Sponsor Message:
Aviation Trip Reports Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Asia's First, Shining Through? MNL-SIN-MNL On PR  
User currently offlineAkiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 786 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 11670 times:

Hi guys. This is my first trip report on A.Net, and after thinking long and hard about what to write (because I have a very long backlog of reports to make), I decided to write about my short trip to Singapore on Philippine Airlines, arguably because there's a dearth of reports on my country's national airline. For those of you who follow trip reports on FlyerTalk, I'm one of those guys known for extremely long, detailed reports, and I intend to do the same here. (As a bonus, I'll be cross-posting my reports as well between the two sites. )

Anyway, I am exceedingly grateful that I was able to fly PAL before the brouhaha that has since beset the airline after it outsourced some company departments on October 1: since then, the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) went (and is still) on strike, PAL flights are split between Terminals 2 and 3 at MNL (riding on 2P, which is not unionized) and the airline is not operating at "full" capacity. Just recently, PALEA blockaded the PAL Inflight Center, shutting down (for now) in-flight shopping and proper in-flight catering. However, this is also particularly memorable since it has been a while since I've last flown PAL: the last time I flew the national carrier of the Philippines was in 2009, and very rarely do I fly them international to boot.

In the last two years since I've flown PR, the airline had undergone several changes to keep them solvent. Many of these changes are visible on their "prestige" routes such as those to the U.S. (the refurbishment of the 747s, the introduction of the 77Ws to YVR and NRT), are visible online (the Econolight experiment and its replacement "Fiesta Saver" fares, more frequent seat sales), or are visible in-flight ("One on One" catering, monetized exit and bulkhead row seating). But have these changes trickled down to a route such as MNL-SIN? This is something I'd like to find out, and I guess now I figure: what better way to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of Asia's first airline by writing a report on them here?

Prologue

The reason why I was headed to Singapore was because last May, I have received word that I got accepted for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to the University of Warsaw in Warsaw, Poland, and of course, that is the story of how I ended up where I am right now. Of course, studying requires one to obtain a visa: because Poland has no embassy in the Philippines (an anomaly since the Philippines has an embassy in Poland), Filipinos who require Polish visas have to go to Kuala Lumpur to get their visas, and so I had to take it upon myself and my family to get my butt there so I can get to Warsaw by mid-September.

Unfortunately, Poland (like the rest of the EU) does not allow shipping applications in by mail, so I had to go to Kuala Lumpur personally. In mid-August, I flew CX for the first time, headed to KUL so I may apply for my visa (I promise to write a report on this in due time, but let me write this first :P). Luckily for me, my aunt and her family moved back to Singapore after eight months in Dubai, so I finally had a place to stay without burning holes in my parents' pockets for a ho(s)tel in KL. But still, I had no ticket: I could have redeemed DL miles so I can fly 3K, but they require bookings to be done at least two weeks in advance, and I only had around a week to book a flight. Fortunately, my parents agreed to pay for the trip.

A precondition of my travel was that the ticket had to be flexible: because the Polish Embassy's consular section is only open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, I had to make sure that I can rebook my ticket easily without paying penalties in the event that the visa wasn't out yet. After poring over several airlines, it boiled down to 3K and PR. SQ was too expensive (although they have attractive fares ex-MNL when timed correctly), while 2P, TR, DG and 5J had restrictions on available fares at the time. 3K and PR were the cheapest airlines which met this precondition: fares were around $230 for 3K and $280 for PR, and I was sure to book with 3K until I decided that for $50 more, I can get food and fly in a big plane, so I might as well book with PR. Luckily, my parents consented (again), and so I booked myself on PR, departing on August 26 and returning August 31.

In short order, I was able to generate an itinerary like this:

*PR 511: MNL-SIN; departing 0615, arriving 0955
*PR 512: SIN-MNL, departing 1940, arriving 2215

On August 23, I received an e-mail from the Embassy indicating that I may now get my visa, and so I was relieved that I'll be there while I'm still in Singapore, not needing to extend my itinerary any further. I booked myself on the last available "superior night class" seat on the train between Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur (I'll take a city bus up to Johor Bahru from Singapore) on August 29, and I bought a bus ticket for a midday bus going back to Singapore, which arrives at Novena Square at around 9:30 pm.

