• Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Flying PIA A review of Pakistan International Airlines’ 777 in “Executive Economy” from Lahore to Lo

Discussion in 'Pakistan Economy' started by AZADPAKISTAN2009, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    **Review is by third party

    PROS

    PIA's business-class product renamed and repriced as a premium economy, and the amenity kit was well-stocked.
    Cabin + Seat
    Amenities + IFE
    Food + Beverage

    Criticism
    > Traveller reported would be nice if boarding was more organized
    > The Handles on seats were not in tip-top shape as he documented uncleaned handles
    Flight Cleaning company, also wear and tear on handles was visible
    > He pictured a seat which had some damage
    > Flyer felt cabin crew was not very social but passengers were very social with him
    [Foreigner complained, no alcohol was old on the flight so he was grumpy]

    Booking
    PIA flies to several location in Europe including Barcelona (BCN), Copenhagen (CPH) and Paris (CDG) as well as three destinations in the U.K.: London (LHR), Manchester (MAN) and Birmingham (BHX) from their various bases in Pakistan, including Islamabad (ISB), Lahore (LHE) and Karachi (KHI).

    The airline does not belong to any global alliance, nor can you use any major mileage currencies to book seats. So I looked at revenue fares, which were not even displayed on major flight search platforms like Google Flights, forcing me to search on the airline’s own website instead.

    It’s surprisingly difficult to book a flight with PIA in any class. If the route does not operate daily and you search on a day the flight doesn’t operate, it is likely to indicate the route does not exist, as it does not suggest alternate days when the flight may operate and/or have seats for sale.

    When I did manage to find seats for sale on a particular date, I discovered that PIA had renamed its business class “Executive Economy” on several routes. While the airline doesn’t offer a traditional premium economy product like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, it seems that the airline simply rebranded its business-class product as a premium economy one on certain flights.

    While still considerably more expensive than economy seats on the same flight, round-trip fares in Executive Economy from the U.K. to Pakistan start from around $1,500, which is slightly more than British Airways World Traveller Plus (premium economy) fares to Pakistan and around 40% cheaper than their competitors in proper business class on the likes of leading carriers like Etihad and Oman Air. I played around with fares, routes, dates and prices (no easy feat on PIA’s awful website) and discovered the lowest price was a one-way fare from Lahore to London for around $610. A one-way fare in the other direction was significantly more expensive. We paid for this card with The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x points on airfare booked directly through the airline or Amex Travel.

    From what I could gather, while PIA had changed the name of their most premium product from “business class” to “Executive Economy,” everything else about the experience appeared to be the carrier’s “proper” business class. This was an intriguing concept: Was I about to score a really cheap business-class fare or an outdated and comparatively expensive premium economy fare?

    Departure
    08h 13m
    Duration
    Online check-in was not available for this flight, though PIA advised me by email that I should arrive at least four hours before departure because of queues and security checks. This filled me with fear at the thought of a horrendous airport experience with hours spent in line, though I had observed when landing at Lahore Airport a few days earlier that, for inbound passengers at least, it was a small and surprisingly efficient airport that I sailed through quickly. Thinking four hours for an outbound journey was excessive, I hedged my bets and made sure I arrived around two and a half hours before departure.

    Although Lahore Airport is an older design, I thought the style was charming.

    [​IMG]
    The city’s sole airport has surprisingly few flights each day despite having a population of around 11 million people.

    [​IMG]
    There were plenty of people milling around outside, perhaps because only ticketed passengers were allowed inside.

    [​IMG]
    Here began the first of a seemingly never-ending routine of security and boarding-pass checks that became increasingly frustrating. First was a check of my itinerary to even enter the terminal, which is not unusual for airports in this part of the world. Next was an X-ray scan of all bags before they were even checked in, and all passengers had to walk through a metal detector, again common in this part of the world. Then came another check of my itinerary, barely 10 yards after the last one. Then there was a physical check of all bags — not just those that were flagged by the X-ray, this was a completely separate section.

    After those four checks, I was finally through to the check-in area. The checks were only just beginning.

    [​IMG]
    PIA had separate check-in desks for each flight, and I quickly located my desk for London.

    [​IMG]
    There was no separate line for Executive Economy passengers, but I was quickly helped by a friendly check-in agent.

    Though he printed a boarding pass for me that said “Executive Economy” on it, he kept talking about how I was in business class, which excited me, as I began to think that the experience would be closer to business class than premium economy.

