Tell someone you are traveling by PIA and the first sarcastically amusing phrase you hear back is “Allah rehem!”. I heard something similar recently when I was invited by the PIA team to travel by their new Boeing Aircraft AP-BMS 777-300 ER which they recently inducted and opened the flight for passengers. I took it as a chance to observe the improvements that the PIA management claims to have been working towards for first-hand passenger experience. So here is a detailed review of my flight from Karachi to Islamabad and back. Since I have traveled this route several times, I hope I can give a better understanding of what to expect from this experience.
Boarding and Flight
My Karachi to Islamabad flight was scheduled at 4 p.m so I reached the airport around 3:15 p.m. The boarding process was quick especially since I was not carrying any luggage except for a hand bag and soon we were greeted by the smiling faces of the PIA crew on the aircraft.
The plane was clean, and the seats were comfortable, however, the pillows were not set on every seat which might have caused inconvenience to a few passengers. Nevertheless, I tucked myself in and waited for the plane to take off while checking the in flight entertainment which was made available even before the flight took off. The flight had little turbulence as compared to my previous experience with PIA. This can be attributed to the performance of Boeing 777 as it is especially known for passenger preferred comfort and superior range so I would call it an efficient investment on part of PIA. Let’s hope it remains sustainable for passengers.
In Flight entertainment
The flight experience turned dramatic by the availability of media screens installed in front of passengers (on the back of seats) that feature TV shows, movies, games, and a stream of airline’s front and downward cameras to follow flight, that too in a touch screen!
The choice of movies and shows was quite limited so I think they can add more local and international content as well for longer flight duration which people could thoroughly enjoy. I spent almost the entire flight playing Tetris–the game I’d loved but almost forgotten so it was a cool recall!
Karachi to Islamabad flight had high tea snacks which consisted of a chicken sandwich, banana cake, tea, and cold drinks. On the other hand, we were served boiled rice and chicken, Nestle yogurt bowl, vanilla sponge cake, and drinks for dinner on our way back to Karachi. For high tea, the menu was same for all passengers, but we received a uniform main course and different desserts for dinner. PIA has revamped its menu recently but I felt the food choice for economy class is still limited especially if someone is following a particular diet plan given their health or lifestyle preference. So basically, the food was not exceptional but definitely fresh, and as soon as we were done with our meals, the staff tidied things up.
Usually, people have a particularly cross perception about PIA staff but I have never come across any uncourteous gesture during my previous or the recent flight. Even when I asked if I could take their pictures for my blog, they were quite okay with that and made me feel comfortable with my photo coverage of the plane. I am a serial tea-holic and asked for it twice in a flight as short as 2 hours, the staff was responsive to it and a crew member enquired twice if I have received the beverage and would like something else. It is often said the PIA staff rarely pays heed to the call button but it was not the case here. I didn’t have to get up to ask for anything as the crew was quite responsive. Well, just don’t exploit it by pressing the call button time and again!
I think such quick gestures appear quite trivial but they actually serve as a make or break point for any airline. It was pleasant to see the gracious crew who was responsive to our queries and needs throughout the flights.
Flights might be subject to delays given the environmental circumstances but luckily we didn’t face any both from the end of management or environment. The flights were on time, boarding and departure process was well streamlined and the staff was helping in assisting everyone. For both the flights, boarding was initiated 45 minutes before the scheduled flights, which I believe is convenient for people to go through the boarding process and get themselves settled in the plane.
This Boeing 777 experience was better than I have had previously with PIA. From boarding process, in plane facilities, passengers comfort, to food, everything appeared efficient. PIA has a long way to go to reclaim their glory and I hope it’s the beginning of this change.
How has your experience with PIA been? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!
Until next time!