Hello from Vancouver! I just flew Philippine Airlines business class on their rather unusual route between New York and Vancouver. They launched this route in 2015, and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since. Cathay Pacific also operates a flight between New York and Vancouver (and from there the airlines continue to their respective hubs), so it’s probably North America’s most interesting fifth freedom market.
Philippine Airlines has attractive business class fares on this sector — they’re about $440 one-way, or about $750 roundtrip, which is pretty great for a longhaul business class product on a transcon flight.
While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I wanted to share my initial impressions in the form of a typical “10 pictures” post.
Philippine Airlines’ 777 business class cabin consists of a total of 42 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The forward cabin has four rows of seats, while the rear cabin has two rows of seats.
Philippine Airlines has eight 777s, two of which they took delivery of just a few months ago. The newly delivered 777s feature fully flat beds in business class, while the other six feature angled seats. The New York flight seems to get the new planes a majority of the time, though unfortunately I didn’t get lucky in this case, and got stuck with one of the older planes.
I was impressed by the service on this flight, given that it departs New York at midnight, and gets into Vancouver at 3AM (obviously the flight’s timing is scheduled around the connection to Manila, so it’s an unusual flight for those just flying from New York to Vancouver).
This flight was empty. There were about a dozen people in business class, and maybe another 60 people in economy. Even so, I seemed to be one of only a handful of people traveling to Vancouver, while a majority of the other passengers were continuing to Manila (I knew because transit passengers stay on the plane).
Before takeoff the friendly crew introduced themselves, and distributed menus for the flight, as well as welcome drinks (with the choice between red apple raspberry juice, orange juice, lemon tea, and water). Meal orders were taken a few minutes later.
After takeoff, service began with a selection of canapés, including feta zucchini and shrimp pesto. I had a glass of champagne to go along with it — Philippine Airlines serves Charles Heidsieck Brut, which is perfectly nice.
Next the appetizer was served, which consisted of smoked salmon and a cucumber sesame salad. It was very good.
For the main course I had the braised beef short ribs, which were much better than I was expecting.
After the main course a fruit plate was served.
I had a coffee to go along with it, which was served with a piece of mango chocolate.
Overall it was an excellent meal, especially for a midnight departure.
The meal service was done about an hour after takeoff, and I managed to get about three hours of solid sleep. I didn’t love the seat since it was angled, though the angle wasn’t that bad. I’d say the angle was worse than in the EgyptAir 777 business class seat, but not as bad as in the Fiji Airways A330 business class seat.
While the pillow was nice and plush, the blanket was basic.
Two other things to note:
- The entertainment selection was solid, with about 60 Hollywood movies
- PAL offers wifi — everyone gets 15MB of data for free, or you can purchase packages as big as 150MB for $40; that’s not cheap, though it’s better than some of the pricing charged by other airlines based on data usage.
Flying Philippine Airlines between New York and Vancouver was a real treat. For $440 one-way, it’s just about the cheapest business class transcon ticket you’ll find, and it’s for a solid product no less. In the future maybe I can take the flight in the other direction, given that it departs Vancouver at 2PM and gets into New York at 10PM, which seems like a more civilized time to fly. Hopefully I get one of the planes with fully flat beds next time.