Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cebu Pacific Considering Long Haul Aircraft and Network Expansion

The CAPA Centre for Aviation reports that low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is eyeing more orders for long-haul, wide-body aircraft in order to facilitate expansion into the United States and other long haul destinations.  Among the options Cebu Pacific is considering are the Airbus A350, Boeing 787, and upcoming Airbus A330neo.

Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Cebu Pacific already has a presence in the United States with a flight to Guam.  However, it hopes to mount flights to the US mainland, particularly the state of California, one of the largest Filipino markets that is yet to be served by the low-cost carrier.  These plans have been put in the spotlight after the Federal Aviation Administration restored Category 1 status on the Philippines.  This status allows the addition of new flights into the United States and expansion of existing services.

The low-cost carrier now has seven Airbus A330-300s in its fleet with one more expected to arrive in the first half of 2017.  The aircraft seats up to 436 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.  

It also began its foray into long-haul flights in 2013 when it flew to Dubai's International Airport.  It has also made inroads into the Australian market with flights to Sydney, Australia.  There have also been plans to make Rome as its first European destination, although it is unclear how much of a priority this is even as the carrier has been removed from a European Union blacklist of carriers deemed unsafe to fly into the 27-member bloc.  

An increasing number of low-cost carriers have initiated long-haul flights or operated wide-body aircraft in recent years.  One of the most prominent examples is AirAsia through its brand Air Asia X, which operates Airbus A330s to Japan, China, India, and Australia.  

Source: CAPA


Monday, December 5, 2016

Cathay Pacific Flight Review: Hong Kong to Manila (A350)

On a recent trip report, I arrived in Hong Kong from London not knowing when I would actually depart.  Later in the afternoon of the day I arrived, I was lucky to get a flight out on the 4th of December, which meant my trip to the former British colony would be extended by one day.  Not only that, I was able to get a premium economy seat.

MORNING OF THE FLIGHT
My flight was not until the late afternoon.  So I had breakfast with my dad at the hotel before we all attended a mass service at the Rosary Church in Chantam Road.  After the service, we looked at more items at various stores.  After all, one of Hong Kong's main draws is its shopping atmosphere.  I finally purchased for myself some accessories for my iPhone and iPad.  Whilst I was at it, I haggled to knock off a few dollars off the total price of those goods.

TIP: Sham Shui Po offers a wide array of technology goods and accessories for discounted prices.  Stalls at the street are open to haggling.  Buying more than one item from the stall will increase your chances of success at haggling.  Use the Tsuen Wan Line to get there.

HOTEL DEPARTURE AND JOURNEY TO AIRPORT
I returned to my hotel at 13.00.  Due to time constraints, my parents and I did not go out to lunch in the city centre anymore.  We spent the remaining time packing up.  Unlike my past Hong Kong trips, we used a pre-booked shuttle service to get us to the airport.  The journey to the airport took about a half hour from Tsim Sha Tsui.  They were scheduled to fly on a Philippine Airlines flight but both terminals were connected by an underground tunnel, thus we all alighted at Terminal 2.

TIP: Unless you are pressed for time, it does not matter whether you alight at Terminal 1 or 2.  Terminal 1's departure hall is less than five minutes away from terminal 2's departure hall by foot.  You can also go shopping at land-side shops found in either terminal. 


They proceeded to their check in desk while I got my bigger bag at the left luggage facility between both terminals.  I transferred a few items between by bigger bag and smaller bag.  I also returned my WiFi router at the service provider's stand at the arrivals hall.

Before dropping my bag, I used one of the weighing scales to see if I exceeded my baggage allowance.  Luckily for me, the check-in bag weight exactly 30 kg, the maximum I was allowed.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Class check-in lane
Image by hybridace101
The baggage drop went smoothly.  There was a dedicated lane for premium economy class passengers.  The attending staff did not print a new boarding card for me, which meant I could finally try the mobile boarding pass technology on Asian flights.

Terminal 1's security configuration is different from what some passengers experience elsewhere in Asia.  Security check of bags came before passport control, and it was straightforward.  It took slightly longer since I needed to bring out another laptop.

I ate a quick lunch with my parents with food from Popeyes.  I had to leave shortly afterward to make it in time to my gate.  But this was not without passing by Relay to buy last-minute treats for a few friends back home.

