After a spectacular adventure in Pakistan 9 years ago, I traveled to Pakistan again! My Pakistan trip was supposed to be earlier in this spring but due to COVID border restriction and my pilot training, I delayed this trip till December 2021.
There are plenty of flights between the UAE and Pakistan on daily basis. But as an AvGeek, I decided to fly on PIA as it has B777-200/LR scheduled between Dubai and Islamabad. This trip report covers my flight from Dubai to Islamabad on PIA.
My flight was operated by the prototype of B777-200/LR which PIA is the launch customer in 2004. A B777-200/LR set the world record flew 22 hours 42 mins non-stop from Hong Kong eastward to London via the Pacific and the Atlantic.
These business class seats were the industry standard in 2005, when this airplane was delivered. It hasn't been changed since then. PIA now sell these seats as Executive Economy. You can pay an upgrade of AED150 (USD 40) onboard.
The flight went surprisingly on-time with just 15 minutes behind schedule after offloading 1 no-show's luggage. I have noticed PIA's on-time performance was not the best. Almost 50% of the flight runs late. The main reason seems PIA has a shortage of airplanes with an aggressive scheduling. If one plane went AOG (aircraft on ground) or have suffered roll-on delay, the rest of the schedule all fell into pieces.
We departed at 6:43am with the sun just rising.
Watch the takeoff from my video:
After departure, a right 180 turn is executed with flying over the UAE towards the East with sun rising.
The flight time was 2.5 hours to Islamabad. We flew at 37,000 feet.
Breakfast is served with choices of Pakistani omelet or spinach with paratha.
The breakfast was very simple, the omelet taste fairly plain and lack of flavors. The fruit are not fresh (from cans). There's no differentiation on meals between executive economy and economy on my flights. (I was told the executive economy meals has usually bigger portions and better).
Being an early morning flight, I brought 2 dozens of Krispy Kreme donuts for the crew. We share it together with some Pakistani Masala chai (tea).
An uneventful RNAV approach, we landed on runway 28L at Islamabad. Watch the video of the landing.
To me, PIA is like a mirror of the country of Pakistan. The crew is hospitable and warm to foreign guest. My advice for anyone who wants to fly with PIA is don't set any expectations ahead.
My PIA flight experience: The cabin is the same, but the food has been cut. PIA needs to improve on its on-time performance and operational reliability. Moreover, it needs to demonstrate good discipline, which is crucial to safety standards.
There are many issues and challenges for PIA. I met up with PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik about the future of PIA. See the interview below: