The Grand Pakistan VIP Air Tour by PIA
I’ve long wanted to go to Pakistan after my first PIA B747-240BM ride, AP-BIK from Hong Kong to Bangkok in January 2007.
Pakistan Int'l B747-240BM Trip Report (Pics/Video) (by N178UA Feb 11 2007 in Trip Reports)
During onboard this flight, I was treated so well and it has developed my interest in flying PIA further onto Pakistan in the future. I have also met with a very kind senior F/E which I still kept in touch up to this date.
However the country has been labeled as one of the very dangerous country and often featured in the newspaper and TV negatively. So I sat on my idea and waited for a while. After succeeding visit to other neighbour countries such as Syria, Sudan and Iran, my interest in visiting Pakistan is growing rapidly. Finally the opportunity arises this year when a colleague of mine kindly arranged the visit visa from the Pakistan High Commission. Otherwise it was almost impossible to get a visit visa from Abu Dhabi without lengthy periods of waiting and investigation.
I have chosen to go in December when the weather is cool. Another friend of mine who is a PIA pilot has kindly introduced me to the Managing Director of PIA on email. Within a few days I have received a very positive reply from the MD and I was invited on this rare opportunity to fly to Pakistan by PIA and visit PIA facility. My pilot friend and I have then been engaged on daily planning of the trip, aiming to visit more cities and have more exposure in a very short time frame.
Finally we have decided to have the trip from December 8 to December 10; within 72 hours I will be flying to visit Karachi, Islamabad, Gilgit and Lahore. This will be a grand tour of Pakistan by PIA.
Dubai – Karachi
Flight time: 2hours
POB: 187 Passengers
Scenes at check-in at Dubai Terminal 1. Another PIA flight leaving for Peshawar accounts for the cargo and people movement in my pictures.
This person is able to checking in a bottle of “Holy” water presumably from Hajj in Makkah.
This cargo are not bound for Pakistan, they belong to another flight to Rwanda. But they’re packed really neat.
It was an eye opener, sometimes you don’t believe you’re in Dubai given the scenes at the terminal. Tonight’s flight to Karachi is delayed due to the aircraft late from inbound. I proceeded to the DCA Business Class lounge for a moment of relaxation before the red eye flight to Karachi.
At 1:30am, I proceed to the gate and I am surprised to find out Biman Bangladesh is our neighbour! Pakistan and Bangladesh was one country before. Additionally, the majorities of our passengers flying to Karachi are Bengalis; continue Eastward to Dhaka with PIA! Quite ironic! The majority of Biman’s passengers are going to Sylhet.
A310-300, AP-BGQ already arrived at the gate. Crew has gone for some Dubai Duty Free while we’re waiting.
The infamous Biman DC-10 parked next to our gate. I really wanted to “jumpship” and fly the DC-10 again! This is BG52 to Sylhet and onward to Dhaka.
There was a riot at the gate by the frustrated Bengali passengers. One DNATA agent treated them really rude and told them to form one line during boarding and started shouting at them. In return the crowd, quite capable for an uprising have a good run at this agent, who later ran away for his own safety……However, the small riot at gate C1 caused the flight to be further delay by 2 more hour or so…….
Meanwhile, our PIA flight passengers (majority Bengalis) have started a much calmer boarding process after observing the riot.
After stepping onboard, I was invited by the purser to go straight into the cockpit, as both pilots are expecting me as a guest of PIA MD.
Flight was further delayed because of some mistakes in baggage loadings. So we were treated to some delicious snacks during the waiting.
Flight engineer busy climbing up and down to the baggage hold to sort the problem out. It was my first time seeing this Airbus feature, to go down to the cargo hold direct from the cockpit.
Around 3:25am, everything is sorted, Pakistan 214 push back approved by Dubai ATC.
The cockpit at night, we are ready to taxi to runway 30R.
At 3:50am, it is finally our turn onto the runway after watching many Emirates B777 and A380 taking off before us.
After a powerful climb out of Dubai, I was treated to views of Dubai Skyline on my left, follow by a left turn over Sharjah and the sea; we continue a 180 degree turn towards the East. I went back to the passenger cabin to have some rest on this uneventful flight.
Old Business Class cabin A310-300
I woke up after a short nap with some resistible food scent and was invited to have supper. Because of the great smell, I couldn’t really turn the food down
The business class was completely empty, except 4 deadhead PIA pilot travelling on duty returning to Pakistan.
The food consist of a buffet spread of Grill fish, chicken and vegetarian options. All very tasty.
My late supper.
Traditional Pakistani Dessert: Baffi
The friendly crew did not mind posing for a few photos after the meal! (But they did take their time for some more makeup before the photo)
After a hearty meal and some happy snaps with the crew, I went for much needed rest for half an hour or so, and then the purser woke me up and invite me back to the cockpit. A gorgeous sun rise unfolds in front of my eyes!
Thanks to the 2 hours delay, we were treated to this beautiful orange glow of sunrise. Within 10 minutes, the sun popped over the horizon.
We started our descend into Karachi shortly after sunrise. We lined up Runway 25L ILS landing under foggy weather. The First Officer commented it was one of the foggiest mornings he had ever seen.
Shortly after landing, we taxied to domestic terminal and using stairs to disembark. Please view my YouTube video for the takeoff and landing scenes.
A souvenir photo, all passengers were disembarking from the rear stairs. The aircraft will operate domestically on the next flight.
Karachi Jinnah International at dawn.
Passenger arriving into International side by bus, clearing immigration and custom.
Huge baggage and crowd arrived from Madinah just in front of our flight.
Within 5 minutes, I was cleared and entered into Pakistan!
The crowd waits at arrival waiting area. A familiar sight at airport in Indian sub-continents.
Another photo of the unique terminal building in Karachi.
After landing, a PIA min-van to take me to the Sheraton Hotel. This is what the Club Room looks like. Very comfortable accommodation. The hotel seems have gone through some refurbishment.
I tried some of the breakfast item such as Keema below: (Mince meat in red chili oil)
Some scenes from the road outside of the hotel.