TIP: Use the automated people mover, a driverless train system within the Hong Kong International Airport in order to access gates 40 and above.  

Automated People Mover station at Hong Kong International Airport
Image by hybridace101

Hong Kong International Airport Departure Area
Image by hybridace101

Hong Kong International Airport Departure Area
Image by hybridace101

When I got to my gate, there were still a few minutes left before boarding.  I was also pleased to see that the Airbus A350 would be used for this flight.  While waiting, I tinkered with the older laptop I brought.  I queued up in the premium economy lane shortly afterwards and I was surprised to see a lot of passengers queue up at the Business Class lane.  The ground staff reminded economy class passengers to use the correct lane.  Eventually, it was my turn to get served and board the plane.

FLIGHT PROPER

Flight Number: CX935
Gate: 61
Scheduled Departure Time: 17:35
Actual Take-off Time: 18:15
Aircraft Registration: B-LRA

Cathay Pacific A350 at Hong Kong International Airport
Image by hybridace101

This time, I was seated at the back of the premium economy class section.  Pillows and blankets were not brought out.  But I requested for one and a flight attendant provided it to me.  There was also no pre-flight drink on this occasion for premium economy passengers.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Premium Economy Class
Image by hybridace101

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Regular Economy Class
Image by hybridace101

I was also pleased to find out that it was a female pilot who stood as captain for tonight's flight.

I dozed off as we left the gate just at around 18.00.  I was awaken when a flight attendant reminded me to unplug my mobile device from the AC port during take-off and landing.  It was strange because I did this on my previous flight before this without much problem.

We were airborne at about 18.15.  Within the first half hour of the flight, the flight attendants served us with a light snack.  It was a chicken fajita pastry.  Cathay Pacific does not serve full meals on its Hong Kong-Manila flights.  But I still found their offering scrumptious.  It was also packaged quite creatively: on a gift bag.  I later got some Sprite upon request.

Snackbox for Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong-Manila flight
Image by hybridace101

Most of the flight was rather uneventful.  Instead, I spent most of my time watching a live stream of CNN, and when the stream experienced problems, I played some filipino music by artist Nina and checked out the airshow.

I asked a fight attendant for the other forms Filipinos needed to fill out such as a customs form and she said that it was no longer necessary.  It was only the health form that needed to be filled out.

TIP: Filipinos do not need to fill out the blue landing cards anymore.  Passengers who do not need to declare any goods also do not need to fill out the corresponding customs form.  


As the story on CNN was interesting for me shortly before landing, I wished the flight would go on for a little bit longer but on the other hand, we were already long overdue for landing.  As a result of my fixation on the live satellite TV, the more 'eventful' bits of the flight happened in the end.  I forgot my pencil case and yellow health form on my seat.  NAIA's ground staff assisted me.  And in spite of one failed attempt to find my pencil case by one member of the cabin crew, the flight attendant assigned to my area found it.  The form?  I had to fill out another one.

Other than that, we were treated to something else upon our arrival: the sight of another A350 by Cathay Pacific that was departing as the one I was on was arriving.  

Another Cathay Pacific A350 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Image by hybridace101

NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINAL 3
Despite the self-inflicted delay, the queues at passport control were quite short.  The passport control officer who attended to me asked whether I was a seaman, and I said no.  She probably suspected the Norwegian and Swedish schengen stamps on my passport.

I got my bags back within 15 minutes.  I breezed through customs without much question.  I had to wait for my folks for another hour and a half.  Whilst that was going on, I took the opportunity to look at various places around Terminal 3.  Unlike Terminals 1 and 2, non-passengers can enter the area and there are plenty of places for them to eat in and stores to shop at.  It had almost every possible fast casual dining outlet one can think of.  There was even a WH Smith although the items there seemed overpriced, just as with any other outlet at the airport.

Shortly thereafter, I went back to the passenger waiting area (for those waiting for their rides).  After 45 minutes, I exited the terminal and entered the car.  My month-long Philippine trip would begin here.

RATINGS FOR THIS LEG
These are rated from 1 to 10 with ten being the best score.  This covers aspects of the flight experience that Cathay Pacific and its ground agents are responsible for with a focus on Premium Economy Class.