    [​IMG]
    I asked him about lounge access — this would be expected with a business-class product, but only a handful of airlines offer lounge access with a premium economy ticket. I was pleased when he confirmed I could access the lounge.

    I then headed toward passport control, where there was another check of my boarding pass and itinerary before I could even get to the immigration queue. The immigration officer was chatty and eager to hear all about my experience in Pakistan in a friendly and curious way — he wasn’t grilling me from a security perspective.

    I felt he would have happily talked to me all day if I had not had a flight to catch, and he finally bade me farewell by saying, “Tell your friends to come to Pakistan!”

    After immigration was a standard security check of hand luggage, followed by yet another check of my boarding pass and passport just several feet after the last one.

    I was then through to the airside area of the fairly spacious terminal and hunted around for the PIA lounge, which the signs indicated was upstairs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    There are two lounges at the airport: one for PIA passengers and another for other airlines and Priority Pass passengers. They are next to each other upstairs.

    [​IMG]
    The PIA lounge was one fairly small room that didn’t feel much like a lounge at all.

    [​IMG]
    For starters, there was no check-in or customer-service desk at the entrance nor any staff in the room as I entered. I looked around confused for a minute or so, wondering if I was in the right place, and then a staff member eventually appeared me asking to see my boarding pass. I showed it to him, found a seat, and he asked me if I would like tea or coffee. I asked for coffee, which he brought to me soon after.

    [​IMG]
    There was a very limited amount of food in the lounge: a few cakes and cookies with a couple of sandwiches.

    [​IMG]
    While the lounge did have bathrooms, they were grim.

    [​IMG]

    Note: People need to understand foreigners expect 100% clean washroom even the drainage area


    The lounge was deathly quiet the entire time I was there and didn’t have the sort of bustling activity you would expect at a busy international airport. It felt a lot more like a waiting room in a funeral home. While a lounge is always better than no lounge, it was very basic and not something I would recommend arriving early for. I was glad I didn’t follow the airline’s advice to arrive at least four hours before the flight departed, as it would have meant spending hours in this room.

    I headed to the gate around 80 minutes before departure. My gate was in an enclosed area and required another check of my boarding pass and passport, a physical check of my hand luggage and yet another check of my boarding pass and passport just a few yards after the last one, before I could even enter the gate area.

    [​IMG]
    Boarding was called around 40 minutes before departure. The boarding process was a complete and utter mess. There were no designated roped areas, so people crowded around the gate while numerous passengers in wheelchairs, forced through the crowd by ground crew members, were slammed into people standing in front of them. I heard numerous cries of pain from passengers as their calves and ankles were hit.

    My boarding pass and passport were checked again. At this point, they actually scanned the boarding pass and ripped off a part of it. We then walked farther toward the jetbridge and were yelled at by a ground agent to stop and line up again in the middle of a hallway. Boarding passes and passports were then again checked at the top of the jetbridge, and then checked again at the bottom before we stepped onto the plane.

    I had really lost count of the number of times my boarding pass had been checked by this stage.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  2. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    Cabin and Seat


    Lavs



    Although I was one of the first people to board the plane from the gate area, I was surprised to see the business-class cabin half full. I couldn’t work out where these people came from — perhaps there was some separate VIP terminal or lounge that boarded these passengers before the gate area?

    [​IMG]
    The front cabin on this 15-year-old Boeing 777-200ER was laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration, and, boy, did these seats looks old and tired. These were business-class seats other airlines had retired decades ago.

    I quickly realized why PIA had renamed this Executive Economy on this flight: No one in their right mind would consider these seats acceptable for long-haul business class in 2019.

    The grey, lumpy seat coverings looked sort of like clay sculptures from behind. From the front they looked slightly more modern.

    [​IMG]
    I managed to score Seat 1A despite PIA not offering any online seat selection.

    [​IMG]
    Waiting on the seat was a decent pillow, and there was at least excellent legroom in Row 1 and significantly more than other rows.

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    My seat stopped well short of angle-flat. I tried out the seat next to me, and that managed to go slightly more flat, so I can only assume my levers were more busted than the seat next to me.

    [​IMG]
    The seat was reasonably comfortable in recline mode for a quick nap, although I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to try an overnight sleep in it.



    [​IMG]



    Food and Beverage




    [​IMG]
    Having spent several days in Pakistan enjoying the local cuisine prior to this flight, I was looking forward to the meal on board. After takeoff, crew first came past and laid a tablecloth on my tray table without saying a word. No menus were offered.

