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Review: Philippine Airlines Business Class 777 New York To Vancouver
Philippine Airlines 127
New York (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR)
Tuesday, February 28
Arrive: 3:10AM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 5A (Business Class)
I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the friendly purser and pointed right, in the direction of my seat.
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, for a total of 28 seats.
Meanwhile the rear cabin has two rows, for a total of 14 seats. My preference is almost always to sit in the back of the business class cabin, and this flight was no exception.
On boarding I was disappointed to see that I didn’t get one of Philippine Airlines’ 777s with fully flat business class seats. Philippine Airlines has eight 777s in their fleet, and the two newest ones feature fully flat seats in business class.
I had assigned myself seat 5A, the window seat on the left in the first row of the rear business class cabin.
I also briefly checked out the row right behind it. While the business class seats on this plane were angled, the legroom was generous.
I also quickly took a peek into the economy cabin, which looked pretty standard. Philippine Airlines’ 777 economy cabin is in a 3-4-3 configuration, which has become the industry standard.
There was a console between seats, along with the seat controls on each side.
Underneath the center armrest was the entertainment controller. However, the personal television was also touchscreen, which is my preferred way of selecting content.
Also underneath the center armrest was a headphone jack.
On the front of the center armrest were power ports — both a 110v Empower port, as well as a USB port.
I also appreciated that there was a small privacy partition that could be extended between seats, which not enough airlines have, in my opinion. It wasn’t useful on this particular flight, though, given that the plane was quite empty.
Waiting at my seat on boarding were a pillow and blanket. The pillow was well padded, while the blanket was basic, and certainly disappointing for a longhaul business class product.
Also waiting at my seat were a pair of headphones, which weren’t especially comfortable.
The crew was very young, and moments after settling in one of the flight attendants greeted me and offered me a pre-departure drink, a warm towel, and a menu for the flight. The pre-departure drink choice was between orange juice, raspberry tea, lemon tea, and water.
Less than five minutes after being presented with the menu the flight attendant came by to asked what I wanted for dinner.
This flight had an extremely light load. 15 of the 42 business class seats were taken, while economy had only a few dozen passengers (I switched my seat to 5A after taking the below screenshots).
By 11:45PM the door was closed, at which point the purser added her welcome aboard. Moments later Captain Rudolph informed us of our flight time of 5hr40min, and our cruising altitude of 40,000 feet.
A few minutes later the safety video played, which is Philippine Airlines’ new video:
At 11:55PM we began our pushback.
After pushback we stayed in position for over 10 minutes, and finally began our taxi at 12:10AM. Our taxi to the departure runway took a while, and then there were several planes still ahead of us for takeoff.
At 12:40AM we were finally cleared for takeoff on runway 13R, behind an Air France 777 and ahead of an EL AL 747.
As we taxied into position the pilot accidentally made his ATC transmission over the plane’s intercom rather than directly to ATC — “cleared for takeoff runway 13R, Philippine 127 heavy.” Oops.
Our takeoff roll was quick, and while we hit a few bumps on our initial climb out, the ride quickly smoothed out. About 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.
I visited the lavatory after takeoff — there are two located between the two business class cabins. They were pretty no frills, in terms of design, space, and amenities.
As we continued our climb out I browsed the entertainment selection. While most seats have seatback entertainment, my personal television extended from the center armrest, due to the fact that I was in the bulkhead.
I was impressed by the selection. There were about 60 Hollywood movies, which is more than I was expecting.
There were about 25 sitcoms, so overall I consider that to be a decent selection.
I also checked out the airshow for the flight.
While the quality of the selection as such exceeded my expectations, the picture quality was terrible, due to the low resolution.
The supper service started about 30 minutes after takeoff. The menu read as follows:
And the drink list read as follows:
For anyone who is curious, here’s the menu for the Vancouver to New York flight, which is scheduled to leave at 2PM and arrive around 10PM (I have this because they put the menu for both flights in one booklet):
The service started with tablecloths being distributed — the tray table extended out of the center armrest.
After that I was served the canapés, along with a glass of champagne. Philippine Airlines serves Charles Heidsieck in business class, which is perfectly nice.
The canapés consisted of feta zucchini and shrimp pesto, and were good.
After that the table was set for supper. I was impressed that they didn’t use trays, but rather set everything directly on the table, including a rectangular plate with a bread bowl, butter, and a chocolate.
