The Heart of the Filipino – a tagline that resonates well with The Philippines’ flag carrier, which I had the privilege of experiencing, on my 9-hour flight from Manila to Honolulu, onboard the A330-300 aircraft.
Operator: Philippine Airlines
Route: Manila to Honolulu
Operating aircraft: A330-343
Departure from Manila: 5.30pm / 7.39pm*
Arrival in Manila: 9.25am / 10.37am*
Flight time: 9h 55 / 8h 58*
(*denotes actual timings)
As with most Philippine Airlines’ international flights (excluding Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Riyadh, New York, Toronto and Vancouver), this flight departs from NAIA Terminal 2.
Perhaps as a stricter security measure for flights to the United States, the boarding gate was cordoned off; passengers had to go for a second security screening and their documents revalidated before being allowed to enter the holding area. Interestingly, this notice was stapled to my boarding pass during the documents check.
On that day, my flight was overbooked and repeated announcements were made to request for three volunteers to give up their confirmed seats. For their inconvenience, each volunteer would be compensated with a guaranteed seat on the next day’s flight, a night’s accommodation in Manila, and a round-trip ticket Manila to Honolulu or vice versa. Not bad, in my opinion, and I found myself almost wanting to take up this package, just almost.
The holding area filled up as expected, with plenty of North Asian passengers (Chinese, Koreans and Japanese) in addition to many Filipino families. There were also at least a dozen wheelchair passengers!
Economy Class boarding was executed strictly by zones, with separate queues for each zone.
Boarding the aircraft, we were welcomed onboard by the cabin crew and I made my way to my seat in the aft cabin of this A330-300. Blankets, pillows and headsets were furnished on the seats.
Personal touchscreen entertainment - MyPAL eSuite
Note the slim entertainment box occupying some of the legroom for the window seat.
There wasn’t an AC power port but a USB port was available to keep my devices happily juiced up.
I was seated by the window and with a little bit of misfortune, the aisle seat was taken by a passenger of size. “May I get an extension, please”, I overheard him whispering to the passing flight attendant. His wish was granted, and so was my 11-hour fate.
He was a nice gentleman but a hefty one; I actually felt as bad for him as I felt for myself, as his legs were so squished up against the seat in front that he just almost became part of the aircraft fixture (and thus, I was essentially Trump walled up by the window).
If being Trump walled up was bad, here’s the worse news: we were delayed for two hours before our departure! We missed our departure slot after waiting for passengers from a delayed connecting flight, resulting in an hour wait at the gate for a new departure slot. We had a short respite when we taxied to the runway but ended up waiting another hour at the edge of the runway because of an endless stream of arriving flights. I even finished a movie “Venom” during the very patient wait. Unfortunately, my seatmate (and consequently, myself) had to endure being strapped to the seats in the upright position through the entire long-suffering process.
Heart of the Nation safety video - a crowdsourced video featuring the faces of the Philippines
After the take-off, things became slightly more comfortable as my seatmate (after apologizing to the passenger behind him) reclined his seat.
Amenity kits were distributed, which comprised dental kit, socks and eyeshade.
This was followed by paper dining menus!
I was quite pleasantly surprised to receive menus in Economy Class. What a lovely touch.
Here’s the menu offering for the flight:
Maison Sabadie Vin de France
Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Chardonnay
Domaine Preignes Le Vieux Syrah
Domaine Preignes Le Vieux Cabernet Sauvignon
Tanduay Rhum Dark
J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky
Asahi Draft Beer Super Dry
Brew Kettle Belgian Witbier Style
Diet Cola, Diet Uncola
Coffee – brewed, decaffeinated
Bread Roll and Butter
Smoked Shrimps on Noodle Salad with Mustard Dressing
Best of the Philippines Treat
Aristocrat Boneless Chicken Barbecue (Filipino cuisine)
World-famous chicken barbecue, marinated, grilled and served with peanut java sauce, tangy atchara, and java rice
Fish Fillet in Chili Ginger Sauce (Western cuisine)
Baked white fish fillet in spiced ginger sauce served with broccoli, carrots, and buttered fettucine
Auro Chocolate Bar
Lemon Peppered Chicken in Pandesal
Bread Roll and Butter
Seasonal Fresh Fruit Slices
Belvita Breakfast Biscuit
Best of the Philippines Treat
Home-Style Pork Tocino and Egg (Filipino cuisine)
Pan-fried cured pork slices with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomato wedge, and garlic fried rice
Veal Sausage with Caramelized Onions and Eggs (Western cuisine)
Grilled veal sausages with caramelized onion served with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomato, and mashed potatoes
Menu dishes created by Glenda Barretto
For me, the meal choices were obvious – definitely going for the Filipino cuisine on this Philippine Airlines flight (especially since the catering was from home base). At that point, I didn’t know who Glenda Barretto was but later as I googled, Glenda Barretto is a culinary icon who has been described as a doyenne of Filipino cuisine. She founded Via Mare, an established restaurant brand that encompasses a Filipino café , an oyster bar and a mobile catering services provider. Glenda Barretto is also an author of several culinary books. Glad I went with my culinary instinct!
Meal service commenced and I was happy to receive my Chicken barbecue choice.
Appetiser - Smoked Shrimps on Noodle Salad with Mustard Dressing
Main course - Aristocrat Boneless Chicken Barbecue
Adding the peanut java sauce
Bread roll and butter
Auro Chocolate Bar and Best of The Philippines treat
PR100 Hot meal service video:
I also requested for Tanduay Rhum (served on the rocks), together with Cola with ice.
After the meal service, lights were turned down for passengers to rest. Passengers were requested to draw down their window shades.
Interestingly, the direction to Mecca was available in the flight path in the entertainment.
I continued my movie binge, and enjoyed a really good movie “Bad Times at the El Royale” – I really loved the superb performances of the cast and the thrilling plot.
Mid-flight, the flight attendants passed through the cabin with hot snacks, followed by drinking water. In the menu, the snack sounded like a very Filipino dish, but it was a sandwich of sorts – really tasty though!
Excited as I was, I didn’t sleep but indulged in a movie marathon – not a challenge given the extensive and diverse selection of movies in the entertainment system.
The lavatory was stocked with lotion, cologne and handwash.
Time onboard flew quickly (in confined spaces, movies work wonders) and soon hot towels were served for passengers to freshen up for the breakfast service. It was a nice touch.
PR100 Breakfast service video
Again, I was delighted to receive my preferred Filipino cuisine choice of Home-Style Pork Tocino and Egg, served with hot coffee.
Adding the inasal sauce
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Bread roll and butter
Best of The Philippines treat
After the meal trays were cleared. Duty-free sales were conducted – I didn’t see much takers and we were prepared for landing.
We landed 2 hours late on a sunny morning (though, the wet tarmac indicated it rained early) in Honolulu.
For the full flight video experience of this Heart of The Filipino flight PR100, please watch here: