Pakistan Airlines 777 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Good afternoon from New York, where I just got off a Pakistan Airlines flight from Manchester. It’s one of the unique fifth freedom routes that PIA operates, though they only do so in the westbound direction (they fly from Lahore to Manchester to New York to Lahore).

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While I’ll have a full trip report soon, in the meantime I wanted to continue my usual “10 pictures” series, and start off with some quick thoughts and pictures about the experience.

Pakistan has 35 business class seats on their 777s, spread across five rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The colors were rather drab, though worst of all, the seats seemed to be mostly broken. For example, twice our seats had to be manually adjusted.

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After takeoff the crew even made an announcement (which was scripted, so I suspect PIA realizes the shape their product is in) apologizing proactively that many of the seats and entertainment systems were broken, and that they’re working on updating their fleet with more modern products.

I knew the seat looked familiar, and then realized it was the “space bed” that Singapore Airlines used to have in Raffles Class, and that United PS used to have in first class. I remember how awesome I thought the seat was then, so it’s amazing how quickly things change.

As far as the amenities on the plane go, there’s not much to speak of. No amenity kits, just economy class headphones, no menus, and the pillows and blankets were dirty.

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I’d also note that Pakistan doesn’t use metal cutlery, even in business class. We had to eat everything with the flimsiest imaginable plastic cutlery.

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Lunch was served after takeoff, with a choice of three salads. There was no dressing for the salad, so the “fresh salad” was extremely bland.

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For the main course the crew brought out a cart, and then you could choose what you wanted, so it would be plated at your seat. The food was very good.

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The Pakistani dessert was excellent as well.

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What wasn’t excellent, however, was the powdered coffee that I was served with powdered creamer. Blech!

The brightest point of the flight was the crew. They weren’t the most polished, but they were so genuine and hospitable, and made us feel welcome. That goes a long way towards making a great flight.

Objectively this flight was pretty bad — the seats were falling apart, there were virtually no amenities, there were no drink options (Pakistan is a dry airline), they used plastic cutlery, the pre-arrival snack was inedible, etc.

However, for some reason I didn’t find this flight nearly as disappointing as the ones I took on China Eastern and Saudia, probably because my expectations were a bit lower.

I’ve heard PIA is trying to reinvent themselves, and if so, they have a long way to go. Perhaps they should start by adding real cutlery in business class. It’s also pretty clear whoever wrote the airline’s webpage about their business class product has never flown another airline before, because they describe the product as being “the only Business Class service that feels like First Class.”

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I’m so happy I had the opportunity to try them!

How does this compare to what you were expecting from Pakistan business class?

Comments

  1. I kinda like the buffet style food option/serving. You see beforehand what you gonna get and lets face it, it is stored in these aluminum trays anyway.

  2. How full was the business class cabin? I’d expect it to be almost empty considering limited one way service and being a 5th freedom flight.

  3. Thank you Lucky for trying PIA, I appreciate that you gave it a chance, and it is nice to see that you got a pleasant crew. PK and AI share the fact that while the hard product is lacking, the soft product is generally second to none. But as a fellow Pakistani, maybe you should continue the flight to Lahore next time, it’s one of the worlds most beautiful cities, which I once had the pleasure to call my hometown 🙂

  4. @ Ed — Every seat was taken, though they were all transit passengers. We were the only ones originating in MAN.

  5. “I’m so happy I had the opportunity to try them!”. Why do I feel some sarcasm on this statement? 🙂

  6. Odd that they use nice looking china for their plates but then have plastic cutlery. The metal cutlery, even flimsy metal, doesn’t seem like it would be a major expense.

  7. I would guess that catering out of MAN would be a strong point. I wonder if it’s as good going the other direction

  8. They use plastic cutlery due to US security rules. They serve with proper cutlery in Pakistan!

    The crew is the best. Very hospitable! I’d rather use an airline lacking in amenities but with great crew.

    What’s the point of all the luxury if the crew is rude and makes noise like in Saudia!

  9. @ Fawwad — Not sure what US security rules you’re referring to when virtually every other airline uses metal cutlery on flights to the US?

  10. And it is worth noting that the seats are the same in TAP A340 planes, but they recently refurbished them with new IFE.

  11. The food looks tasty. Never seen this type of buffet service anywhere in flight. I guess I don’t understand the whole coffee and beverage problem on these flights. Seems like the easy part of the equation. Maybe they don’t have coffee makers.