The day afterward, I picked up my (plane) ticket at the PAL ticketing office in Cubao, near my house.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0450.jpg

I belatedly realized however that there was a midnight flight on September 1, and so I asked for my ticket to be changed since I wanted my relatives to spend more time with me before I go home. The agent informed me that I have to pay a rebooking fee, but I told her that I called the service center the night before and I was told that I'll pay nothing if I change any part of my booking other than the fare difference. She goes and asks her supervisor, and luckily, I was rebooked on the flight that I wanted since I asked for a change in the reservation within 24 hours from booking. It led to an itinerary that looks like this:

*PR 511: MNL-SIN, departing 0615, arriving 0955
*PR 506: SIN-MNL, departing 0015, arriving 0350

After fixing everything and leaving the ticketing office, I was on my way to Singapore.

I. Pre-Departure: MNL-SIN

Because this flight was so early in the morning, I decided to stay with my grandmother for the night, who lives near the airport, and my grandmother's driver brought me over to Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 3:30 am. (Yes, I do not believe NAIA deserves the title of "Worst Airport in the World" according to Sleeping in Airports.)

Although I was there a full three hours before my flight was scheduled to leave, the North Wing (for international flights) remained closed and people were waiting outside in order to enter the terminal and check in. I was very surprised: how can an airline with early-morning flights keep the terminal closed? I ask the guard what time the terminal will open, and he said the North Wing will open at around 4:00 am. True enough, the North Wing opened at around 4:00 am. (The South Wing, which handles domestic flights, is open since there are flights which leave as early as 4:30 am.)

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0451.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0452.jpg

II. Pre-flight: PR 511, MNL-SIN

The North Wing did open its doors to passengers at 4:00 am, but the check-in counters were still closed, and so passengers were left to wander around the check-in area. Not a very pretty sight as the only open set of counters were the travel tax counters.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0453.jpg

As you can see, PAL had rearranged their check-in lines so that each counter has its own individual line. I don't know why they changed over from the old zig-zag arrangement, though. The old arrangement looked neater, though, although at least this time, there will be less people pushing and shoving their way towards the front of the line (as what happened to me before).

Anyway, as the check-in counters were closed, passengers were left guessing which counters to go to since there were also people bound for ICN looking for their queues. Since the flight to ICN was leaving first, the first queues to open were for passengers bound for ICN, opening to the left side of the counters where people pay travel tax. The counters for SIN, meanwhile, opened on the right side, and check-in for both cities opened at around 4:30 am.

There was a brief brouhaha as the line for people checking in for my flight was split into two, and people (myself included) were jumping back and forth between lines, but luckily people found their way into the right lines, and I stayed put in front of Counter 51, where I ultimately checked in for the flight.



Seat 40-K. Not bad: I like window seats on morning flights.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0456.jpg

At NAIA Terminal 2, the terminal fee and immigration areas are located on the far right of the North Wing, one behind the other. Naturally, owing to the original design of the terminal as being intended for domestic flights only, the immigration area is much smaller than the one at Terminal 1, and even more so than the one at Terminal 3. Unsurprisingly enough, the Bureau of Immigration decided to put up a poster of themselves. I wonder how well this deters tourists from thinking that they are "supposedly" corrupt. (N.B.: I've had nothing but good experiences with the BI at MNL, so don't start getting ideas, okay?  )



After immigration and the final security check, I was finally at the pre-departure area. PR 103 from LAX had just arrived, and so there was a very long queue of wheelchair-bound elderly passengers (many of whom were Filipinos holding American passports, as I noticed) who had to take the elevator down to arrivals. Since NAIA-2 has a separate corridor for arriving passengers without provisions for elevators, people who need to use elevators to go downstairs have to go through here. A very interesting sight at 5:00 am, if I may say.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0458.jpg

The North Wing is pretty quiet this morning.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0459.jpg

Because the gate was still closed, I decided to wait it out at the laptop station in the middle of the North Wing. As always, the Wi-Fi at NAIA-2 still hasn't been fixed, but there's a bunch of new HP touchscreen computers which have Internet access. But because two of the computers were non-operational and one had no Internet, only two computers were functional, and there were a bunch of people waiting to use them.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0460.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0461.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0462.jpg

The flight, however, was delayed. I was able to have a baozi for breakfast before boarding started at 6:30 am, where a queue was formed immediately after the announcement was made. It seemed that people were ready to pounce at the closest opportunity they got. Luckily, i found myself in the middle of the line. (And as you can see, NAIA-2 finally has a new FIDS! )

The gate agent takes my boarding pass, returns the stub to me, and I was on my way onboard another PR Airbus A330: RP-C3335. Beside it was RP-C7471 which flew PR 103, decked out with the PAL 70th anniversary sticker. Sweet.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0464.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0465.jpg