I was offered a selection from the breadbasket, and chose the garlic bread, which was tasty.
The starter consisted of smoked salmon with a cucumber sesame salad with breadsticks and ginger lime cream. It was very good.
For the main course I selected the kalbi jim, or braised beef short ribs with carrots, radish, and steamed rice. The dish was exceptional, and restaurant quality.
After that I was offered a fruit plate, including watermelon, melon, and grapes. There’s no real dessert on this flight, though fruit is perfect for a flight at this hour.
After that I ordered a cup of coffee, which was served on a cute tray. I asked for it with milk, but was instead served powdered cream. Blech.
The meal service was done just over an hour after takeoff. The service was friendly and efficient, though not overly so. I was never addressed by name and the crew wasn’t over the top, but they were polite and my empty dish never sat on my tray for long.
With about 4hr30min left till our arrival in Vancouver I decided to get some sleep. I knew the seats were angled, so had pretty low expectations. I can’t usually sleep in angled seats, though was so tired at this point that I figured I could sleep anywhere.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort of the bed. While it was technically angled, it was one of the most comfortable angled seats I’ve been in. The angle was maybe only slightly worse than in EgpytAir 777 business class, which is otherwise the most comfortable “angled” seat I’ve been in.
Keep in mind that planes fly at a slight nose up angle, so really a slight angle of the seat only balances things out. The moral of the story is that I’m extremely sensitive to angled seats, yet I found this seat to be comfortable, and would have no qualms being seated in it for a longhaul flight.
The bedding is a different story, though — I wish Philippine Airlines had real blankets in business class. Furthermore, I thought the seat’s padding was terrible, as it was quite hard. I was able to balance that out by putting another blanket on top of the seat.
One thing I found a bit annoying is that 90 minutes into the flight, when many people were sleeping, they made a loud announcement that duty free sales were now available. They should either make those announcements earlier or not make them at all, given how many people were sleeping, in my opinion.
One other minor thing — I wish they offered individual bottles of water. When I went to sleep I asked for a bottle of water, though they didn’t have any. I always like to have some water next to me when sleeping, but would prefer not to have a glass next to me in the event of turbulence.
I got about three hours of solid sleep, and felt refreshed when I woke up. Shortly after I woke up the crew asked if I wanted anything else. Since I had a long night/day ahead of me I ordered a cup of coffee.
I also asked for an immigration form for Canada. The crew was surprised I was getting off there, though returned a couple of minutes later with a form.
One of the other good things about Philippine Airlines’ 777s is that they have wifi.
I didn’t have much of a need to use wifi on an overnight flight, but still tested it out:
- All passengers get 15MB of free data
- You can pay $10 for 35MB of data
- You can pay $40 for 150MB of data
While I appreciate the 15MB of free wifi, the pricing beyond that is high, especially as they charge based on data usage. Keep in mind that many other airlines sell wifi passes that last the entire flight for ~$20, with no data caps. However, for the brief period I used wifi I found the speed to be good.
At around 2:50AM local time the first officer provided us with updated arrival information, and informed us that we would be landing in about 30 minutes. Speaking of first officers, there were two of them on this flight. Three pilots for a five hour flight seemed like an overkill. I realize this probably has to do with the Vancouver to Manila flight, though you’d think they’d just roster the relief pilot on the Manila to Vancouver flight and back, and then just send two pilots to New York. I dunno…
While our initial descent was smooth, we hit some turbulence below 10,000 feet, and had a very rough touchdown at 3:20AM.
From there it was a 15 minute taxi to ur arrival gate. I don’t know how far we traveled, but it was one of the longest taxis I’ve had in a long time, especially as we were taxiing pretty quickly for the entire 15 minutes.
We finally arrived at our gate at 3:35AM. Transfer passengers were advised to stay on the plane, which meant that just me and one other person were getting off in Vancouver.
From there I cleared immigration, sat in the U.S. departures area for about an hour, then cleared U.S. immigration, and took a flight back to the U.S.
Philippine Airlines business class bottom line
Philippine Airlines business class was a pleasant experience, despite not getting one of their planes with flat beds in business class. The service was friendly, the food was excellent (especially when you consider the time the flight departed), and the angled seat was better than I was expecting.
If the price is right or they had the best schedule, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again. They’re an especially fun option between New York and Vancouver, given their great business class pricing and excellent product.
If you’ve flown Philippine Airlines business class, what was your experience like?