The outgoing flight to Manila left an hour late due to the late arrival of aircraft. This enabled me to try walking to the airport lounges instead of using the automated train to the other end of the terminal. The plane was an MD-11 which was much smaller than I had expected. I thought that it would hold 300+ pax but according to the inflight magazine, around 250. The plane took off using less than half the available runway and climbed very fast. The inflight service was good but the lack of personal TV's in economy class disappointed me a little. Food was cold and the quantity was little. I found that OK as it was 4pm, snack time. I wanted to go into the cockpit but bad weather near Manila meant that we had to fasten our belts. We got stuck in holding pattern for quite some time before having a good landing.
It was the return flight, SR179 which was special. I was travelling alone for the very first time. An escort took me through check-in and immigration to the gate. The plane, another MD11 left early this time. The plane took off using about half the runway. After takeoff, it turned right which gave me the view of the airport and runways (I was lucky to be sitting on a window seat on the left hand side of the plane). The plane continued north, following the coast where I got to see almost the whole of Metro Manila. For thhose familiar with the geography there, I saw SM megamall, Roxas Boulevard, EDSA, Quezon Memorial and Monumento. The meal was cold and small in quantity considering it was just before 9 and I expected dinner. The attendants were nice and seemed to have genuine smiles. I managed to go to the cockpit just before decent and saw the pilots, shuffling around charts of the HK airport on their laps and discussing. The plane was at FL370 and was cruising at 280Knots, M0.825. I thought an MD11 cruised at a very fast M.87! When we were on approach, the flaps went down many times which led me to wonder "How many flap setting are there?" When we were over the runway, the plane stayed level for some time flying metres above the runway until it suddenly went down. The plane had arrived 30mins ahead of scedule, which I was happy because I usually arrive late.