Coal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1770 posts, RR: 6 Posted (2 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 18502 times:
Airline: Singapore Airlines Flight: SQ 876 Equip: Airbus A330-300 Sector: SIN (Singapore Changi) – TPE (Taipei Taoyuan) Cabin: Business Seat: 12A Dep (Act): 8:35am (8:37am) Arr (Act): 1:20pm (1:15pm)
I manage some of our company’s accounts in Taiwan, which means that I find myself traveling quite frequently to Taipei, Kaohsiung, and a few cities in between on the Taiwanese west coast. This is the 3rd time in the last month and a half that I go to Taiwan and the 2nd time that I flew on this route and on SQ. My previous trip was from PVG while I was still based in Shanghai and I documented that TR here:
Last time I flew SQ on this route I had planned to do a TR, but I had too much work to do on the plane to properly document the flight and hadn’t had enough sleep the night before, so I decided against it. I believe this is the first or, if not the first, then one of the very few reports on this route on SQ and in J.
I got up at 6am sharp and after a quick shower and a cup of coffee, I sent a text message for a cab and within a minute I had confirmation that a Hyundai Sonata would be picking me up in 3 to 5 minutes. I went downstairs and as I had expected, the taxi was not there because the postal code for the place I am staying in right now coincides with the same postal code as the shopping mall next door, so I had to walk to the taxi stand.
This morning I had a fast driver so I avoided the feeling of being in a blender which one gets with most Singaporean taxi drivers. We arrived at Changi around 645am and I instructed the driver to go to Terminal 3 door number 5. I paid and the driver helped me to get the luggage out of the trunk.
I had already checked in online, as I usually do, and I had noticed the flight in J class was absolutely full. Luckily I had managed to pre-book a window seat.
(SQ service desk)
I headed towards the J class business counter and I asked for my boarding pass to be printed and, even though I had a carry on with liquid bottles under 100ml, I decided to check in my luggage. As usual, all of this was done with a warm smile by the check in agent. I later realized that they tagged by bag as First Class, not Business Class. If only…
(SIN Terminal 3 check in area)
(SQ Business check in row)
(SQ First Class tag… if only!)
After checking in I headed straight for immigration. I love the fact that even as a foreigner, as long as you have a PR or an Employment Pass, you can use the automated passport scanning machines. This really speeds up the (already very efficient) process at Changi.
A quick turn to the left and towards the northwestern pier of Terminal 3. Today we would be departing from gate A16, which is a bit of a hike, but I still had more than an hour before boarding time, which meant plenty of time at the lounge. So up the escalator we go, past the KrisFlyer Gold and DBS Asia Treasures lounges and towards the Silver Kris Lounge. A quick check of my boarding pass and I am pointed to the left hand side, the Business Class section of the lounge.
(T3 Silver Kris Lounge)
It is about 6:55am and the lounge is about 60% full already. That is mainly due to the bank of flights to Asia as well as a delayed non-stop flight to LAX and an A380 service to London. I am feeling slightly hungry since 7am is my usual breakfast time, so I head over to the food section to find some protein-rich food. It is hard to find healthy food at lounges in general (not at the QF lounge in MEL, which in any case is an awesome lounge!) so I go for the egg crepes which look rich in protein and flavor. I steer clear of the egg fritatta, which I know is tasteless, and instead get some prawn dim sum.
(Egg crepe and dim sum)
After eating and checking on news on my iPad, around 7:35am I decided to get up and start walking to the gates, as I know they are at the other end of the A pier. After leaving the lounge, I noticed that there is a SkyTrain that actually takes you to the other end of the A pier. After all these years of living in Singapore I always thought the SkyTrain was only inter-Terminal, not intra-Terminal. So, since I wanted to arrive at the gate early to see if I could get some pics of our airplane, I decide to wait 2 minutes for the SkyTrain instead of walking.
(SkyTrain to gates A15 – A21)
So I get to the end of the A pier and realize that gates A16 – A20 have a common holding area, not too common for SIN, which means there is a bit of a crowd at the security checkpoint as the A345 to LAX is boarding next to our gate. Additionally, these gates seem to have a poor view of the tarmac, so I just sit down and wait for our boarding call.
About 5 minutes later a boarding call is made and the gate area starts to get crowded. I went to the left side, which is the lane for First, Business, PPS Club, and Elite Gold. I was third in line and soon I was walking down the jetway to the Airbus A330-300.
(Our A333 and a A345 in the reflection)
I was only the third person on board and I had pre-selected seat 12A, the 3rd row from the front of the aircraft. The new regional seat is obviously a huge improvement from the old regional seats, which were the typical oversized seats that recline just a bit. SQ deploys the A330s on some medium-haul routes within as well as to BNE, ADL, and PER.
It does not convert into a fully flat bed, and I haven’t tried them on overnight flights yet, but I think the comfort on the seat when fully reclined / extended is similar to the old SpaceBeds SQ used to have on Raffles Class, which, for a regional J product, is quite good.