·    Check-in (9/10): In Hong Kong Airport, Cathay Pacific provided a separate check-in desk for premium economy.  Although we could use the baggage drop desk, the check-in desk for premium economy was less congested.  The process took less than two minutes.  
·  Boarding Process (9/10): The process was rather quick on our end.  The premium economy lane seems to be the quickest and least congested lane.  A provision of two jet bridges at Hong Kong Airport also helped matters.
·      Seat Comfort (9/10): With Cathay Pacific’s premium economy class, you can be forgiven for feeling like you are on a mini-business class.  The legroom was plentiful and had a lot of features for passengers to play with to feel comfortable.  There were multiple spots for the passenger to leave their things.  Having said that, the one area it may consider improving on is storage for laptops. Whilst the legroom was generally adequate, it was slightly annoying to some degree if you had to give way to another candidate whilst the tray table was down.  But otherwise Cathay Pacific’s A350 premium economy is in a league of its own.  
·      Food (7/10): I have to be honest, but this is the one aspect where Philippine Airlines beats Cathay Pacific in when it comes to Manila-Hong Kong flights because Cathay Pacific does not serve full meals.  But the chicken fajita pastry was still worth having.  
·      Cabin Crew (10/10): The crew assigned to my section was very helpful and shall I say gentle with how to handle passengers.  For instance she begged my pardon for doing her job to enforce safety regulations (i.e. no phones charging while takeoff and landing), as well as being helpful in getting my pencil case back.  
·      Punctuality (8/10): The flight tried to arrive in time but it seemed like we were delayed by 10 minutes presumably because of air traffic issues at NAIA.  
·      In-flight entertainment (9/10): The live satellite TV feature was great for those who want to catch up on news, but the selection of audio and video on demand seemed to be scaled back from what I chose from four years ago.  The airshow was also very interactive.  Nonetheless, on a short flight, this was less of an issue.

In general, I have always thought that a Cathay Pacific flight between Manila and Hong Kong is overrated.  The Premium Economy class experience on a short-haul did not feel as 'business class'-lite as a London-Hong flight did.  But it feels nice that Manila frequently gets a healthy dose of A350s long after its test run across Asia has ended.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Philippine Airlines and Etihad Ending Partnership?

The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) is suggesting that Philippine Airlines and Etihad might soon consider ending their partnership.  The Manila-based carrier has been reported to not have benefitted significantly from its partnership with its Abu Dhabi-based counterpart.  

Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Currently, both carriers have a codeshare agreement.  Etihad has its own flight numbers on domestic flights operated by Philippine Airlines, while Philippine Airlines also has a flight number on Etihad flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi.  

This suggestion comes as Philippine Airlines is considering a reduced presence in the Middle East in order to focus on expanding in other regions of the world .  Philippine Airlines reestablished its presence in the Middle East in 2013 amidst an ambitious expansion plan rolled out under the ownership of San Miguel Corporation.  In addition to Abu Dhabi, it has served cities such as Dubai, Riyadh, Doha, Dammam, and Jeddah.  In that same period, the flag carrier also received new Airbus A330s, including a high-density version with only regular or premium economy class seats.  This version was mostly utilised in the Middle East.  

A loss of a codeshare agreement with Etihad may also provide renewed opportunities for other Middle Eastern carriers to resume codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.  Previously, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Air had codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.

CAPA specifically reports that Philippine Airlines is specifically considering new flights in the United States and Europe, which will be priority regions once the Airbus A350 joins the carrier's fleet in 2018.  CAPA is also expanding into Australia by making its Manila-Brisbane flights completely nonstop, as well as into Chengdu, China.  This is as the flag carrier improved its profitability in spite of its rapid expansion.  Such a feat was one of the basis for Philippine Airlines winning the CAPA Asia Pacific 2016 Airline Turnaround of the Year Award. 

In addition to Etihad, Philippine Airlines has existing codeshare agreements with Air Macau, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, WestJet, and Xiamen Air.

