Review: Philippine Airlines Business Class 777 New York To Vancouver

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Other Airlines

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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
Depart: 11:55PM
Arrive: 3:10AM (+1 day)
Duration: 6hr15min
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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class cabin

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class cabin

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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class seats

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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class seats

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Philippine Airlines business class legroom

I also briefly checked out the row right behind it. While the business class seats on this plane were angled, the legroom was generous.

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class seats

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class seats

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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 economy class seats

There was a console between seats, along with the seat controls on each side.

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Philippine Airlines business class seat controls

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Philippine Airlines business class seat controls

Underneath the center armrest was the entertainment controller. However, the personal television was also touchscreen, which is my preferred way of selecting content.

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment controls

Also underneath the center armrest was a headphone jack.

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Philippine Airlines business class headphone jack

On the front of the center armrest were power ports — both a 110v Empower port, as well as a USB port.

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Philippine Airlines business class power outlets

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class privacy partition

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class pillow & blanket

Also waiting at my seat were a pair of headphones, which weren’t especially comfortable.

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Philippine Airlines business class headphones

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class menu, hot towel, and pre-departure drink

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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 pushing back

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.

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Philippine Airlines 777 business class lavatory

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment selection

I was impressed by the selection. There were about 60 Hollywood movies, which is more than I was expecting.

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment selection

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment selection

There were about 25 sitcoms, so overall I consider that to be a decent selection.

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment selection

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Philippine Airlines business class entertainment selection

I also checked out the airshow for the flight.

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Philippine Airlines airshow

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:

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And the drink list read as follows:

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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):

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The service started with tablecloths being distributed — the tray table extended out of the center armrest.

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Philippine Airlines business class tray table

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class supper — champagne and canapés

The canapés consisted of feta zucchini and shrimp pesto, and were good.

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Philippine Airlines business class canapés — feta zucchini and shrimp pesto

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class table setting

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Philippine Airlines business class supper — chocolate and butter

I was offered a selection from the breadbasket, and chose the garlic bread, which was tasty.

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Philippine Airlines business class supper — garlic bread

The starter consisted of smoked salmon with a cucumber sesame salad with breadsticks and ginger lime cream. It was very good.

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Philippine Airlines business class appetizer

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Philippine Airlines business class appetizer — smoked salmon with cucumber sesame salad

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class supper — kalbi jim

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class dessert — fresh fruit

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class coffee

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class seat bed mode

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.

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Philippine Airlines business class seat bed mode

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.

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Airshow enroute to Vancouver

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.

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Landing card for Canada

One of the other good things about Philippine Airlines’ 777s is that they have wifi.

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Philippine Airlines 777 wifi

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Philippine Airlines 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.

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Philippine Airlines wifi pricing

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…

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Airshow enroute to Vancouver

While our initial descent was smooth, we hit some turbulence below 10,000 feet, and had a very rough touchdown at 3:20AM.

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Airshow enroute to Vancouver

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Airshow enroute to Vancouver

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.

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Arrival gate in Vancouver

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.

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Arriving 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?

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  1. I’m looking forward to flying this to New York one day.

    Incidentally, I believe you meant AM: “finally began our taxi at 12:10PM”

  2. Were you angled when you took the photo? Because the seat still looks angled even if the plane was flying nose up.

  3. I did notice the headphones to be cheap and flimsy, but they were noise cancelling. I don’t think they would invest in a higher quality headphones soon because of the Filipino mentality of taking home things they think are free. 😉

    Philippine is actually one of the first to introduce 3-4-3 in 777 Economy, but believe me they were more comfortable because the seat pitch is an industry leading 34″, even their two new 777s will technically have more legroom because of the slimmer seats. They purposely did this to make up for the 3-4-3 layout and because they also target Americans. They’re better than United and American!

    The catering has actually improved, and they had partnerships with celebrity chefs in Manila. Boy I love their canapés! Their rice congee is also tasty and Ive been told by my Filipino friends that this is their proud specialty, especially in their lounge in Manila. The city is not exactly a food destination, but they have good high end restaurants focusing on fusion cuisine. About your coffee, it is my understanding that this was an evening flight. They do have milk but they only serve it in breakfast. As for the wines, I assume they are the same in all their flights because this is what I saw in all my flights with them, and they dont change labels per menu rotation and per month unlike Cathay, Qantas, Qatar, Singapore and most other airlines. And they serve two labels of Bordeaux, I was looking for a Pinot Noir or Burgundy back then. And I assume their Riesling is the dessert wine? I was actually looking for a Sauternes or a Port when I flew business class with them last year.

