Here's what it's like taking the longest flight from Toronto Pearson Airport
Sixteen and a half hours in a cramped seat sounds brutal, however there is a flight out of Toronto Pearson International Airport that is that long and for many, it’s worth it.
The Philippine Airlines flight from Toronto to Manila (PR119) is currently the longest flight from YYZ, clocking in at 13,232 km in the air. They rotate between the Boeing B777 and the newer Airbus A350.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience this flight multiple times and in three different classes: Business, Premium Economy and Economy.
Many people will ask why would I take this brutally long trip so often? Simple answer: I’m Filipino and the majority of my family is back home in The Philippines.
Yes, there are alternative flights to Manila, including layovers in Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo. However, adding the layover time, these trips could rack over 21 hours.
The flight is fairly new, with Philippine Airlines (PAL) operating the direct YYZ to MNL flight since 2012.
According to Canada’s 2021 Census, there are over 280,000 Filipinos living in Toronto. That’s the fourth largest visible minority group in the city.
Having a direct flight makes it easier to visit the Philippines, especially for those travelling alone or are elderly and or are worried about layovers and missing flights.
Price Range: $1200-2100 (one-way)
When first boarding, you’ll notice the sheer amount of passengers waiting at the gate. With many overseas Filipino workers coming from Toronto, the economy class is the cheapest option for most.
Filipinos are known for working hard for their money and sending it back to their families back home, so booking the cheapest class is not uncommon.
The A350 has 241 economy seats, and in my experience, the majority of economy seats are packed.
With a 3x3x3 seating arrangement, you’re most likely going to be sitting beside someone you don’t know. (Or maybe know, Filipinos tend to know a lot of Filipinos - I’ve run into friends on this flight on multiple occasions)
The seats are small with not much legroom. So, I suggest if you’re over 5'11", like me, pay for the extra legroom as you want to get comfortable for the long flight.
In-flight meals are pretty basic, small yet flavourful. They offer traditional Filipino meals and Western meals. I often lean towards Filipino cuisine as it's not as common on flights.
The only way you can really bear this flight in Economy is by sleeping and watching movies.
However, just like most flights, you’re going to get interrupted when the person you’re sitting next to needs to use the restroom or wants to stretch their legs.
It just happens a bit more often on a longer flight. It’s annoying, but this is the compromise you make to get to the Philippines quickly and cheaply.
Price Range: $2200-2500 (one-way)
I'd recommend Premium Economy for this flight. I find that the seats are more spacious than Economy and the service is better.
From checking in at a separate check-in counter or one that's shared with Business class that saves you a lot of time from being in a line with hundreds of economy class passengers checking in their 'Balikbayan boxes'.
The weight limit for check-in baggage also jumps from 50lbs to 55lbs.
There are only 3 rows in Premium Economy. The seats are 2x4x2. So if you’re travelling with someone, it won’t be a hassle to get up from your seat to use the restroom or to stretch.
Upon boarding, staff greet you with a warm towel, a drink and a snack. It feels like Business, but it’s not.
Since there’s a total of 24 seats, you get more attention from the flight attendants. There's also a bit more privacy as the cabin is curtained off from the Economy and Business classes.
The class also gets their own set of lavatories. Having only 24 passengers means the space feels cleaner too.
The food is similar to what they serve in Economy, however, they do come around and offer snacks, such as chicken Alfredo pasta.
If you do ever fly from Toronto to Manila with PAL, I would suggest paying more for a better experience on a 16-hour flight.
Price Range: $4200-4500 (one-way)
To be honest, I've never actually paid for Business class. On more than one occasion, I had a Premium Economy ticket and a last-minute plane change bumped me into Business.
However, this was a bit of a pain to execute as Philippine Airlines customer service repeatedly told me I was being bumped down to Economy, but when arriving at the airport, I was offered Business class.
Philippine Airlines Business class is what you expect, seats that recline into a bed, big screens, and better food.
In addition, Business class passengers are allowed to check in two pieces of baggage up to 70lbs each.
While I couldn't sleep with the seat in the full lying down position, it was really nice to have the option to adjust my seat or get up whenever I wished and not bother anyone.
On the A350 plane, it’s a 1x2x1 seating arrangement. It’s the most legroom you’re going to get and it's very comfortable.
Upon boarding you’re met with a welcome package including toiletries in a nice leather bag, slippers and a comfortable blanket. Flight attendants offer you a glass of fresh mango juice or alcohol, a warm towel and some snacks.
The food is astonishing. It was curated by one of my favourite Filipino chefs, JP Anglo. His restaurant Sarsa (located in Manila, Philippines) reigns as my top Filipino restaurant in the world.
The Chicken Inasal was pretty great considering it was prepared for the plane food.
Was it worth it? If you have the money to spend, then yes.
Overall, if you're looking to go to the Philippines quickly without hassle, the 16-hour flight from Philippine Airlines is your best bet.
Despite this flight landing at 4 a.m. in Manila, I will still continue taking this flight as it makes it a breeze going back home.
That said, I still would consider cheaper options with a layover, especially now that Philippine Airlines has drastically increased their prices. (One-way economy flights used to range from $1100-1500.)
Lower your prices, PAL, and I’ll book you every time without looking at other options.
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