Philippine Airlines Flight Review: Manila to Hong Kong on a B777 (2010)

Throwback Thursday Trip Report: Philippine Airlines (February 26, 2010)

February 26, 2010 was my seventh time travelling to Hong Kong.  Out of all of these trips, we used Philippine Airlines (PAL) on the last five of them.  Apparently, I am not alone in using our country’s flag carrier as almost everyone I know flies Philippine Airlines to Hong Kong as well.  However, my dad, who is on a business trip,  plans to meet us in Hong Kong but will fly Cathay Pacific (CX).

PAL A343
PAL's Airbus A340-300
Image by hybridace101

Flight Number: PR300
Registration: RP-C7777
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Gate: N06
Flying Time: 2 hours 05 minutes (Actual Flying Time: 1 hour 40 minutes)
Scheduled Departure Time: 08:00

What made this trip a bit special was that we got to fly on board PAL's brand new Boeing 777-300ER (77W) aircraft for the short flight. Delivered in November 2009, RP-C7777 was at this time PAL's 2nd newest member of the fleet.

Check-in usually supposed to be 3 hours before departure. However, we arrived just slightly under 2 hours prior. My mom was booked in Business Class, while I was stuck in Economy Class. Lucky for me, that enabled us to check-in at the premium counters, which was good since I later discovered just how full PR300’s counters were. The bad news though was that unlike before where everyone in our family could get access to the Mabuhay lounge regardless of our different classes of service, that wasn’t the case this time as the ground staff cited troubling economic times. However, the good part about it was that it gave me more time to take pictures of the airport and the various airlines.

PAL A320
PAL's A320
Image by hybridace101
Aircraft are usually supposed to have minimal layover time between flights.  However, I saw some of them like N754PR sent back to the hangar to wait for its next trip. Well, at least Flight Attendants won't have a flight to say "sorry" on, at least for the next few hours.

PAL's infamous Boeing 747-400 N754PR
Image by hybridace101
I thought all along our gate was N01. An A330 bound for Beijing was parked at that gate and the 77W going to take us to Hong Kong was parked waiting at the hangar. I only found out though that the correct gate was N06 when I heard the announcement at 07:25 that PR300 was boarding there. It later dawned on me that if the flight to Beijing was at 07:15, how long would it take for the 77W to get ready at the gate.

The queues were quite long. This demonstrates why destinations like Hong Kong and those in the US are considered “high density” routes. Now I realised why smaller, narrow body aircraft are often preferable as it means less people waiting in queue.

My seat was 31B, which I requested earlier. Despite it being at a bulkhead, it became a problem. I was sitting in the middle of 2 strangers and I had the feeling that it would be uncomfortable for them to see me play around with the camera and the IFE while they tend to other things. In fact, in the process of placing my stuff in the overhead lockers, the jacket of my German seat mate fell but the flight attendant was kind enough to handle it and to direct me to place my bag in the adjacent locker.

From my seat, I was able to take a photo of the Business Class cabin. It was too bad that I was not sitting in the Business Class section unlike on one other trip, where I used my miles. These seats have their fair share of complaints based on the entries I read on several forums. If you think about it, there is a reason that Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines previously replaced their own similar products in this class years ago with better quality, enhanced Business Class products and even developed new products such as the Premium Economy Class cabin.

PAL C Seats
PAL's 77W Business Class Section
Image by hybridace101
I was going to film the live safety demonstration, but unfortunately, the flight attendant said that my camera should be switched-off. Here's a unique point about the live demo on-board the 77W: the audio is pre-recorded. That means the purser does not have to read from a script. In fact, the pre-recorded audio was playing while passengers where boarding.

Less than five minutes after take-off, the seat belt signs were switched-off and I reached out for my bag to obtain the flash drives that I prepared. However, I was disappointed when I discovered that the USB drive didn’t work. I couldn't find my music. I later tried my iPOD but still no luck. I even called two flight attendants but neither of them could help me as they didn’t even know that there was a USB drive embedded in each economy seat.

The good news is that the rest of the IFE performed well and it looked similar to those on other airlines. The video screen was similar in size and design to those found in Business Class of PAL's newer A319 and A320 aircraft. The video selection was limited but that was understandable considering that it was just a 100-minute flight. The audio collection was also sufficient. I had a chance to try out the games like Bejeweled and Tetris. They can be fun but ultimately my head was still stuck on the audio and video portions and the fact that the USB port in the economy section was not meant to play audio. However, the live map worked.
Economy Class IFE Screen in PAL's 77W
Image by hybridace101
Remote control of PAL's IFE
Image by hybridace101
PAL Live Map
Image by hybridace101
IFE Playlist on PAL's 77W
Image by hybridace101
When it comes to dining, I have to give credit to forum mates at who forewarned me that the food would be reduced to the main course and a simple desert. However, it didn’t bother me because I was keen on eating those 2 items only. I ordered adobo with egg and it came with a Red Ribbon buttercake.

Breakfast on PR300
Breakfast on PR300
Image by hybridace101
Despite the narrow aisles and the prospect that I could be disturbing my seat mates, I decided to take more pictures of the cabin.

Economy Class section of PAL's 77Ws
Image by hybridace101
Economy class section of PAL's 77Ws
Image by hybridace101
Like many other good things, this flight eventually had to come to an end. The taxi took a bit longer than what I was used to as PAL's gate is usually close to the runway. Before I left, I took one final batch of photos. That triggered my mom to question why I took so long to disembark even though I was seated in the front.

PAL 77W at HKG
PAL's 77W at Hong Kong
I boarded the return flight back to Manila on March 2, 2010. But instead of travelling on the modern Boeing 777, I had to contend with the older A330.  How I wish that that flight could also get an equipment upgrade some day.

Author's note: This post was originally written for the author's original travel blog, Trips and Tips. The writing and information in this article were accurate as of 2010.  


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