This series covers a trip to Manila over Labor Day weekend. Please refer to Part 1 for the background. As a reminder, the routing is:
Part 1 – LAX-ICN [OZ 203, Boeing B777-200ER, Economy] – Here Part 2 – ICN-MNL [OZ 701, Boeing B777-200ER, Economy] – You are here Part 3 – MNL-ICN [OZ 702, Boeing B777-200ER, Economy] – Here Part 4 – ICN-LAX [OZ 204, Boeing B777-200ER, Economy] – Here
This report will cover the flight from ICN to MNL with a stop in the Asian Business Class Lounge. OZ has a heavy presence on the ICN-MNL route with 3x daily service, I picked the flight that had the shortest layover in ICN.
After clearing transfer security, I made a quick beeline for the OZ Business Class Lounge.
Upstairs, the agents check me in. I enquire about the showers and they say that there are 2 people in front of me in line so hand me a buzzer in exchange for my boarding pass. At this hour (~5:30am), the right side of the lounge is closed so everyone is shown to the left.
More bad news, no hot food items until 7:00am.
My cold food offering of yogurt and coffee.
The behavior of some people just baffles me.
After 45 minutes, my buzzer finally went off and exchanged it for a shower key. The shower room is not too fancy and fairly small, but has a bidet toilet (how I’ve missed these^^). I love the prominently displayed Dove shower products, so fancy^^
After my shower, the right side of the lounge opened and the hot food items were out. There was also a chef cooking some sort of Korean omelet. I grabbed a piece of the omelet and some fried rice.
About 45 minutes before my flight, I left the lounge and stretched my legs.
The gate areas at ICN with their hardwood floors and large windows.
KE A332 in ST special livery.
OZ tails on a rainy morning.
OZ A321 in *A special livery.
At the boarding time, I went over to my gate and joined the queue for priority passengers.
Asiana Airlines, OZ 701 Equipment: Boeing B777-200ER [HL7756, delivered August 2007] Departure: 08:15 (ATD: 08:32) Arrival: 11:05 (ATA: 11:27) Flight time: 3:55
My boarding documents.
My B772 waiting outside.
Boarding was organized and priorities were respected with thorough document checks. Heading downstairs, it will be right for me.
Approaching the beast. There was a rack with newspapers on it at the end of the jetbridge. I grabbed a paper and entered where 3 FAs greeted me and inspected my boarding pass before directing me through the galley and to the right.
My seat in Row 15, which is missing one of its two windows.
This plane has the old Y cabin, but had Business Smartium seats in J, which is a quite unusual combination of old and new. This plane had done ORD-ICN, so I feel bad for those poor people that got stuck in this old Y cabin on that long of a flight.
Preplaced on the seat were a pillow and blanket.
The window seats are marred by a huge entertainment box that takes up nearly 40% of your underseat storage space.
Seat pitch is the same as before with ~34”.
The IFE on the other hand is not so generous in size or quality. This screen is about the same as what B6 offers. The screen is not touch screen.
The remote for the IFE is in the arm rest.
Seat back contents.
The massive Duty Free catalog boasting 316 pages^^
Route map in Asia.
Safety card for this B772.
As boarding continues, I can see the OZ A321 in *A special livery next door.
We push back on time. The load is about 80% in Y and interestingly, there were 2 Korean air marshals on the flight. I wonder if they deadhead to MNL in order to do document checks for the return flight.
OZ A333 at a remote stand.
ICN needs the new terminal to open up soon, the number of planes at remote stands is astonishing.
We align and quickly lift off to the East.
Lots of moisture in the air on this rainy morning in Seoul.
Our route for today.
The IFE is prehistoric with the quirky interface. The content is even lighter than on the newer IFE systems.
As soon as the FAs are released they prepare for meal service. There are no oshibori or aperitifs, the carts immediately come out (2 per aisle per cabin). The FA (must have studied in America with her accent less English) asked if I wanted the bibimbap or chicken and rice. I went for the bibimbap with a beer.
