There’s a looming issue brewing between our flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The issue revolves around the unilateral step taken by LAX to transfer the PAL flights to the newly built Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). On the face of it, it may seem like an innocuous move, and one might even say, in its defense, that it’s the new terminal. But an examination of the logistics of said move will have you see that it results in a huge inconvenience for the PAL passengers who are elderly and/ or with disabilities.
PAL has appealed for reconsideration, as the relocation is supposed to be effective June 15, 2021. As of today, PAL continues to appeal to the Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) based on the facts that PAL regularly boards up to 60 wheelchair-using passengers per turnaround flight, and that one-third of its passengers are 59 or older. The MSC also has limited food and shopping facilities, turning it into a less than desirable boarding area.
The transfer move would result in tripling the curb to door travel time and thereby disrupt the travel experience of the PAL passengers. Test rides to the planned gates increased journey time by 20 minutes — with passengers crossing the tarmac through an underground tunnel, just to reach the MSC.
PAL has provided flight services to California since 1946, and to LAX since 1984. During the ongoing pandemic, and from July 2020 to March 2021, PAL was the biggest Asian carrier in terms of in/ out passengers operating in LAX, and eighth among the carriers operating in TBIT.
Jose Perez de Tagle, PAL VP of Corporate Communications decried the decision, saying, “LAX’s decision to move PAL to distant gates is a test for our kababayans on both sides of the Pacific who have relied on PAL’s direct service from Los Angeles to Manila for decades. Even as the pandemic raged, we maintained our vital air links with the Fil-Am community.”
It’s a struggle for PAL, as it stands up for the wellbeing of its passengers, and tries to provide the best possible travel experience, especially on these long haul, non-stop flights.