This is my first trip report on airliners.net. I hope you enjoy reading about my travels and I look forward to everyone’s comments. My wife Gracy is from the Philippines and this was our first trip to see her side of the family since moving to the US in late 2011. Not wanting the headache of flying from Alaska to the lower-48 to catch a trans-pacific flight we decided to fly Alaska Airlines to Honolulu, Hawaii. After a 2-night layover in Waikiki we would then fly Philippine Airlines to Cebu. We could have opted for Hawaiian Airlines, but since Manila is the only destination they serve and we were headed to Cebu, we thought it would just be easier to stick with PR. Switching terminal in Manila can be cumbersome, so flying stickily out of Terminal 2 with PR for both our international and domestic flights was ideal.
We purchased our tickets in September 2012. I booked on alaskaair.com and used a $99 Companion Ticket coupon that I receive yearly from my credit card company. Also, Gracy and I are members of Club 49, an Alaska Airlines promotional program (for Alaska residents only) that gives us both two free checked bags on our flights. For us to fly round-trip to Honolulu was $1,068 including taxes and fees -- very reasonable. Booking on philippineairlines.com was also easy. I did have a problem with them accepting my credit card on the first try, but my second attempt worked fine. The fare was $2,333. Of which $220 was extra fees to upgrade to emergency exit row seating.
Alaska Airlines own and operate their own terminal building in Nome. I’ll try to upload some photos of the terminal later that I can’t find at the moment on my computer. The terminal building was originally built in the mid 1980's. It received a substantial upgrade a few years ago adding much needed cargo space and additional passenger seating. Last year they added a windmill in their efforts to go-green. Alaskans rely on air service just to meet our basic needs. Medicine, mail, and food... it all comes on the jets. Nome is served 3x daily by Alaska Airlines. All flights are scheduled on 737-400 Combi’s. On occasion we see regular -400s and on a rare day a -700 passes through.
Alaska Airlines Flight 151
January 17th 2013
Nome to Anchorage
The day began at 6:30am with a hot shower and shave. Then with our bags loaded in the car we made the short drive to the airport. Check in, as always, was a breeze. We were the first passengers in the terminal when it opened at 7:30 am. We checked 3 bags, each weighing a perfect 50 pounds. Boarding passes in hand we drove back to the house to wait. The weather this morning was crisp and cold with clear skies and the aurora borealis still faintly filling the morning sky on our drive back to the house. We made our way back to the airport around 9am. Our aircraft touched down at 9:02am. We proceeded through the TSA Security line and then once given permission by the Alaska Airlines staff, we walked across the tarmac to board the airplane from the rear door. The load was very light today. I would guess less than 50%. The door soon closed and we departed Nome almost 20 minutes early at 9:45 am. Our departure was choppy but within a few minutes everything smoothed out quite nicely. Two flight attendants offered 15 minutes after departure a snack and drink; plain and simple service one would expect on a short 1 hour and 20 minute flight. We flew over Norton Sound and across the mighty Yukon River as we progressed towards Anchorage. Descent began 20 minutes prior to landing and overcast skies and flurries greeted us in Anchorage. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is one of my favorite airports. With three hours of time to burn before our next flight Gracy and I grabbed lunch at Chilis. Then it was off to the observation deck to relax before our flight to Honolulu.
The bulkhead that separates the customers from the cargo up front.
Sunrise at 10am in Alaska in February.
Cruising towards Anchorage.
Landed. Flaps retracting.
Concourse B serves all the major airlines with exception of Alaska Airlines
Half view of Concourse C, which serves all of Alaska Airlines
Walking to the terminal.
Combi in action.
Okay, Alaska Airlines Flight 868 to Honolulu is coming up next. Stay tuned.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 2, posted (9 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 12020 times:
Alaska Airlines Flight 868
January 17th 2013
By the time boarding was announced it became very clear that this was going to be a full flight. But the great staff at Alaska Airlines ensured a smooth boarding process and soon we were ready for push back, deicing and departure.
Me checking out the Northern Bites menu.
Once in the air the cabin crew quickly began the first of what would be 3 drink services during the 5:50 minute flight. Alaska Airlines offers their Northern Bites buy on board food program. For $13 Gracy and I shared a fruit and cheese tray and a bag of Obertto beef jerky. The fruit and cheese were fresh and taste great. Overall we were impressed. I think Alaska Airlines has realized that buy on board works as long as customers are confident in the quality and quantity of food they receive.
The next five hours were uneventful.
Much of the flight looked just like this.
About an hour before touchdown the flight attendants began AS’s signature 'welcome to the islands' beverage service with free mai tai's for all passengers over age 21. The flight attendant working our section joked with passengers that the cheap booze tastes just like lighter fluid, and she was right! I had to force that down. But the service is a nice touch and everyone onboard appeared in good spirits after. As the sun slipped below the horizon we began our descent into Honolulu and landed uneventfully on time.