My tray as delivered. Clockwise: bibimbap ingrediants, rice, fruit, died Pollock soup, and kimchi.
The metal cutlery along with the condiments/instructions for the bibimbap.
The meal mixed.
The fancy china they use for the bibimbap.
The kimchi that wasn't even served with the bibimbap on the LAX-ICN sector.
After the meal, coffee/tea service is done twice.
There was a lot of turbulence and the seat belt sign was left on for most of the flight. Flying along the eastern coast of Taiwan.
Immigration forms are handed out.
About an hour to arrival, drinks are offered from a tray (juices and water).
I went to the rear to use the lavatory. It was still in acceptable condition, but there are no amenities (mouth wash and toothbrush) like on the long-haul flights.
The rear Y cabin.
The front Y cabin.
Our final route.
Luzon is below us now.
Swinging into Manila Bay.
Approach over Pasig.
Suddenly, the engines are switched to full throttle and we are struggling to gain altitude instead of coasting into the airport. Never a good feeling with OZ’s track record, but we soon were coasting up and into Manila Bay.
The pilots quickly came on and announced that we aborted our landing and will make another loop. The reason they gave was that they saw a plane on our runway. I guess I can't argue with caution in this instance.
Approach #2 over Pasig.
My neighbor started talking to me so I have no more pictures for the arrival. He was an American heading to the Philippines for a 3-week vacation so was shocked when he found out I was only staying for 3 days. We talked until we deplaned. We ended up arriving late due to the aborted landing, we would have landed ahead of schedule otherwise.
Arriving on a hot and humid day, it was a quick walk over to the immigration checkpoint.
There was little wait for immigration. I waited for one person before being waved up. The agent didn’t say a single word to me, just scanned my passport, stamped it, and handed it back to me.
By the time I got out of the bathroom, the bags already started circulating. Mine was the 3rd one off and I was quickly out of the customs checkpoint to stop by an ATM. I grabbed some pesos and took one of the white metered taxis to my hotel. The meter read ~280 pesos (~$6) for a long 1-hour ride up to Ortigas because of the heavy traffic around the airport.
I’ll leave off this series as I begin my stay in Manila.
The bonus for this report will be of the Marco Polo Ortigas, where I spent 3 nights. It’s not the best of locations being out in Ortigas, but since I was meeting a friend in the area, it made more sense to stay in this part of the city. I had a Superior Suite, which was large enough for me with a nice bathroom. The Continental Club was rarely crowded and had a decent breakfast.
Asiana Airlines Business Lounge
Seoul - ICN
Manila - MNL
A pretty standard regional flight. Nothing really special from what I've seen on other carriers. The catering was good, but IFE is outdated and the old Y cabins are not the best available. MNL is not the most premium of destinations so I can't see PR offering a better product on this route, but I could see KE offering a better hard product with their B777s.
Cabin comfort: Another spin of the OZ B772 wheel^^ This is one of their newer B772s, but it has the old Y cabin and newer J cabin (Smartium). This cabin was comfortable enough for a 3 hour flight, but definitely would be an issue on TPACs where it routinely operates. The seats are not as comfy and the armrests are very hard.
Crew: Another good OZ crew overall. The English ability was excellent as expected on a route to a country that has English as a national language. They weren't overly present mid-flight, but they were efficient and friendly during the service and were always looking after special needs passengers.
Meal and catering: The meal quantity and quality are both good, but there is no diversity in the meal offerings. I didn't really want Bibimbap again, but it is much better than the other meal option so I took it. A long-haul meal offered on this 3-hour regional flight.
Entertainment: Newspaper available on the jetbridge, magazine rack on the bulkhead, and the standard seatback literature. OZ’s IFE in the old Y cabin is outdated and the content is even worse than on the newer IFEs (50% of the titles). At least it has a moving map...
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