  12. I’m glad the entrees were tasty but all those big aluminum trays of food on a serving cart are so unappetizing to me. It reminds me of that Ethiopian flight you were on a year or two ago. It just looks like a sad version of Panda Express.

  13. I mean if I had paid full price and that was the quality of the product I would have been pissed.
    Granted I have nothing against the airline or its crew or anything ,but calling that a Business class product is a disgrace.

    Plastic cutlery in Business Class ? Really ? I mean a few airlines give you real cutlery in Economy class.

    It just amazes me that some airlines think that is luxury. That’s some serious corner cutting.

    People might read this and think “oh first world problems” but that’s not it at all. If your paying good money for a premium product and what you get it total pants, you have the right to be upset, I would have been fine flying that in economy as it was probably almost the same experience.

  14. Food looks pretty fine to me.
    I assume that the flimsy plastic cutlery is due to security concerns. I don’t think it’s due to certain rule imposed by TSA, but just PIA’s decision. Metal cutlery could be used by terrorists to do bad stuff. Security situation in Pakistan sometimes get volatile and unpredictable, so I guess that plays a role in PIA’s decision to remove metal cutlery from their flights to/from the U.S.

    I would love to try out PIA. The airline itself and service seems quite fascinating.

  15. @Fawaad might be on to something, as one of the main reasons PIA even has this fifth freedom route is because the US doesn’t allow nonstop flights from Pakistan for security reasons (i.e. lack of faith in Pakistani airport security protocols). @Nisrit so true! Another fun fact about PIA is that they were the first airline with in flight movies lol!

  16. @Raccoon: While I still believe metal cutlery could be used on board with no issues there are plastic cutlery and “plastic cutlery”. The one shown on this post is a disgrace. It feels it will break just by looking at it. If they decide they will take an extra step on security and use plastic cutlery at least they should get a high quality one. There are even some that are silver and look like metal but are plastic. As for the food, I agree it looks tasty and I would guess the catering from Lahore would be even better, I don’t see the need to serve it on aluminum trays. They could make the presentation way nicer and still serve in a buffet style which it works pretty well for Indian, Pakistani and other similar cuisines.

  17. Plastic utensils are due to Pakistani Aviation law.

    PIA has acquired about 8 SriLankan A330s on a wet lease.

  18. I’ve had enough Delta flights to Hawaii, Florida and other ‘aspirational’ destinations for mainland U.S. travelers that had equipment failures and other disappointments. I’m sure there are more than a handful of passengers who see the fancy Delta advertisements and then board an old 757-200 for a 4 1/2-hour flight to St. Thomas or somewhere in the West Indies only to discover it’s an ancient plane with drop-down video screens, no seatback entertainment, no power plugs, and horrible catering. Was PIA’s business-class cabin really any worse for a 7-hour flight from Manchester to New York?

  19. BTW PIA was the launch customer for B777-200 back in 1999! Once I flew them on their B747 in 1987 JED-KHI and quiet a few times on the BOM-KHI sector in A300. They used to offer 7up in cans which was a novelty for me as a kid since 7up/Pepsi/Coke were not available in India back then. I use to ask and take 2-3 7up cans. The crew was always obliging.

  20. Every time you fly Emirates in F from LAX to DXB sipping champagne at the bar on the A380, just remember that you have PIA to thank for the humble beginnings of Emirates with some leased A310’s not too long ago 🙂

  21. You eat the salad as a side with the main dish to reduce the spiciNess and not as a separate course. That’s why they didn’t give you a dressing.

    You have never been to an Indian restaurant? That’s how their culture eats salad.

    Keep traveling and you will learn about the world. And that will make you interesting.

  22. The country is facing severe political and civil difficulties. Although I hope that the quality of PIA improves, I cannot help but feel that there are much better uses for money and labor that could be diverted towards stabilizing the governance and building the infrastructure instead of fixing a business class on an airline.

    As far as aluminium trays go, it’s really the only way to serve piping hot food from the region – many airline have tried alternatives which have not worked well during the trial phase. The alternative is to plate each dish individually and bring them to the customer, but that would defeat the idea of a cart for selection.

    I have flown with the airline twice a few years back (always had metal cutlery so this must be a recent move). I cannot recall the experience the first time since I slept through the entire journey after a long and tiring expedition. The second time I recall being unable to eat and sleep since the air conditioning on board was out of order and it was hot on the ground and cold in the air.