Our luggage was waiting for us when we made it to baggage claim. I found the long flight on a 737 perfectly comfortable. It also helps that Gracy is much smaller than me and we kept the armrest up which provided a lot more room. But who can't be patient for 5 hours when the reward at landing is an island paradise, right!? A quick 30 minute taxi ride and $40 fare latter we arrived at our hotel in Waikiki. We spent the next day and a half shopping, relaxing, and soaking up the sun.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 3, posted (9 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 11966 times:
Quoting christao17 (Reply 1):
Interesting - so that means that if the pilots need to use the toilet, there's no flight attendant to jump into the cockpit?
Actually there is a 3rd flight attendant that rides up front during the entire flight. Never has to interact with passengers. Probably gets paid to read a book most of the time. =) I believe that 3rd FA requirement caught Alaska Airlines by surprise as they originally intended only 2 flight attendants for the -400 Combi's when the type was first introduced.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 7, posted (9 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 10532 times:
Philippine Airlines Flight 101
January 20th 2013
Honolulu to Manila
Leaving the hotel in Waikiki at 6:30am we made the quick trip up to HNL. Traffic was light and our taxi ride was only 20 minutes with our fare totaling $30. We made sure to be at the airport early and ahead of the crowds. When we arrived in the departure hall we found the Philippine Airlines check in area surprisingly calm and an agent immediately helped us. Ground handling is contracted out but it was easy to tell the ground staff worked this flight often and were professional and proficient in their duty.
All checked in with boarding passes in hand we proceeded to the TSA checkpoint. Checkpoints are cramped and not well laid-out at Honolulu airport. It took us 35 minutes to clear security with only 60 or so people in front of us. Perhaps I am spoiled by my experiences in Nome in Anchorage where the lines always seem to take just a few minutes.
Blurry photo inside the terminal
We ate breakfast in the food court and had a nice conversation with a couple from Australia. After our breakfast we wondered down to Gate 27.
Boarding was again surprisingly calm and well organized. Once on the plane we took our assigned seats of 34A and C and immediately realized we had not been assigned the emergency exit seats we had paid for and selected when booking our fare. Shame on me, I guess, for not checking my boarding pass and reminding the agent during check in of our special seat selection. I asked the flight attendant of this and showed her our paper work documenting the extra fees for exit row seating. She said she would let the ground staff know immediately. The ground staff and the flight attendant returned 5 minutes later and escorted us to our original assigned seats 62 A &C. The seat was a little more than worn out as it creaked when I sat down. But this is an older aircraft and one should expect a little wear and tear. One thing I did not realize was that since this was an emergency exit row I would have no window to look out during the flight. Big thumbs down.
Legroom shot before we moved to the emergency exit
Thats much better
Big wing and nice view prior to being placed in the exit row seating.
The flight today was about 70% full. We took off from the reef runway and made a gradual turn West. We climbed to an initial cruising altitude of 36,000 feet. Eventually we would climb to 38, and we topped off at 40,000 feet. Soon after take off the first meal service began. Offerings today included a fish and chicken option. I enjoyed my chicken dish. Gracy did not like her fish, she said it had the texture of Jell-O. After trays were collected the cabin crew came through the cabin and closed all the shades and they remained that way for the next 6 hours. I'm not a fan of forcing passengers to close their window shades...
Virgin Red Soda? Must be an Asian thing.
a BBQ pork sandwich snack was served mid-flight.
One thing I found unacceptable on this aircraft was the condition of the toilet seat. It looks like bacteria are growing. I used two bathrooms during the flight and both looked like this.
Finally about two hours before landing folks finally began opening their window shades, and so did I.
We arrived on time in Manila and a short taxi later blocked in at our gate. Getting off the plane was quick and within a few minutes we entered passport control.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 9, posted (9 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 10462 times:
Since we had a connection to Cebu our luggage was forwarded there and there was no need to clear customs in Manila. We went through Immigration and then out of the terminal. On the way out all we had to do was hand over our customs declaration card to the Customs Officer. A five minute walk around the corner and up some stairs and we arrived at the Domestic wing. Security in the Philippines is much different than that of the USA. We presented our boarding pass and passports to armed officers at the door to the terminal. Than with their blessing we entered the line for the first security screening. Since we had our boarding pass in hand we bypassed the check in counter and proceeded directly to pay our terminal fee. In the Philippines terminal fees are collected at the airport at the time of travel, unlike in the USA where they are collected at the time of booking and is figured into the cost of your ticket. The lady at the terminal fee window just looked at our tickets and we explained we had come in from an international fight and on a connection. She waved us in without paying the fee. I thought that was incorrect, but I guess okay by me, she must know the rules better than I. Finally on to one more final security check before entering the domestic wing departure area.
