Reviews

Review: Philippine Airlines Mabuhay business class lounge, Manila T2

By Chris Chamberlin, July 19 2019
Philippine Airlines Mabuhay business class lounge, Manila T2
Country

Philippines

City

Manila

Airport

Manila - Ninoy Aquino International

Alliance

None

Airline

Philippine Airlines

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Noodle bar serving a freshly-prepared dish of the day
The Bad
  • An underwhelming lounge, especially considering its 'flagship' status
X-Factor
  • The only airport lounge in the terminal, so it's this or the boarding gate...
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

At its home hub of Manila and Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippine Airlines operates an international business class lounge for passengers jetting abroad. However, unless you're playing it safe and allowing plenty of time for the unpredictable Manila traffic, this is not a lounge to arrive early for.

Location & Impressions

After clearing passport control and security screening at Terminal 2, I was hoping to spot signage pointing towards the Mabuhay Lounge, but despite being Philippine Airlines’ home port, there was nothing.

Instead, I started wandering through the terminal, past each gate looking for what could be the lounge, and eventually noticed a small “Mabuhay Lounge” arrow down the far end:

Stepping inside revealed a relatively basic space with casual seating…

… as well as dining zone, aside more seating:

Just beyond reception is a TV room, but which proved to be the most popular part of the lounge. Looking to relax before a long overnight flight, I was instead content with the quieter zone towards the far corner of the space.

To keep the lounge enjoyable for all, guests are asked to minimise the volume of their conversations and phone calls, which is a nice touch.

This lounge caters for all Philippine Airlines international flights from Terminal 2, including to destinations across Asia, as well as those in Australia, North America and further afield.

Access

The following travellers can access this lounge when flying with Philippine Airlines from Terminal 2 here in Manila:

  • Business class passengers
  • Mabuhay Miles Million Miler cardholders, plus two guests
  • Mabuhay Miles Premier Elite members, plus one guest
  • Mabuhay Miles Elite travellers (no guest)
  • ANA Mileage Club Platinum, Diamond and Super Flyers Card members travelling on an ANA (NH) codeshare flight operated by Philippine Airlines, plus one guest
  • Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive frequent flyers when booked on a PR or EY codeshare flight number, plus one guest

Other airport lounge membership cards, such as Priority Pass, are not accepted here.

Dining

For a pre-flight bite, you’ll find tables and chairs adjacent to the lounge’s buffet zone…

… serving up hot food like dumplings and siomai…

… joined by other dishes that didn't have the same visual appeal, like the boneless bangus belly bistek:

Not far away, there's soup, bread and sandwiches too, including vegetable focaccia with cheese, tomato and tuna, and bacon and egg.

Further along, ingredients for assembling a basic salad, along with bananas, and pork buns (stored hot)...

... but for something more substantial, head to the noodle bar, where staff prepare the dish of the day to order:

You can spot the plastic-wrapped 'sample' bowl above, but here's what the real dish looks like, before I added toppings.

This visit came ahead of an overnight business class flight to Brisbane, on which I wanted to maximise my rest, so I was pleased that if nothing else, there was something substantial (and fresh) to tuck into before that flight.

For a quick bite, you'll also find light refreshments over by the coffee machine...

... and speaking of beverages, your best bet is something self-served from the fridge nearby...

... where this (dented) can of Asahi was the choice pick:

Separately, there's a staffed coffee and cocktail bar, although I'm certain this is the first lounge I've ever visited that went to the trouble of creating a manned coffee station but didn't bother installing a barista machine.

Hoping the cocktail list would prove a little more impressive, I went for the first mix on the board, a Long Island Iced Tea. It wasn't one I would go back for.

Finally, you can help yourself to hot or cold water via the dispenser on the left...

... and of course, nothing says 'business class' like being reminded that your use of said water tap is under close supervision via CCTV, so don't be tempted to run off with any H2O.

Work

When there's work to do, you'll find several computer terminals...

... with some of the seats – but certainly not all – offering AC power, although USB charging is absent:

Wireless Internet access is available, but there were no clear instructions to connect. I tried a network named "@PAL_MabuhayLounge", which seemed the most obvious choice, but the system wouldn't jump online without providing a phone number via the WiFi portal.

I'm not in the habit of handing over personal information to unknown WiFi hotspots, so tried another network, "PAL-MABUHAY", which connected without issue, and offered average download speeds of 14Mbps, with uploads being just a tad faster at 15Mbps.

Of course, still not knowing for sure whether this was the lounge's legitimate WiFi network, I reverted back to mobile data as soon as those speed tests were complete.

Relax

With time to spare before your flight, choose a place to sit back and relax...

... perhaps with some reading material...

... or, have a cocktail at one of these awkwardly-placed high tables, pushed right up against a concertina door:

All things considered, there's not a great deal to get excited about with this lounge, and unfortunately, there are no alternatives in this terminal even for members of programs like Priority Pass, so it's this or the departure gate.

Frankly, being Philippine Airlines' flagship international business class lounge at its home hub airport – catering to passengers taking long flights to Australia or even longer voyages to North America – this lounge really misses the mark.

While Philippine Airlines has a very respectable business class seat and service aboard its newer aircraft like the Airbus A321neo, the airport lounge experience here in Manila is almost comical by comparison, and simply isn't up to scratch in 2019.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Manila as a guest of Philippine Airlines.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 328

Looks to do a good job of representing what that airport is as a whole....a steaming pile of you know what.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Nov 2016

Total posts 72

Very ordinary lounge

Qantas

02 Sep 2015

Total posts 34

I would rather eat a jolibee
DGP
DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 170

What a shame considering that they have been upgrading their in-flight product offering.

