A month after my trip to Jakarta on board Turkish Airlines, I had another invitation to attend some event in CGK. As I realized I had some spare time that coincides with the event, I decided to come to CGK for five days. As the trip was made quite some time ago, I would extend my apologies if I lack in any details on the trip.
As I was searching for flights between Singapore and Jakarta that time, some interesting deals popped out, which includes Philippine Airlines in J Class, at a rate around what is offered by SQ in Y. Well, without any second thought I decided that PR would be my choice for my next trip to CGK. PR itself operates to Jakarta (CGK) out of SIN as a tag-on from its Manila flight PR503/504 sector five times weekly.
Philippine Airlines itself was founded in 1941, and dubbed as ‘Asia’s First Airline’. The airline, which was once one of the biggest carriers in the region, had to downsize its operation during the Asian Financial Crisis back in 1997, and slowly recovers as time passed, with currently operating a fleet of 58 into its 45 destinations in Asia, Australia and North America.
As this carrier was relatively more ‘humble’ in the region, with minimum advertisement or promotions on both SIN and CGK areas, I had not heard much about the carrier’s service in detail. Personally I did not know what to expect once I’m on board PR, but I definitely would not missed the chance to try this carrier on this sector, especially when I had no plans of flying to MNL in the near future.
The trip began on 10.45am, in which I flagged down a taxi to the airport. The taxi driver got me into a conversation about the future economic condition of Singapore, and asked me how it compares to Indonesia currently, since I told her that I was leaving for CGK that day. Well, a heavy conversation topic for 20 minutes trip from downtown Singapore to Changi Airport. But these are one of the few rare instances where the taxi driver actually had a conversation in English with me.
PR Check-in desk display
Boarding pass & Lounge invitation
Changi Airport Terminal 2 Fish pond and small garden.
When I reached Singapore Changi’s Terminal 2, I headed down to PR check-in counter, which was surprisingly empty in both J and Y classes with a very little queue. The process was simply efficient and both my ‘Mabuhay Class’ boarding pass were printed, along with the lounge invitation handed to me. As my bag was checked-in, I headed to the passport control, which had no queue as well that time.
Lounge: SATS Premium Club Terminal 2
SATS Premium Club T2 Changi, with list of partner Airlines
Comfortable seating area at the lounge
After I cleared immigrations, I headed up for the SATS Premium Club in Terminal 2, the lounge where PR Mabuhay Class customers were invited to. This lounge was used by carriers like PR, KE, OZ, AI, EY, and MI. I was surprised that SilkAir (MI) used the SATS Premium Club to cater their premium class passengers. Being the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, I previously assumed that they shared the Silverkris Lounge, or MI having their own lounge being SIN is their home base.
The food & Beverage area
My lounge meal
The free internet access computers.
The lounge was very quiet as there is only I and another passenger inside. The food and beverage options were as generous as the SATS Premium Club in Terminal 1. There were free-internet access computers available on the lounge. Massage chairs were available for passengers to use as well. I waited in the comfortable lounge for around an hour, making calls to people in CGK to notify about my flight details. I noticed that there was an actually large window from the lounge that was facing the airside, but unfortunately it was covered with large curtains.
Around 15 minutes from the boarding time written on my boarding pass, I headed out for the gate where the flight departed from.
Flight Number: PR 503
Type of Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Registration: RP-C6812 (delivered to PR on 25/06/2008 as msn 3553)
Seat Number: 2F
I headed straight to the gate E26, and passed down the secondary security check in the gate, which was common in Southeast Asian airports, which did not go really smooth. Apparently I’ve forgotten to remove a sharp object from my bag, and they mistakenly thought my earpiece for something suspicious. Anyway, after a thorough check which lasted like 10 minutes, everything was clear, and the friendly officers of Changi Airport security wished me a nice flight.
By the time I boarded, some Economy passengers were already boarding the flight, and I made my way through the aerobridge into the 2.5 years old Airbus A320. The flight purser welcomed me on board and I made my way to my seat, 2F.
