Welcome to this flight review of Philippine Airlines, on a transpacific flight PR101 from Honolulu to Manila (HNL-MNL) in Economy Class.
Operator: Philippine Airlines
Route: Honolulu to Manila
Operating Aircraft: Airbus 330-343
Departure from Honolulu: 11.10am / 11.33am* (UTC -10)
Arrival in Manila: 4.30pm (+1) / 4.33pm (+1)* (UTC +8)
Flight Time: 11 hours
(*denotes actual timings)
We had taken Roberts' Shuttle from Waikiki to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and our shuttle was a good half hour LATE! Initially, calls to the company was answered (with the promise to arrive in 10 mins) but later on, we couldn't even connect through to the operator. The shuttle did arrive eventually and we did make it to the airport on time but that unnerving feeling of missing the flight wasn't one that I would well, miss.
Lesson learnt: To book the airport shuttle a good 3 hours ahead of flight departure, for buffering exigencies like this.
Arriving at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, things winded down a little, especially with a patient wait at the Philippine Airlines check-in line. Many of the passengers had huge cargo to check in - perhaps, they were OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) returning to the Philippines for good.
The airport itself was old, but very pleasant, including open views of the tarmac - something you don't quite find in modern airports these days.
The walk to gate G6 was quite a stroll! Upon arriving, I was surprised the gate area was already full of passengers patiently waiting for boarding - seems like an eager planeload waiting to get home! There were about a dozen wheelchair passengers, who boarded after the premium class passengers.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good angle of the operating aircraft, an A330-343 (RP-C8782).
General boarding was executed by row numbers, and I was in the second "batch". The Philippine Airlines cabin crew at the door were very welcoming, which was a nice first impression.
The Economy Class seat featured a 32-inch seat pitch, and a 18-inch seat width. Recline is 6-inches. Pretty much the full-service airline standard.
For the video glimpse of PAL A330 Economy Class product offering, see here:
MyPAL eSuite entertainment featured a 10.1-inch touchscreen, and was very responsive and featured a generous selection of movies. There was also a USB port for connecting and recharging personal devices. I am quite surprised at the quality of headphones, in this Economy Class cabin.
A blanket and a pillow were also available on every seat.
Like my flight PR100 from Manila to Honolulu, this flight was full (in Economy Class, at least). However, it seemed like this flight's had a more OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) passenger profile compared to the previous flight which had plenty of North Asian vacationers. On this flight, I was honestly lucky to have an empty seat next to me (well, a whole row of two seats to myself!).
After watching the welcoming and truly heartwarming "Heart of The Nation" safety video - a crowd-sourced production featuring the Filipino people and spectacular Philippine scenery, we took off on a very sunny morning from Honolulu and started our cruise over the Pacific Ocean, back home to Manila.
Heart of the Nation safety video:
Service commenced with the provision of amenity kits and paper menus. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an amenity kit on a day flight, and even more so to receive a nicely designed menu in Economy Class - something that the airline industry has tragically, moved away from.
Amenity kit contents: socks, eye shade and dental kit
Here's the menu options:
Maison Sabadie Vin de France
Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Chardonnay
Domaine Preignes Le Vieux Syrah
Domaine Preignes Le Vieux Cabernet Sauvignon
Tanduay Rum 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
Fish Fillet in Black Bean Sauce (Asian)
Roasted basa fillet in black bean sauce served with mixed vegetables and egg fried rice
Beef Stroganoff (Western)
Stewed beef slices in creamy brown sauce served with broccoli, baby carrots and mashed potatoes
KitKat Chocolate Wafer
Ham and Cheese Sandwich
Bread Roll and Butter
Seasonal Fresh Fruit Slices
Chicken Nuggets (Filipino)
Fried chicken nuggets in barbecue sauce served with peas, carrots, corn and roasted potato wedges
Beef Meat Ball Pasta (Western)
Beef meat balls in tomato concasse served with pasta topped with parmesan cheese
The beverage menu is extensive and even in Economy Class, 2 varieties each of Red Wine and White Wine are available. Also, it is nice that Philippine Airlines provides a Western and an Asian option for the meal choices.
Soon, the first hot meal service commenced.
Hot meal service:
Fish seemed to be the popular option. I opted for the Beef and it was honestly, quite good! Tender beef slices smothered in creamy sauce. Yum! I had red wine for my drink.
Beef Stroganoff main course
During the collection of meal trays, tea, coffee or a second drink was avail to passengers. I had another glass of red wine to sip and relax.
Lights were then turned down for passengers to relax. Though the crew didn't request for passengers to close their window shades, nearly everyone did, to harmoniously recreate a night environment conducive for rest.
In the darkness, I enjoyed a movie marathon on PAL's excellent inflight entertainment.
Just to highlight, cologne, body lotion and extra hand wash were stocked in the lavatory.
A few hours of movie-binging later, the cabin crew served a mid-flight snack. I was starting to feel peckish so the timing of the snack service was just perfect! A ham and cheese sandwich served in a beautiful cardboard box with intricate Filipino cultural motifs. The snack itself wasn't much to sing praises for. Interestingly, drinks were served from a beverage trolley. This time, I had orange juice.
Mid-flight snack service video:
I believe the cabin crew did a shift change at this stage: half the cabin crew who had been working since the hot meal service went for their rest after serving the snack, and the other half of the cabin crew who were having their rest after completion of the first hot meal service returned from their rest to clear the trash. It seemed this aircraft didn't have proper crew bunks but rather, had cordoned off the last few seats for the cabin crew to rest (with privacy curtains in place).
Satisfied with my hot snack and with my belly full, I continued my movie-binge, devouring a movie after another (was honestly spoilt for choices!).
Time passed far too quickly, and before I knew it, cabin lights were turned up, and the cabin crew came round the cabin, offering hot wet towels. It was nice to freshen up for the hot snack service.
As per the first meal service, two choices are offered - both rather comfort food choices and I was quite indecisive. A full selection of beverages were also offered.
In the end, I opted for Beef and another glass of red wine.
Hot snack service:
Again, I enjoyed the meal of the oh-so-juicy beef meat balls!
After the meal service, the cabin crew passed through the cabin to offer immigration and customs forms (note, the cabin crew personally asked each individual passenger on their travel plan after arrival so as to provide the right forms). Used blankets and the beautiful menu card were also collected back.
It was then a scenic landing into the metropolis of Manila, after 11 hours of smooth flying and a comfortable journey enroute.
The A330 Economy Class seat was comfortable and entertainment was excellent. I also appreciated the little service touches such as amenity kit and paper menus.
Though I thought the menu options were rather uninspired, the meal choices I had tasted great. Also, for all the meal and snack services, the drink trolley was utilised to offer passengers an option from a full range of beverages - something you don't see even for 5-star airlines where the crew may serve from trays of pre-poured drinks with limited options for snack services.
There weren't drink runs between the meal services but the galley was always open for the thirsty passenger. The cabin crew were very professional and accommodating, which I really appreciate.
Overall, I enjoyed this #HeartofTheFilipino flying experience.
If the opportunity arise, I would definitely fly with Philippine Airlines again.
For the full flight video, please check it out here:
Thank you for reading this trans-pacific flight review of Philippine Airlines!