III. In-flight: PR 511

Philippine Airlines Flight PR 511
Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport; MNL/RPLL)-Singapore (Changi Airport; SIN/WSSS)
Airbus A330-300, RP-C3335
Seat 40-K (window, right side)
ETD 0615 (actual 0700) / ETA 0955 (actual 1030)


The first thing that greets me upon entry into the plane were two things: the first were cheerful (and somewhat senior, but there were also a couple of younger ones) PR flight attendants, and karaoke boarding music. Of course, as boarding continued, I finally made it to my seat, decked out with the new headrest cover that was first used on PAL's 77Ws, beside my favorite plane.



http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0467.jpg


Boarding was prompt, but apparently even pushback was delayed owing to two factors: the first was the late arrival of food and other supplies from the PAL Inflight Center (located in another part of the airport) and the weather in Singapore. During this time, I was able to nag my phone company to turn my roaming on since for some reason the facility via text isn't working. Luckily, although the delay was pretty bad, we were able to push back as soon as the last passengers were on board. The new PAL safety video also came out (here), which if I may say is significantly better than their old one (here), but I'm still disappointed that they did not come out with a version in Filipino.

Anyway, the plane finally leaves the gate and we were on our way. As I mentioned in the thread about mobile phone use on-board, the person beside me was eagerly waiting for some text message, perhaps from his family. I kept my mouth shut, but I was saying to myself that by now his phone should be off.

So finally, after a long delay, we were finally in the air. However, poor visibility was the event of the day: bad weather did not produce very good views.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0469.jpg

The plane must be packed today.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0468.jpg

At around 8:30, breakfast was being served as Thor was playing on the IFE, and I chose the fish curry with egg and fried rice, as well as my usual apple juice. That red mug would later be filled with hot tea.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0473.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0471.jpg

At least for me, PAL's catering did not disappoint again. The curry was delicious and not too spicy, just the way I like it. The mamon from Red Ribbon was still soft and moist (but not warm) as if it came straight from the store, and the little fruit bowl still tasted fresh. It's sad though that right now, because of the blockade on the PAL Inflight Center, people don't get to enjoy the same in-flight service: for example, people sitting in Mabuhay Class do not get served wine because of the blockade, and people get their food in boxes instead of proper trays.

Later on, I went to the lavatory, and snapped up this shot of myself. (Yes, now you know what I look like! )

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0474.jpg

The sky seems to get better as we were flying over the South China Sea, but got worse as we were approaching Singapore. As the plane was landing, it started to rain. Sad, but this is the weather that (partially) delayed the flight, so what can we do?

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0476.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0477.jpg

As the plane was running (no pun intended) down the runway, RP-C3195, a Cebu Pacific A319, was preparing to return to the Philippines. Most probably it was headed to MNL, but it could also be headed for CRK or CEB.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0478.jpg

Finally, after a long flight (and an apology from the crew for the delay), the plane parks beside VT-EDD, an Air India A320. If I remember the FIDS correctly, it was headed for DEL.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0479.jpg

In the meantime, people start standing up, preparing to leave the plane.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0480.jpg

The crew wish all their passengers off and finally, after a very pleasant flight, I was back in Singapore.

IV. Arrival in Singapore

Although it has been only a year since I used Terminal 2 at SIN, owing to the meticulousness of its maintenance, the terminal does not look old at all. It even proudly announces that it's Terminal 2!

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0482.jpg

There were no other planes parked beside RP-C3335, and much of the area where the plane parked was empty.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0481.jpg

People were crowding out at immigration, but the lines were fast, and soon enough I got my aunt's (very heavy) suitcase. (My suitcase meanwhile became my carry-on, and my backpack became a computer bag.)

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0485.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0486.jpg

Soon enough, I was headed down towards Changi Airport MRT Station, and towards the city, where I was to take the MRT, and then the bus, to my aunt's house (condominium) in Holland Village.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0487.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0524.jpg

V. BONUS! Side trip to Kuala Lumpur

Singapore was largely uneventful: my aunt was not feeling well during my stay, so I had to help her out with settling in again and keeping an eye on my very rambunctious cousins. Aside from lunches, dinners and bouts at the mall, plus meeting a friend of mine who was there for studies, nothing really happened, so instead of blabbing on about what happened in Singapore, I will throw in a bonus report: Singapore-Kuala Lumpur by train!  (The bus ride was actually very uneventful, so for brevity's sake I'll leave it out, but if you guys want me to write something about it I can most certainly do that.  )

Trains in Singapore are operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), the Malaysian rail operator, and trains go to Singapore three times a day. More trains used to come by, including two shuttle services between Singapore and Johor Bahru, but with the closure of the Tanjong Pagar railway station in mid-2011 (which is very saddening, because the station is very nice), all trains have since moved to Woodlands (up north, and only a kilometer south of Johor Bahru across the Strait of Johor), and shuttle services have since ended.

