This is the first of four trip reports on a recent trip to Beijing. The photos and a few videos are on my blog site for those you like to see pretty pics while they read: http://www.carlousmoochous.com/2012/...8-melbourne-to-singapore-business/ I Hope you enjoy it
Route: Melbourne to Singapore
Carrier: Singapore Airlines
Class: Business Class
Terminal: Unfortunately our connecting flight from Canberra was delayed by over an hour due to a passing weather front so it is fortunate that connecting to Melbourne’s International Terminal is very painless and an easy walk den either the Qantas or domestic terminals. Unlike Sydney Airport, the express departures queue is significantly shorter and faster than the standard security and immigration lines, and if it wasn’t for the outwards Qantas crew in front of us we would have had a clear run door to door.
Due to the delay on our connecting flight, arrival in the lounge was about 2mins before boarding commenced and thus wasn’t able to really review or experience Melbourne’s SilverKris lounge. My first impressions were that the lounge is disproportionally small compared to the size of the business and first cabins on the Singapore aircraft. For the brief few minutes we spent there we struggled to find a seat, and the lounge felt overly crowded. My colleague spent some time in the lounge the day before and you can read his report here: http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...irlines-trip-report-mel-36448.html
Departure: Like clockwork as soon as our departure time came around the weather deteriorated with showers over the airport and only 1 runway in use. The north runway alternated between take offs and landings and after 2 QF 737′s and 3 JQ A320′s took for the sky’s and just as many landed, we rolled onto the active, the engines roared into life and we took to the sky. Being the first time in a 777 I was surprised by the roar these engines put out after take off but was glad when we spooled back a little and entered a gradual cruise above the clouds.
Of course while all this was happening I, like the rest of the cabin were sipping away on our pre departure beverages. I chose the Henroit Brut Souverain Champagne but the other choices included water, juices or the house special, Apple Bliss – apple juice, lemon and lemonade. I like when airlines go and make a signature drink or featured mix instead of the standard juice or bubbles option.
Seat: 15K. The personal space provided for on this aircraft is the best I’ve experienced to date and puts both Qantas Mk1 skybed and Cathay Pacific’s original herringbone to shame. The full leather taupe seats are wide enough to sit in whatever position gets you comfortable and I love it that I don’t feel like I need a shoehorn to get out of the seat or be a gymnast to climb over my neighbor to get to the aisles.
I know a lot of travelers complain that the isn’t enough storage around at the seat on most aircraft, but Singapore really have you covered. Below the IFE monitor are two storage boxes large enough to take your amenities, wallet, passport, camera, phone, book or other smaller items. These boxes latch closed so there is little chance these items will go flying in unexpected turbulence – note red means open and green means locked. In the centre of you and your neighbors IFE screens are magazine racks and your noise canceling headsets as well as two water bottle holders (although if you have your tray table out its almost impossible to reach the water bottle).
Closer to you, the centre console has a two level rack for storing any items you need close to you, I’m not sure what else you would put here that you couldn’t also put in the storage boxes, but I found it really handy for my camera as I could reach it easily even during meal service. Beside your chair is a neat laptop slot which looks as if it would fit a decent sized laptop and easily accommodated my iPad above which the in seat power outlet is conveniently located. Although behind the seat is labelled as no stowage, it seems to be a popular spot for blankets and pillows when not in use.
The outer armrest is home to the controls for your seat and IFE and although the area beneath is cut out to maximize your space when reclined, it’s no good for storing small items as they can early fall beneath or behind the seat. Of course if thats not enough storage boxes for all your odds and sods there is ample overhead bin space above. I had an entire bin to myself which easily housed my roller bag and man bag. There is a coat hook on the front of the seat but the crew are happy to hang your coat or shirt up for you if you ask.
If you need extra light there is a standard overhead light (but no personal air vent) and an adjustable LED side light above the headphone jack. Unfortunately on this flight the side wall cabin lighting was on throughout the entire flight making the window seats less desirable if you wanted to get some sleep.
As an angled flat bed getting comfortable for sleep can be a little tricky and I ended up using the semi flat position which was more comfortable than fully angled flat, although the lighting / time of day was probably more prohibitive to sleep than the bed itself. The leather seat really helps avoid that sweaty feeling that often results of sleeping on board – so the seats not only look good but are practical.
Aircraft: 777-300. The first impression on entering the 777 for the first time is just how wide they are and how much open space is available. The overhead bins fold up away from the cabin which makes it feel especially spacious and the way the galleys are positioned, with the centre bulkhead set back further than the outboard bulkheads adds to the open feeling by removing the straight solid wall. The business cabin is configured in a 2-2-2 staggered configuration meaning you not have line of sight across the cabin, which increases the feel of privacy.
This bird is equipped with a 3 class cabin with 8 First, 50 business and 226 economy seats spread across 4 sections with business and first each having their own sections in front of 2 economy sections. The economy cabin is in a 3-3-3 config while those lucky enough to be in first enjoy 1-2-1. The 777 is a little louder onboard than the A330 series aircraft but it is a bigger bird and those massive engines on the wings that generate that extra noise are an impressive sight – they look about the same width as the dash 8 we flew to Melbourne on.
