Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class Vancouver to New York (JFK)

01. Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 economy class San Diego to Vancouver
02. SkyTeam lounge, YVR
03. Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class Vancouver to New York (JFK)
04. Delta Air Lines 757-200 premium business class (Delta One) New York (JFK) to San Diego

I’ve been trying for a very long time to get a ride on Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER fifth freedom service between New York and Vancouver, and it ticks me off that they think it’s okay to charge over $3000 for a one way business class seat on this route. Who’s actually forking over the cash that nonsense? Well, somebody is (and their pockets run deep) because it’s been that expensive for years with no sign of relief.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that economy prices are just as horrendous, and despite keeping an eagle eye out for good deals, I’ve never seen a fare on this route that didn’t make me clench my fists in a fit of airliner-nerd rage.

Then, out of nowhere, I started seeing $600 one way business class fares on Philippine Airlines and their own fifth freedom service between YVR and JFK. It’s almost as if they’ve been secretly reading my browser history or something and someone in the marketing department was feeling really sorry for me. “We’ve just got to find a way to get SANspotter on one of our planes, because if there’s one thing we need right now, it’s a silly review of our 777-300ER business class product!” At least that’s how I like to think that it happened.

PR126
Vancouver, BC (YVR) – New York, NY (JFK)
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Aircraft: 777-3F6ER
Registration: RP-C7779
Duration: 4 hours 51 minutes
Seat: 6A (business class)

Philippine airlines 777-300 side view

Philippine Airlines 777-300ER side view illustration by norebbo.com (high resolution versions are available if you need them). I’ll give them 10 SANspotter points for a nice looking vertical stabilizer treatment, but -10 for the all-white fuselage. I wanna see more color on these birds!

Philippine Airlines 777-300ER seat map

Seat map of this Philippine Airlines 777-300ER (courtesy of seatguru.com) showing my seat (6A) for this flight to JFK.

YVR to JFK route map

Our route from YVR to JFK this afternoon (with a pretty good shot of Hurricane Florence making a mess along the south Atlantic coast).

Many of you have probably already seen the video I posted for this flight over on YouTube, but for those that haven’t, it’s a perfect primer for the rest of this trip report. Crank it up and enjoy the soundtrack from Epidemic Sound! By the way, 30 day free trials are available for anyone needing music for their own YouTube videos, and it’s something I highly recommend.

One of the really nice things about flying between Canada and the US is the fact that they pre-clear all passengers before boarding so that it’s not necessary to go through customs upon arrival in the US. I was totally expecting that to happen today, but little did I know that this flight would be arrriving and departing from the international terminal here at YVR, which doesn’t have US pre-clearance facilities.

Upon realization that I’d have to face US customs agents at JFK instead of here in Canada, it was a tough mental challenge to try and decide which I hated more. Going through customs in Canada (whether it’s US or Canadian) has always been challenging – and then there’s JFK, whose agents who have seen it all and don’t take shit from nobody. It’s not like I have anything to hide, but I hate being automatically assumed a criminal by people with a chip on thier shoulder.

YVR airport interior

Does anybody know the phone number for YVR? I feel like I need to congratulate someone for having the best looking airport in all the world. I really mean it – it’s beautiful in here!

After a nice visit to the SkyTeam lounge, I wandered down to the gate area to watch the plane arrive from Manila. The fact that it arrived at all was a miracle since typhoon Mangkhut had just ravaged the region, and all Hong Kong flights into and out of YVR today had been canceled because of it. Then again, you Filipinos are a tough bunch of people and a little bit of wind and rain isn’t going to stop you!

SANspotter selfie YVR

Finding a nice spot to get comfortable so that I can watch the plane arrive from MNL. I’m an expert at this sort of thing, if you didn’t know already.

SANspotter red shoes YVR

Tiger print carpet that compliments my shoes. I’m still waiting for that phone number if anyone has it…

philippine airlines 777-300 YVR

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the subject of today’s trip report. Kamusta!

philippine airlines 777-300 YVR-JFK

Considering the severity of the typhoon that had just ripped through the Philippines, the light rain and gentle breezes here in Vancouver today must have seemed like heaven to everyone onboard.

