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Singapore Airlines Business Class To Melbourne  
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 945 posts, RR: 26
Posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:




Can one ever go wrong choosing Singapore Airlines? Even a non-fan hoping to find fault will admit the task is a difficult one. The consistency with which service is dispensed, the quality of the offerings, and the seemingly perfect down to her symmetrical smile Singapore girl are some of the reasons why so many travelers choose nothing else – and this doesn’t even include the fan(atic)s who seem to live and breathe SQ. The fact remains that wherever one’s loyalties lie, there’s no denying this airline is a class act – one that consistently manages to hit the right notes. After all, when was the last time you scrolled down an airline poll and not find the airline’s name among the top of the list?

I chose Singapore Airlines because I had to be in Melbourne, and having over-stretched my budget for the trip already, I was looking for something that was ideally free, or at least almost free. With just enough miles left in my TG Royal Orchid Plus account for a Star Alliance Business Class return ticket from Kuala Lumpur, the decision was a rather obvious one. Not bad, as Hobson’s Choices go.

Although I’d flown Singapore Airlines many times before, this would be one of the few times I get to try Business Class, and the first time I am spending more than an hour on “SpaceBed”, the business class seat, introduced in 2002, that’s designed for the 0.00001% of us who enjoy sleeping on a playground slide. I had originally hoped to test the new flat Business Class seat on the B777-300ER, but that flight proved impossible to snag on a redemption ticket, so settle I did for the older version on the B747-400. Considering that SQ is in the process of putting both the SpaceBed and B744 out to pasture, I am now rather glad it worked out this way.

October 18: Outbound from Kuala Lumpur



The journey starts here. There are baggage check-in facilities at the KL City Air Terminal, but only for a handful of carriers: Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Royal Brunei, Emirates and I can’t think of any more. If you’re travelling on most other airlines out of KLIA – and that includes Singapore Airlines - you’d be carting the bags to the airport. I wonder why that’s the case. This is in sharp contrast to the city terminals at Hong Kong, for instance, where the vast city center check-in facilities are used by the majority of airlines.



The KLIA Ekspres Siemens-manufactured train traveling on a dedicated railway track gets you from the center of Kuala Lumpur to the airport over 70 kilometers away in a little under half an hour. The train is comfortable enough, but the continuous TV infomercials are a little annoying - there’s no ‘quiet’ compartment on the KL Ekspres.

Arriving at KLIA some 90 minutes before departure, I head straight for Singapore Airlines’ check-in desks which, like huge sections of this airport, are largely empty this Saturday night. A minute’s wait at the Business Class counter and I’m all set for Melbourne. Some parts of the airport are decked out in Hari Raya cum Deepavali celebratory regalia, which provide an interesting diversion for the camera.



The satellite, reachable from the main terminal by what the airport quaintly calls an Aerotrain, is where many medium and long haul international flights depart. Almost all foreign airlines use the satellite too. The upper level of the satellite is where the airline premium lounges are located. Balconies run all around the upper level of the satellite building, so it’s also a good place to while away your boredom by taking in a stroll with a view.



Singapore Airlines’ Silver Kris Lounge has a remarkably life-like cutout at the door. It is one of the easier lounges to find, but not to enter. The airline’s own First and Business Class passengers are of course invited, but the Star Alliance riff raff are not welcome here. No wonder some question SQ’s commitment to the airline alliance.



This lounge is as old as KLIA, which this year celebrates its tenth birthday. From the look of things, it seems to have been refurbished. It’s been years since I set foot in this place and have forgotten what it looked like before, but the upgraded version looks promising.





Inside, SQ’s signature lounging caramel-chocolate is very much apparent. It’s a comfortable enough place, but with no wish to work on my laptop or company to chat with, I quickly lose patience in most premium lounges, and strangely feel the urge to leave the moment I enter. I take a window seat, fix myself a drink, and ten minutes later spot the incoming B772 from Singapore pulling up on time at the gate. It’s the cue for me to hightail it out of here…



Across from the Silver Kris Lounge is Thai’s Royal Silk Lounge, looking resplendent after its recent refurbishment. This is a much larger facility, and far more welcoming to Star Alliance members.



A Singapore Airlines metal parked at favorite gate C2 is one of those things one takes for granted. The airline’s high frequencies to KLIA (of up to nine flights a day in its heyday) made them an almost permanent feature. But alas not any more – low cost competition on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route is taking its toll. Already, the airline is cutting frequencies in favor of subsidiary Silk Air, which has started flying in with smaller A320s from end-October. And from December, Singapore Airlines’ B772s will hardly feature at all at KLIA during the weekend, with frequency cut to a measly two flights a day on Saturday and Sunday. Who would have thought – SQ a rarity at KLIA!



Singapore Airlines SQ 119
Kuala Lumpur – Singapore
Boeing 777-200ER registered 9V-SVJ
Depart 2145, Arrive 2248 (8 minutes late)

SQ 119 is the last Singapore Airlines flight out of the day, and many of the passengers are connecting to late night departures from Changi to Europe, Japan and Australia. With a light load - no more than a hundred passengers in total and less than a third of the 30-seat Business Class filled - boarding is swift and efficient. I am greeted at door 1L and shown to my pre-selected window seat at the back of the cabin.

