Does Pakistan Airlines Not Want Me To Fly With Them?!?

Matthew and I were getting ready to book tickets on Pakistan International Airlines between Manchester and New York. Why? Because at the end of the day products like Cathay Pacific first class, Emirates first class, Lufthansa first class, etc., get boring. šŸ˜‰

Besides, according to PIA’s website, the airline’s business class product is really good:

Itā€™s the only Business Class service that feels like First Class.

That’s right, guys, it’s the only business class service that feels like first class!

Why does their business class product feel like first class?

A comfortable seat makes all the difference on a long flight. PIA’s Business Plus Seats elevate the concept of luxury to a new level, fully endorsing your decision to choose PIA Business Plus. Our customized seats are designed in Italy and Switzerland and provide amazing levels of leg-room and shoulder space. PIA’s Business Plus Seats ensure that your personal space is truly your own, and you’ll never feel cramped.

Whether you’re sleeping, eating, working, reading a book, or just lying back and enjoying our in-flight entertainment, PIA’s Business Plus Seats will make you feel right at home. There is simply no better way to fly.

I mean, look at those revolutionary angled flat business class seats:

PIA-Business-Class

There’s only one small problem — PIA doesn’t want us to book with them, it seems.

We can get the ticket to price out on ITA Matrix.

PIA-Business-Class-Fare

But it doesn’t seem to want to price on PIA’s website. When you select a one-way ticket, the website doesn’t remove the requirement to enter a return date.

PIA-Biz-Fare

That causes an error message on the next page.

PIA-Biz-Fare-2

While the next page lets you select just a one-way journey, it eliminates the option to fly to New York when you choose Manchester as the origin.

PIA-Biz-Fare-3

I asked on Twitter if anyone knew how to book PIA between Manchester and New York.

Contributor MikeĀ suggested using checkin.pk, whichĀ claims to be “Pakistan’s first online travel company.” Sure enough, it does work, and prices the ticketĀ in Pakistan’s currency.

Pakistan-Ticket

That being said, based on the quality of the website (and the fact that the homepage has pictures from Etihad’s site), I don’t feel especially confident in the support I’ll receive in the event of a cancellation or schedule change.

Pakistan-TIcket-1

I can’t seem to get this ticket to price on any other online travel agency.

So what am I missing?! This is a fifth freedom flight for PIA, and presumably they actually want to fly passengers between Manchester and New York, but they make it so difficult to book!

PIA, if you want passengers to experience your unrivaled business class service, make tickets easier to book!

Anyone know of another way to book PIA between Manchester and New York?

Comments

  1. Call Amex Platinum travel or another real travel agency and book it the old-fashioned way? Old-fashioned product, old-fashioned booking method.

  2. You need to find a PIA consolidator based in the UK. Legacy of pre-internet days, most Asian airlines have a bunch of consolidators that serve their ethnic communities, often with pricing at least or more favourable than the Expedias of this world (e.g. Thai -> WestEast, Malaysian/Singapore -> Lees Travel, Cathay -> Sagitta, etc)

    Googling “PIA flights UK agent” gets me, for example, Southall Travel (Southall is a heavily Muslim suburb of London near Heathrow), and you can easily book that and other PIA flights there. It’s an ATOL bonded travel agent, so your money should be safe there. Good luck.

  3. I’ve been waiting for you fly PIA, this is a great surprise, as I am Pakistani šŸ˜‰

    PIA gets a lot of crap, but honestly, I’ve flown them and they’re really not that bad. I get that they can’t hold a candle to the ME3, but they’re alright for nonstops.

    I will make one suggestion though: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Islamabad is actually planning to open a completely new airport, so you should really take this opportunity to review the new airport and explore Islamabad (I’ve lived there personally for many years and it is very safe as long as you don’t do anything crazy that will get you in harms way.) Islamabad and Lahore are safe, Karachi is what you want to avoid. Happy Travels!

  4. @Tampaspotter

    My point exactly. Having flown PIA in Business many times myself, I wanted to see how Lucky would find it, considering I find it pretty good, despite the criticism.

  5. Most likely you would have to call their 1800 number – 1 (800) 578-6786. I recently flew them domestically in Pakistan, and even there the website could not complete the booking. I had to visit a PIA office in order to confirm the booking and receive my ticket.

    PIA New York
    505 Eighth Avenue 6th Floor, New York, NY 10018
    Phone: + 1 (212) 760-8484/+1 (800) 578-6786
    Email: nyctopk@piac.aero /nycuupk@piac.aero (I haven’t emailed in New York, but in Pakistan they are not responsive to emails)

    Good luck

  6. I was stuck in Peshawar and needed to get a PIA ticket out (all the other airlines had stopped flying due to daily rocket attacks) and experienced the exact same thing. I ended up making the reservation on PIA’s Pakistan based website and payed in local currency. I ended up getting on the flight without an issue, but once I made it to IAD found that none of my luggage made it. I supplied the hand written (in Urdu) luggage tag and was essentially laughed at. Turned out my luggage sat on the ramp in Peshawar for a couple of days for no apparent reason before continuing on its journey to the U.S. Good luck, Lucky!