Welcome Onboard Philippine Airlines
Welcome Drink : Orange juice
Safety card and 'Mabuhay' in-flight magazine of Philippine Airlines
While the Economy class passengers entering the aircraft, an FA welcomed me on board and offered me the choices of welcome drink, which consist of orange juice, ice tea, or water. The meal order was taken during boarding, in which I opted for chicken pasta out of the other three options, which were beef and potato and rice with fish.
The purser made a conversation with me mainly about Indonesia and Philippines, about some places of interests in both country’s capital, and she told me that she liked to visit Indonesia. She explained to me that they were waiting for some documents before we could start pushback, and I asked her a question.
Me: Is this all the passenger?
Purser: Yes, why?
Me: Wow, really. That means I’m the only one here (referring to Mabuhay Class)?
Purser: Yes, you’re the lucky one today
Me: (chuckles) that would be great!
The load on this sector were pretty low, with Economy (Fiesta) Class were only filled for 50 percent, and Business (Mabuhay) class filled with only one passenger. Well, although loads were not that good, I was pleased to be the only passenger on the J Class section. This was the first time for me to fly as the sole passenger on a section of the cabin, whether it is in F, J, or Y, which was a wonderful experience for me.
Passing down SQ planes
Runway, We're prepared for takeoff.
After the documents were delivered into the purser, doors were armed and secured, and our plane pushed back from E26 and headed for the runway, which I believed, was runway 20C at that time. We passed several SQ planes before reaching the runway. At around 1215hrs, we lift off Changi and headed down to CGK, flying over Indonesian islands of Batam.
Our flight routing to CGK that day
As soon as the seatbelt sign were switched off, the flight attendant, who was working in the Mabuhay class cabin along with the purser, served my meal. I was surprised that he gave me the appetizer first, consisted of prawns and salad. The flight attendant was standing behind me waiting for my request on the main dish. I was impressed that he did that, as I could easily press the call button later on. What a plus for PR.
The main course and the tray
Closer look : Chicken and Pasta.
Mango Ice cream (dessert)
This was later followed by the main course, which was the Chicken pasta I ordered. The chicken pasta tasted good, which must be one of the best catering I tasted out of SIN, and a dessert consisted of Mango Ice cream was given to me after the main course. The flight attendant even asked if I would like another pieces of bread, which I politely declined as I was already very full. The PR meal service was just marvelous, considering this is just a 1.5 hours sector from SIN to CGK. I did not even think GA or SQ did that in this sector.
Flights of Fancy IFE: Language options
After the lunch, I tried the PR IFE system, called ‘Flights of Fancy’. The system was easy to use. Unfortunately I noticed that on their A320s, the IFE content only consists of music or short television shows. No movies or games. Apparently there is no remote control and all commands to the IFE were made through the touch-screen of the PTV. I requested the flight attendant a headset to check the IFE, and apparently the only available headset was the Y class headsets, not those noise cancelling ones you saw on other carriers. Despite the small drawback, I did not mind their IFE as this is just a short sector between SIN and CGK. The moving map was more than enough for me.
Some pictures of the Mabuhay Class seats on the A320 which I took:
While we were cruising at the altitude of 35000 feet, I took some picture of the J Class cabin, including the recliner J class seats which were used by PR for their regional flights. As the purser noticed me taking some pictures of the cabin, she offered to take pictures of me in the J class seat, how nice of her. Then we went into another conversation about what I did for living and some things about living in Singapore. I had another round of orange juice while enjoying the clear skies from 35000 feet, from my so-called ‘private’ cabin.
Landing into CGK [/b]
Just started our descent into CGK.
As the flight was nearing Jakarta, the captain from the PA announced that we were starting our descent and all passengers are instructed to prepare for landing. The approach into CGK took around 20 minutes, with clear weather conditions as we descending into CGK for landing. At 1320 local time, the flight landed at CGK.
Baggage claim at CGK
After the aerobridge in CGK connected, I was able to disembark first out of the aircraft. The purser and the flight attendant that day thanked me for joining the flight. The immigration queues were surprisingly not that busy this time, and my priority tagged baggage was the first one on the carousel. In just 35 minutes after landing, I was able to make my way to the taxi stand and head straight for the Ritz Carlton Pacific Place, Jakarta.
