Karachi - Lahore
Flight time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Seat: 81A, upper deck
I have the thought that this flight may be quite empty but I was wrong, over 400 passengers boarded the plane one by one in good order. We have a total of 462 passengers in total! The PIA B747-300 has only one class of seating; economy. It mainly flies between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan specializing high density labour and Hajj flight. However, it also operates the peak hour domestic flights between the key cities. A beautiful sight at the gate! The Queen is forever good looking! Upper deck is not full; I have an empty seat next to me. I was in the first row with the bulkhead in front of me. Note the PTV is installed (inherited from Cathay Pacific). It is very quiet on the upper deck. Lower deck nose area. Note the unusual large overhead bin fitted for more luggage space. No PTV on lower deck. In-flight meal for this domestic sector. Due to this sector is a training flight, the captain did not call me into the cockpit. I was slightly disappointed but I still enjoy the Jumbo ride. Lahore was sunny but foggy. Visibility can be an issue with the fog but thankfully today the visibility is above the minimum.
With only 1 hour 20 minutes after takeoff, we landed in Lahore with an excellent smooth touch down!
At the gate of Allama Iqbal International Airport. The distinct red castle like building of Lahore! Shaheen A330 and another PIA B747-300 already there before us. Both arrived from Saudi Arabia. Usual arrival scene. Relatives flocked to receive their family home! Not many arrivals according to the board. The view of the main terminal from landside. After a quick turnaround, I went to re-check in and again was given an upper deck seat. I bought some Lahori Sweet at the airport to bring back home and for the crew.
Lahore - Karachi
Flight time: 1 hour 35 minutes
My luck changed after boarding, I was called by the leading stewardess and given the green light to visit the cockpit and remain inside until deplane at Karachi! The captain apologized for the inconvenience citing last flight was a training sector. I was more than ecstatic and sharing my joy with all the cockpit crew.
Little did I expect, we have almost another full load of passenger going back to Karachi. So I think the PIA strategy deploying their largest passenger airliner is well justified here to stay ahead of competition and market share. It took more than half an hour to complete the boarding. As usual, the pilots were well looked after by the crew. We were treated to these gorgeous snacks while sitting and waiting. Around 11am, we conducted push back and the 4 RB211-524C2 engines came to alive. Spectacular takeoff view from Jumbo’s front office. This is how roomy the cockpit of B747! It is in a very long rectangular shape. Please see my YouTube video of the B747 flight. Here are the pictures of final approach into Karachi. Runway 25L. The weather is beautiful that day in Karachi, without any haze and smog.
Straight after landing, I received good news from a phone call. My photography permit has been approved. I visited the PIA maintenance area and met with a few PIA officials that afternoon. The hospitality was incredible; I have one person carry my camera bag and 2 other as guides on the apron.
Here are some pictures from the PIA Maintenance area; PIA has one of the largest hangars in Asia. This Tupolev 154 of Kazakhstan Air over run runway on takeoff so it remained in Karachi for over 10 years. Inside of Aero Asia Bac1-11 After that I went to a young PIA mechanic (Zain)’s house. Zain is an avid Aviation Enthusiast. He has a great balcony that you can see all inbound aircraft from there. Of course the highlight is the PIA B747-300 inbound from Lahore in late afternoon!