9V-SRJ is a SpaceBed-equipped triple seven that usually plies the thinner European routes and other longer hauls like Johannesburg and Auckland. The KUL route gets more of the regional-configured 323-capacity B772s but there’s usually at least one flight a day operated by this lower 285 pax-capacity aircraft. Even though SQ has none of the A-market 772s, it only calls the SpaceBed-equipped sub-type “ER”.



Thirty seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration in an empty front cabin should leave plenty of room to spare. Except it feels oddly cramped, and far less spacious that what I imagined. Comfortably padded it may be, but the SpaceBed seems like an overly-cumbersome contraption that takes up both seat pitch and width, without necessarily adding to my own. The seats have a not disagreeable pastel hue of an SQ going through its middle-aged lilac-lavender phase. Even so – and I never imagined I’d say this - I think SQ’s regionally-configured J cabin feels far more spacious. (Oh, just in case some may feel the urgent need to flame the writer at this moment, that’s a totally subjective observation, not a complaint!)



After all, what’s there to complain. We push back right on time, and the service from three cabin crew members on a light load is efficient, friendly and so by-the-book SQ, I can hardly remember it. I think that’s meant to be a compliment, but those SQ-flyers among you will know the drill: hello greeting, symmetrical smile; drinks, symmetrical smile; newspapers, symmetrical smile; magazines, symmetrical smile; hot towels, symmetrical smile; address-by-name, symmetrical smile; notice passenger 16K doing weird things with camera, symmetrical smile… jokes aside, we are so pampered in this part of the world, we take it all for granted.

It’s the shortest of hops to Singapore – with the plane ready to descend almost immediately it reaches cruising altitude – making catering a challenge. The single trays are dispensed quickly, and there’s even a choice of chicken or mutton tortilla wraps. Perfectionists will dislike the presentation, but underneath that plastic and paper wrapping, the snack is remarkably tasty.



Thunderstorms in the vicinity of Singapore and a taxi around Changi that seems to take an eternity delay our arrival. We tour the entire length of Terminal 3, where we pass no less than three A380s (boy, these birds are getting common!), circle around BA, Qantas, JAL, KLM and Air France heavies readying for their night-time departures at Terminal 1, and finally reach our stand E8 at Terminal 2. Normally, I would have enjoyed this type of detour, but not tonight – with the delay, my 55-minute scheduled connection time is looking very precarious indeed.



Ground staff with a board showing SQ flight and gate numbers greet us on arrival. I find out the Melbourne flight is leaving from gate A16 in Terminal 3, quite possibly the farthest place in the airport building you can get from here. By this time, I have barely 40 minutes to make the connection. What happens next is a scene out of Amazing Race as I tail two others from the flight, rushing to make the same connection. Brisk walking bordering on a sprint; shops, lounges, travelers, trains, Singapore girls whisk by in a blur of anxiety and sweat – it takes us 25 minutes to get to A16, where the last of the passengers are boarding when we arrive.

Singapore Airlines SQ 237
Singapore – Melbourne
Boeing 747-400 registered 9V-SPI
Depart 2352, Arrive 0945 next day (on time)

Everyone in Business Class is already seated when I board. I’d reserved a middle aisle seat in the usually less popular lower deck cabin on this overnight flight, hoping for an empty seat next to mine. But no such luck today - the flight is going out 100% full. Dripping with sweat after racing across the airport, I must have been quite a sight when I turn up that my new neighbors – a distinguished-looking Cambodian couple – look at me funny: the wife who is already comfortably installed in the middle seat next to mine gives this creature the once-over, whispers something to her husband, and then promptly swaps seats with him!



Although configured 7-abreast and despite the full cabin, the SpaceBeds here feel a little more spacious than on the B772 - it could be purely psychological. The usual rounds of drinks and towels cool me down as I sink into the seat (it’s actually rather comfortable), recover from my cross country run, and quietly enjoy the surroundings. The B747 does feel rather special; and it’s sad to see more and more airlines, including SQ, start retiring them in favor of those boringly efficient twins. They’ll never be able to truly replace the 747. Of course, had I been sitting by the window, my adoration for the queen of the skies could have been dampened somewhat by the rain falling on my head. For in addition to the wonderful things Singapore girls usually do, the ones on this flight are also busy mopping overhead compartment panels and stuffing paper towels into crevices to stop air conditioning condensation or suchlike drenching some Business Class passengers. Ah, the charm of older planes! The captain comes on to say we’ve all boarded but there’s a slight ATC delay – with a short flight time of 6 hours 30 minutes, we’d still get into Melbourne on time, he says.



Taking off into the dark sky after midnight, the lights are suitably dimmed. A small comfort kit of socks and eyeshades, noise-cancelling headphones and menus have been distributed, while most of the passengers just nod off. As drinks are served, Michelle, a pretty and very chirpy Singapore girl serving the cabin, comes round to take meal orders. She apologizes to me for being the last person in the cabin to be asked.



The menu has changed somewhat since my last J class experience earlier this year on SQ; cosmetically, the size of the menu has shrunk by a third, while the wine list is now incorporated into the menu. Corny SQ terms like “The Main Event” have thankfully disappeared. But perhaps most surprisingly, there is only one meal (that resembles a snack, or alternatively, breakfast) served between Singapore and Melbourne on this red-eye flight - which you can choose to take either after take-off, or 2 hours before landing. The airline will no doubt say passengers prefer simpler meals on late night flights, but I detect the hidden hand of the bean counter meddling in the kitchen. Everything on offer fits on one page: not good at all.