Final thoughts of the flight
The flight was simply impressive. If a success on a customer-service oriented business was defined by turning a first time customers, which may not have good impressions about their service, into an extremely satisfied customer, then I would say PR had succeeded in turning me into a satisfied passenger, from a passenger who had no idea of their level of service prior to boarding their flight. That being said, I am sure that PR would still have a long way to improve themselves even better, and eventually play a greater share in the region.
Although their In-flight Entertainment should be improved, but their personalized service on the Business class cabin would give other carriers tough competition. Their meal service was really impressive for such a short sector between SIN and CGK. This was contrary to those offered by TK on the route. Maybe luck was on my side that I had the whole J Class for myself that day, but combined with PR wonderful service, had made the best flying experience I had so far. I would not hesitate should I have to fly PR again regionally.
Well, stay tuned for my return flight from CGK on PR 504. Also, if you had any questions or suggestions to improve my trip report further, do not hesitate to leave a comment. Thank you
filoflyer From Finland, joined Feb 2012, 45 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (9 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6826 times:
very nice tr!!!! With all the management and ownership changes they had in the past few months I could see them reaching what Garuda reached and soon they would improve more on their hard product and other services afterall its asias first!!! Im glad you enjoyed your trip with PR!!!
Quoting filoflyer (Reply 1): With all the management and ownership changes they had in the past few months I could see them reaching what Garuda reached
Agreed with you on this. Although their hard product maybe still not as good as Garuda's, but I am sure their new management, with their ambitious expansion would bring PR into greater heights in the future. Their customer service was already there, they simply need to catch up on their hard product.
reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1135 posts, RR: 1 Reply 5, posted (9 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5744 times:
thanks for sharing. I didn't even knew PR was flying this route, as this is a regional carrier, and flying MNL-CGK via SIN is actually quite a trek for a relatively short distance. I mean, it may make sense that KL, TK, LH (soon ending) etc make a stop in SIN on a longhaul flight, but PR?
That said, the food served on this really short flight is impressing.
filoflyer From Finland, joined Feb 2012, 45 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (9 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5740 times:
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 3): Agreed with you on this. Although their hard product maybe still not as good as Garuda's, but I am sure their new management, with their ambitious expansion would bring PR into greater heights in the future. Their customer service was already there, they simply need to catch up on their hard product.
their hard product is miles away from what Garuda has, but I am hopeful that like, Garuda PR would turn up profits and win back other customers and the ban for Philippine carriers would be lifted by EU and Philippines would win back its CAT1 rating in the US.. if these things wont happen then PRs road to success and growth will be stunted or will be in jeopardy.
Quoting reifel (Reply 5): didn't even knew PR was flying this route, as this is a regional carrier, and flying MNL-CGK via SIN is actually quite a trek for a relatively short distance. I mean, it may make sense that KL, TK, LH (soon ending) etc make a stop in SIN on a longhaul flight, but PR?
Well, I had no obvious clue as well on why they choose to do a MNL-SIN-CGK flight, as they actually had another 3 weekly direct MNL-CGK flights. Despite my question mark on why the route was operated via SIN, I am happy that I could use PR's freedom SIN-CGK to try their impressive product.
Quoting reifel (Reply 5): That said, the food served on this really short flight is impressing.
Yes, an appetizer, main course, and a dessert were more than what I expected on a 1hour 25minutes flight.
Thanks for reading
Quoting filoflyer (Reply 6): their hard product is miles away from what Garuda has, but I am hopeful that like, Garuda PR would turn up profits and win back other customers and the ban for Philippine carriers would be lifted by EU and Philippines would win back its CAT1 rating in the US.
Yes, I am sure PR management could do this as well. If I recalled, a few weeks ago I passed down a thread on the civil aviation forum discussing PR management strategies on their future expansion, which includes working closely with the Philippine Civil Authority to win back their CAT1 and lift the EU Ban.
Just like you, I am sure they could follow GA steps to lift safety ban and eventually, play a bigger role in the region, in which both carriers PR and GA still had a long way on that one.
dirktraveller From Singapore, joined Jan 2011, 205 posts, RR: 0 Reply 12, posted (9 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4862 times:
Apologies for taking a long time to post the other installment of the trip report, as some works had been keeping me occupied lately. But here is the return trip from CGK to SIN, on Philippine Airlines. I hope you enjoyed it.