Sources: CAPA, Business World , Inquirer

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cathay Pacific Flight Review: London Gatwick to Hong Kong (A350)

Several months ago, I heard Cathay Pacific would fly its upcoming A350 between Hong Kong and LondonGatwick in September 2016.  This was perfect timing as I was about to go home to Manila in late 2016.  Moreover, I found a promotional fare of about £810 return for Cathay Pacific’s premium economy class.  For this time of the year, it was a good deal, considering Philippine Airlines offered a similar fare for its economy class product.  Flying on Cathay also allowed me to ‘break’ my trip between London and Manila with a stopover in Hong Kong.

More and more carriers offer a premium economy class product.  In fact, even Philippine Airlines does it on some selected aircraft.  But it remains one of the most broadly-defined service classes in the industry.  Its features vary greatly between carrier and can include simply more legroom or much wider seats with better meals.

Unlike four years ago, this trip featured a ‘proper’ premium economy class service.  Back then I was seated in what was otherwise the premium economy section but we only got a standard regular economy class service.  This is also the first time I would travel on either the A350 or B787, the most hyped aircrafts produced by either Airbus or Boeing, respectively.


MORNING OF THE JOURNEY
As Gatwick was a long and expensive journey from Bristol, I stayed with my colleague in London for one night.  I woke up at 5.15 because I needed to travel to my other friend’s place to claim my bigger bag (it’s a long story why I didn’t bring the bag with me to my colleagues’ in the first place).  Although I preferred to do this at 7.15, my colleague advised me to get it as early as possible.  Ultimately, it was advice well-taken.  I left the place just after 5.30 and arrived at my other friend’s place just over a half-hour later.  I did not stay for long in order to avoid the crowded Tube trains. 

TIP: When using the London underground for morning journeys, consider travel time, crowding, and costs.  Although peak and off-peak standard fares between zones 1 and 2 in London are the same, your railcard discounts are not applicable during peak hours (6.30-9.30 and 16.00-19.00).  Trains coming into central London may get crowded after 7.00.  If your London-based friends advise you to start early in order to use public transport comfortably, they mean it! 

I returned to the flat at around 7.00.  My colleague served me with an excellent breakfast and hot chocolate.  But I received an advice to change my flight to Manila again for the fourth of December.  The flights were full but I managed to get waitlisted.  I had one final shower and transferred things between my two bags.  I left at about 8.30.  Bringing two bags was not easy and it slowed down what is otherwise a short walk from my colleagues’ place to the London Bridge station.  Trains in and out of London Bridge station were already delayed, but I was lucky I found a direct train that was scheduled to depart at around 8.00 delayed.  I rushed to get that train and boarded it with time to spare. 

The journey between London Bridge and Gatwick Airport took almost 40 minutes.  Whilst in the train, I contacted my carrier to discuss possible roaming offers.  Unfortunately, they did not offer anything affordable but they agreed to unlock one of my older phones I had with them.  It would take a few days but I would take it.

TIP: If you are visiting Hong Kong but live in the UK, consider getting at least a pay-as-you-go SIM with the provider Three.  Try getting your carrier-provided phone unlocked or buy one that is already unlocked (policies for unlocking vary with most requiring having a plan between six months and a year).  Three has plans that allow for roaming in Hong Kong at no extra cost.  Don’t even ask about the plans for the Philippines.   

CHECK-IN, SECURITY, AND PRE-BOARDING
I approached Cathay’s check-in desk at a quarter to ten.  The Premium Economy class lane was not a dedicated one.  Instead, it was shared with passengers who otherwise checked in online.  The queue moved quickly.  But I was surprised to find out my bags were overweight.  This was sorted out by transferring some items to my hand luggage but this would be a bigger problem if I do not get on my wait-listed flight.  I am flying to Manila in (regular) economy class for scheduling reasons.  Consequently, my baggage allowance is reduced to 20 kg for that.   Other than that, the staff gave me a paper boarding card even though I already had one on my phone. 


Cathay Pacific check-in desks at Gatwick
Image by


TIP: Try to weigh your bags before you leave home.  Your seemingly generous baggage allowance is smaller than you think. 

I experienced a slight delay at security.  And this was because another passenger’s scarf got up in the machine. 

TIP: Most airports require you to present your boarding card when shopping at their stores.  Make sure this is ready.  One of theory for this is for them to claim tax benefits.

