    You are quite right! I don’t know how you are able to snag those airline tickets that go on sale. Every time I try it’s always sold out!

    Oct 12, 2013 | 10:49 pm

  15. gadgets says:

    I was lucky enough to get the £760 RT London to Manila PAL fare for the Christmas holiday, other airlines were offering over £1K and had at least one stopover. To top it off, it is a direct flight :) with an arrival time that allows me to hop on a plane to Davao or Cebu without staying overnight in Manila. PAL will start flying this route on Nov 4, so hopefully by the time I travel they would have worked out the kinks.

    Oct 15, 2013 | 7:58 pm

  16. Marixie says:

    To Ernie D Bautista: Sorry did not see your comment till today, 10/24/13!! I promise you I will give you the Travel Agent’s name ,phone and address as soon as I get a chance to retrieve them today. Marixie

    Oct 24, 2013 | 10:04 pm

  17. marixie says:

    To Ernie D Bautista, here’s the Filipino travel agent from Virginia:
    Florence Soriano
    Travelshare, Inc.
    Tel (703) 242-5862
    Ernie I hope you revisit this blog.

    Oct 25, 2013 | 2:18 am


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