ON THE flag carrier’s 75th foundation day, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) sent off its first plane to service the Cebu to Los Angeles route. The plane, along with the other aircrafts that flew that day, took off with it a brighter and warmer “Heart of the Filipino,” PAL’s newest campaign with three of the country’s best singers giving life to its anthem.

Shortly after, the airline called out Maxine Medina among the Bb. Pilipinas candidates and awarded her Miss Philippine Airlines. Later that evening she was crowned Miss Universe Philippines. The airline saw in her the beauty and heart of a Filipino, and she got the nod to representative the country at the international beauty tilt.

Another exciting event took place in the Queen City of the South on the next night. It gathered the digital media from Davao, Manila, Cebu, and Bacolod to witness the unveiling of the industry's game-changer — the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card. We were the first batch to experience its oomph.

At the Ocean Pavilion of the Shangri-La Mactan Resort, PAL President and COO Jaime B. Bautista led the opening ceremony saying, “Tonight’s event marks a new chapter in the story of Mabuhay Miles. More than 30 years after PAL launched its frequent flier program, Mabuhay Miles has established itself as one of the most prestigious names among airline loyalty programs known for its generous rewards and outstanding service.

The long history of PAL’s loyalty program shows a strong drive to excel and constant stream of enhancements and innovations benefiting the members and its partners.”

“Tonight we are unveiling another program enhancement for the first time here in Cebu. We want our digital friends to experience it for themselves in the coming days. Hopefully our excitement will rub off to them and to the rest of our Mabuhay Miles members,” Bautista said.

In Cebuano festival fashion, PAL brought the Sinulog to the venue’s doorstep and unveiled the new Mabuhay Miles Travel Card.

The new Mabuhay Miles Travel Card, PAL’s latest product offering, is a prepaid travel card that will enable frequent flyers to load with cash or miles to purchase goods and avail of services of program partners.

According to PAL Ancillary Business Unit VP Kevin Hartigan-Go, “One can load miles and cash into the card through affiliated loading stations such as PAL Ticketing Offices and the Mabuhay Miles Service Center. BancNet ATMs will be utilized for loading – via funds transfer- of the cash component. This makes the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card the only prepaid travel card that will let you earn while spending.”

A cardholder may also load it with different currencies and may also use the card abroad.

It may also be used for in-store and online transactions where UnionPay International is accepted. On top of these features, the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card can be used to withdraw cash from BancNet ATMs as well as international ATMs abroad.

“This product is part of the airline’s initiatives to enhance product and service offerings for our frequent flyers. The winning combination of spending, earning and redeeming miles as well as loading cash and miles makes this new product truly innovative and customer-centric,” said PAL Loyalty Program AVP Mayette Casanova.

I was handed my own Travel Card loaded with 20,000 miles and P 10,000 to be used in Cebu for the first time. I will get to experience the Travel, which will allow me to fly, dine, shop, drive and unwind.

But the PAL president was quite generous that evening. Aside from pre-planned prizes that were awarded on the raffle draw, he went on giving away PAL miles.

The lucky ones snagged an additional 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 miles on their Travel Card. Expect these travelers to make their way to their favorite PAL destinations soon.

Glasses were raised, wine poured, the band played and the president sang at the party that lasted until midnight.

These enhancements, an intensified loyalty program, new aircrafts, and expanded route, are part of the bigger initiative of PAL. On its Diamond Year the airline has set its goal to becoming a 5-star airline in five years, and join the global league of major airlines.

Congratulations, Philippine Airlines, and go get that star!

To know more and apply for a Mabuhay Miles Travel Card, visit the website www.mabuhaymiles.com

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com.