    [​IMG]

    Next came the starter, which was a Greek salad wrapped in cling wrap. It was OK, though the cube of feta cheese you see here was the sole piece in the salad.

    [​IMG]
    A tray of bread was thrust silently in my face. After I asked what each type was, the crew did indicate one of the types was garlic bread, which I selected. If you’re wondering why the bread in the image above is orange and black rather than yellow and green like garlic bread normally is, that is because the garlic bread was both burnt and incredibly dry. I imagine they recycle uneaten pieces between flights, as it tasted as if it had been cooked about a month before (for about a month).

    I did like the cute PIA salt and pepper shakers.

    [​IMG]
    I knew that PIA was a dry airline, so I was not expecting any alcohol to be served. What I was expecting was some interesting drink options, perhaps juices or smoothies. Beyond water served with lunch, the lunch drinks offered were solely a tray of a few cans of Pepsi and 7Up. I selected a Pepsi and realizing it was room temperature asked if they had any ice.

    The crew member nodded, disappeared to the galley and never returned.

    [​IMG]
    The crew then rolled a tray down the aisle with various main courses.

    [​IMG]
    One of the few times the female crew member actually spoke to me was to say, “You want European meal?” I replied that I would actually like to try a local dish, asked what they were and heard her mumble a few words. I managed to hear “biryani” amongst the descriptions and selected that. This is the rice dish I usually really enjoy in business class on carriers like Etihad.

    She dumped the biryani on an angle on my tray without another word.

    [​IMG]
    Some of the meat was fairly tasty.

    The crew came by to clear my main course and picked up my can of soft drink, which was empty — I drank it without the requested ice. They didn’t offer another.

    After the main course was completed, a dessert cart was wheeled down the aisle. I had heard great things about desserts on PIA and was looking forward to trying something unique. I asked the crew member what the options were and, unable to understand the response, pointed at one that looked interesting.

    [​IMG]© The Points Guy
    The crushed almonds on top were OK, but the dessert was bland, unappetizing slop that I could only manage two spoonfuls of.

    [​IMG]
    Around two hours before landing, a snack service was offered. A tray was again pushed down the aisle. The crew member looked at me blankly without speaking. I asked what the options were, and with a vague wave over the entire cart she announced “chicken or vegetable.” I asked for chicken and was served this:

    [​IMG]

    The sandwich may have had chicken in it, although the meat between the dried-out, stale bread was so unidentifiable that it could have easily been vegetarian. The rolled pastry did have chicken it it but was dense, dry and overcooked. There were also two crumbed chicken tenders, which tasted OK.

    Gone was the metal cutlery from the lunch service, replaced by plastic cutlery in a resealable, PIA-branded bag.

    [​IMG]
    Tea and coffee were served. I asked for milk but was provided with powered “tea whitener.”

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  3. zn426

    zn426 FULL MEMBER

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    I read this a few days ago.

    You could at least provide the link to the original article.

    It's shameful, and PIA's new management has a lot of work to do to fix the personnel and equipment problems. I don't think its insurmountable, in particular because there are plenty of routes PIA can serve and earn a good profit, but step 1 needs to be putting it into a sovereign wealth fund. Step 2 is to fix the frankly horrific labor contracts.
     
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  4. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    Well as a Traveller what I see is perfect , this 5000% more then I get when travelling on US flights

    This is what you get on $700 flight interior in USA
    Salty biscuit / Pretzels
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Baz

    Baz FULL MEMBER

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    In the next 50 years PIA will be suitable for humans to travel. The nation would have learnt to queue and wait for the turn. Meanwhile, there are plenty of suitable for humans airlines
     
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  6. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    I am really surprised at the criticism

    The food/seats and pillows and perks are fantastic at PIA
    People are just concerned the Air hostess does not talks to them 1:1 like give me a break folks

    Aircrew have 300+ passengers to service


    The comment about Handle's cleaning is something I hope PIA fix , this is job of cleaning crew
    the detail work on handles were not tip top

    • The traveller was concerned the handle area did not look brand new (note this is a 14 year old plane)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This was the only criticism which was valid


    PIA normally hires a company which does this work , so they should talk to the about making sure these areas of plane are looked after
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  7. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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    @Mangus Ortus Novem and then people wonder why people dont fly PIA.