The terminal for Philippine Airlines has always been a bit depressing. But it is still light-years ahead of the main international terminal next door. Philippine Airlines and the Manila airport administration could really spruce the place up a little by adding some color. There is only a hand full of stores and eateries inside the terminal and all are simple in nature and all the signage is in generic blue and white font. The acoustics inside the terminal are bad . So much so that the initial boarding announcement was inaudible and many of the passengers looked confused until finally the gate agent stood up and began to wave folks over.
Philippine Airlines flight 863
Manlia to Cebu
January 21, 2013
Compared to the our flight on the A340, this Airbus A320 was clean and fresh. The flight attendants young and energetic. The flight pushed back early but by the time we reached the runway we had fallen about 15 minutes behind schedule. The Philippine Government really needs to get serious about finding a solution to congestion at MNL. They either need to tear down homes around the airport and expand or give serious thought to moving a lot of the domestic operations to Clark. The flight was a quick 1 hour and drinks and a snack was served.
The FA saw us taking photos and asked if we wanted a photo take together. Thanks, man!
Upon landing we quickly disembarked the aircraft and proceeded to baggage claim. Our bags came out with everyone else and since there was no Customs Offical in clear view, we simply left the airport. No questions asked. At this point we were both very tired so we did not take many photos.
We spent 4 nights in Cebu. After which we took a 12 hour ferry to Surigao City. From there it was a 4 hour ride to Tandag where we spent 12 nights. Some photos coming up next…
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 13, posted (9 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 10348 times:
Alaska Airlines does not offer AVOD. Alaska Airlines offers 'DigEplayers' for rent during flight which is basically a hand held movie player.
Alaska does offer Internet on their planes, but I believe Gogo (service provider) is cell tower based and therefore does not work on the Hawaii flights. In fact even the SEA-ANC flight you will see the internet cut out for about 45 minutes between Vancouver and Ketchikan where there are no cell towers. I wonder if they will make the switch to Satellite based internet beings that they focus so much on the Hawaii now.
And the -400Combi feels very comfortable. Not one bit claustrophobic.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 14, posted (9 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 10321 times:
At a night market in Cebu getting some amazing BBQ
Pork. Chicken intenstines. And we also had some grilled calamari.
Me getting that hair cut I so desperetly needed. Cost P40 or $1.25 (Now you see why I waited!)
Ayala Mall in Cebu
Gracy buying fresh fish to bring to her sister's home in Cebu.
Simala Church a couple hours outside Cebu. Reminds me of Disneyland.
This photo is taken after we left Cebu and as the ferry docked in Surigao City. Kids wait for passengers to toss coins into the water and then they retrieve the money. Fasinating to witness. One kid even had plywood tied to his feet to make a pair of flippers.
Driving to Tandag
Our hotel in Tandag. About $40 per night for the 'Luxury Room'. And the views...
The beach where we go swimming off in the distance.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 19, posted (9 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8700 times:
Its true that Philippine Airlines is not well represented on the Forum. And that was one of the reasons why I made sure to post a trip report. My overall impression were good of Philippine Airlines. They are, at the moment, clearly behind the standard in terms of service but I feel in the next 3 to 5 years PR will become a major player in Asia and around the globe.
The food on board was okay, but I got the impression that it all must have been loaded in Manila frozen for use on the return flight from Honolulu. My dinner role and pineapple bowl were both partially frozen on the HNL-MNL sector. PR (and the Philippines in general) has a very young work force, and their inexperience sometimes shows through quite clearly. But overall the staff is warm and very helpful. And I also forgot to mention PR also gave out amenity kits on the international sector and provides passengers in economy with local Newspapers on every sector we flew. Both a nice touch.
Somethings that alarmed me were during the MNL-CEB flight was the cabin not being secured for landing until the airplane was well into the approach phase of flight. The lead FA left a movie playing on the overhead TV monitors during our approach. It was not until very short final the movie stopped and the screens retracted into the overhead compartment. I myself, wondered it that is an automatic safety feature because the screens went up literally just moments before touch down. And also on that flight the lights were left on during our landing, even at night. again, I blame this on poor staff training and the relatively inexperienced and young staff. Hopefully something that PR will take charge of and work to correct.
There will be many challenges that are out of PR's control but that must be resolved if they want to be a true global airline once again. The first being ICAO audits and the resumption of flights to North America and Europe. The second challenge will be turning MNL into a usable airport. At the moment the terminals are all sub-par, with the exception of Terminal 3 which is just finally becoming fully utilized after years of political delays. Also, the airport needs major navigational and physical expansion. With only 2 runways (that intersect, no less) and little to no room for expansion, perhaps the government needs to look for a suitable replacement airport location or get serious about leveling a nearby neighborhood.
Also, look for my next report which is AirPhil Express on the Q400 Surigao City to Cebu... lots of photos that won't disappoint.