Anyway, a weird KTM practice is the use of a 1:1 exchange rate between the Singapore dollar and the ringgit. Fares to KL from Singapore and Johor Bahru are virtually the same, with one major difference: if in Johor Bahru a ticket is RM 39, that same ticket is S$39 coming from Singapore. So obviously, I decided to take the train from Johor Bahru, and on the evening of August 28 I took two buses from my aunt's house across the border into Malaysia.

The train was leaving at 11:55 pm, and so I was there a full two hours early with virtually nothing to do as a lot of places at JB Sentral were already closed or closing. Of course, the arrival hall was very big, and people were waiting in the well-ventilated waiting area for trains.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0492.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0493.jpg

Here's my train ticket.



Like my flight into Singapore, the train arrived late from Woodlands (albeit much more so), and so boarding started late. At least boarding was quick, and like the people waiting in MNL to board PR 511, people lined up very, very quickly to board the train downstairs.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0494.jpg

For consistency's sake, I shall add the trip information below.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Train 24 (Senandung Sutera)
Johor Bahru (Johor Bahru Sentral)-Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Sentral, XKL)
Coach M7, Bed 37 (top bunk)
ETD 2355 (actual 0105 +1) / ETA 0630 +1 (actual 0805 +1)


Unlike in the Philippines, where our trains are utterly horrifying (until recently, that is), KTM Antarabandar (intercity) trains are actually quite nice. Very sleek on the outside too.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0497.jpg

As you can see, there were top and bottom bunks in superior night class (in China, these are hard sleepers). Lots of room too for both the top and bottom bunks, but while there's a lot of room for your legs, plus a place to put your shoes, there's not a lot of ceiling room in the top bunk. Well, I have to make do: I may not like it, but I'll be sleeping for most of the journey, right?

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0498.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0501.jpg

Finally, the train leaves and we are on the way to Kuala Lumpur. The night train is not non-stop: it does make several stops along the way, like at Kempas Baru in Johor.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0502.jpg

Seven hours later, the train finally pulls into KL Sentral. The station's size can't possibly compare to the size of Manila's main train station, Tutuban, which is only around 1/4 the size of KL Sentral.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0505.jpg

After taking a very nice shower at the station's shower rooms (only RM 5), I had a nice breakfast of kaya toast and teh tarik, and I was on my way to the Polish Embassy.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0504.jpg

After getting the visa at the Embassy (I apparently arrived just as the consular section was opening), I got to stroll around Suria KLCC again and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur before going to the bus stop where I would be boarding my bus back to Singapore. Although faster than the train (and on-time, too), aside from some nice views on Malaysian highways and a stop at two rest stops, the journey was largely uneventful despite going on what is arguably Southeast Asia's best highway network.

TO BE CONTINUED. 

[Edited 2011-11-06 13:10:46]

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 11218 times:

Hi !

Nice report with nice pictures!

Amazing that at the fairly new T2 there's no elevator inside ther secure area in customs! The terminal doesn't look finished and not much on offer airside. I was there in July this year and was very surprised at the lack of facilities there.

Food looks much better on your flight than on my MNL-YVR flight. I posted a trip report on it here if you are interested.

Train looks good and hat it's better than the train in the Philippines is not very surprising.

Looking forward to the return and future trip reports.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineAkiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 786 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 11214 times:

VI. Pre-departure: SIN-MNL

After arriving from Kuala Lumpur and around four more days in Singapore, it was time for me to go home. Coincidentally, I'd be arriving on the day I'm having an exam in public administration, so it's a good thing that I can study and get some sleep before taking the test. It was time for me to bid farewell to my very rambunctious cousins and make my way back to Manila.

