I was booked on Philippine Airlines, Philippines’ national flag carrier known for its hospitality and charm in the skies. So for this non-stop flight from London to Manila, I knew it would be one homey flight not just for me and for the rest of the Filipino passengers but also to several other nationals booked on the flight.
Check-in in Heathrow was very orderly. At first there was a slight queue building up at the counter, faster check-in eventually followed. Since I only had one check–in luggage and two bags to hand carry inside the aircraft, I managed to complete the process in ample time. So what does that ample time means to me? Well, simple! It means I had enough time to visit and browsed through the airport’s Duty – Free shops. And not only that, I even managed having dinner in one of the restaurants at the departure area. So before boarding, I had my gut filled with its share of that British royal taste. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Philippine Airlines flight PR 721 boarding time was on the dot. What a surprise! Well, after all Filipino time is on time. As we were to be welcomed onboard the waiting A340 by Filipino flight attendants, walking through the jet bridge felt like I was walking straight home. And to be greeted with that warm smiles and that three-word phrase “Magandang gabi po” upon arriving at the aircraft door, I had the best welcome I could ever have thousands of miles away from home.
Boarding was completed, doors were closed, the plane taxied on the runway and ready for takeoff. Due to air traffic congestion, the plane actually took off London Heathrow International Airport 40 minutes delayed from its scheduled 22:20H (UK local time) departure time.
In-flight Services and Entertainment
Not so fast forward 🙂 🙂 :), the plane took off and on reaching its assigned cruising altitude, midair in-flight services commenced with Philippine’s leading local newspapers became available first-hand at the flight. I chose Philippine Daily Inquirer and started flipping the pages. News is readily available from the internet these days so I haven’t read a single newspaper for years. With no internet during the flight, I took that moment to enjoy the rare chance to read a newspaper not by choice but because there was no option.
Then in-flight entertainment became available. The aircraft was not fitted with individual TV screens in front of each seat, however, iPad tablets packed with good selection of movies, TV shows, video games and audio entertainment were handed out. They were free to use, so it was still an entertainment option nonetheless.
Economy In-flight Meals and Beverages
I lost track of time just exploring the iPad and before I knew it, main meal was served. There were only two food choices in the economy class – pork barbeque with rice and beef kebab with potatoes. I opted for the pork barbeque with rice. In between meals, snacks and hot sandwiches are available for anyone who were still hungry.
I consumed not even a single drop of alcohol while working as crew on board the ship. So finally, after six months and at 42,000 feet above earth, from its selections of wine, whiskey, gin and beer, I had alcohol run through my veins.
Of course, for those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages over alcoholic ones, PR 721 also serves juice, tea, soft drinks and coffee.
Exactly two and a half hours before touchdown, another meal (and the last one in flight) was served. Though the flight attendant mentioned it was breakfast but for sure it was an early midair dinner as the plane was scheduled to arrive Manila at 19:30H (Philippine local time). I chose the meal with rice, scrambled eggs and corned beef. Through the meals and the warm smiles of the cabin crew, I could already feel the nearness of the Philippines. I was almost there!
Flight Time London to Manila
Flight time from London to Manila was 12 hours and 50 minutes. So, that meant I had the time for my body clock to adjust at least a bit. With all-Filipino flight attendants in the flight and all-Filipino crew in the flight deck and of course with all those familiar meals served, even at 42,000 feet altitude and still several hundred miles away to Manila, I felt like I was already back home.
By 19:30H Philippine local time, Philippine Airlines flight PR 721 touched down NAIA. I could not contain my joy. I’m home!
Photo of Philippine Airlines in London Heathrow International Airport:
Seán Noel O’Connell