Still, I find it hard to decide. When I eventually opt for the fish ball noodles to be served later, Michelle warns that the noodles are of the instant variety, “but it’s quite alright, many of the crew like it too,” she says. I must have looked hungry for Michele then says: “Why don’t you have the sushi too? You can have sushi now… and the noodles before landing! I think we’ll be able to manage that.” I ask if that’s not being a little greedy, and the response threw me: No, that’s just getting your money’s worth, she says cheekily.



The sushi is promptly delivered and devoured, after which Michelle returns asking how it was. I say fine, to which she replies with a wink: Good, I’ll be having one now, before disappearing behind the curtains. That’s certainly a different - and very refreshing - face to the usual SQ formality! Perhaps, it’s acceptable to be human now  Wink

In the dim surroundings of a night flight, there’s a limit to what photos you can take. Behind the cabin where the washrooms are located, the stairs to the upper deck is a nicely lit-up exception.



I settle in to bed after most other passengers, recline my seat to a semi-flat position and, despite my earlier misgivings, find the SpaceBed surprisingly comfortable. It is on the narrow side, but feels less slide-like than similar CX, MH or TG offerings. I sink into slumber easily and manage about two hours, before Michelle appears with noodles as the second meal for this unashamedly self-indulgent passenger.



We land on time in Melbourne on an overcast Sunday morning. The next few days are the subject of a previous trip report – so, we pick up the story from there…



October 22: Return from Melbourne

The first westbound transpacific Qantas A380 flight brings me back from Los Angeles into Melbourne Wednesday morning. According to the schedules, I have exactly two hours to connect to my SQ flight to Singapore at 11.15 a.m. which is a bit of a risk: granted there seems to be plenty of time, but only if you don’t encounter flight delays or have to clear customs in Australia. Luckily, the inbound flight is a few minutes early, and QF agents at LAX had kindly tagged my bag all the way through to SIN and onto my final destination KUL - despite me holding separate tickets, and flying on a different alliance for my onward sectors. That’s a nice surprise, as airlines these days don’t generally feel the need to help you in this way anymore.

Melbourne’s obviously not a big international transit airport like Changi or Dubai as I seem to be the only passenger from my flight following the “International Transfer” signs that lead me back, after a quick security check, to the Departures level. I also can’t find any transfer desks either – does Melbourne have any? Then it strikes me: as a Business Class passenger, I can get my boarding pass at the lounge! Before I go there, I take another peek at gorgeous Nancy-Bird that flew me here – and notice a baffling directional sign for the Emirates and Qantas First lounges.



As an aside, both Singapore Airlines and Qantas are featuring the A380 as key stories in the October issues of their inflight magazines. QF celebrates the first commercial flight on October 20, while SQ commemorates the first anniversary of its inaugural flight between Singapore and Sydney on October 25.



The Silver Kris Lounge is located one level down from Departures alongside the lounges for Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Air New Zealand. Unlike at KLIA, this one is open to Star Alliance members.



I receive a warm welcome from a friendly lounge agent, whose name I would have remembered had I been a better trip reporter; she gets rather excited when I tell her I just stepped off the QF A380. You must be really tired, she says. It hadn’t struck me until now how long I had been flying to basically get where I started from – but tired I certainly am not. In fact, I am - rather inexplicably - feeling refreshed. My boarding passes are quickly and efficiently issued; I am told flight 238 to Singapore has 20 free seats in Business, but my reserved upper deck seat has a companion. “The upstairs is always busier… why don’t you move to the main deck? I can get you a window seat and block the one next to you.” Much as I would like to try the upper deck on the return, the offer is too tempting to pass up.

The SQ lounge is divided into two sections: just like on boarding a B747, First Class passengers turn left, while Business goes right.



The Business Class lounge is a decent one, but it’s nothing special. Normally, I would be wanting a shower about now, but forget all about it… after a coffee, I am all out of lounging and raring to go. As I leave, I am told there’s a departure delay of up to half an hour due to late arrival of the incoming aircraft, so I end up spending an enjoyable 10 minutes at reception reliving my inaugural QF A380 experience sharing pictures on my camera with Miss Lounge Agent.





When I get to gate 8, 9V-SPE (delivered 1995, among SQ’s more mature machines) has just arrived, and is hurriedly being prepared for the return to Singapore. At the same time, an earlier-arrived company B744 sits parked on the apron, awaiting a much later evening return flight. Interesting to me how SQ schedules its overlapping equipment into Melbourne: one B744 has a scheduled turnaround of 90 minutes (arrives 09.45, departs 11.15), while another B744 has a turnaround time of nearly 10 hours (arrives earlier at 07.10, departs later at 16.50)! I would guess the shortage of gates at Melbourne’s International Terminal during the morning peak hours, and a desire to cut down on towing charges could be the reason behind this unusual rotation. Or is it something else? Any insights from SQ insiders will be welcome.

Singapore Airlines SQ 238
Melbourne – Singapore
Boeing 747-400 registered 9V-SPE
Depart 1132, Arrive 1545 (15 minutes early)

From the lack of crowds at the departure gate, it’s obvious this morning’s flight will be leaving with a light load; and that always puts everyone – passengers and crew alike - in good spirits. The anticipated half hour delay does not materialize either: we board marginally late, and eventually push back just a quarter of an hour behind the timetable. Not a major problem, says the captain, with today’s faster-than-expected 6 hour 50 minute flight, we’ll be getting into Changi early in any case.



