Have you ever dreamt of going to Queensland, Australia at a reasonable price?
Thanks to PHILIPPINE AIRLINES‘ airplane from Airbus, that dream is now a possibility. The new sophisticated Airbus A321neo flies four times weekly from Manila to Brisbane, each flight taking less than eight hours. That’s the fastest non-stop service on the route!
The new plane is a game changer on how we see long-haul travel! PAL’s single-aisle jet is equipped with two powerful engines (Pratt & Whitney GTF), capable of carrying around 168 passengers on flights up to 4,000 nautical miles.
Here’s a look at the new Airbus plus a 2-day sample itinerary for Brisbane…
Before you leave Manila make sure to grab a WiFi hotspot unit that supports international data roaming.
If you forgot to book one in advance, myPAL Roam pocket wifi, luckily for you, is available at NAIA Terminal 2 beside Manila Cigars.
It costs Php390 per day for Asian countries, and a hundred more at Php490 per day for Australia, United States of America, Middle East, Russia, Europe and others.
From my experience, it lasted from morning till night without recharging. With 87 countries supporting the service worldwide, myPAL Roam was worth the extra expense.
About Airbus A321neo
NEO stands for “New Engine Option” which:
– reduces noise inside and outside the cabin.
– contributes to the aircraft’s overall eco-friendliness and sustainability.
– enables the aircraft to fly non-stop to destinations of up to 8 hours of flight time.
PAL’s new aircraft features a premium two-class layout with 12 Business Class and 156 Economy Class seats.
I loved the cabin’s enhanced features fitted with 12 Business class seats, all furnished with an extendable 60-inch fully flat bed.
Adjusting the seat is a breeze for it is customizable according to your preference. There are two main buttons: one for sitting upright and another one for laying the seat flat. (The seat width is 20.5-23 inches.)
Passengers can actually indulge in choice entertainment from the RAVE centric 15.6-inch Personal TV screen. I also liked the headphones that double as a noise-canceling device.
Tip: The RAVE Centric system features a “Do Not Disturb Function” or “Wake for Meals” function. It also has an in-seat power supply (AC & USB).
A remote by the armrest allows for control of the entertainment system.
Business Class passengers can pamper themselves with the Overnight Amenity Kit containing luxurious travel essentials from L’Occitane. (Eye mask, hairbrush, toothbrush set, hairbrush, lip balm, socks, and slippers.)
Champagne for a welcome drink plus a hot towel.
One hot meal service (appetizer, mains, dessert) served in chinaware with metal cutleries on tray set-up.
One light snack service consisting of a deli plate or hot sandwich.
Not to mention, free in-flight myPAL Wi-Fi for 15 minutes onboard.
On our way back, we rode economy class.
Even during the 7-hour flight, the standard size seat pitch of 31-32 inches gave me enough comfort and space.
The biggest lifesaver in a long-haul trip is, definitely, the in-flight entertainment options. Each economy seat is equipped with RAVE Centric 10.1-inch Personal TV screen and USB charging port. The headphones provided are basic plastic headsets.
One hot meal service and one snack service. Inclusive of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, of course.
Basic amenity kit. (Eye mask, toothbrush set, socks.)
BRISBANE SAMPLE 2-DAY ITINERARY :
Brisbane is a pretty laid back city.
It combines art and outdoor adventure with beautiful parks, creative spaces and fantastic restaurants that compliment its riverside gardens and man-made beaches.
Did I forget to mention that Brisbane is the capital city of the state of Queensland and the gateway to the Gold Coast?!
SOFITEL BRISBANE (CHECK-IN)
Being part of an international chain, it comes as no surprise that Sofitel Brisbane offers the same quality hospitality and lovely amenities as the other Sofitel hotels where I stayed in different parts of the globe.
The best part of the room? The lovely view of the city!
Staying here means you get to experience the best of Brisbane in the comfort of its great access to the Central train station that has a direct line to the Airport. What’s more, Sofitel Brisbane is just a short walk from the buzzing and famous Queens and Eagle Streets.
MOUNT COOT-THA (FREE)
A good starting point for your city tour is Brisbane’s biggest hill, Mount Coot-tha. Here you’ll have a panoramic view of Brisbane City out to Moreton Bay.
LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
When you visit Australia, the first thing you want to do is to either hold a koala or pet a kangaroo.
Only a 15-minute ride from Brisbane City, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary with 130 koalas.
You can hold a koala and even get a professional photo session with take-home photos starting at $25!
Did you know that the koalas are only allowed to be held and petted by visitors three times a week for no more than thirty minutes?
Sharing the spotlight with the kangaroos! Pet them and feed them all you want!
Lone Pine has a large kangaroo and wallaby free-roaming reserve. Make sure to buy the 2-dollar pellets to become an instant hit with these mammals.
Tip: Did you know that it’s illegal to hold a Koala outside of Queensland and South Australia?
Adults are $36
kids (3-13) are $22
Student and Senior $24
Family Pass (2 adults & 3 kids) are $85
BRISBANE GREETERS (FREE TOUR)
One of the best ways to get to know the place is through the eyes of its locals. Greeters are friendly volunteers who share trivia and stories about Brisbane, as well as its great spots! We did the city tour and had a fascinating history lesson.
Make sure to book online three days in advance! (Tours last from one to four hours.)
Our tour ended at the South Bank Parklands. Like the locals, we took a leisurely stroll in its gorgeous 40-acre grounds. The busy park was filled with rows of cafes, restaurants, shops, playgrounds and pools. I was even surprised to see a man-made beach and river where locals can swim and play for free.
For lunch, I recommend one of the favorites in Brisbane’s dining scene, the Stokehouse, located in the Southbank.
The casual restaurant emanates the riverside elegance and showcases a gorgeous view of the city and its bridges.
For starters, the beef tartare was superb. I loved the mouthfeel and exquisite beefy flavor. A must order!
For the mains, I had steak but that was already too heavy for a meal since I just had beef tartare. Instead, I would recommend seafood which I heard was their specialty.
As for dessert, order their signature, the Bombe. It was a simple but beautiful concoction, white chocolate parfait encased in soft meringue and topped with fresh local strawberries. Everyone loved it!
CITY HOPPER (FREE)
We were too lazy to walk all the way back to the city center, so we took the City Hopper from the South Bank Parklands then went down on Eagle Street where our hotel was located.
SHOPPING IN QUEENS STREET
Free time! Go around and enjoy the city!
Tip: Make sure to set time for shopping! From my experience, most shops close around 7pm; and the supermarket, 9pm.
To cap off our last night we tried Brisbane’s famous local beer the XXXX (Four X). Cheers!
I always make it a habit to try the local beer in the area. The taste of the beer though was a bit light for our liking.
PAL’s single-aisle jet service to Brisbane every Monday will be added to its Wednesday, Friday and Saturday departures from Manila.
Congratulations Philippine Airlines on a successful inaugural!
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We were media guests of Philippine Airlines and Brisbane Airport. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.