  23. SS, PIA were the launch customer for the 200LR variant, United were the 777 launch customer way back in 1995.

  24. Is the theme for these past couple of reviews Voyeurism and Schadenfreude?

    Is that your new angle Ben? To stand out from the crowded airline/travel review market?

  25. Dear Tampa Spotter,

    Quite incredible that you compare Air India’s hard product with PIA.

    Please research slightly more on AI’s 787 or even 777’s business class and first class. Better yet, read OMAAT’s AI review which happened few months back.

    Cheers!

  26. I am a Pakistani American and would not fly PIA. For a long time we could not buy competitive tickets on the net. They have their crony travel agents who reserve most seats at the busy season and not available but only through them. The staff in the plane is great and they try their best totally opposite of the ground staff. They do not sell all the premier seats and make them available for the staff and family freeloaders. That is why the plane is usually full but they still lose money. They cannot turnaround until they limit the freeloaders off the premium seats and open them on the Net for public at competitive prices. Many people would buy a business or first seat if it is competitive and not saved for cronies, civil and military officials.

  27. Ok, this proves just how passionate you are about your job! Flying on PIA – unbelievable. PIA – Please Inform Allah, Perhaps I’ll arrive !

  28. Lucky, I sure hope you have an Emirates first class flight booked sometime soon, otherwise you might start losing interest in the game… What happened to the luxury and the grandeur and the things that made your readers dream? We want a choice between Krug and Dom, Belluga Caviar and Johnny Walker Blue 🙂

    Kidding aside, I bet you’ll enjoy your A380 shower even more next time!

  29. You call these headphones economy class headphones? Wow, that’s pretty good for economy class. Looks way more comfortable than those typical smallish headsets.

  30. To be fair, typical business class headphones also look different. The Pakistani version is maybe something in between, like the seats, etc. 😉

  31. To be frank, the airline was wonderful to fly on in the 80s (or as my children say: back when dad had hair)- definition of luxury . The decline in the airline’s services is very much similar to that of AI – operating inefficiently. From my recent experiences, I would say there is a huge difference between the service and product between AI and PIA – yet both airlines share a common theme: they were the inspiration for two 5-star airlines (AI very much assisted in SIA startup and PIA helped in Emirates startup). I cannot but sympathize with my friends from Pakistan, to whom the quality of on-board service and product is of least concern when they worry about their families’ and friends’ well-being back home.

  32. I did not expect much more from PIA..

    Santastico – it seems like you are here with strong opinions; try staying away from here and fly some yourself..

  33. Looks like someone at PIA is also following your blog, Lucky. 🙂
    They’ve scrubbed the line “It’s the only Business Class service that feels like First Class.” from that page.

  34. That food looks absolutely delicious! I’d rather have something like this than the attempts at haute cuisine other airlines try and fail miserably at.

    As far as the seats go, where do you think they bought them from? They probably were in a Singapore bird at some point. The resale market for airline parts is quite interesting. Due to all of the regulations, it’s extremely expensive to introduce a new product so you’ll often see old products re-purposed.

    As Delta FNT has experienced, I also have experienced many tired old birds from DL. A couple of the Mad Dogs they fly from Tampa to Atlanta are really beat up. I can’t believe the nasty one they run TPA-LAX. No IFE for a transcon? I don’t care if it is direct, I’ll take the connection and go for a more modern aircraft.

  35. i think this is because of the Pakistan cauz they are been ruled under a corrupted prime minster therefore the country is going in loss.u see the infrastructure and peace has also been outclassed as it is in this airplane compared to emirates as they earlier were students of PIA if the government of Pakistan becomes a host of some honest ,loyal and faithful leaders PIA would be than named among the top 5 airlines.

  36. i think this is because of the Pakistan cauz they are been ruled under a corrupted prime minster therefore the country is going in loss.u see the infrastructure and peace has also been outclassed as it is in this airplane compared to emirates as they earlier were students of PIA if the government of Pakistan becomes a host of some honest ,loyal and faithful leaders PIA would be than named among the top 5 airlines.

    About flimsiest imaginable plastic cutlery ,it is used cauz of seciurity.if it was to be metal people could be using it as a fighting tool.

  37. Well now PIA is updating their business class product their planes will be sent to Singapore and will be refurbished with new sogerma seats about the cutlery I am pretty sure they had a problem with catering at Manchester because usually they have metal cutlery on board they recently fixed the ife too I know this was old and that’s why I invite you to Pakistan to discover more about PIA and Pakistani aviation

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