I am glad I was offered the lower deck. Today, it has the type of passenger-to-crew ratio I like best: nice and low with an abundance of empty seats, so service is personalized and attentive; but not so empty that one becomes the center of attention for a bored crew. Even if there is no Michelle-equivalent among the Business Class crew on this return flight, the service is still warm and friendly, if a little by-the-book; dare one even utter the word “robotic”? It is inevitable that when you’ve flown SQ a few times, you start developing expectations of the airline that are far higher than most others. That must be said to be fair to SQ and to put things into perspective, for one does not gush into praises when a crew member remembers your name, or refills your drink without asking – these things are not extraordinary for SQ. Maybe for some airlines, they warrant an essay, but on this airline, it’s all part of the routine. So, in the grand scheme of things, saying an SQ flight is “unexceptional” - as this is - is already praise indeed.

Taxing out to runway 16, we bid a distant farewell to Nancy-Bird as well as the SQ B744 on the day-long layover.



With a light load, this four-holer is set for a powerful takeoff tracking northwest into the heart of outback Australia. Having just got off an A380 where the selling point is an almost complete absence of noise, I am more conscious than ever to this, the old-fashioned feel and sound of flying: the purrs, grunts, roars, groans and mechanical thuds from a plane of dials and levers that was first conceived more than 40 years ago. Yeah, noise! And loving it.



A toast to aviation seems in order. I ask for a tall glass of the Charles Heidsieck bubbly as an aperitif. A senior ranking red kebaya-attired Singapore girl delivers it to me.



I am about to take my first sip… when I spot something amiss on the glass. But where’s the logo? I recall Lufthansa747 in his recent SQ First Class trip report causing more than a couple of unexpected ripples with his “the F logo on the glass is not facing me” comment. Can this be true? Does lightning strike twice? Am I witnessing another SQ service failure right here, live aboard SQ238? And one committed by a red kebaya, no less? I look at the glass again up close: yup, no logo…



I do eventually find the logo – of a palm tree, trademark of the now defunct Raffles Class – but it faces away from me. Dear oh dear. Whatever is the world coming to?  Wink



The menu for the return daytime flight is more substantial than on the outbound red-eye. Still, the offerings - with the absence of a salad and satay to start for instance - do look like the let’s-see-what-we-can-cut, budget-light version of what used to be. Lunch is to be served not long after takeoff, while refreshment will be dished out before arrival.



First lunch: I am famished. Yummy marinated scallops to start. Notice how the old palm tree Raffles Class logos are still very apparent in the tableware.



Australia must be one of the few remaining major countries in the world where flying stainless steel knifes are still banned. SQ uses grey plastic knifes which do not flatter the meal presentation at all.





For the main course, I choose a Singapore favorite, the chicken rice. Not quite the real thing but it’s a decent offering. Up to this point, the meals aboard SQ have not been bad but they are not particularly impressive – with attempts at cost cutting quite apparent even to an infrequent Business Class passenger. Compared to the truly high quality offerings one gets in Y Class, what’s served in J Class looks rather ordinary. Perhaps it’s time to start lowering expectations.



But never mind about the food. One thing this restaurant does have is a table with a great view. Flying across Australia during the day must be one of my favorites. The scenery is quite simply out of this world.





As we near the red heart of the continent, the vivid and unfamiliar landscape look like they should belong on another planet.





A sense of quiet calm descends on the cabin. You know that phase of the flight, right? The passengers have been fed, cabin lights dimmed and the flight is cruising along on its “contentment” trajectory. Another particular favorite time of mine; best enjoyed in monochrome, I feel.





Normally, I would take the opportunity on an empty flight like this to snap more cabin photos. I should be making a trek up to the upper deck at this stage, but like an over-fed reptile, I feel strangely contented slumped in my SpaceBed, unable to move. The last few days of flying are starting to take a toll on energy levels - plus I must make a start on a long over-due project – so I stay put, reluctantly power up the laptop, ramp up on caffeine levels, and just enjoy the strange sights as they pass outside.





A couple hours pass quickly. A discernable increase in cabin traffic suggests we are about to be fed again. Hot towels and juices are followed by an offer of a snack an hour and a half before landing.





Arriving into Singapore Changi Terminal 3 fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and with a slightly longer connection of 60 minutes this time round, I do not need to sprint to make my connection on a full SQ B772 back to Kuala Lumpur.


Final Words

Singapore Airlines excels in what it does. Its standards remain one of the highest and most exacting in the industry and it is emulated, feared and despised – probably in equal measure – by its many competitors. Coming up trumps has become something of a habit for the airline, and little wonder. I can imagine that for many traveling executives where flying is more work hazard than genuine pleasure, booking a Singapore Airlines flight means – at very least - knowing what to expect.

But the airline is not perfect. The words “robotic” and “clinical” that’s sometimes associated with the service is probably a tad unfair, but not entirely untrue. There are obviously exceptions - and Michele on the outbound flight is a refreshing one – but the average crew member on SQ follows such a strict regimen that individual personality seems to have been left at home (or at least hidden behind the galley curtains). After a few flights on SQ, one can almost set the watch by the predictability of the seemingly pre-programmed welcomes and all-teeth-showing smiles.