After security, I shopped for a few boxes of Walkers’ shortbread biscuits.  I waited at the main departure hall before my gate was revealed.  It was a bit far from where most of the stores and eateries were located at.  Once I found out my gate, I checked a few last-minute emails.  As I plugged my laptop, boarding announcements were made.  There was a separate lane for premium economy class.

Cathay Pacific A350 parked at Gatwick Airport
Image by hybridace101

Gate for Cathay Pacific flight at Gatwick
Image by hybridace101

Main departure area at Gatwick
Image by hybridace101


FLIGHT PROPER

Flight number: CX344
Gate: 31
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:35
Actual Take-off Time: 11:55
Aircraft Registration: B-LRF


The queue to enter the aircraft was not so long yet.  I found my seat quickly.  The rest of the passengers flooded in shortly afterwards.

Business class section of Cathay's A350
Image by hybridace101

Business class section of Cathay's A350
Image by hybridace101


At first glance, Cathay's premium economy class almost felt like what long-haul business class was in the 1990s, albeit with slightly narrower seats and slightly restricted recline.  The A350’s premium economy had a 2-4-2 configuration.  It means every premium economy passenger is up to one seat away from the aisle.   The seat also had buttons to help the passenger recline the seat and deploy the footrests.  A tray table was built into the seat and was slightly larger that what I am used to at regular economy.  In addition, the seat had provisions for glasses and one’s phones.  Each passenger had an AC outlet and USB recharging port for themselves. 


Cathay Pacific's Premium Economy Class on its A350
Image by hybridace101

Premium economy was not completely full although I had someone sitting next to me.  The regular economy class section however, was a different story.


Regular Economy Class section of Cathay Pacific's A350
Image by hybridace101
  
Just like in business class, premium economy passengers were offered a pre-departure drink.  It was a choice between water, juice, and champagne.  I decided to stick to water. 

Cathay Pacific’s A350 in-flight entertainment (IFE) system is a crown jewel in the airline.  Unlike other aircraft, the A350’s IFE had live TV and featured one of my favourite channels, CNN.  And there were hundreds of hours of other programmes, music, and games, and two more live TV news channels.  However, it felt like Cathay offered fewer albums than when I used it in 2012.  It was nonetheless still plentiful.  Unlike Cathay’s other aircrafts, its A350’s airshow or moving map was more interactive.  The passenger can choose what information they want to see and zoom in or out as they please.  They do not need to wait for the information to come up.  Most of the features were available immediately upon boarding; there was no need to wait to be airborne to savour the IFE collection.   Premium economy class passengers were also treated to a better headset than those seated in regular economy.  This helped them get better sound quality over what they were watching.


Premium Economy Class headset and amenity kit
Image by hybridace101


Right after take-off, we were offered a beverage.  I chose Sprite after hearing the hot chocolate would take long.  I also enjoyed their peanuts that I requested for another pack and got two more.  The hot chocolate eventually came. 

Premium economy class has their separate menu.  Meals were served in the second hour.  I requested for the beef tenderloin option but they also offered a chicken and pasta option for this flight.  Most of them came on a not-so disposable meal.  For desert, we were given Haagen Dazs ice cream.  It was a very scrumptious meal that I even finished the broccoli.  I did not wait for the flight attendants to collect my meal try as I needed to use the desk. 

Premium Economy beef meal
Image by hybridace101


For the third hour, the sky was noticeably darker.  The sun may have already set as it was late November.  More passengers started pulling down their window shades but the cabin lights were still switched on until late into that hour.  The curtains that separated premium from regular economy were also unveiled.  I also switched the channel to watch the comedy series VEEP.  I also requested for more peanuts.  This was when I tried more of the IFE to discover that it did not offer as much as in the past.      


Cathay Pacific A350 regular economy cabin
Image by hybridace101

At about the fourth hour, I thought it was time to get some shut-eye, at least for a few hours.  To prepare for that, I went to the lavatory but there was a queue of several and only the lavatories in the middle rows were operational.  Unfortunately the downside of most premium economy cabins is that passengers ticketed need to share lavatories with the regular economy class passengers.  On the way back, I got a few treats from their mini-bar, mostly biscuits and chocolates. 


My seat, 31H
Image by hybridace101

After barely an hour or two of sleep, I went to the rear of the cabin to grab a few more snacks.  I ordered hot chicken noodles and it was sent to my seat.  Shortly afterwards I also had another round of hot chocolate.  I also watched more satellite TV and VEEP, but occasionally the satellite TV signal just blacked out.

