What is the Best Airline to Travel Between Canada and the Philippines? 

If you are a new immigrant to Canada from the Philippines or are planning to visit the beautiful Philippine islands, you would surely ask “What is the best airline for traveling between these two countries?”.

Honestly, I don’t have the absolute answer to this question.  But, I can tell you which is the best airline I have flown with based on my personal experience in the economy category.

I have only really traveled between the two countries four times, each time with a different airline.   In this post, I will share my experiences because they may help you choose the best option.

Hovering Above the Clouds

Cathay Pacific

I flew with Cathay Pacific when I first came to Canada.  At the time, there was a promo for one-way tickets for new permanent residents to Canada.  It was my first flight to Canada and my first long-haul flight.  So, I chose this airline based solely on the flight schedule and the price.

I took this flight over 10 years ago.  Since I did not have plans to create a blog at the time(or maybe blogging was not a popular thing yet?), I do not have accurate mental notes on this trip.  But, I clearly remember how comfortable I was and how appreciative I was of the service.

The only minor challenge was that I sort of got lost inside its hub, the Hong Kong International Airport. HKIA is one of the world’s busiest international passenger airports so it is quite understandable. Besides, this is not the airline’s fault.

Skytrax Reviews: 7/10

View of the Sunset While Waiting for Boarding

China Eastern Airlines

I chose China Eastern for my first visit back home for a special reason.  I needed to catch another flight to our province after landing in Manila.  So, I had to find a flight that will allow me to conveniently catch this domestic flight.

I thought the food and drinks were great.  The seats were also fine for a petite person like me.  However, I was so tired and bored because of the 7-hour layover in Shanghai’s Pudong Airport.  There were enough seats to rest and take a nap.  But since I was there at night, there were not a lot of shops to explore.  I also remember that we had to take a shuttle bus to get on the plane.  That was a challenge.  It was a cold December evening, and it was raining.  So, those few minutes were quite uncomfortable.

Skytrax Reviews: 5/10

Korean Air, One of the Best Airlines
Korean Air, One of the Best Airlines

Korean Air

Korean Airlines’ service is impressive and so is its menu.  I remember enjoying my Bibimbap during my flight.  Well, I like Korean food so their menu elevated my experience.

What I truly enjoyed about flying with this airline are the little extras that make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable.  Their amenity kit includes disposable slippers.  How thoughtful! I also like how you can dim the windows with the touch of a button. 

Robot Hemplers at Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport, one of the airline’s airport hubs, has a relaxing ambiance.  It also has these cute robot guides to help travelers.  My layover in Incheon on my flight back to Canada was only a little over an hour.  But, I was confident that there won’t be delays or issues with my luggage.  I was right.

I am not surprised that Korean Airlines was ranked 9th in the Skytrax World’s Top 100 Airlines in 2022 announced in the World Airline Awards. 

Skytrax Reviews: 7/10

Philippine Airlines planes
Philippine Airlines planes

Philippine Airlines (PAL)

I was hesitant to book a direct flight to Manila.  I was not sure if I could handle the physical stress and boredom of sitting in a tight space for over 13 hours.  However, when I was planning for my recent trip, Covid cases were still up.  I wanted to minimize the number of people I get in contact with.  So, I closed my eyes and booked a trip with PAL.

The trip back home was okay.  I just thought that the food portions were even smaller than the usual small serving and the taste was not authentic.  However, my goal is just for me and my belongings to arrive safely.  I got that so I was satisfied.

The flight back to Vancouver was a bit more inconvenient.  I don’t want this post to sound like a rant so, let’s start with something positive.

My sister and I were leaving the Philippines on the same day.  We were dropped off at the same time to save time.  My flight was three hours behind my sister’s, so I was too early.  Fortunately, the guard let me in since they accommodate PAL passengers non-stop.  True enough, I only had to wait for around 30 minutes before the counter was opened.  I appreciated that because this means more time and less stress.

Security and Patdown

But not everything went well.  I had issues with their disorganized additional security check at the gate and my seat.

I have been blessed to experience travel to more than 12 countries.  So far, I have never experienced a second security check at the gate after passengers have been cleared by airport security.  I sort of appreciate the concern.  But I wish they had a more professional and less confusing system. For instance, proper signs or an official announcement would have been helpful.  But there was none. 

Congestion at the Additional Security Check

We waited along the hallway for over an hour because boarding of the previous flight was delayed.  When we started to fall in line, personnel casually mentioned that there is another security check at the gate.  They then asked us to form one line so they can check our documents without reaching over to the second line.  This was difficult because people were raring to move along.  However, we still tried.  The problem was that some of their employees created another line for priority passengers.  Even their colleagues were complaining about the scenario.

The lack of announcements or signs also added to the mess.  Ground personnel walked along the queue asking each passenger if we are on that flight and that we can’t bring liquid because of the security check.

At the inspection area, there was hardly space to repack. The security personnel then have to rush us to move along. I also do not appreciate the pat down especially because we were previously screened already. A female employee did the pat down for me and also male passengers. This can be seen in the video. I wouldn’t be happy if I was a male passenger.

It was quite disorganized.  But I just really wanted to get on the plane and get home.  I felt relieved to finally get on the plane.

Entertainment System

I always book a seat so I can rest more comfortably.  When I got to my seat, a stewardess mentioned that my entertainment system is not working.  She then asked if I was informed about it. I answered that I was not.  I then asked if I could move somewhere else or if they have an iPad they can lend me.  I know that some airlines do that.  She could not offer an alternative, so she asked another stewardess to talk to me.  The second personnel told me that they would offer me Php 5, 000.00 as compensation and took my email address so they can coordinate with me.

The flight was uneventful and boring.  I had nothing to do for 13 hours.  I couldn’t even check the flight status and just glanced at other passengers’ screens to check flight status. 

My main issue was not the faulty entertainment system but the way my inquiry was handled.  I would not have made a claim or complained if they did not set my expectations.   A few days after the flight, I was the one who contacted their customer service department because I did not receive any email.  Instead of cash, they were offering air miles or cash vouchers for use with them within two years.  As an immigrant, I don’t always have the luxury of flying every two years.  Also, these options seem to force me to use their service again.  That is a no for me.  It took them a week to send their last email stating, “Please know that as the final handling office of your concern, the mentioned options are our final and maximum offer.”

This was just a minor inconvenience for me, so I am still grateful.  For instance, a celebrity vlogged about losing some of their belongings inside their locked luggage.  That is sad and unacceptable. And, that is not the only complaint.

Skytrax Reviews: 5/10

My Best Airline

Among the four, which is the best airline for traveling between Canada and the Philippines for me?  I would pick Korean Air with Cathay Pacific a close second.  China Eastern would come next then Philippine Airlines at the tail end.

The airlines we fly with can influence how much we enjoy our vacation.  I can deal with a lost luggage wheel or one poor meal.  But, last-minute cancellations, missing luggage with gifts, and difficulties in getting refunds will cause a lot of stress.

Sometimes, we do not have the luxury of choosing from many airlines.  But if we plan early or do a lot of research, we can choose the best airline for travel between Canada and our home country.

I hope this article helps you create the perfect vacation!

Don’t forget to read my article entitled “Going Home for the Holidays? 5 Travel Tips for Your Homecoming“.

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