After spending an enjoyable five days over in Jakarta, it was time for me to fly back to Singapore. I took a taxi from the place I stayed, Ritz Carlton Pacific Place, Jakarta to the main gateway of Indonesia, Soekarno Hatta International Airport. While traffic was known to be notorious, but this time I was able to get into the airport in just an hour, considering that I was leaving around 1100, which traffic was usually at their peak hour mode.
The main entrance of CGK, with the statue of Soekarno and Hatta, the first Indonesian leaders
I reached CGK Terminal 2D at around 1205 and headed for PR’s check-in counter. The counter was empty for Business Class lane, while there were some short queues in Economy section. The entire check-in process went smoothly, and the person was quite surprised that I did not bring much luggage, considering my 30kgs baggage allowance.
By then, I proceed into CGK Immigration counters which had long queues which took 30 minutes to complete. As the flight was scheduled for 1335hrs departure, I knew I had not much time left, and therefore I did not manage to get into the assigned lounge, because boarding calls for the flight had already been made by the time I cleared passport control.
Flight Number : PR 504
Type of Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Registration: RP-C8607 (delivered on 02/08/2007 as msn 3205)
Obstructed view of RP-C8607
Relatively low load flight
Just noticed that CX deploys its 744 to CGK
As I reached the gate, it was surprising that actually boarding had not started yet despite the few announcements made throughout the airport’s departure hall. The gate which had a lot of spare seats shows that the load on this flight was pretty low. However, the main difference is that the loads on J Class were surprisingly almost full, with quick headcount I did shows load was 8 out of 12 that day. When boarding calls were made, I was able to be one of the first to enter as they called out Mabuhay Class Passengers first, and then followed by passengers requiring assistance, then Economy passengers.
Welcome on board Philippine Airlines
Welcome drink: Ice tea
Safety video played while taxing
Upon boarding, flight attendants were busy giving welcome drinks, which consisted of ice tea, orange juice, or water to Mabuhay class passengers and taking meal orders before pushback. There were three meal options for J Class passengers, which I was sure it was same as the SIN-CGK leg. This time I opted for a fish with rice, instead of the beef potatoes or chicken pasta.
EVA Air 773 registered as B-16711 is making its visit to CGK
Rare view of local carrier Batavia (Y6) Airbus A330-200
Just another busy day at CGK
Ready for take-off
Shortly after all passengers boarded the A320, the doors were closed and we were on our way to the runway, where we took off around 1350hrs. The flight routing would take us above Sumatra and eventually entering Singapore airspace and reaching SIN.
Views of small islands after take-off
Our flight routing that day.
Meal tray with the fish and rice.
Closer look at the fish and rice meal
After take-off, crew members swing into action and prepare the meal service. There were no trolley used in the meal service, and each meal was delivered by the flight attendant from the galley. Surprisingly this time, it was the main dish was served directly. No appetizer or dessert as in the SIN-CGK sector. Nonetheless, the meal still looks good in appearance and tasted nice.
My hot tea on PR Styrofoam cup
Views of the cabin throughout the flight
Another views of the Mabuhay Class seats.
After the meal service, most of the passengers choose to take a short nap or explore the ‘Flights of Fancy’ IFE system. Shortly after every tray were removed by the crew, a hot beverage service commenced, which consisted of coffee or tea. I opted for a hot tea. Well it is a good service by PR to initiate hot beverage runs after the meal service, but I would prefer if they used real china cups or mugs to serve the hot beverages to their Mabuhay Class passengers, instead of styrofoam cups.
Flight of Fancy IFE
While the variety of choices on the IFE was same as limited as the previous SIN-CGK sector, I turned into the moving map to track our flight progress.
Landing into SIN
Some views while on approach:
At around 1600, the captain announced that we started our descent into Changi Airport, Singapore, and instructed the flight attendants to prepare for our arrival into SIN. The approach took us flying above some islands over Indonesian waters and making our way into SIN.
Welcome to Singapore Changi Airport
The land of SQ
MAI (8M) Airbus A320
At around 1635hrs the plane touched down SIN runway, under the drizzling rain in Singapore. While we were on our way to reach our parking position at Gate E11, we passed down some regular visitor into SIN, which was uncommon to the world, just like Myanmar Airways International (8M) to name a few.