The hour leading up to the departure of this flight was both weird and confusing. The gate that they were using for today’s flight to JFK was completely sealed off from the rest of the terminal (I guess “sterile” is the proper airport-ish term), with passengers who originated in Manila and were continuing on to New York having to remain in the sterile area. Those of us who were originating in YVR had to wait outside.

philippine airlines mobile boarding pass

Might as well take a picture of my boarding pass since they won’t let us into the gate area yet.

There was one gate agent standing outside the door with the rest of us YVR-ers, collecting everyone’s passports and running them inside to the podium to have them checked. Nobody really knew what was going on, but we all stood around the entrance to that gate looking through the glass walls watching those who originated in Manila like they were zoo animals. And vice versa.

Philippines airlines business class review YVR-JFK

So close, but yet so far. I’d prefer to be sitting in the gate area but since they have it closed off but I’m forced to go wander the innards of YVR instead…

Boarding ended up being delayed by 40 minutes, which totally sucked for me since this flight was already scheduled to arrive at JFK very late and I had an 8:30am flight home to SAN the very next morning. Every minute we were delayed meant one less minute of precious sleep tonight!

Once they did start letting everyone on the plane, it was only those who originated in MNL first. The doorway to the gate area remained closed and locked until all of those passengers were onboard, and then they finally flung the doors open and welcomed YVR-based business class passengers such as myself. Weird, but I was just happy as heck to be getting on that plane.

philippine airlines business class experience YVR

I don’t even know this guy, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking something along the lines of “this beats the snot out of flying Air Canada!”

boarding Philippine Airlines flight YVR

Even if other passengers weren’t thinking how cool it was to be flying Philippine Airlines to JFK instead of Air Canada, I sure was.

The weirdness continued as I walked onto the plane and saw two very nice things that I hadn’t been expecting. First, the business class layout on this 777-300ER was really nice – especially considering that I was expecting dumpy old recliner style seats (the kind you’d find on those old Delta 767-300’s). Second, I had a look at the seat map when I checked in for this flight the day prior, and it seemed really full at that time. However, reality was the complete opposite and there were more open seats than there were occupied.

It was so open as a matter of fact, that one of the flight attendants asked me if I would be interested in moving to another open window seat in the rear (smaller) business class cabin behind the galley. She didn’t have to do much convincing to get me to switch, because “you’ll have a row all to yourself” was all I needed to hear.

Philippine airlines 777-300 business class configuration

When you’re expecting a business class product similar to what was in the old Delta 767-300’s, seeing a configuration like this just might make you feel dizzy from excitement. It’s a miracle that I didn’t faint.

Philippine airlines 777-300 business class seats

Philippine Airlines 777-300 business class seats 6A and B. These aren’t extremely private seats, but there are dividers between them which will prevent your seat mate from seeing you pick your nose if you’ve got no other choice than to go after it.

Philippine airlines 777-300 business class experience

If you’re looking for maximum privacy, the window seats are for you. Nose pickers rejoice!

Philippine Airlines business class pillow and blankets

Pillows and blankets on every seat. Am I totally off base to think that perhaps red or yellow blankets would look really cool and add some life to this interior? Perhaps I’ve spent too much time on Virgin America over the years…

Philippine Airlines business class video screens

Full size video screens too! Unfortunately, you should know that despite the large size and high resolution, the only form of “entertainment” I watched on this flight was (*gasp*) Baywatch. An immature and foolish choice, for sure, and I hope you don’t think less of me because of it.

Philippine Airlines 777 business class leg room

Having been raised in the heart of the Midwest, I’ve seen enough coolers filled with Pabst Blue Ribbon to think that there might actually be a few cans of the stuff in that box. There wasn’t of course, but no worries – the leg room was phenomenal.

Philippine Airlines 777 business class storage

See? No Pabst.

Philippine Airlines 777 business class features

Looks to be two nicely-sized Pabst holders in the center console though. Just sayin’.