My aunt drops me off at Bugis MRT Station so I can take the MRT to the airport, but by the time I arrived at Tanah Merah and was about to change platforms, my aunt calls me, frantically declaring that I had left my passport in the car! Because she's sick, she instructs me to take a taxi as soon as possible all the way back to Holland Village to pick it up. I hail a taxi, but he's hesitant and is worried that I won't catch my flight, but I urge him to drive as fast as possible. In about fifteen minutes, I finally got the passport from my aunt, and the driver scurries back towards SIN on the East Coast Parkway, talking about various topics from the taxi driver's Chinese clients to local Singaporean politics. (Don't worry: since then, I have learned to always keep my passport in my bag, not taking it out unless absolutely necessary.  )

I arrive at Terminal 2 with about ten minutes prior to closing time, so I give him $35 (the fare is $32, but I gave $3 as gratuity for letting me use his mobile phone and for just being an overall good taxi driver) and make a mad dash towards the check-in area.

VII. Pre-flight: PR 506, SIN-MNL

Sure, I was making a mad dash towards the check-in area. But something was afoot.

THE FLIGHT WAS DELAYED! AGAIN!

Normally, I'd be happy if a flight was delayed and I was running late, but this was different: what was the effort of me running from curb to check-in area then if the flight was delayed? -__________-

Anyway, I fall in line behind a bunch of other people checking in for PR 506. The line was actually pretty long, and growing longer too. People must feel relieved that the flight is delayed.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0527.jpg

Around ten minutes later, I was finally checked in for the flight, surprisingly enough at the counter reserved for Mabuhay Class passengers. Unfortunately, the flight was full, and so no window seats were available. As consolation however, I was seated in 4-E. Although a middle seat, it was at the front row of the Fiesta Class cabin, and so it had more legroom than the rest of Y save for the exit row.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0529.jpg

After checking in and stamping out (the line at immigration was surprisingly short), I was finally at the pre-departure area at SIN. Lots of open shops at midnight, I see.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0530.jpg

Of course, with only minutes to spare before the flight was about to "depart" (it was actually still delayed), I made my way to the gate, where there was a very, very long line of people headed inside.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0531.jpg

During this time, at least I was able to call my aunt (for free, too! ) to tell her that I was already at SIN, and my dad to arrange for a pick-up. Of course, if all else fails, I also called my grandmother so that I can be picked up in MNL in the event that my dad forgets.

Inside, people were busy either watching TV, using the computers or talking with other people. Surprisingly, there were several foreigners on this flight: some Americans and a Mexican family were to be joining us tonight.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0532.jpg

After around fifteen minutes, boarding commenced, and everyone rushed to the gate, anxious to board. Coincidentally, unlike in MNL, zone boarding was enforced in SIN: Mabuhay Class passengers and "special-needs" passengers (pregnant, elderly, etc.) were boarded first, followed by the people at the back of Fiesta Class, and finally those at the front. But hey, at least I got to board, right?

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0533.jpg

VIII. In-flight: PR 506

Philippine Airlines Flight PR 506
Singapore (Changi Airport; SIN/WSSS)-Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport; MNL/RPLL)
Airbus A320-200
Seat 4-E (middle, right side)
ETD 0015 (actual 0145) / ETA 0350 (actual 0515)


Greeting passengers on today's flight was a senior PAL crew even more senior than the crew that flew out on MNL-SIN. The purser was a very friendly woman: she recognized that I was carrying one of my books for studying, and I told her that I had an upcoming test and that I won't sleep as much as I could. She chuckled and led me to my seat. Now that's what I call demeanor! 

Upon entering the cabin, I realized that finally, after chasing them for two years, I'm on a new PAL A320 fitted with Recaro seats! The cabin certainly didn't look too shabby, and I quickly found Row 4, where I was going to be seated. There are two good things about Row 4 on the A320s: first, it's a Choice Seat, so unless you're assigned that seat, you have to pay to get that seat in advance. Second, you get a nice view of Mabuhay Class, which for this aircraft was decked out with the new AVOD system PAL has been touting around since it began rolling out AVOD with these planes back in 2007.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0534.jpg

Boarding ended pretty quickly after I sat down, and after some brief checks the doors were shut, the new safety video played (although with the A320 in flight), and we had a very uneventful takeoff. On this flight, I was seated between a man at 4-F and an OFW father at 4-D. (His family visited him in Singapore, and now he's bringing them back to Manila, enjoying some vacation time before he goes back to work.)

At around 2:20 am, the meal service began, and being in front, I was among the first to be served. I chose the beef with rice this time, and as always, with apple juice.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0535.jpg

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0536.jpg

Like the outbound meal, the inbound meal was very delicious. The cake (also from Red Ribbon, like the mamon on MNL-SIN) was soft, albeit not as sweet as I'd like it to be. The vegetables were crisp and crunchy, the macaroni salad was reasonably tart and the beef had lots of flavor.