It’s a double-edged sword: you have consistency for sure, but what you lose is spontaneity. Some of SQ’s regional competitors think – with some justification – they have the edge over SQ in this department, with more genuine welcomes and less contrived smiles. The airline’s Siamese twin Malaysia Airlines, for instance, has a keen following precisely because some prefer its natural and relaxed style. Cathay Pacific, on the other hand, seems to have far better senior crews who are genuinely friendly and make it a point to chat with passengers, particularly in the premium classes. This was notably absent from my SQ experiences; maybe it just wasn’t on someone’s check-list of things to do.

That said, the overall package that is Singapore Airlines is fantastic, even if recent cost-cutting is making the product a tad less attractive. All it needs perhaps is some humanizing; bringing personalities and spontaneity to the fore - even at the risk of a few logos on glasses going askew.  Wink

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCXtra From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2006, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks for the report, you've a great writing style.

It was interesting to read your comments about the crew.. you experienced one 'human' crew member and Globetraveller's report showed they interacted quite a lot.

But the tendency, as reported, has been 'roboticness'. It'd be interesting to do a poll of frequent travellers to discover the robot:human ratio haha..



Cathay Pacific, Now you're really flying
User currently offlineMilesDependent From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 856 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

What a fantastic report. 10 out of 10 - well done. One of the best and well written reports I've read on here in ages.

User currently offlineGlobetraveller From Germany, joined Apr 2008, 379 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Yet another world class trip report Airpearl!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
that’s designed for the 0.00001% of us who enjoy sleeping on a playground slide

Hahaha... Its not that bad!! I love comments like this though - you really made me laugh.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
You can have sushi now… and the noodles before landing! I think we’ll be able to manage that.” I ask if that’s not being a little greedy, and the response threw me: No, that’s just getting your money’s worth, she says cheekily.

Again, the SQ service at its best. I guess you also had a crew which was amazing.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I do eventually find the logo – of a palm tree, trademark of the now defunct Raffles Class – but it faces away from me. Dear oh dear. Whatever is the world coming to?

Hehehe... I knew this issue was bound to come up again... I thought that this only happened in First Class and not Business.

Thanks again for all your efforts!

Globetraveller


User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

It's always nice to read about Singapore Airlines - the airline that every non-SQ-fan(atic) loves to use as a benchmark to compare with their personal favorites.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I look at the glass again up close: yup, no logo…

Shocking! haha... But at the very least, I'm sure such lapses only appear once out of 10 flights on SQ. Yes yes, I'm an apologist for SQ, but they're my favorite carrier after all...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I can imagine that for many traveling executives where flying is more work hazard than genuine pleasure, booking a Singapore Airlines flight means – at very least - knowing what to expect.

Spot on. For people like me, I like the consistency and knowing exactly what to expect on every flight (regardless of destination) or crew. It allows me to plan what to do on a long flight, when to unwind and get ready for a snooze, or knowing that if I get thirsty and missed the first drinks run, the next run will come soon...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
That must be said to be fair to SQ and to put things into perspective, for one does not gush into praises when a crew member remembers your name, or refills your drink without asking – these things are not extraordinary for SQ. Maybe for some airlines, they warrant an essay, but on this airline, it’s all part of the routine. So, in the grand scheme of things, saying an SQ flight is “unexceptional” - as this is - is already praise indeed.

I like how you have a way with words... and this perhaps explains why many Asia based a.netters find difficulty understanding why words like "exceptional crew", "excellent service" appear in reports on some non-Asian carriers when the described service seemed so...how do I say this without offending anyone... 'sub-standard' compared to what we are used to in this part of the world?!!  

Enjoyed your QF A380 report as well, although the flight seemed a tad 'run of the mill'. Will be taking my first QF flight in more than a decade next month, I hope I won't be getting off that flight wishing I had forked out extra money to book myself on SQ instead.

[Edited 2008-11-09 06:50:54]


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineHeartDoc From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 47 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 32767 times:

Marvelous...fantastic report. Do you have the option of "Book the Cook" on regional flights? Since you have flown on many SQ flights, would you recommend the Book the Cook option or go with the standard menu?

HeartDoc


User currently offlineOjas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2970 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 32767 times:

A superb TR Airpearl!

SQ does maintain to maintain its level of consistency. And no matter what SQ detractors say, there has to be something unique and special in SQ that keeps it on top and that too consistently.



A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
User currently offlineRonerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Airpearl, excellent as always my friend!

After reading this report, and of course your previous QF A380 one, only now do i realise how exhausting your overall trip must have been!

Six flights total, compared to only two of my EK A380's!

All i can say is you definitely made the right choice of not showering, as that would have knocked you fast asleep as it did me  Smile hehe

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Royal Brunei, Emirates

That is a strange mix of airlines that offer check in at the city terminal. I wonder if there is any non-commercial reasoning behind this?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I quickly lose patience in most premium lounges, and strangely feel the urge to leave the moment I enter

Haha.. i can relate to that! Who wants to stay inside a lounge for more than 30 mins when there is an entire airport outside!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
hello greeting, symmetrical smile; drinks, symmetrical smile; newspapers, symmetrical smile; magazines, symmetrical smile; hot towels, symmetrical smile; address-by-name, symmetrical smile; notice passenger 16K doing weird things with camera, symmetrical smile… jokes aside, we are so pampered in this part of the world, we take it all for granted.

 rotfl 

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
the SpaceBeds here feel a little more spacious than on the B772 - it could be purely psychological.