    About the bottled water, I also noticed that when I flew Economy with them last month. They do not have proper individual water bottles in their meal trays. Instead, water is by liters and drink service is separate and cabin crew hand them over by plastic cups. For me, this is additional work and time for any cabin crew and not practical for galley space, and many airlines have seen the benefit of adding water bottles in their meal trays to maximize the utilization of the tray at least. When I asked one of their cabin crew about it, she told me it’s not their standard loading. I did some research, and I found out that their water brands are manufactured by their sister company (they have their own brewery!) Philippine Airlines is part of a conglomerate in the Philippines, kinda like the ‘chaebols’ in South Korea. You will also notice this in their beer selection. All brands are produced and supplied by their own brewery. They used to serve San Miguel beer, the national beer of the Philippines, but soon pulled it out because apparently San Miguel Brewery is their competitor. Their champagne is Charles Heidsieck, and I prefer this over Cathay’s Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve. It’s an award winning champagne and for that reason it is now also served by Singapore, Japan Airlines, Swiss and SAS in business class.

    The seats are fine. Although I do wish they would soon have beddings. I was also disappointed there were no espresso-based drinks. I heard they are very serious in obtaining a five star status from Skytrax, and even though it’s still a long way for them, they have improved significantly over the years. I’m excited to see their A350 in 2019 and wish to fly their business class again.

  4. Interesting they have hard wired Ethernet ports above the USB port. I wonder if their is any internet going through them but I’m guessing you didn’t have a spare Ethernet cord with you.

  5. Always had pleasant experience with Philippine Airlines. They always have excellent catering (especially on long haul flights) and perhaps it’s the only business class I know that serves the food straight to your table without the tray. The only drawback I have is the warm, friendly service is not consistent– some team does it reallllly well, some teams does it like what Lucky experienced.

    @ Lucky, how about Philippine Airlines’ new business class seats which is set to begin flying to Melbourne from Manila? Or the Airbus 350 from Manila to JFK next year? They completely upgraded to 1-2-1 configuration using Vantage XL Design seats.
    Are these flights on your list?

    Check this out if you still haven’t:

  6. looks like it wouldn’t be a threat to CX on this route given a worse departure time and outdated cabin. Hong Kong airline, on the other hand, might really get some budget conscious passengers from CX on its coming route YVR to HKG.

  7. @Tony – Yes, the lounge was covered in another article. Search OMAAT for Alitalia lounge or whatever.

  8. I’m not surprised by the good food and drinks, as the Philippines is very much a foodie culture in a sort of upscale buffet kind of way. I found the same in Guam and Singapore.

  9. Hey, I booked the Philippine air nyc-mnl flight all the way to the Philippines. I am no longer Interested in going to Manila. Will I be able to exit in Vancouver? Can they stop me from getting off?

    I will not have luggage.

  10. I will be flying PAL business class next week KUL-MNL-LAX (and return). Curious to see if I’ll get one of the two 777s with true lie-flat seats. I work in the media and have spoken with their management and it seems they’re trying to replicate Garuda’s success in upping their game to become a far better airline in a relatively short period of time. I certainly wish them all the best, and would also be keen to fly on their new A350s once they’ve been deployed on a route relevant to me. I feel a bit more upbeat about the flight after reading this review. 🙂

  11. Thanks for your review of Philippines Airlines business class. I was thinking of booking the business class flight for Vancouver to MNL (connecting to my destination in South East Asia) because it was the cheapest and shortest on Expedia. Haven’t flown by Phillipines Airline before but always thought it as a budget airline by normal standards. It also isn’t part of any alliance (preferably Star Alliance) so don’t get to accrue qualifying miles.

    Doesn’t seem like a very good business class product huh? Guessing it’s better to pay 30% more to book a flight on Air Canada than saving the money with Philippines Airlines. The plane looks very old and the business class seats look like premium economy on some flights.

  12. I beg to disagree!

    Terrible flying experience with PR102 on May 4, 2019, starting from pre-departure, in-flight “none” service to post travel. I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER fly your archaic, backward operation. WORST airline, worst than Turkish Airline. My business class fare was NOT WORTH a damn thing! In-flight cabin crew was more concerned with their beauty rest than serving your paying passengers, business class at that; purser upgrading family she knew from economy to business class; had to wait for almost 20 minutes to show-up and meet the plane in LAX (contributed further to the delay and us completely missing our connecting flight to San Diego); had to take a crowded shuttle service and did not arrive home until 3AM. Ridiculous! Had PAL-pak had their crap together, I would have flown in the comforts of business class to San Diego and been home in a reasonable time. None of that happened because of PAL-pak’s incompetence both at NAIA and LAX. I wasted my ticket to San Diego (3 business class passengers) and WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT – NONE OF COURSE?

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