After dinner, I proceeded to studying while at the same time watching Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. Of course, at times I was falling asleep, and so I had to go to the bathroom to wake myself up with a nice washing-up.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0537.jpg

As I mentioned before, this plane was full. People had no choice but to sleep upright because there was simply no room to lie down.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0538.jpg

I quickly returned to my seat and continued studying, but I must have dozed off and I woke up shortly before initial approach. The purser passes by and chuckles, noticing that I fell asleep.

Finally, after arriving in Manila (and after another apology from the crew, since apparently the reason why the flight was delayed was because the plane arrived in MNL late before leaving for SIN), people jumped up again and started going out of the cabin. Of course, I had to take a picture of my seat.



The crew wished all passengers farewell, and in my case, the purser wished me luck in my exam. Whee...I feel very happy now despite being very tired from the flight.  

And of course, I had to get the last shot of the plane, docked at the North Wing.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0540.jpg

IX. Arrival in Manila

Arriving in Manila at 5:00 am is very uneventful. Aside from tolerable immigration lines which have yet to face the onslaught of the horde associated with the incoming flights from LAX, SFO, HNL, LAS and YVR, processing was quick and baggage claim seemed very spacious.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss171/akiestar/Singapore%202/IMAG0541.jpg

After waiting a bit for my bags, I was able to get my suitcase (which I was able to check in this time) and my grandmother's driver picked me up. I had breakfast in her house before going home to get ready for that test at 1:30 pm. (Luckily enough, the test was okay. )

Epilogue

As part of the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of PAL, PAL held a very big party (video here) celebrating the event, with big-name singers such as Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera attending, as well as PAL's Million Milers, who were flown in from around the world. At that particular event, Vivienne Tan, daughter of Lucio Tan (and an executive vice-president at PAL), reflects on what her father told her as to why the grand old man of Philippine tobacco (and who is rumored to have an inclination to divest himself of PAL despite denials to high heaven) even bothered investing in the troubled (formerly state-owned) airline:

Because PAL is the Philippines. The Philippines is PAL. I cannot let them go down.

The seventy years that marked Philippine Airlines' existence has been a roller coaster: an airline which began with only a single plane and a single route (MNL-BAG) had become a well-regarded (and well-derided) name in global aviation. True, what was once one of Asia's biggest airlines has since downsized significantly, and the airline is currently suffering at the hands of politics (Cat II and the EU blacklist come to mind), but it seems that PR has a fighting spirit that cannot seem to go away, despite all those problems that it has faced, that it continues to face, and that it will face in the future. Despite all the odds, PAL was able to make things work even when others thought it couldn't: airlines like SQ and NW laughed at the idea of PAL starting MNL-LAS, but it was able to make it work and today the route is profitable despite Cat II. Some people (including people here on A.Net, based on my observations here over the years as a long-time reader before joining) thought that the 77W was too big for PAL, but it was able to make it work on several routes, both domestic (CEB) and international (HKG, NRT, YVR; formerly SYD). It seems that, at least to me, the idea that PAL can take something so absurd and make it work is astounding, despite having a very long way to go before it can even consider catching up to the league of airlines it used to be a part of.

As I mentioned earlier in this report, I rarely fly PR. Most of the time, my flying patterns don't warrant me flying my country's national airline. However, on every occasion that I have flown PAL, I have nothing but good words for them, and although problems emerge at times, I was always able to see an airline trying its best at doing what it does. I was very pleased with the two flights I took with them last August, and I certainly will not hesitate to book PR again when I get the opportunity to do so. After all, they're still Asia's first, shining through.

I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report (my fifth overall, should I remember correctly) and thank you for reading. I hope that in due time, I'll be able to write more reports to share, and that I can get back into the habit of writing reports since the last time I was in the trip report-writing business was back in 2009. As always, comments are appreciated. 

As a final parting note, the camera used on this trip was an HTC Sensation. For a mobile phone, it has a very nice camera!   


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 11131 times:

Hi !

Nice conclusion with the return but time of the flight is absolutely horrible! A red-eye but only for 2h 30mins.....

Flight looks okay and a but strange that you had to pay for advance seat assignment on PR which is supposed to be a full service airline.

Quoting Akiestar (Reply 2):
the airline is currently suffering at the hands of politics (Cat II and the EU blacklist come to mind),

You may call it politics; I call it safety........

I do hope PR get to Cat I soon so that can replace the remaining 744s with 77Ws.

From my experience this summer, they have a long way to go to get to the likes of TG, SQ and MH. I would put them in a catagory just below BR and CI.

