Manila, Philippines – The world has seen the launch of the Airbus A380 super-jumbo, currently the largest passenger aircraft to fly commercially. Other airlines have introduced on- board showers, full-sized beds and on-board chefs in their first-class sections. Budget airlines have not lagged behind in providing perks to their loyal customers — from pure leather seats to free wi-fi.
But nothing beats the ingenuity of the Filipinos. As the Philippine Tourism Department’s mantra says, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.” And shall we say, inexpensive.
Philippine Airlines today started flying its newest passenger aircraft to service low-income citizens who cannot afford the cost of air travel and yet have to use a faster mode of transportation to move their produce — especially fresh farm fruits and vegetables — from the countryside to the urban centers. The new aircraft’s inaugural route is between La Trinidad Valley District Airport and the Ninoy Aquino Domestic Airport in Manila. La Trinidad, just a few miles north of Baguio City, the Philippine summer capital, produces the best and most abundant fruits and vegetables in the country, earning for itself the name, “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.”
For just four hundred pesos — about ten U.S. dollars — farmers can ride on the open deck built on top of the aircraft, along with their agricultural produce not exceeding 10 kilos (22 pounds) per passenger. The only downside to what Philippine Airlines is calling the “deck class” is that there is no beverage service available. Asked by The Adobo Chronicles whether or not there is a lavatory on the open deck, a PAL spokesperson replied, “We don’t think anyone needs it up there.”
The new open-deck aircraft is expected to serve other airports in the Visayas and Mindanao islands within the next year or so.