  7. Why don’t you try Aerolineas Argentinas’s onboard fax machine and see if you can book the ticket with PIA that way? Go truly old school!

  8. Cannot wait for the review. I have been an avid reader of your blog and have wondered many times if you will ever review PIA šŸ™‚ hope you find a way to ticket it.

  9. I agree with @kt74. Having grown up in the UK… consolidators are huge over there. They will probably have a slightly better J fare as well.

  10. Dear Ben,

    Greetings from Karachi, Pakistan. After reading your post about PIA, I thought that I could share my suggestions with you regarding the airline. PIA has been operating for decades, and has an excellent Business Class product. PIA’s website, on the other hand, has had issues with booking flights in the past as well, so your post about the ‘error’ message didn’t come to me as a surprise.

    Looking at the previous comments, friendly people around the world have suggested a number of options other than booking through the PIA website. I can also help you book your flight with a top travel agent in Karachi, Pakistan (my hometown) who doesn’t charge any booking fees. You are more than welcome to contact me at anytime, and I wish you a pleasant journey if you ever do decide to fly on PIA.

  11. Pia website lists region wise toll free numbers …just call their contact center and get the reservation made. This can then be ticketed at any of the PK offices locally.

    Alternatively you can simply go to the nearest PK office or travel agent and get MAN-JFK booked and ticketed.

    I work for PIA so I know.

  12. I should warn you travel on PIA is not for the faint of hearted. Their planes are not well maintained (interior smells really bad) and service is very rude. Toilets are usually clogged up and water gushing out as people use water bottles instead of toilet paper. Travel with them if u really want to, it’s your funeral.

  13. I tried flights.google.com and it listed CheapOair as a booking site. However I got this message, when I landed on the page

    “The flight you selected is unavailable(Your credit card has not been charged)
    Somebody else grabbed the last seat on the plane.
    Good News – we found flights that match your itinerary. Please select new flight(s) below.
    To help with this change, enter Promo Code FF20 to get $20 off!* “

  14. Lucky, I know a pretty trustworthy guy who works with PIA if you want to talk to him. I asked him and he quoted it around PKR 96,789 ($925.67). If you want to get into contact with him, just ask.

  15. 1) PIA tickets can be a huge pain to book online. Its the name of the game.

    2) I have found PIA to be a fairly pleasant airline, at least for short trips, particularly from the Gulf to Pakistan or between Pakistan and India. I have always declined to to fly their Europe and US routes, however.

  16. Could it be that they’re not selling flights on that route due to the same reason that they don’t want to get into trouble like Kuwait did, when they refused to fly a passenger with an Israeli passport? Maybe they’ve stopped booking passengers on that route, unless the itinerary includes a segment to/from Pakistan, so that by default passengers holding an Israeli passport wouldn’t be able to board it.
    Politics.

  17. Wonderful I think the pia is coming back best airline in the future as before it was

  18. I’m sorry it’s been such a nightmare for you! I gave up on PIA in 2011 following one of the worst experiences ever. Up until 2010 I would swear by their services and was a frequent traveller with them because I just loved PIA Buisness+ and the high level of service.

    Sadly that seems to have changed. The staff just aren’t the same anymore – they come off as rude and lazy, the hygiene had deteriorated and the service is just not up to scratch. I’d rather take a longer flight with a stopover than fly with PIA again. It’s such a shame that an airline which was once loved worldwide has lost its charm and undoubtedly some very loyal customers!

    Having said that, I hope you have an enjoyable journey! Please do keep us updated.

  19. Please contact the District Manager on manuupk@piac.aero or alternatively drop me an email on miluupk@piac.aero so that I can forward it to him.

    Post 9/11 PIA is required to make a technical landing in a European destination before proceeding across the Atlantic to the United States.

    Selling perhaps is restricted; earlier there was a requirement for a DATV – I am uncertain of the current situation.

  20. Exciting as it is I’d keep my expectations exceptionally low.
    You do know it’s a dry airline right?

  21. Their business class is actually not that great and hasn’t been refreshed since they first took deliveries of their 777s in 2002-2003. Food is good though.

    Best way to book a ticket is to call a travel agent, such as Shalimar Travel. The airline is going through a rough patch and is in process of being sold/privatized.

  22. Call Flightcatchers. They are one of the biggest PIA agents in the UK as well as many other airlines. I have always had an excellent experience with them. There number is +44 207 183 18 18. I fly PIA almost 30-40 times a year and always book through them. They are ATOL registered. Good luck and have a safe trip mate!

  23. Out of curiosity, I logged on the airline website and somehow, its working fine for me – selecting the one-way option doesnt remove details of the return journey yet didnt generate an error message for me.

    Calling up their helpline would be useful.

  24. Checkin.pk is pakistan’s First online travel agency. We are the only website which provide comparisons betwen international and Domestic airlines. So if you are looking for Booking PIA you can use this website. They have full support in cancellation and changes in schedule

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