I agree. I could also tell from yoru pictures too. The 747 cabin seems more roomy.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The B747 does feel rather special; and it’s sad to see more and more airlines, including SQ, start retiring them in favor of those boringly efficient twins.

I cannot remember when my last 747 flight was! But i eagerly await my next one in December  Wink


As you stated, SQ seems to have it by the book; no more no less. I think it all boils down to what the passenger prefers, whether it is catalogue-SQ, earthy-MH, or the professionalism that is Cathay.

However, i think your everyday passenger will tend to prefer the SQ type of offering that is flat out in-your-face service.


Thanks a lot for sharing!

Regards,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8524 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
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Great report and pictures, really enjoyed the trip.

I'll be in asia on a spotting jolly early in the new year, will have to try out SQ's J product myself, some aspects look superb, others not so great - the menu on SQ237 was quite poor, I'd have been disapointed to be honest.

Regards

Mark



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User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4753 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Another EXCELLENT report from the famed Airpearl.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Royal Brunei, Emirates and I can%u2019t think of any more. If you%u2019re travelling on most other airlines out of KLIA %u2013 and that includes Singapore Airlines - you%u2019d be carting the bags to the airport. I wonder why that%u2019s the case.

I am one frequent user of XKL (used to be) although I flew in and out using MAS. Only once I did do SQ out of KUL and I too was wondering the lack of SQ's presence in XKL. It would have been a given don't you think - the fact that next to MAS, they have the most flights out of KLIA? Sometimes looking at the enpty check in desks in XKL reminds me of the now neglected domestic terminal in Saigon. But the Malaysians are not to rest on their laurels! One of the counters have recently been seen to display racks after racks of SUNGLASSES!  Smile

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The airline%u2019s own First and Business Class passengers are of course invited, but the Star Alliance riff raff are not welcome here. No wonder some question SQ%u2019s commitment to the airline alliance.

SQ has always been known to be VERY / EXTREMELY / AWFULLY protective over who gets access to their premium facilities and what's more, you are nothing but a "redemption" case.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It%u2019s been years since I set foot in this place and have forgotten what it looked like before, but the upgraded version looks promising.

I have to say the SK Lounge of before in KLIA was a very "kesian" looking place. A sorry excuse for a lounge as far as I am concerned. If you have been to the Premium Transit Lounge next door (accessible for a token RM... ) with their smelly fabric seats, crowded buffet table filled with people who havent eaten in years, and lastly - BRIGHT WHITE FLUORESCENT LIGHTING!!!!, SK Lounge looked similar. I am glad for the refurbishment as the present one looks more SQ-like.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
And from December, Singapore Airlines%u2019 B772s will hardly feature at all at KLIA during the weekend, with frequency cut to a measly two flights a day on Saturday and Sunday. Who would have thought %u2013 SQ a rarity at KLIA!

Hmm... The slowing down of corporate travelling at the end of the year, perhaps?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Boeing 777-200ER registered 9V-SVJ

I guess you are lucky / unlucky this flight as they usually fly the 9V-SR* regional configured 777 on this sector.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Even so %u2013 and I never imagined I%u2019d say this - I think SQ%u2019s regionally-configured J cabin feels far more spacious. (Oh, just in case some may feel the urgent need to flame the writer at this moment, that%u2019s a totally subjective observation, not a complaint!)

No flaming required, and I agree. A lot of the SpaceBed are just part of the seat fittings and mechanical parts so it does take up some real estate. The regional 777s on the other hand is SPACIOUS as hell as their seats are just no frills.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
...symmetrical smile; address-by-name, symmetrical smile; ...

LOL... So true. I flew to Jakarta almost every month on SQ in 2006/2007 and by golly it felt like I was watching a movie over and over and over and over and over again. BUT! They do not always address you by the name though. This little crack in consistency might perhaps seem more glaring for some like me who have experienced their flights way too much.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Perfectionists will dislike the presentation, but underneath that plastic and paper wrapping, the snack is remarkably tasty.

GASP! At the risk of sounding like Singapore_Air, this is unimpressive. I do miss the old FIRST CLASS service though as the meal (despite being a quickie) was handled with such finesse and style. Now it is just a glorified snack service. It is in my experience that about half the cabin will normally refuse food on this short flight so I was wondering if it was too much trouble to just REMOVE the bloody plastic wraps before serving? It looks so tacky!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I ask if that%u2019s not being a little greedy, and the response threw me: No, that%u2019s just getting your money%u2019s worth, she says cheekily.



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The sushi is promptly delivered and devoured, after which Michelle returns asking how it was. I say fine, to which she replies with a wink: Good, I%u2019ll be having one now, before disappearing behind the curtains. That%u2019s certainly a different - and very refreshing - face to the usual SQ formality! Perhaps, it%u2019s acceptable to be human now

She wouldn't happen to be Michelle Lee, would she? I had a similar named FA on one of my SIN-CGK runs and boy was she a hoot! Perhaps I was just being friendly, but she was trading naughty barbed wits with me on a crowded Business Class cabin on a 90 min hop! There are some of these gems hidden amongst the minions of robots shuffling back and forth and just like Pleasantville (if you remember that movie), you suddenly get a hint of colour peering at you from among the greyness.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
and notice a baffling directional sign for the Emirates and Qantas First lounges.