I do find the seat slightly uncomfortable in the fully upright position, perhaps because I am not very tall (5’8”) and it feels like my feet barely reach the floor. However, as you put the seat into a more relaxed position, the bottom portion moves downwards and it becomes very, very comfy.
(“New” regional J seat)
(Big screen for regional J)
As the J cabin started to fill up, the FAs went around offering drinks: orange juice, tomato juice, and champagne were on offer. I haven’t seen SQ’s tropical sparkle being offered for a long time now, which was some concotion of Sprite, tomato juice, and something else. A shame. I opted for an orange juice, as it was too early to drink any alcohol (is it every too early?).
The FAs also came around offering newspapers and magazines. That was followed by hot linen towels and menus. One of the FAs in charge of my portion of the J cabin noticed I had a pair of Bose QC15s, so she took the SQ noise canceling headphones away to make some space for me. I get the feeling that SQ used to have higher quality noise canceling headphones before, but I may be wrong. Perhaps because the QC15s are just that good!
We pushed back around 8:37am and the pilot came on the PA to let us know that our flying time would be around 4 hours and 40 minutes and that the air was choppy en route, so we should expected quite a bit of turbulence. It seems the air above the Philippines is always very turbulent, as I’ve experienced very violent turbulence in the same area before when flying between China and Australia.
We taxied towards the north passing Terminal 3 and Terminal 1 to our starboard side and made a right turn between T1 and the cargo ramp towards runway 20C. We had another SQ A330 in front of us an I belive an Air Asia A320 as well, so we were third in line for departure.
(SIN T3 is the land of SQ)
As our turn came, we rushed down 20C heading south towards the CBD and port area. Unfortunately being seated on the port side didn’t afford me any good views of the City-state, but at least I got some nice views of the ocean as well as of the hundreds of vessels waiting to call the port of Singapore to transship cargo.
After departure we made a left u-turn and headed northwest towards Formosa island. We were afforded some nice views of the morning sun being reflected on the ocean, but soon enough we were engulfed by clouds, and it was time to recline the seat and relax for the rest of the flight.
Soon after take off, the FAs started walking around the cabin taking orders for drinks. I asked for a glass of Perrier as well as a mug of coffee. I hate drinking coffee in small cups, so kudos to SQ for serving coffee in a proper mug. However, when the FAs started to do the drinks round, they only brought my water and forgot the coffee. We then entered some area of turbulence, so when I reminded them about my coffee, they told me they couldn’t serve it during turbulence and I would have to wait. A shame as I was in dire need of some caffeine at this point.
(A handful of the hundreds of vessels waiting to dock at the port)
After putting the seat in a more comfortable position I turned on KrisWorld to see what was available for IFE. I still believe KrisWorld is the best IFE system out there, with thousands of choices of movies, TV shows, music, and radio. The only other comparable system I have experienced is QR’s Oryx IFE.
I settled on watching some episodes of The Office in which Michael decides to leave and is replaced by Deangelo. Hilarious stuff!
(IFE control screen)
I never got the coffee I had ordered, even after the turbulence ended. A slip on the FAs part, but no big deal. Once the turbulence was over the FAs came around taking orders for brunch. The following was on offer:
Prelude Sliced fresh fruit
Starter Choice of cereals or yoghurt
Cornflakes or All-bran with milk
Plain or fruit yoghurt
Main Beef hor fun
Chinese style fried sliced beef with rice noodles
A popular Singaporean dish
Selection of dim sum
Oriental glutinous rice with chicken, pork dumpling, prawn dumpling and vegetable dumpling
Baked egg with veal sausage, roasted tomato, mushrooms, and roesti potatoes
Finale Coconut crème brulee with jackfruit compote
Breads Choice of bread rolls
Butter – Fruit preserve
Beverages Gourmet coffees & selection of fine teas
I decided to choose the Western option, which seemed the healthier one. The baked eggs were a bit funny, perhaps scrambled eggs or fried eggs would be better, but everything was very tasty, especially the mushrooms and the potatoes. I passed on the dessert but I finally got my mug of coffee. Luckily the coffee on SQ is on the stronger side. You can also order an espresso or a cappuccino.
(“Prelude” – fruit)
After brunch, I whipped out my iPad and did a bit of reading. I had about five issues of The Economist and two of the McKinsey Quarterly to catch up on, and I always try to do so during flights. While I was reading I switched the IFE to the moving map and left one of the window shades open so I could look out the window. It is incredible the number of commercial vessels traversing the South China Sea. It is a very busy shipping channel.
(Interesting cloud formations)
(Cabin during flight)
After about 4 hours in the air, the captain came on the PA to let us know we would be commencing our descent from FL390 down to TPE. We had flown a pretty straight line from Singapore to southern Taiwan and right over Kaohsiung we made a left turn to head due north towards TPE. We flew just west of Taipei city along the coast and made a u-turn to land on runway 23R. TPE, and the city of Taoyuan, where it is located, is due West of the city of Taipei. During descent we could see some windfarms, steelworks, as well as the port of Keelung.