Making my way to the passport control
PR504 departing from gate E11 to MNL
Last view of RP-C8607
As our aircraft reached Gate E11, I was able to be one of the first to disembark. If I recalled correctly MNL bound passengers remained on the flight while the aircraft was stopping in SIN. I made my way straight away to the immigration counter at SIN, which was efficient as usual, especially on the ‘Residents’ lane where there was no queue at all. After I got my priority tagged baggage, I made my way back home by taxi.
Final thought of the flight
The flight was smooth and PR service was just wonderful. Although meal service was slightly different than what was it on the SIN-CGK sector, it was still among the standards of what was being offered on the route. Despite the relatively high load factor on J Class that day, it is amazing that PR could still maintain a good service level to their passengers, which was one of the reasons why I was impressed by PR.
I believe, PR needs to improve their hard product in order to gain more passengers on the Southeast Asian market. Certainly, I was impressed by what been offered by Philippine Airlines on their regional routes, and I would not hesitate if I had to fly on board another PR flights in the future. Their level of service on both sectors, had turned my impression about them into better one, and I am sure, PR could improve themselves and turned many others’ impression about them in the future.
Should you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment. See you on the third part of the TR.
Before I end this second part of the TR, anyone would like to make a guess the next carrier I would fly?
filoflyer From Finland, joined Feb 2012, 45 posts, RR: 0 Reply 13, posted (9 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4378 times:
Again Very nice trip report! however the tea which was served on a styro cup was a quite a let down for J class. its completely fine for Y class but never on J class. I enjoyed reading your TR since PR is not a common carrier to be reviewed by our fellow a nutters. I would love to fly with them again once they have sorted out everything in manila airports especially in T2.. and hopefully see them gracing european skies once again.!
Quoting filoflyer (Reply 13): tea which was served on a styro cup was a quite a let down for J class
Yes it is, I would not be shocked if it was Y Class, but a styro cup on J was shocking. Not even in LCC J classes they served a tea in styro cup. But nonetheless, PR meal service was still the winner on this sector.
Yes, I did not observe there's many PR reviews on the forums here, but I am sure there is some if we look for it.
Me too, I hope to see them expand one day, which includes their return into European skies in the future.
Akiestar From Philippines, joined May 2009, 606 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (9 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 3483 times:
It prides me to see another happy PR traveler. Glad you enjoyed your flights with them!
Quoting reifel (Reply 5): I mean, it may make sense that KL, TK, LH (soon ending) etc make a stop in SIN on a longhaul flight, but PR?
Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 7): Well, I had no obvious clue as well on why they choose to do a MNL-SIN-CGK flight
Based on what I heard, this is due to high cargo demand (this is why on occasion, you will get an A330 flying MNL-SIN-CGK), and not a lot of demand on the direct MNL-CGK flights. PR just recently started MNL-DPS twice weekly, so let's see how that goes, but I should also note that PR has flown MNL-SIN-CGK for much longer than direct MNL-CGK.
Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 12): I believe, PR needs to improve their hard product in order to gain more passengers on the Southeast Asian market.
Try flying on a PR widebody and you might be impressed.
dirktraveller From Singapore, joined Jan 2011, 205 posts, RR: 0 Reply 16, posted (9 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3335 times:
Thanks for reading!
Quoting Akiestar (Reply 15): It prides me to see another happy PR traveler. Glad you enjoyed your flights with them!
It was a pleasant experience flying on board PR. You should be proud of them!
Quoting Akiestar (Reply 15): Based on what I heard, this is due to high cargo demand (this is why on occasion, you will get an A330 flying MNL-SIN-CGK), and not a lot of demand on the direct MNL-CGK flights.
I was not aware that there were such high cargo demand between MNL and CGK. Somehow it puzzled me that PR still retains is MNL-SIN-CGK sector when I believe they had sufficient loads to justify an MNL-CGK direct 5x weekly if I'm correct. Thanks for the information.
Quoting Akiestar (Reply 15): Try flying on a PR widebody and you might be impressed.
I'm sure it would be an interesting experience. One day I will fly on one of PR widebodies.