Philippine Airlines 777 business class USB

Audio and USB ports, accentuated by the miscellaneous crumbs and stains of inflight meals past.

Philippine Airlines 777 business class entertainment remote

Someday I’m going to be rich and famous enough to fly on airplanes where this handset is a direct line to the pilots, but for now, it’s the thingy that starts and stops Baywatch on the screen in front of me.

Menus and headsets were handed out while still parked at the gate, and the flight attendants wasted no time in swinging back around to collect meal orders. It did feel a bit rushed, but the professionalism and class of the entire crew is giving me every reason to say nothing but good things about the start of the service (even while still on the ground). Who the heck is Philippine Airlines and why haven’t I heard much about them before? The first 10 minutes were really good!

Philippine Airlines 777 business class headphones

Complimentary noise canceling headsets. I’m thinking that they need to take some of the design elements from the bag and splash it on the outside of their dull white planes…

Philippine Airlines business class menu

I had but 2 minutes to decide what I wanted for dinner, which was really difficult. I normally like to stroke my beard stubble with one hand for at least 5 minutes (with one raised eyebrow) while pondering a delicious looking menu such as this, so the struggle was most definitely real.

Philippine Airlines 777-300 amazing leg room business class

There’s so much leg room in here that you could actually pick a spot on the floor and get a bit of Yoga in. Not that you *should*, but you definitely *could*.

The boarding process completed much faster than I expected, and they shut the main door even before I had the chance to get all the footage needed for the video. Either that or I was so excited that I had inadvertently been filming more than usual.

Philippine Airlines 777-300 safety card

Irrelevant information. I’m going to be far too busy watching Baywatch and enjoying my meal to have to think about pesky things such as horrific crashes into northern-plains cornfields.

Air Canada Rouge 767

I can almost hear the cries of pain emanating from that plane. Air Canada Rouge leg room is the most brutally cruel of them all!

YVR Airport ground crew

One of the busiest and most diverse airports in all the world, and I manage to get a pic without a single plane in it. Nailed it!

Philippine Airlines 777-300 safety video

That kid looks far to happy about the fact that the side of his plane has just ripped off at 37,000ft. Remember what I said in my Air Canada Express SAN-YVR review about watching too many Air Crash Investigation episodes lately? I wish I could go back in time and undo my decision to get sucked into that series (no pun intended).

YVR Airport scenery

Would you have expected anything other than clouds and rain? I kind of like it actually – we don’t get this kind of weather back home in San Diego!

GE90 777 engine

Somebody told me once that the diameter of a GE90 is the same as the fuselage of a 737. Is that really true? I’d look it up right now but I’ve got a trip report to finish…

Departing YVR Philippine Airlines

So long Vancouver! One of these days I’m going to do a proper visit with proper sightseeing.

Philippine Airlines flying through clouds

Spending at least 10 minutes in the clouds was giving me not-so- memorable flashbacks to that puke-inducing Mokulele Airlines flight from Maui to Kona last year. I get queasy just thinking about it!

Philippine Airlines 777 business class entertainment

Little known fact about me: put electronic gadgets in my hand and I’ll completely forget about the fact that I’m about to puke.

Philippine Airlines 777-300 business class new layout

I’ve got to say that the interior of this bird is just slightly more spacious than a Mokulele Cessna 206 though. I mean, getting up to find a quiet spot to puke was certainly an option, and it was a good feeling knowing that I wouldn’t have to do it at my own seat.

Once in the air and pointed east, the lead flight attendant came by and set my tray table. Now, I had already been greatly surprised with how nice these seats were and how professional the cabin crew was, so it’s not surprising that I was getting antsy in anticipation of the meal service. Thinking about the feast to come, I reached to my entertainment system remote control and selected “Baywatch” as the film entertainment to accompany the meal. You do realize how embarrassing it is to admit such a thing, right? But this is sanspotter.com after all, where anything goes and I’m not afraid to tell it like it really happened.

Philippine Airlines business class tray table setting

My tray table is set and I am fully prepared to eat. Here we go!

