I decided to try Philippine Airlines direct flight from London Heathrow to Manila NAIA. I was surprised and worried when I looked around the plane (A343) and realised there was no entertainment system built into the chairs. I asked a member of staff and they explained to me that they’d be giving out iPads.
I was expecting for the plane to have some kind of central server with the iPads streaming content over WiFi but instead the iPads are just loaded up with a number of movies and TV shows.
They supply an iPad mini in a nice case, a pair of cheap generic headphones (which you keep after the flight) and optionally you can request a charging dock and charging cable. The charging cable is not an original Apple cable.
The charging dock is a HyperJuice Stand made by Sanho Corporation. It outputs 5V/2.1A and has a capacity of 40Wh (11,000mAh).
At first, I thought it was a really cool idea, but then the practicalities started to dawn on me. The biggest issue is the lack of content. There were only around 20 movies and they weren’t even the best and most recent. There were barely any TV shows and they only had 1 episode for each show.
The next major problem, which actually stopped me from even using the iPad is where to place it while watching. Usually the screen is built into the seat in front of you, roughly at eye level. The only option with the iPad is to hold it the whole time or to place it on the food tray which results in neck pain because you’re staring down for so long.
I guess one solution would be to attach caddies/holders to the back of each seat which can hold the iPad at eye level. It wouldn’t work for exit row seats but would be good for everyone else.
Being my first long distance flight with PAL, here are some general side notes:
-When I booked the flight online, I selected a special meal type to be served. Unfortunately these weren’t loaded onto the plane so I had to settle for just bread and fruit for 13 hours.
-The staff were very friendly and patient with all passengers and they were quick to respond to requests.
-Each time after eating, the lights would be turned off and the temperature dropped to an insanely cold level where I was still cold with 2 blankets.
-Usually you have an in flight entertainment system that will tell you the local time in the country you left and the country you’re heading to and It will usually show a map of where you are. With this PAL flight, there was no way to know what the time was, how long was left or where you were. It was a little disturbing.
Overall it was an okay experience. I expected it to be a sure winner compared to Cathay Pacific and Emirates because you don’t have the hassle of two flights. But in reality, with the very poor entertainment system, old planes and my personal experience on board with them missing my meals and the freezing temperatures, I don’t think I’d rush to fly with PAL again.
Update: My return flight has already been changed by PAL 3 times.
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