Looking forward to more trip reports from you!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1294 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (2 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 10902 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Welcome to A.net with your first report here, but your wonderful writing style clearly reflects you are a seasoned writer, as you indicate you are on flyer talk too!

Working closely with some Filipinos at work, I have to say how wonderful Filipinos are and great to see how patriotic you are towards your own flag carrier PAL.

Looking forward to your other trip reports, including the one that will take you to Warsaw! And congrats on winning the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship too


User currently offlineinfinit From Singapore, joined Jul 2008, 584 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 10643 times:

That's a lovely TR. There are many Filipinos working in the retail and service line in Singapore as you probably would have noticed. I always find them to very warm and personal. I would expect the cabin crew on PR must be pretty hospitable and warm too.

User currently offlineAkiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 786 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 10383 times:

Thanks guys for the responses! :P

Quoting The777Man (Reply 1):
Amazing that at the fairly new T2 there's no elevator inside ther secure area in customs! The terminal doesn't look finished and not much on offer airside. I was there in July this year and was very surprised at the lack of facilities there.

Food looks much better on your flight than on my MNL-YVR flight. I posted a trip report on it here if you are interested.

I was able to read your report on MNL-YVR a few months before I (formally) joined A.Net. I actually like the 77W despite the ten-abreast layout. 

NAIA-2 is bi-level, so there's no intermediate floor for people to go down: when people go down, they immediately reach arrivals. It's a consequence of the airport's design: after all, this terminal was originally designed for domestic use.

Also, since I have never flown PR trans-Pacific, I can't comment on how the food is or even the AVOD at that length, but I'd say it's a mixed bag. But who knows: maybe I'll expect something positive from them should I choose to fly PR across the Pacific someday.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 1):
Train looks good and hat it's better than the train in the Philippines is not very surprising.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) has been the recipient of a bunch of second-hand trains from Japan, which are now in use. I've ridden PNR commuter trains, which are decent, but not long-distance ones, which I hope to try when I get back next year.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 3):
Nice conclusion with the return but time of the flight is absolutely horrible! A red-eye but only for 2h 30mins.....

If I want to get back to school on time, it's not like I had a choice.  

For me, red-eyes are fine as long as I get back on time.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 3):
Flight looks okay and a but strange that you had to pay for advance seat assignment on PR which is supposed to be a full service airline.

I did not pay for advance seat assignment. If I wanted a Choice Seat, I'd have to pay for it, but I got a Choice Seat only because the flight was full and that was the only seat left. PR isn't alone on this one: MH does it as well.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 3):
You may call it politics; I call it safety........

I do hope PR get to Cat I soon so that can replace the remaining 744s with 77Ws.

PR isn't in Cat II; the Philippines is.  

Personally, I think PAL is a very safe airline, and they're merely victims of the Philippine government's inaction in resolving the aviation mess we've been stuck in since 2008. The country has already lost nearly P67 billion in potential tourism revenues because of Cat II, so if that doesn't get the government to act, then I don't know what will.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Looking forward to your other trip reports, including the one that will take you to Warsaw! And congrats on winning the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship too

Thanks! And I promise better pictures!

Quoting infinit (Reply 5):
There are many Filipinos working in the retail and service line in Singapore as you probably would have noticed. I always find them to very warm and personal. I would expect the cabin crew on PR must be pretty hospitable and warm too.

Yes, I noticed that a lot of Filipinos in Singapore work in the retail and services industries, and I'm surprised when they find out I'm Filipino.   

Contrary to those "horror stories" of crews gone haywire, I've always thought that PR crews were very friendly.


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 7, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 9689 times:

Hi !

Quoting Akiestar (Reply 6):
I was able to read your report on MNL-YVR a few months before I (formally) joined A.Net. I actually like the 77W despite the ten-abreast layout.

Thanks for reading my report! I like it too and the 10 abreast was not so bad.

Quoting Akiestar (Reply 6):
after all, this terminal was originally designed for domestic use

That explains a lot. However then PR should put a lot of money in to refurbishing the terminal. NAIA T2 looks more like a budget terminal than the home terminal for an Asian flag carrier.

Quoting Akiestar (Reply 6):
PR isn't in Cat II; the Philippines is.

I'm aware of that but Cat II is still a matter of safety, not politics, From what I've heard, Philippines is will hopefully be in Cat I sometime next year.

I think that will make a big difference for PR and they can finally start using the 77Ws to the US, which they were purchased for, I would not be surprised to see 5J starting flights to the US either at that time.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 8965 times:

Hi

Welcome to the community, make yourself at home!

