Philippine Airlines 777 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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.

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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.

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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.

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Next the appetizer was served, which consisted of smoked salmon and a cucumber sesame salad. It was very good.

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For the main course I had the braised beef short ribs, which were much better than I was expecting.

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After the main course a fruit plate was served.

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I had a coffee to go along with it, which was served with a piece of mango chocolate.

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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.

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While the pillow was nice and plush, the blanket was basic.

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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.

Bottom line

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.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Can you talk about your experience clearing customs in Canada coming from the US and then connectnig to a flight back to the US?

  2. Finally! What they’ve been telling us here in the Philippines is that they’re trying to be a five-star airline. Would love your insight on this.

    BTW, just in case you didn’t know. PAL is Asia’s first airline.

  3. I’ve done the CX YVR-JFK route a couple times and am looking forward to trying this one. One of the best things about being a frequent flyer in Seattle is the relative proximity of YVR and the additional options available there.

  4. I wonder if they ever considered ordering a 787 (or using their future A350s) to operate their long-haul routes (even if seasonally). It’d probably be less costly for them, especially given the load on your flight and the competition in the market.

  5. Lucky:
    now that you’ve had a taste of Pinoy service, when are you making a trip report to the islands proper? (although i admit, it’s been a while since i took PAL back to my home country, being a *Alliance slave and all..)

  6. Not really competitive for a trans-ocean flight but when the only competition is US airlines and Air Canada it looks good. Of course, CX would be better, but their fares are usually very high.

  7. @David McDonough CBSA officer here, who happens to follow OMAAT (and Lucky’s frustrations with us).

    Most US-bound connecting pax can clear Canadian and American customs at the same time strictly by going thru US pre-clearance at YVR (without seeing CBSA). However, US-YVR-US pax will not be eligible (as the inbound flight isn’t approved by the US CBP).

    So you would need to clear CBSA downstairs, exit the secure area, take the elevator or escalator up one floor to check-in counters level, go through CATSA security screening, and then re-enter the terminal. CBSA have 0 problems with you committing cabotage or mileage running, just have your onward ticket (even on your phone) ready. Some of the older guys who aren’t familiar may ask a few questions, but it’s not exactly an interrogation. Don’t be one of the people who are afraid to admit what they’re doing and instead sound like drug mules.

    If I process you, I’ll ask about your favorite aircrafts and premium cabins and what blogs you enjoy the most.

    A special note for YVR: US Pre-clearance is only open 330AM-830PM. Outbound flights outside those hours depart from D terminal (international terminal) and will need to clear US CBP in the US. There are only 4-5 US-bound flights like this. If you arrive between 8:30PM and 11PM during peak periods and your flight leaves before 330AM, instead of going downstairs and needing to go out and back in thru security, you can choose to clear the CBSA’s “international connections” area near US Pre-Clearance (follow the signs) for flights out of the D terminal only.

    Flights within the window going US-YVR-US will need to be processed through CBSA, exit secure area, go upstairs, clear CATSA, and then clear US Pre-Clearance into E terminal.

  8. As you guys know, I’m trying to review as many new business class products as possible lately…so I take this 4 hour hop (yep proper review…brilliant).

    Please can we have another review of Cathay or Etihad or Emirates so we can all be well informed about how well your feet fit into a new cubby hole or how the meal service was only “slightly” better than last time but the crew on this flight or that were “phenomenal”.

    You’re missing a trick Lucky.

    Methinks you’re doing this just to enjoy the first class life and not to be a genuine critic.

  9. @3A Thanks a lot for the information (real CBSA agents are hard to spot outside POEs). Just wondering: are paxs still eligible for TWOV or CTP if they arrive after the CBP preclearance hours or they have to go through secondary processing and be issued a TRP? Flights like CX888 arrives at around 8:30 PM so CBP should be closed by that time.

  10. The angle flat seat looks about the same angle as a Qantas skybed. Qantas is so overrated.

  11. Looks like a better option — price, drinks, food — than any US airline flying outside of the premium Los Angeles-New York and San Francisco-New York routes. It’s just too bad the timings for at least New York-Vancouver weren’t better. Oh yeah, and if only Philippine Airlines partnered with Alaska, Delta or American.

  12. The key advantage for both this and the CX flight (which I’ve taken a few times now) is that it’s nearly always empty. Flying any class is pleasurable when the plane is quiet. I flew the route on CX on Monday and there was probably 10 people in the entire economy section. We all moved about and secured an entire row for ourselves. Bliss.

  13. Air Canada flies a scheduled flight to Newark on a brand new 789 that I think continues to Brisbane . Leaves Newark at 7pm and arrives 9:40. Took it a few weeks ago and will again next week. Great fligh and great J class . Timing is little better then CX and product about the same.

  14. Based on previous statements from PAL leadership, the new A350 will be used for both US flights, as well as new European routes.
    Their A350-900 would be capable of flying Manila-New York non-stop, so I’d expect the current routing via Vancouver to go – with the load Lucky describes, it can’t be profitable now…

  15. @David McDonough Yes TWOV and CTP pax are able to be processed at normal CBSA primary if US Pre-Clearance and the International Connections transit area are closed. Between 8:30pm and 11pm, they should clear via the International Connections transit area instead of primary (both are technically OK, but we an airport escort walks them back up the stairs).

    Back in the day, coming before US Pre-Clearance closed was a condition for the programs, but this has changed. YVR CBSA management has also adapted a looser official interpretation of policy and TRPs are no longer needed if the error in TWOV/CTP eligibility is not the fault of the pax (e.g. flight delays leading to TWOV ineligibility can be ignored by the primary officer and no secondary is needed, while flying a TWOV-ineligible airline would still require a TRP).

  16. @Victor.

    Qantas now have lie flat beds on their A380, 747, and A330. All but 2 A330 have the lie flat beds.
    Woud seem your comment is out of date.

  17. Can’t wait to read the full report on PAL Business Class! Exciting times for Asia’s first

  18. Still waiting for the full trip report Ben! Looking forward to reading more about your thoughts on this airline

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