Ellie Hutchinson flies Philippine Airlines from Auckland to Manila.

The Plane:

Airbus A340-300. Philippine Airlines flies three versions of the Airbus A340-300. This version is equipped with 264 seats in a two-class configuration of Business and Economy. Mabuhay is Philippine's Business Class product and Fiesta is its Economy Class product.

Class: Standard Economy.


Price: $3318.46 (Return for two people Auckland to Manila).

Flight time: 8 hours and 15 minutes.

My seat: 53H, an aisle seat. I pre-selected this online when I booked the flight. Really like the 2-4-2 seating format.

How full: To the brim.

Fellow passengers: Many Filipinos heading home for Christmas and families heading off on holiday.

Entertainment: No in-seat TVs, unable to control air temperature and flow above head, resulting in cold nose.

Food and drink: We set off at 12.30am and were woken up an hour later for dinner. They ran out of pork by the time they reached us at the back of plane so we ate Cajun hoki with beans, carrots and mash, accompanied by kumara and celery salad with obligatory roll.

Highlight was two bars of Whittaker's chocolate. Mid-flight snack was a warm pulled pork and cheese sandwich.

Service: Friendly well-presented staff. Just as I was about to freshen up with a facial wipe they appeared with warm towels.

Toilets: Tiny and weren't spotless — and that was before take off!

Amenities: Soap and hand creams were fully stocked. Mini flight pack with toothbrush, eye mask and socks was a nice touch. I haven't had one of those in ages, it almost felt a bit retro!

Luggage: 30kg checked bag for Economy which included hubby's oversized sports equipment plus a 7kg carry on bag, no larger than 45x25x56cm.

Airport experience: Check in was quick and easy. By checking in online we avoided big queues. On arrival to Manila we were apprehensive about how long it would take to travel to the correct terminal for our next flight (there are four!). We allowed six hours, which wasn't necessary as our onward Domestic flight to El Nido went from terminal 4 — a short shuttle bus ride away — and we were there within an hour.

Would I fly again? Definitely an improvement on my other Philippine Airlines flight last year, which was direct to Cairns. Good value for money.