Nice trip report, it is the ideal combination between Aviation and non-aviation! Nice to see your rail report on to Kuala Lumpur  .

PR has not been covered that much here, while not offering all the whistles and bells like SQ,TG, KE,... they still seem to offer a decent product

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineAkiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 786 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 8862 times:

Thanks again for the responses, and I'm now working on my second report (which I hope will be nice ).

Quoting The777Man (Reply 7):
That explains a lot. However then PR should put a lot of money in to refurbishing the terminal. NAIA T2 looks more like a budget terminal than the home terminal for an Asian flag carrier.
PR does not have the money to put into refurbishing the terminal, and the MIAA is doing what it can with its budget. Hopefully the expansion of NAIA-2 will mean a better NAIA-2, old and new.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 7):
I'm aware of that but Cat II is still a matter of safety, not politics. From what I've heard, Philippines is will hopefully be in Cat I sometime next year.

In the Philippines, some people who post in our local forums are making a big deal as to why the Philippines is in Cat II when our airlines have not had major incidents in the last decade or so, while Australia is in Cat I and Tiger Australia was completely grounded for safety reasons, and QF had a string of incidents over the last 2-3 years. I don't know, but to them it smells of politics under the guise of safety.

I also hope the Philippines will be upgraded back to Cat I, but I won't be surprised if the FAA doesn't because of their qualms with the CAAP.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 8):
PR has not been covered that much here, while not offering all the whistles and bells like SQ,TG, KE,... they still seem to offer a decent product

I can't say now because of the PALEA strikes and the blockade on the PAL Inflight Center (which has affected the quality of flights throughout the entire PAL system), but I do appreciate the service that PR provides and I strongly believe they're underrated compared to their peers in Southeast Asia.  

[Edited 2011-11-11 14:30:23]

User currently offlinerifkyrifky From Indonesia, joined Feb 2011, 28 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 8673 times:

Hi Akiestar !

I finnaly can post a comment here  hehe
Nice TR there! i cant wait for the long one that take you to WAW :P ehehe.. I think PR A320 Cabbin is more roomy & modern than the A333 haha..

Regards,

Rifky


Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic Asia's First, Shining Through? MNL-SIN-MNL On PR
Username:
No username? Sign up now!
Password: 


Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Trip reports only! Other topics here
  • If criticizing an airline, express yourself in a dignified manner.
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
  • DETAILED RULES
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)


Similar topics:More similar topics...
LAX-NRT-MNL-ILO On NW WBC & PR's New A319! posted Sat Mar 17 2007 18:38:07 by N751PR
HKG-MNL-HKG On CX (Business) W Pics posted Mon Feb 25 2008 09:36:30 by BZNPilot
Farewell Bangkok: BKK-MNL-OZC On 5J/2P (47 Pics) posted Mon Sep 24 2007 21:41:30 by Lufthansa747
MNL-SIN-SGN On Singapore Intl Airlines Ltd posted Sun Jan 5 2003 13:43:24 by 9V-SVE
MNL-HKG On A Different Airline- PAL posted Mon May 13 2002 16:34:41 by 9V-SVE
J Class Trip Report: LHR-SIN-SYD On BA posted Tue Oct 11 2011 18:28:15 by cincpac1c
J Class Trip Report: SYD-SIN-LHR On QF’s A380 posted Tue Oct 11 2011 18:06:27 by cincpac1c
Europe Trip 2011 Part III – SIN-LHR On SQ F Suite posted Sun Oct 2 2011 03:24:08 by sutrakhk
Flying The Orange Star Monopoly - SIN-SWA On 3K posted Wed May 18 2011 07:13:02 by initious
SIN-BNE On EK432 (1st Trip Report)(w/Pics) posted Thu Jan 13 2011 03:32:07 by easyjet
MNL-HKG On A Different Airline- PAL posted Mon May 13 2002 16:34:41 by 9V-SVE
SFO-LAS: Sin City On Virgin America posted Sun Nov 27 2011 18:33:52 by rushed
J Class Trip Report: LHR-SIN-SYD On BA posted Tue Oct 11 2011 18:28:15 by cincpac1c
J Class Trip Report: SYD-SIN-LHR On QF’s A380 posted Tue Oct 11 2011 18:06:27 by cincpac1c
Europe Trip 2011 Part III – SIN-LHR On SQ F Suite posted Sun Oct 2 2011 03:24:08 by sutrakhk

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format