Err... Ok. I guess that guy standing at the window realised that he isn't where he is supposed to be. Hahahaha...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It is inevitable that when you%u2019ve flown SQ a few times, you start developing expectations of the airline that are far higher than most others.

I have another take on this. If you are used to the cratered landscape you get on US carriers, suddenly everything seems excellent once you step on board an Asian carrier. However, once you get comfy on SQ, you start developing tiers for even the most excellent of flights! Hmm... Her smile was not symmetrical - error check! Hmm... Eyeshadow used was not company issued - error check! Hmm... placed glass with the PALM logo facing away from me - error check! Oooops...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I do eventually find the logo %u2013 of a palm tree, trademark of the now defunct Raffles Class %u2013 but it faces away from me. Dear oh dear. Whatever is the world coming to?

...I guess it really did happen. I will miss the great old PALM now that they have decided to re-brand JCL to just a normal, run-on-mill, no different from others, boring sounding BUSINESS CLASS. Back to the good old days I guess!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Still, the offerings - with the absence of a salad and satay to start for instance - do look like the let%u2019s-see-what-we-can-cut, budget-light version of what used to be.

Good riddance to the satay, I say! If there is one thing that SQ can't do well compared to MH, it would be this. The ones on MH are so fatty and oily - absolutely gets my juices flowing! SQ ones were just that - satay. It seems as if they did it for the sake of doing and there was no passion radiating from the grilled pieces of meat. The taste (or at least the ones that I had) wasn't very matured so they can trick some Caucasian into thinking "Mmmm... good satay" but not me.



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 945 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks for the comments guys. Much appreciated.

Quoting CXtra (Reply 1):
It was interesting to read your comments about the crew.. you experienced one 'human' crew member and Globetraveller's report showed they interacted quite a lot. But the tendency, as reported, has been 'roboticness'. It'd be interesting to do a poll of frequent travellers to discover the robot:human ratio haha..

Yes, I think it's often down to the luck of the draw, and also goes to show how crew that go out of their way change your whole flight. I'd be interested to see a poll like that haha... but I'd stay out of the cross-fire when the results are announced!

Quoting MilesDependent (Reply 2):
What a fantastic report

Thanks, it was fun to do, glad you enjoyed it MilesDependent.

Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 3):
Hahaha... Its not that bad!! I love comments like this though - you really made me laugh.

Hey Globetraveller, I have to admit.. that's a bit of tongue-in-cheek exaggeration! And you're absolutely right, the slope is bearable - much better than on CX or MH.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 4):
the airline that every non-SQ-fan(atic) loves to use as a benchmark to compare with their personal favorites.

You are of course taking that as a compliment right?  Wink Yes, rightly so... ahem.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 4):
this perhaps explains why many Asia based a.netters find difficulty understanding why words like "exceptional crew", "excellent service" appear in reports on some non-Asian carriers when the described service seemed so...how do I say this without offending anyone... 'sub-standard' compared to what we are used to in this part of the world?!!

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to fly all these high quality airlines so easily. Just be thankful for what we've got - and hope the crisis doesn't change the situation too drastically!

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 4):
Will be taking my first QF flight in more than a decade next month, I hope I won't be getting off that flight wishing I had forked out extra money to book myself on SQ instead.

Well, be sure to tell us about, one way or the other...

Quoting HeartDoc (Reply 5):
Do you have the option of "Book the Cook" on regional flights? Since you have flown on many SQ flights, would you recommend the Book the Cook option or go with the standard menu?

Thanks for your comments HeartDoc. I believe you can "book the cook" on all but the shortest flights (eg the SIN/KUL sectors where no meal is served). Some people swear by it because they are assured of their favorite dishes, but I've noticed that these special meals are rotated anyway on the regular menus... so I think it's a tool that benefits the airline as much as the passenger in that they can carry fewer "choices" aboard.

Quoting Ojas (Reply 6):
And no matter what SQ detractors say, there has to be something unique and special in SQ that keeps it on top and that too consistently.

Hey Ojas thanks; I do have to agree with you, and I'm not even an SQ fan. The standards in economy particularly are very high - it's not just inflight service alone, but the whole package I feel is hard to beat. Passengers are voting with their feet, so that's all the evidence we need.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 7):
how exhausting your overall trip must have been!

Hey Roni, the strange things these people do... and call them "pleasure trips"

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 7):
That is a strange mix of airlines that offer check in at the city terminal. I wonder if there is any non-commercial reasoning behind this?

It is a strange mix of airlines. My guess is that the handling charges (either from handling agents or KLIA Expres for baggage) are far too high, many airlines just don't find it worthwhile to provide this service.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 7):
But i eagerly await my next one in December

And a milk-run to boot! I hope you're going F...

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 8):
I'll be in asia on a spotting jolly early in the new year, will have to try out SQ's J product myself, some aspects look superb, others not so great - the menu on SQ237 was quite poor, I'd have been disapointed to be honest

Hey Mark, will look forward to seeing your views on the SQ service. The outbound menu was a bit of a shock actually - it's just not what I expected from SQ.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
But the Malaysians are not to rest on their laurels! One of the counters have recently been seen to display racks after racks of SUNGLASSES!

Hey Ryan, thanks for the nice words. But trust you to spot things like that! haha... I never use the KL Sentral city check in, well not since someone decided to break the lock on my bag and help themselves with my belongings...

