Before we move on to my other adventures, let’s cap off the coverage of my winter 2014 trip to Japan by going over the flight back home.
Note: Schedule/route information, equipment type and other details are accurate only for the specific flight reviewed here and do not necessarily apply to previous or future flights, even by the same airline under the same flight number.
Airline and flight number : Philippine Airlines (PR) 429
Route : NRT-MNL
Date : 15 February 2014
Scheduled departure time : 1930
Scheduled arrival time : 2315
Equipment : A321-200. Seat maps are available from PR and on SeatGuru.
Travel class : Economy
Related outbound flight : PR 428, 01 February 2014 – read the review here
In order to maximise sightseeing time on the last day of any trip, I normally choose evening flights back to Manila (if I can find them). Alas, as of the time of writing PR no longer offers an evening flight out of Tōkyō, so I may need to take my future business to another airline.
Judging from the timestamps on my photographs, boarding commenced at 1900 or thereabouts. Narita’s gate had a dual aerobridge, but only one was used for both business and economy class, probably due to the small size of our plane.
If memory serves, we pushed off from the gate roughly on schedule but our plane had to wait on the tarmac for quite some time. The flight crew attributed the delay to air traffic congestion (or something along those lines).
PR’s A321s are fitted with 12 business class seats. I was seated in this section on my flight to Tōkyō, but on the return leg I had to hoof it further back.
Just behind those are 18 premium economy class seats…
…followed by 169 economy class seats.
Pillows and blankets were supplied in all classes.
The plane we used on this flight was the same type as the one described in my previous flight report, so I won’t rehash the observations I already made before. (Readers are invited to check the other flight report for more details.) In brief: no IFE, except for reading materials and iPads.
SERVICE AND CATERING
As one might expect, both the food and the service in cattle class were more basic than the premium package I experienced on my previous flight, when I was sitting closer to the pointy end of the plane. The attention given to us was less personal, less fawning, but then of course one must bear in mind that the flight attendants in this part of the plane (I counted at least two but there might have been others) would have had to look after more passengers per capita than the ones in the forward cabin.
Now then, time for dinner. No menu card – or none that I can remember – but with just two options it would have been a waste of perfectly good paper. I chose the chicken course and was served the following tray.
The chicken was a tad undercooked, not quite raw but it seemed as though it could have benefited from more time on the fire. They did a better job on the vegetables mixed into the dish, with the selection featuring an appetising balance of colours.
On the whole, I felt reasonably satisfied with the food and its presentation…
…and that feeling of satisfaction increased after the flight attendants started whipping out tubs of strawberry ice cream.
I wasn’t even expecting this – certainly not in economy class on a regional flight – so props to the airline for the simple but sweet finish.
I wasn’t left with any particularly strong impressions about this flight, whether good or bad. Perhaps that’s only to be expected, since nothing much ever happens in economy class on a short flight (board, eat, sleep, disembark). I suppose my neutral memory of the experience is actually a positive sign – after all, an unremarkable flight is far better than one that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.
Having said that, one of the concerns I highlighted previously still applies here: namely, the lack of a proper IFE system. This is a sore point that pops up quite often in discussions of PR flights, and it would serve the airline well to consider rolling out an improved IFE experience for their passengers if they are to retain their competitiveness.