Philippine Airlines business class appetizer

Appetizer number one. This wasn’t even on the menu, so I can’t tell you was it was other than “really good”. Sorry – I’ve never been known for having a mouth-watering culinary vocabulary, but all you need to know is that “really good” is a huge compliment from me.

Philippine Airlines business class appetizer ahi tuna

Appetizer number two: Seared Ahi Tuna and Green Tea Soba Noodles. It was also “really good”. BTW, if there is anyone out there with a food blog who wants to hire me to write content for it…do yourself a favor and eliminate the thought from your brain immediately. You’ll actually lose traffic bringing me onboard.

SANspotter selfie Philippine Airlines

I’m not frowning! I just happen to be in mid-chew.

Philippine Airlines business class bread

Is it necessary for me to post a pic of the bread? I sure as heck took pics of everything else on this flight, so it would be a shame if I didn’t.

Philippine Airlines business class meal

The main course: Pork Iiempo Inasal. “Pork belly” wouldn’t have sounded as impressive, and I’m here to tell you that it lived up to every syllable of its fancy name. Good stuff!

Philippine Airlines business class dessert

Fruit for dessert, only because I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself for eating ice cream immediately after something as unhealthy as the belly of a filthy farm animal.

The quality of the meal lived up to every single one of my unrealistic expectations, except perhaps in the “quantity” department. Keep in mind that I had purposely reserved my caloric intake in the lounge several hours prior in order to not feel like such a pig while eating shockingly large amounts of food on this airplane, but I didn’t feel as nearly as embarrassed as I thought I would at the conclusion of the meal service. “Happy and content” is the best way to describe the feeling I was having, but I was secretly hoping for “bloated and ashamed”.

Philippine Airlines 777 wing

Not much to see out there…yet.

Flying from Vancouver to New York

Hope y’all in Billings enjoyed the contrail from this 777. Those 777 chemtrails contrails are the best!

Lavatory door lock

Always lock the door to the lavatory, folks. Once you walk in on a complete stranger in a really vulnerable position, it’s not something you can un-see.

Philippine Airlines 777-300 business class lie flat seat

Before sitting down again after the visit to the lav, I thought it would be fun to demo the lie-flat seat. Why does this remind me of a stretcher (the kind they transport you to the hospital on after a horrific accident of some kind)?

SANspotter selfie Philippine Airlines business class review

Couldn’t get the stretcher thing out of my mind so I chose to remain vertical.

Philippine Airlines business class drinks

It’s true. I drink water even when I nearly have an entire business class cabin all to myself.

I’m very happy to announce that even “Baywatch” was too stupid and cringeworthy for me (which says a lot about how bad it was), and I turned it off about 3/4 of the way through. Instead, I focused my full attention of the setting sun right outside my window and I had a blast watching as we crossed right over the town where my sister lives in western Minnesota. The weather was crystal clear over the upper Midwest this evening, and it was neat to be able to identify with absolute clarity all the little country roads that lead to my sister’s house.

Philippine Airlines 777 engine sunset

Flying directly over top of my sister’s house in western Minnesota. Never in my life have I wanted to pick up a phone and say “guess where I am” more than I did at that precise moment. Knowing her, she would have totally ran outside and waved.

Even more interesting (and downright nostalgic) was crossing right over the top of southern Michigan – the place where I grew up, and the place I will forever call “home”. First up was an amazing flyover of Grand Rapids, then Lansing, before finally passing over the northern suburbs of Detroit.

Flying over Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids! I’ve got an aunt and uncle (and cousins) down there – never in a million years would I have thought that I would fly over thier house in a Philippine Airlines 777-300ER.  That’s just trippy as hell.

Flying over Michigan

Our trek across lower Michigan continues. Next up, Detroit! Hopefully there’s anti-gunfire systems on this bird…

It was completely dark out by the time we reached Detroit, but if it had been light still, I would have been able to see my old hometown for sure. What an amazing experience to be flying over my hometown in a Philippine Airlines 77W – in business class no less! I remember being just a boy in the 1980’s lying in bed and night watching the lights of the airplanes streak by overhead, wishing that someday I’d be up there too. *sniff*

Flying over Detroit

Holy crap, I’m home! Clearly visible is I-94, I-96, Woodward Ave, and I-75. As much hate the city of Detroit gets these days, I’m proud to call it my hometown.