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
SQ has always been known to be VERY / EXTREMELY / AWFULLY protective

Yalah, just say it: they are snobs!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
Hmm... The slowing down of corporate travelling at the end of the year, perhaps?

I was quite surprised to see the new schedules. Had speculated earlier that SQ may eventually pull out of KUL in favor of SilkAir - but this is getting a little too close for comfort.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
The regional 777s on the other hand is SPACIOUS as hell as their seats are just no frills.

There seem to be so many complaints about their regional J class seats - maybe I have the tastes of a simpleton, but I actually find those seats quite comfortable, can't see what all the fuss is all about.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
It is in my experience that about half the cabin will normally refuse food on this short flight so I was wondering if it was too much trouble to just REMOVE the bloody plastic wraps before serving? It looks so tacky!

At least it doesn't come in a box

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
There are some of these gems hidden amongst the minions of robots shuffling back and forth and just like Pleasantville (if you remember that movie), you suddenly get a hint of colour peering at you from among the greyness.

It does sound like her. Great wit, bordering on flirting... I kept thinking: no, this can't be SQ?! So refreshing and lots of fun. Wished there were more like her.


User currently offlineGabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3218 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 32767 times:

Great TR! I loved the little red circle around that palm tree. What is the world coming to indeed!

I did the same KUL-SIN SQ 119 a few weeks ago in Business, but we got the regional seats not the spacebeds which I was hoping for. I did, however, think that the regional seat cabin felt very spacious - perhaps because the seats are so much thinner than the chunky spacebeds.

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...ums/trip_reports/read.main/136215/

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
only for a handful of carriers

I was quite surpised that SQ didn't have a desk at KL Sentral given the number of flights they have - maybe MAS vetoed them getting a desk?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The train is comfortable enough, but the continuous TV infomercials are a little annoying - there’s no ‘quiet’ compartment on the KL Ekspres

Yeah, those train infomericals are so annoying - very loud, you just can't get away from them!



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User currently offlineSingapore_Air From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 13739 posts, RR: 19
Reply 12, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Nice report AirPearl.



She's changed !

I also had a small laugh and an appreciation for your comment about the now defunct Raffles Class logo on the glass not facing your way. Oh dear! Big grin



Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
User currently offlineNicholaschee From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Great TR!

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 10):
There seem to be so many complaints about their regional J class seats - maybe I have the tastes of a simpleton, but I actually find those seats quite comfortable, can't see what all the fuss is all about.

The Ultimo seats are just nice for short naps but I find it very difficult to slip into deep slumber during the redeye flights.


User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1710 posts, RR: 14
Reply 14, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

That was a fantastic report, i really enjoyed reading it! As always of course. The SQ old space-beds actually look quite nice, how could one complain about them since they're better than what most other airlines offer as their "number one" business class seat. The food looks great as usual, though i don't like the colour of the table cloth. What's all the fuzz about not having the logo on the glass facing you, it's not the end of the world (yaya, i know that you were sarcastic).

Those darn system cameras just seem to take sooo great pics, i'm doing the best i can to keep me away to buy an EOS 450D but seeing your pics of Australia makes it a whole lot harder. What camera are you using?



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 945 posts, RR: 26
Reply 15, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:



Quoting Gabrielchew (Reply 11):
I did the same KUL-SIN SQ 119 a few weeks ago in Business, but we got the regional seats not the spacebeds which I was hoping for. I did, however, think that the regional seat cabin felt very spacious - perhaps because the seats are so much thinner than the chunky spacebeds.

Thanks for your kind words Gabrielchew, I did notice you flying the same flight out, almost around the same time I did  Smile Good that you tried it - this particular service may soon be replaced by Silk Air.

Quoting Singapore_Air (Reply 12):
She's changed !

The old girl was already fraying round the edges haha

Quoting Nicholaschee (Reply 13):
The Ultimo seats are just nice for short naps but I find it very difficult to slip into deep slumber during the redeye flights.

Hi Nicholaschee, yes totally agree. The less than favorable first impression of the SpaceBed changed later when I did manage to sleep quite comfortably in one. Ultimo seats though are just fine for daytime regionals, even though you quite often hear complaints about them.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
What's all the fuzz about not having the logo on the glass facing you, it's not the end of the world (yaya, i know that you were sarcastic).

Thanks LH4116 for your comments. Indeed, and agreed. But saying more would be stepping into dangerous territory, so I shall leave it at that...

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
What camera are you using?

It's a Nikon D80, been a good but cumbersome companion.


User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 16, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thank you for bringing back the Airpearl I knew and worship back to life. This is an exceptional piece of composition I think you could be a subject of literature studies at the Language Faculty of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

I love all the witty word-playings that is so Airpearl. Now I hope you understand why I unshamely bashed your previous QF A380 trip report as 'badly written', the same time as 50 other A.Netters voted it as 'the best trip report they have ever read'. Clearly, they did not read enough.


User currently offlineReadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3218 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 9 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Absolutely Fab report, loved the views out of the windows.
Awesome



you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 12135 times:

I was browsing through the forum looking for a SQ Raffles class report as I will be flying SQ on their 772ER from CPH-SIN-CPH and am so glad to find this very well written report featuring their older product. I must say that it actually can still compete with many other airlines today as a rather large number of airlines are still featuring lie-flat seats and have not installed fully flat seats yet.

Thanks again  


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