Flying long-haul with Philippine Airlines

IMG_1275Last year, when we were planning for my first trip to Australia, my sister wanted me to get the fares for a round-trip Manila-Melbourne-Manila flight from Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. I, on the otherhand, kept on insisting to fly with Philippine Airlines, because I am a Mabuhay Miles member. It was only after a couple of weeks (yes, I’m that slow) to realize that if I’m to fly with SQ or CX, I can have a stopover in Singapore or Hong Kong. After that realization, I booked myself with Singapore Airlines, and spent 5 days in Singapore, hoarding dolls and manga.

Apart from the stopover, what I liked about flying with Singapore Airlines is their excellent service and the personal entertainment system. For a 3-hour flight, I don’t mind not having ANYTHING because I can just read my book, listen to my MP3s and bring my own food. For long-haul however, I need more stuff to keep me entertained. That’s where (in my opinion) Philippine Airline falls short.

Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to secure seats on either Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, or even Qantas. In desperation (as there’s only 10 days before I have to leave) I booked with Philippine Airlines. I was certainly glad that I’ll be earning almost 8,000 miles for this trip, but what I didn’t like is that PAL doesn’t have personal entertainment systems on their planes. That means a number of screens spread at intervals, showing a set of movies or programs, whether you want to watch it or not.

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IMG_1305The first movie they showed was the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. No complaints there, as I liked the movie the first time I watched it and wanted to see it again. I wanted to go right to sleep after that, but I ended up watching Nancy Drew. After Nancy solved the mystery, I resolved to get some sleep. So I put on my sleep mask and contorted to a more comfortable position (as if that’s possible in cattle class). Just when I was starting to drift off, somebody started laughing. Out loud. And he went on and on and on.

You see, after Nancy Drew and a couple of PAL commercials, some wise-ass thought it’d be fun to screen a gag show. Gag shows are funny; I like watching them. But damnit, not during a flight at 2 o’clock in the morning! The guy, who was on the same row as I am, just woke up from his 4-hour slumber and was so tickled pink at what’s happening on the screen. He enjoyed it so much that he couldn’t contain himself: he kept on laughing and laughing. Loudly.

Thankfully, the blasted show lasted for only 30 minutes. But alas, sleep just wasn’t meant to be. Soon after the show ended, the cabin lights were turned on and a disappointing breakfast was served. But that’s another another story for another day.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

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