Strobe light 777 engine

I took so many pics during the DTW flyover that I even got one with the strobe lighting up the engine. Something every AvGeek strives for, whether they like to admit it or not.

The rest of the way to New York was largely uneventful, and I spent the time working on a trip report while waiting for the pre-landing snack to be served. But it never came. That’s a bit shocking actually, considering that every other part of this flight had been phenomenal with the entire crew working hard to make sure that everyone was comfortable and happy.

Philippine Airlines New York

Coming up on New York already? Screw that, I’m really comfortable, so let’s push on to London!

SANspotter red shoes in business class

Why is it that the best business class experiences are so short?

Landing New York at night

Flying into NYC under complete darkness, once again. It happened on the United P.S. LAX-JFK flight last year, as well as the American A321T first class adventure from LAX to JFK the year before that. Frustrating!

Philippine Airlines 777-300 review

A slightly different perspective of this Philippine Airlines 777-300 business class cabin (because I feel like I should be taking pictures of *something* during the landing process).

JFK approach at night

Dang it. I can’t see anything!

If only there would have been some daylight left for the arrival into JFK. It was totally black out there as we were making the final approach, but I could see the twinkling lights of the city looming way out there in the distance. I miss New York, and I felt a bit fioolish to be here and knowing that I wasn’t able to go into Manhattan on this trip.

Just as I was feeling like a fool for coming to New York without having the time to look around, the plane made a violent roll to the right. This wouldn’t have been so scary if we weren’t already skimming the rooftops on short final, but wow – I had never experienced a maneuver like that so close to landing, and it ranks right up there in the top three of my “holy crap we’re gonna crash!!” moments.

JFK approach with nyc skyline

That’s the NYC skyline out there in the distance. The sharp roll to the right just a few moments later was scary enough to make me completely forget about how grumpy I was for it being too dark to take pics.

It turned out that it was just a very last-minute runway change, but still – if we would have waited any longer to make that change we would’ve dragged a wingtip into a house I’m sure. Capping off the gnarly approach was an equally gnarly landing, with the pilots using every last inch of the runway to get us slowed down. Yikes.

Philippine Airlines arrival JFK

Safely on the ground now and meandering over to our gate for the evening. It was also right about this time that I was trying to mentally prepare for US customs and immigration here at JFK (which is always a stressful adventure in some form or another).

Korean Air A380 JFK

Oooh, look at that! Pulling up next to one of my most favorite airline products of all time, and a beautiful sight it is. I had a blast in Korean Air A380 business class several years ago, and this is yet another reminder that I need to do it again ASAP (even though I still can’t pronounce “Bibimbap”).

End of Philippine Airlines 777-300 flight YVR-JFK

The worst part about this Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class experience was (by far) having to stand up and accept the fact that the fun was over. I can’t imagine that anyone in the history of mankind has felt that way after doing this on an Air Canada A320.

So there you have it. The best way I can sum this flight up is to take a jab directly at Cathay Pacific and their obscenely high fares on this route. I’m willing to bet that the service on this Philippine Airlines flight from Vancouver to New York was just as good (if not better) than what they offer on their competing flight, so there’s absolutely no justification for those $3000 one way business class fares.

Unfortunately, as much as I like to tease, I reluctantly know that CX has already won this battle. Philippine Airlines has just pulled out of YVR-JFK, and have replaced it with nonstop MNL-JFK A350 service instead (which launched just a few days ago at the time of this writing).  Cathay Pacific has reigned supreme, and until then, I’ll just keep hoping for reasonable fares so I can give it a try for myself.

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    1. Andrew O. November 4, 2018
      • SANspotter November 5, 2018
    2. Brian November 7, 2018
      • SANspotter November 7, 2018

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