    PIA wasted over Rs106m on food for passengers: audit report
    October 7, 2019

    Comparing PIA to American airlines is like comparing a donkey to a mule.
     
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  8. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    Wrong PIA service is like Mercedez Limo vs a Horse
     
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  9. xyxmt

    xyxmt ELITE MEMBER

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    I go to a restaurant when I am in the mood for good food, I buy air tickets to travel from point A to point B. After sitting on a airplane seat for 3 hours if you still yearn for food then is something wrong in your head.
     
  10. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    From visuals PIA seem to be doing great I loved the food they served and seats looked very comfortable


    Boarding of Plane : Yes it can be improved so people stand in line (Check)
    Crew Personality : Yes it can be improved just training
    Minor issues with handle of seat : Yes it can be improved

    The passenger was mainly concerned with people not standing in line when boarding
     
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  11. Khafee

    Khafee PROFESSIONAL

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    IF you travel economy then your criticism is valid. BUT if you travel premium, then sorry....

    Do you own a merc limo or an Arabian thoroughbred?
     
  12. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    When I travelled on foreign planes , no aircrew ever stood around to have chit chat with me only, People expect too much when flying

    You are on a plane , they bring you food / water and help you if you need help

    They are not there to have chit chat with you

    When you go middle east ground crew doest not even looks at you
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  13. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader SENIOR MEMBER

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    These are biggest Problem with PIA
    Outdated
    Booking and Checking are still in the 90s, So even if PIA does offer some cheaper routes and better options most people won't know and won't use so the company won't make a profit on that.
    Cleanliness.
    Every time I flew in PIA planes they were dirty have seen cockroaches running around a couple of times with my own eyes.
    Management.
    Unlike All the Decent airlines in the world
    if you are flight is late, you can be pretty sure PIA won't do jack about it. Refund and Discount doest exist
    Flight Attendants
    Well that depends on Person to, have some good and few bad experiences, but you expect a professional response even if they cant bring you ice.
    Flight Delays and Outdated Planes.
    Majority of flights with PIA are delayed and that's a daily occurance, For PIA to surive they can refurb the planes a bit better so they can earn revenue on them, Blaming everything on old planes won't help them get customers people don't care about that.
    E.g In Flights not working, problem with planes, problem with sockets and chairs. The list goes on and on

    1st it depends on the person
    i have met some really nice people including few PIA crews but it goes both ways if you show them respect and common decency 95% will help you or try to help you. But most people don't think that way and behave they didn't buy a single seat ticket for 1 flight they think they got free slaves.
     
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  14. Nefarious

    Nefarious FULL MEMBER

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    I took PIA flight 2012. Before we got on the plane in U.K they made an announcement that we were diverted to Karachi and from there to Islamabad.

    When we got to Karachi, they left us waiting on the plane for over and hour then when everyone kicked up a fuss we found out the plane we were sitting in was going back to Europe and we would have to wait until they transfer the luggage on board to another one. I saw the plane and it looked like it hadn't been flow for years I never seen a plane so dirty.

    They took us into the airport (checked out ID like 4 times at every point - wtf). On the way to the plane 3 hours later, they left us on the tarmac in a hot bus sun blazing everyone had to literally bang the doors for attention to get someone to open them - i think a woman fainted.

    After 3 hours we were on the plane. They served us out of date yogurt but i was glad to be alive.

    Someone told me they use newer planes for Europe and old tatty ones for internal flights. F*ck PIA.

    I'm not flying with them.
     
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  15. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    I have never seen a pest in any PIA flight ever ...... not once
    Zero times , no ant , no mosquito , no indian , no cockroaches


    • Is the PIA ticket purchase process, old fashioned, you get ticket thru a travel agent (YES)
    • Do passengers stand to make 10 lines (Yes, this people issue every one knows Pakistanis make no line )

    For other airlines None PIA

    When you fly in USA/UK/Canada/Australia are flights cancelled ? Yes
    When you fly in USA/UK/Canada/Australia are you bumped from flight to travel next plane ? Once in blue moon
    When you fly in USA/UK/Canada/Australia are flights over booked ? Yes
    When you fly in USA/UK/Canada/Australia does planes get stuck at runways waiting to fly due to long lines ? Yes


    When passengers travel Christmass season in december , people sleep on airport due to delays and various issues world wide

    Pakistanis need to accept somethings



    See this people sleeping on airports in USA
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    Flight Delays happen in all flights
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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