Qantas

09 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

This lounge is terrible, inflight product is good, but lounges are dissapointing. In NYC they use Alitalia - marginally better. I have let my Mabuhay Miles Premier Elite status lapse, now use Asia miles instead.

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 32

Terminal 2 is a substandard disgrace. Even worse if you have a late night departure.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 66

And this is one reason I trust AusBT, a journalist can be on a sponsored media trip and still write an honest review. No agenda, no bias one way or the other, just fair and balanced reporting.
JJM
JJM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 12

You hit the nail on the head with your review Chris. This is the worst lounge I’ve ever been in, with daylight second. The comment above about their inflight offerings in comparison to their home base lounge experience is spot on also. Funds need to be allocated by Philippine Airlines toward a well overdue upgrade, with a matter of urgency.
I agree this lounge is disappointing (I was there recently). PAL have been investing and upgrading, so surely an investment/upgrade of their flagship lounge is in the planning stages. But they should get onto it quickly.

11 Sep 2013

Total posts 13

Philippine Airlines is constrained with the infrastructure at Manila airport. The lounge is on the cards for a big upgrade as the airline is aiming to become a 5 star airline to complement its new fleet and outstanding service offering onboard. A new Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Lounge opened in terminal 2 of Cebu last year and it is miles ahead than it’s Manila’s lounge. The airline has won awards for most improved and is slowly getting there. The government is also slowly addressing the airport problem of congestion and infrastructure. New improvements have slowly happened. I agree that it certainly needs to happen sooner rather than later to catch up.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 66

If by 'five star airline' you mean the Skytrax rating, you DO realise that Skytrax is a massive scam and its awards are pretty much 'paid for' by airlines engaging the company to do a lot of consultancy and reporting work for them? Look at which airlines have five star Skytrax ratings, as well as four and three star ratings, and you will quickly see many anomalies, and you will also find a lot of instances of where an airline withdraws from the Skytrax rating system and gets knocked down a star or two, and sometimes rejoins and suddenly regains its stars. Skytrax is a massive con job on the public and if Philippine Airlines gets a five star rating you can bet this was paid for. Nothing about the airline is anything more than 'three stars' or 'four stars' at very best.

11 Sep 2013

Total posts 13

Have you flown PAL recently on their new planes? They have improved a lot in terms of their hard product and their crew are always very good. It’s let down is Manila airport which is slowly being improved on. Airlines do engage skytrax for consultancy on which airlines do have to meet certain requirements in order to achieve their star rating. You can not just go and buy and be rated a five star airline. Look at how Garuda was before and how it is now. We should celebrate airlines like PAL who are making serious efforts to improve.
I've flown their new A330 business class, it's a good seat although not as good as the version which Qantas has, despite them using the exact same seat. Cabin crew are very nice in business class, meals are up to scratch for business class but nothing special. But there is simply nothing about Philippine Airlines which makes it a "five star airline" to me, "four stars" sounds about right. But even with a much better lounge I would not consider that weighs too much into the 'five star airline' formula. And if you honestly look at Garuda lately there is no way you could seriously describe them as a "five star" airline, just ask any traveller or read the latest reports.

11 Sep 2013

Total posts 13

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is trying to become a five star airline and they are definitely not there yet...at the moment they have achieved a four star rating. You can read the massive improvements online on their new products and their onboard service considering their price point which is usually cheaper than others. The lounge situation if remedied will help lift the overall experience. There is definitely a lot of work for them to do. The lounge experience is one of the kpi’s considered by Skytrax when giving out a five star rating. Thanks to PAL, we can now fly on a flat bed from Brisbane to Manila and onwards to other Asian destinations like Saporro on a narrow body. This is a great experience for everyone for an airline which is trying its best to make improvements. They have had such a bad reputation for so long but they have certainly made big steps to change. On the other hand, Garuda was on the same boat more than a decade ago but has been awarded 2nd best cabin crew for 2019. They are certainly not a five star airline but they offer the competition for service.

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 35

I am Manila based for almost 10 years. I do roughly 150-200k miles per year throughout Asia/Australasia mostly in J and PEY. Don't get me wrong I would love to see PAL do well but the number of miles I usually do annually on PAL = 0. Why? Lounge issues aside: it is expensive relative to far better airlines and on those occasions it is cheaper, it is not cheaper by enough to compensate for inferior quality, poor punctuality, its poor online platform, cumbersome mileage redemption, negligible partner airline arrangements, patchy safety culture etc etc. PAL plays a very important role domestically (where I will choose them over the competition) and for Phil/USA O&D and domestic traffic. But outside these markets, unfortunately I don't find it a good value proposition. But I live in hope that ANA's new minority shareholding will somehow help drive changes...

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 9

You neglected to mention toilets and showers. Are these facilities not present at all inside the lounge?
JJM
JJM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 12

The toilets, in my experience, are reasonably clean but the closed door cubicle in the gents is so small that you can barely fit your roll-aboard in with you at the same time. There are no showers,

Qantas

09 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

Interestingly you should mention them - I took a bottle of water into the toilet to brush my teeth - it was equally terrible! I don't normally remember these things - however the condition was so bad I couldn't forget it.

07 Nov 2018

Total posts 10

A very poor lounge, however a very decent lounge by MNL standards.

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