Chicken noodle soup snack
Image by hybridace101

Less than three hours remained on the flight and I started to freshen up.  The flight attendants had no hot towels but they had disposable towelettes.  When I returned to my seat, the main lights started coming back on.  It was a signal that breakfast will be served shortly.  Whilst waiting, I played with the airshow and came across a feature that showed what the view is like from the flight deck.  It also showed how fast and high up in the air the plane is.    


Cathay Pacific A350 Airshow's 'cockpit' view
Image by hybridace101
Cathay Pacific A350 regular economy cabin
Image by hybridace101

Cathay Pacific A350 regular economy cabin
Image by hybridace101

Cathay Pacific A350 regular economy cabin
Image by hybridace101

Breakfast was ultimately served with less than two hours left.  I chose the omelette and bacon option.  I also ate some yogurt for dessert.  I enjoyed eating it.  Just like the first instance, I went to the rear of the aircraft to return the mealtray as I wanted to use the tray table.

Omlette breakfast offered for premium economy passengers
Image by hybridace101
The remainder of the time was spent watching episodes of VEEP.

ARRIVAL
We landed at 6.40 am.  In theory, the cabin crew closed the curtains as a courtesy to the business class passengers to disembark first.  But the passengers in front of me just pressed ahead anyway.

Final photographs of A350 premium economy
Image by hybridace101

Cathay Pacific A350 regular economy cabin
Image by hybridace101

The plane docked at gate 2, which was close to passport control.  For the first time I can recall, there were no queues at passport control.  I got cleared to enter rather quickly.  But the bottleneck occurred at baggage control.  The bags have not yet arrived at the belt after I got cleared.  It took another 15-20 minutes for me to retrieve my bag.  Customs was also a fast clearance.

After exiting to the public area, I tried again to check the status of my waitlisted flight.  So far there was no luck.  I waited for my folks to begin my three (or hopefully four) days in Hong Kong.

Ultimately this premium economy flight on Cathay's A350 lasted rather quickly.

POST-FLIGHT

RATINGS FOR THIS LEG
These are rated from 1 to 10 with ten being the best score.  This covers aspects of the flight experience that Cathay Pacific and its ground agents are responsible for with a focus on Premium Economy Class.

·      Check-in (8/10): The lane moved rather quickly and the ground staff was helpful.  But I am not sure why Premium Economy class passengers have to share a check in desk with the ‘bag drop’ passengers. 
·      Boarding Process (8/10): The process was rather quick on our end.  But they could have considered having two jet bridges in operation to speed up the boarding since there was no exit that was within the premium economy cabin. 
·      Seat Comfort (9/10): With Cathay Pacific’s premium economy class, you can be forgiven for feeling like you are on a mini-business class.  The legroom was plentiful and had a lot of features for passengers to play with to feel comfortable.  There were multiple spots for the passenger to leave their things.  Having said that, the one area it may consider improving on is storage for laptops. Whilst the legroom was generally adequate, it was slightly annoying to some degree if you had to give way to another candidate whilst the tray table was down.  But otherwise Cathay Pacific’s A350 premium economy is in a league of its own.
·      Food (10/10): For long-haul flights, Cathay has a wide range of options for passengers.  They can choose a traditional western dish or an Asian one.  I chose the western dishes and both the beef and omelette options were tasty.
·      Cabin Crew (10/10): They were attentive to most passengers and do not forget about requests they have made.
·      Punctuality (10/10): Despite taking off slightly late, we arrived 25 minutes ahead of schedule. 
·      In-flight entertainment (9/10): The live satellite TV feature was great for those who want to catch up on news, but the selection of audio and video on demand seemed to be scaled back from what I chose from four years ago. 

As for my experience on the A350, one of the things I expected was that it would be less noisy on board.  However, I did not notice anything different about the noise between this kind of aircraft and others. 


We are not yet done.  I will be flying back to Manila in a few days.  But there are still big unknowns between now and then.  Will I fly back on Saturday or Sunday?  And what will happen to the difference of 10 kg of baggage between my current flight and desired flight?  I do not know the answers to these myself at this point.