The toilet near door 2 right has to be one of the largest bathrooms I’ve seen on an aircraft before with plenty of room to freshen up or get changed into something more comfortable to sleep in. The remaining toilets are standard size but are all complete with amenities including after shave, moisturizer, a draw of toothbrushes and razors and ironically a communal bottle of mouthwash.
IFE: The KrisWorld IFE is delivered through a decent sized 15″ widescreen monitor and a pair of noise canceling headsets and is complete with a good selection of movies, tv shows and music as well as games for the kids. I was pleased to see that you can select music which will continue to play while you navigate the menus looking for other shows or music. Once your tv or movie program ends you are returned to your music selection – much better than standard background music. I watched a few episodes of big bang and modern family however the system seemed to progressively slow down making it really hard to navigate the menus, which got a little frustrating.
The moving map is also available which loops between the map and current flight details or if you want to brush up or learn the basics of a new language there is also an application for that although it’s a little slow to load but once loaded the language game is quite fun.
Meal: The meal service commenced with a post take off drinks service of which I decided to try the KrisFlyer sling before orders were taken for the main for those who didn’t take up the book the cook service. Book the cook is available out of selected Singapore destinations where first and business class passengers are able to preorder their main selection up to 24 hours before departure from a much wider range than available onboard. Service commenced about an hour after take off with a trolley progressing down each aisle delivering a white cloth covered tray with our entree – smoked duck and duck confit with fig paste, mesclun.
I have never really gotten into duck however the last few flights have had duck as the entree and I’ve found both to be great ways to kick off the meal. For this flight the dressing was dished up on serving from a stainless steel sauce jug – much fancier than a packet dressing. A range of breads, including garlic were served with the entree and then again during the maim service. As passengers finished their entrees mains were delivered individually, apparently grouped by dish choice. I must have been the only one to choose the macadamia encrusted chicken as I was one of the last to be served, however it was worth the wait. I guess this is where the book the cook can be a drawback, with so many different meals to prepare it can take some time to get your main.
If you didn’t book the cook the onboard menu had four choices:
Baked snapper fillet with fettuccine, vine ripened tomato, green beans and salsa verde.
Stir fried beef in oyster sauce with carrot, broccoli and fried rice.
Indian butter chicken with saffron rice, tempered black dal, raita and pappadum.
Egg noodles in broth with sliced pork and Chinese greens.
The finale as Singapore call it consisted of a choice of tiramisu ice cream or lemon sorbet with berry compote of which I took the lemon sorbet which was a really refreshing way to cleanse your palate after the meal. A trolley of cheeses and fruits were then served – the fruits being whole fruit as opposed to pre cut servings – I guess this is fresher but cutting up your own fruit is so #firstworldproblem. Chocolates and hot drinks were then served for which I went with a really good hot chocolate to try and relax before sleep with.
Prior to landing into Singapore refreshments were offered including either Linguine agile olio (pasta sautéed with olive oil, garlic, bacon, liguraion olive oil and fine ripened tomato) or a Balinese style fried rice with seafood. Given I had already booked the cook for my next flight and I wanted to try the offerings at the SikverKris lounge in Singapore I decided to pass on the refreshment option – and the flight is only 7.5 hours – not long enough for two full meals unless you are really hungry.
Arrival: Our captain advised after take off that he would do his best to try and make up some time during the flight which ended up meaning that we arrived only a few minutes late after our late departure and long hold for take off out of Melbourne. We experienced a few bumps out of Melbourne and again over Bali but they were only minor during an otherwise smooth afternoon flight across the vast expanses of Australia. I’m always amazed at how quickly they get the gates attached, doors open and passengers deplaning at Asian airports – why does it take so long everywhere else? Anyway we deplaned via 1L and were soon sitting in the SilverKris Lounge of Terminal 3 waiting for a connection to Beijing.
Crew: The Singapore girls (and guys) can not be faulted in their service levels. Everything is done with a genuine smile and no request is too big or small. The crew to passenger ratio is good although sometimes it looks a little busy during the individual main meal delivery, but that’s more a consequence of the individual personalized service. The crew are there to make you comfortable and relaxed and achieve that mission to a tee. I always say the crew make or break a flight and on this one they definitely helped to make it. Our crew went the extra mile and made the flight so enjoyable.
Overall: My first time experiencing Singapore Airlines lived up to my expectations of a real 5 star airline. Thought has been put into the development of the entire business class service, from the seat, cabin layout, service order and the expansive menu options available. All of these combine to provide a comfortable way to travel long distances and arrive feeling relaxed and fresh – something any business traveler relies on during stays thousands of miles from home. Well done Singapore – if there was a star alliance partner in Australia domestically you’d be an even greater threat to Qantas that you already are on international routes.