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1214 posts, RR: 5 Reply 20, posted (9 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 8633 times:
First, I can't believe you are from Nome! I am fascinated about small towns in places with difficult climate, one of my dreams is to make a long Alaskan trip with Nome included. Shame no google street view on your town. How is life there? How many people live? What guys usually work in over there?
I even looked for flights to Nome just for the hek of it... not so expensive! about $1800 from TLV to Nome via LAX & SEA. Hopefully one day I'll see the sea of Bering in my own eyes.
Quoting roadrunner165 (Thread starter): laskans rely on air service just to meet our basic needs. Medicine, mail, and food... it all comes on the jets. Nome is served 3x daily by Alaska Airlines. All flights are scheduled on 737-400 Combi’s. On occasion we see regular -400s and on a rare day a -700 passes through.
Flying a combi is always interesting. Does Nome has a sea port or just an airport?
Quoting roadrunner165 (Thread starter): Checkpoints are cramped and not well laid-out at Honolulu airport. It took us 35 minutes to clear security with only 60 or so people in front of us
Doesn't the American government understand that tourists will stop coming if they don't improve their airports service? My neighbour stood in line for 2.5 hours in passport control in ORD, when he came back he swore never to fly to the US again unless he has to. TLV security isn't lighter at all but never takes so long!
Quoting roadrunner165 (Reply 7): . I'm not a fan of forcing passengers to close their window shades...
Quoting roadrunner165 (Reply 7): One thing I found unacceptable on this aircraft was the condition of the toilet seat. It looks like bacteria are growing. I used two bathrooms during the flight and both looked like this.
Disgusting, simply disgusting. And this airline wan'ts to compete with CX and SQ?
Richard Branson now has his own beverage line?
''Virgin'' Red Soda isn't an Asian thing but Red Soda is.
It's also sold in the US as well. Mountain Dew has Code Red soda.
Here in Thailand, red soda is sold as red syrup with carbonated soda added.
Quoting roadrunner165 (Reply 19): They are, at the moment, clearly behind the standard in terms of service but I feel in the next 3 to 5 years PR will become a major player in Asia and around the globe.
I hope not. I enjoy the fact that Philippines Airlines is trapped in time and not trying to be 'hip'.
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 22, posted (9 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 8358 times:
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 20): First, I can't believe you are from Nome!
Well I'm origionally from Minnesota. I began spending my summers in Alaska in 1997 with my parents and moved here full time in 2005. I love living in Nome, but not sure I would like other rural parts of Alaska. Each day is unique and you take nothing for granted up here. Also, it sounds funny, but I feel more connected to the world living on the edge of the arctic than I ever did on the farm in Minnesota. If I get on a plane from Nome in 5 hours I can be half ways around the world. Back home in Minnesota if I drove for 5 hours I would still be in farm country. Plus, we always have intersting people passing through Nome from all parts of the world. Not to mention the pay is much higher here than compared to the lower 48 so I can afford to see new places and do interesting things in my vacation time.
A lot of the economy is based around government services. Nome serves as the major hub for the 14 surrounding villages. The court system, native corporations, law enforcement, hospitals, airlines etc are all based in Nome. I work for the State Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. Our facility serves as a pre-trial regional holding facility for all of Western Alaska.
Nome does have a seaport. In fact we're looking at major expansion in the upcoming years as cargo and other ships began to use the Northern route up over Russia to Eurpoe and elsewhere. We've probably got the best port this side of Dutch Harbor and are strategically located. We're ice free from late may until mid-november.
And if you ever do make it to Nome whether its next year or ten years from now be sure to look me up. I'm sure Ill still be playing around on A.net. Just like the last 10 years of my life. I'll make sure you get the grand tour =)
roadrunner165 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 847 posts, RR: 9 Reply 23, posted (9 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 8322 times:
Okay my last set of photos planned for this TR.
Back at the farm... the kids are amazed with Angry Birds on the iPad. None had seen such a device before in their lives.
Paging Superfly, your Balut is ready!
The trike that drove us around for 12 days back and fourth from the farm to the hotel and everywhere else we went.
I'm 6 foot 2 inches... you can imagine how much fun that little thing was to ride inside...
One of my favorite pictures of my brother in law and mother in law taking the roasted pig off the bamboo cooking stick.
Me enjoying some nice coconut milk.
Our great meals at the hotel. Calamari was AMAZING!
The school in rural Tago. No computers. Just old school teaching!
Did I mention the seafood options where plentiful! =)
Back in Cebu now.. taking the fast ferry to BOHOL
The oldest church in the Provience of Bohol. Built by the spanish way back in the late 1700's
Tarsier. Tiny little creature.
The famous chocolate hills of Bohol
And as a teaser...
Me standing by the four way test in Surigao City. Proud Rotarian. And a glimpse at my next TR. AirPhil Express on the Q400.