While planning an exotic destination to visit during vacation period we all spend time considering the airline to invest money and faith in. The notion of flying with an airline with a proven track of crashing once in a while does sound not only foolish but border line insane. It makes me wonder why some airlines are still in business and most of all why do people prefer them for travelling? In their defense there are reasons such as cheap rates, direct flights and more luggage allowance.
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I find the notion of flying on a plane very uncomfortable. Anything on the road with wheels on sounds good to me. So this year in January when we had to make the big decision of choosing a reliable airline offering good rates, we had to choose between direct or an indirect flight. Travelling during peak seasons costs more than off season tickets so we had to carefully select the airline for travelling. Our travel agent suggested us to board a direct flight to Lahore, Pakistan as it takes around 16 hours and chances of losing luggage during indirect flights are higher than the direct flights.
So what do you get when you want, a) A direct flight to Pakistan, b) That too in low rates? It’s always PIA (Pakistan International Airlines). If it was solely upon us with no outside interference I would have preferred cancelling the trip altogether. I mean why would I want to risk our lives by travelling in an airline which has always been under scrutiny by media for its poor maintenance. Only recently a PIA plane en route to Dubai via Lahore caught fire soon after taking off. Lucky for the 50 something souls trapped inside the pilot immediately landed safely. Few weeks back a PIA pilot was arrested and accused of being drunk at Leeds Bradford International Airport in Britain just before his flight. Imagine how comfortable I would be while travelling in an airline with a bad repute when I am already a self proclaimed aviophobic.
Having spent a good amount of cash in buying air tickets we were left with no choice but to board the plane and proceed with our journey. Surprisingly my over all experience with PIA turned out to be good (At least I made it back in Toronto alive).
Great luggage allowance:
The luggage allowance that PIA offers is great, each passenger is allowed to carry 2 bags of 28 kgs along with an additional 7kgs for hand luggage. So while I was packing my bags I stuffed some extra gifts and clothing just to relish the benefit and even then I had few kgs left. PIA’s luggage allowance is an appealing factor which is why many Pakistanis prefer to travel in it unlike other airlines.
Rarely, one can feel comfortable in a plane during those long boring flights. In terms of seating, I had a very bad experience with PIA. The seats were very congested and some guy at the back took off his smelly shoes right after getting in the plane… yeah I lost my sleep and peace for good 16 hours.
Food and service:
As the entertainment system in most part of the plane was dysfunctional, they turned on cool blue lights with a starry sky effect, which was our cue to go off to sleep. Air hostesses were a seldom sight. So, in case somebody needed a drink while the attendant wasn’t in sight, they had to get it themselves as the little call button wasn’t very effective.
We were served food an hour after take off from Toronto, but the serving was ridiculously small, making me want to call my favourite pizza delivery from 30,000 ft in the air. I remember feeling that this could never satisfy my hunger but boy was I wrong, as the tiny substitute of a meal packed quite a punch. There is something about the way they prepare it which makes the food so heavy.
Based on my recent experience I can confidently say that I have overcome the fear of flying in PIA and can recommend it to others. It is obviously not a fancy airline to travel in, however, with support from the government and responsible authorities this company has the chance of drastically improving its services and can very well attract more people.
Currently PIA flights are operating once in a week every Tuesday from Toronto Pearson Airport.