After landing we made an exit to the left and headed for gate D7 at terminal 2. And that concluded a medium-haul, intra-Asia flight on SQ’s A333 with the “new” regional J class seats.
(CA, FM, and CI)
Thanks again for reading. I hope you enjoyed another episode of my Trip Reports. Comments, as usual, are very welcome! ☺
abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 4991 posts, RR: 55 Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 18083 times:
You must be one of the most prolific writers we have based in the Asia/Pacific region! Thanks for the report. SQ seems to definitely have a very nice J product for their regional flying. I haven't flown them in a while, and increasingly am tempted to give them a go.
joffie From Australia, joined Mar 2006, 792 posts, RR: 2 Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 18034 times:
Lovely report. I know SQ are quite strict in turbulence and serving hot drinks - as soon as a bump they "suspend the hot beverage service" as happened many times when I flew them on the ULH A345 USA-SIN flights, however better to be safe then sorry!
You must be one of the most prolific writers we have based in the Asia/Pacific region! Thanks for the report.
Indeed! I join Alex in thanking you for sharing your account of your recent flight. I know very well it is not easy to find the time to write a TR, so many, many thanks. I really liked the pictures; they are very nice, and now I am very looking forward to my next long haul flight.
Coal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1770 posts, RR: 6 Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 16539 times:
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 1): You must be one of the most prolific writers we have based in the Asia/Pacific region! Thanks for the report. SQ seems to definitely have a very nice J product for their regional flying. I haven't flown them in a while, and increasingly am tempted to give them a go.
Thanks Alex! It is always my pleasure to report and write about my trips. I wish I had more long haul flights as I did in the past, but alas it is the nature of my current job.
Quoting joffie (Reply 2): Lovely report. I know SQ are quite strict in turbulence and serving hot drinks - as soon as a bump they "suspend the hot beverage service" as happened many times when I flew them on the ULH A345 USA-SIN flights, however better to be safe then sorry!
Thanks! And yes, you are right that SQ is very strict, but like you said, it's probably better that way.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3): This lounge looks so much better than the old F lounge SQ used to have in T2 (the only SQ lounge i've used)
Oh yes, it is a huge improvement from the old lounge at T2. As a matter of fact, that lounge is currently under renovation as SQ also flies out of T2.
Quoting EddieDude (Reply 4): they are very nice, and now I am very looking forward to my next long haul flight.
You mean on your EWR-SIN flight in September / October?
RvXKaz From Singapore, joined Apr 2011, 189 posts, RR: 3 Reply 12, posted (2 years 3 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 13549 times:
A really lovely TR on SQ J Class. Some really nice photos you've got and thanks for the comprehensiveness and little details that has made this TR an enjoyable read.
The T3 SilverKris Lounge looks really good indeed. I love the lighting and ambience.
I found it quite cool that the IFE Control features the remaining flight time to Taipei. Really interesting indeed.
I have some questions, how were the crew on the flight? And, were announcements made in Taiwanese, in addition to English and Mandarin?
I am curious as I had been wondering why Singapore Airlines has a Taiwanese crew base as my reasoning is that if it were for native language speakers, I'm sure some of the chinese Singaporean crew are able to communicate in Mandarin as well (unless they needed Taiwanese language speakers).
Anyways, a really nice report you've done once again and you had some really nice views during landing too!
Thanks for this really nice reading.
They say that I'm a dreamer. But I'd only Dreamt Skyward.
Coal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1770 posts, RR: 6 Reply 13, posted (2 years 3 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 13081 times:
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): A really lovely TR on SQ J Class. Some really nice photos you've got and thanks for the comprehensiveness and little details that has made this TR an enjoyable read.
Thanks for your kind comments! Always happy to write TRs
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): The T3 SilverKris Lounge looks really good indeed. I love the lighting and ambience.
It is indeed cozy yet sophisticated at the same time.
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): I found it quite cool that the IFE Control features the remaining flight time to Taipei. Really interesting indeed.
It's a nice feature. This information is also on display at the top right corner of the IFE screen while you watch a movie or TV show.
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): I have some questions, how were the crew on the flight? And, were announcements made in Taiwanese, in addition to English and Mandarin?
The announcements were only made in English and Mandarin. It didn't seem as though the crew spoke the local Taiwanese dialect, and in any case, most Taiwanese should be able to comprehend putonghua.
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): I am curious as I had been wondering why Singapore Airlines has a Taiwanese crew base as my reasoning is that if it were for native language speakers, I'm sure some of the chinese Singaporean crew are able to communicate in Mandarin as well (unless they needed Taiwanese language speakers).
Do they still have the crew base? I believe they had it in the past because they used to have about 5 daily flights from SIN and two of those used to continue on to the US. Nowadays, SQ only flies to the US via HKG, ICN, and NRT (in addition to the non-stop services and the service via FRA). Perhaps that's the reason they have a medium-sized lounge at TPE, which is hardly used given that now SQ is down to two daily flights in addition to an extra 3 or 4 weekly flight.
Quoting RvXKaz (Reply 12): Anyways, a really nice report you've done once again and you had some really nice views during landing too!