PAL 'jumbo' jet's new look unveiled

() - November 24, 2008 - 12:00am

The classic has undergone a makeover. For 15 years, Philippine Airlines’ enormous Boeing 747-400 was the “queen of the skies” on the busy trans-Pacific routes between Manila and the West Coast of the United States.

The popular “jumbo” jet – the largest and most advanced model of the B747 family – has flown millions of balikbayans, tourists, business people and other passengers in comfort across the Pacific since it joined the PAL fleet in November 1993.

Recently, the old reliable got an upgrade. In the first major retrofitting of its B747-400 fleet in years, PAL has launched a comprehensive, P1.8-billion renovation of the aircraft’s cabin, bannered by its reconfiguration from a tri-class to bi-class layout.

Other highlights include the installation of state-of-the-art inflight entertainment systems, new business-class and economy-class seats, and the infusion of a modern look that emulates the beautiful coastal areas of the Philippines.

Late last month, the first of PAL’s four B747-400s to undergo the cabin-upgrade program was delivered to the flag carrier and immediately put back into service on the trans-Pacific sector.

The upgrade is being progressively introduced into the B747-400 fleet and by the second half of 2009, all four units will be sporting the new interiors.

Roomier Mabuhay Class

Entering the newly refurbished cabin, longtime PAL passengers would be forgiven for thinking they stepped into a fresh-out-of-the-factory aircraft and not their trusty long-range workhorse.

For starters, they’ll notice a difference in the cabin layout: Mabuhay (Business) Class has been expanded to cover a larger area, occupying the main forward section and the entire upper deck of the B747-400.

There are now 42 seats in Mabuhay Class, 10 more seats than in the old layout. Fiesta (Economy) Class remains at 383 seats. But far more important is what’s in the seats – bigger, wider and loaded with the latest features, they are a world apart from the previous variant.

Indeed, the focal point of the new Mabuhay Class cabin is the luxurious “cocoon“ seats supplied by Recaro of Germany. The new seat has a fixed privacy shell that enables the passenger to enjoy utmost privacy while an ergonomic design transforms it into a lie-flat bed.

With a generous pitch of 60 inches (nearly a foot longer than in the previous design), the seats are adjustable to a variety of positions at the passenger’s option, including a full-flat recline.

Each seat is equipped with its own programmable position controls with memory, individual directional LED reading light, oversized tray table and bottle holder.

Fiesta Class passengers will also benefit from the technology – their new seats, also from Recaro, are ergonomically designed, with new-generation, thinner seatbacks. These provide bigger “living” space and enhance passengers’ comfort.

Full-cabin audio video on-demand

The entire passenger cabin is equipped with the i5000 inflight entertainment system supplied by Thales of France. The i5000 is a fully digital system that enables both Mabuhay and Fiesta Class passengers to choose from a full library of video and audio content.

Each seat is outfitted with personal television with audio video on demand (AVOD) feature that enables passengers to start, pause, rewind, and fast-forward any of the video programs at any time using the touch-screen controls or the passenger control units.

The AVOD platform gives passengers a wide range of digital on-demand entertainment options – they can individually select from a variety of digital games and entertainment programs anytime.

The selection includes 18 of the latest Hollywood movies, a Filipino film, eight popular television programs, 12 radio channels and 50 CD albums.

Each passenger can also create his own audio playlist from the collection of CD albums. On-screen instructions are available in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Digital games include Tetris, Bejeweled, Galaktor, Reversi, Bookworm, Solitaire, Head-to-Head Chess and the inflight Trivia Challenge. Noise-canceling headsets and in-seat power for laptops are provided in Mabuhay Class.

The Mabuhay Class cabin is equipped with 15.4-inch, seatback-mounted monitors and 10.6-inch, in-arm monitors, while Fiesta Class seats come with 9-inch monitors.

New, modern look

Finally, tying everything together are enhanced cabin aesthetics and an interior design that evokes the tranquil seas and sandy beaches of the Philippines – one of the signature elements of the flag carrier’s service.

Mabuhay Class seats are outfitted in plush, deep-blue upholstery accented with touches of silvery-copper threads that simulate reflections of light on water.

Fiesta Class seats feature the same undulating wave-pattern design in a blue, aqua and terracotta palette.

The relaxed, tropical feel extends to the front and back ends of the cabin where interiors, curtains, carpets and surfaces are in various shades of blue, white, gray, silver and tan.

Overall, the stylish, modern look encapsulates the comprehensive makeover of PAL’s flagship aircraft, the B747-400 – still majestically cruising the skies across the Pacific well into the 21st century.

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