ManchesterMAN From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 1192 posts, RR: 1 Posted (11 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12173 times:
Since March 2010 Singapore Airlines have been operating MAN-SIN with a stop in MUC. SQ has full traffic rights for all sectors which makes for an interesting short haul hop. Living in London now this is hardly the most convenient way to get to Munich but with a free weekend and my last remaining bmi miles to burn, now seemed the perfect time to reacquaint myself with SQ’s business class product.
I planned this weekend to be my farewell to bmi taking what would almost certainly be my last “pure” bmi flight from LHR to MAN (many bmi flights have already moved over to “BA operated by bmi” but LHR-MAN was not yet one of them). I also thought it would be nice to step foot on my new Star Alliance airline, Aegean, who kindly matched my bmi Gold status. So I ended up with a LHR-MAN-MUC-ATH-LHR routing, with MAN-MUC-ATH booked in business class for a handful of bmi miles (MUC-ATH on LH).
However in this report I’ll focus entirely on the SQ flight as I haven’t seen a business class report on this short route before (but I’m sure someone will now point one out!)
SQ327 MAN-MUC 26 MAY 12
Aircraft: 9V-SWH (B777-312ER)
STD (ATD): 09:10 (09:05)
STA (ATA): 12:15 (12:02)
The day started in Heald Green, a few minutes away from MAN where I stayed overnight in the Premier Inn where £29 gets you a nice comfy clean room right next to Heald Green train station from where you can be at the airport in 3 minutes for £1.50 (much cheaper than staying at many of the airport hotels that charge significantly more than that for the shuttle buses and take longer too). The weather was beautiful and clear and incidentally was due to be hotter in MAN than my final destination ATH!
Waiting for the train at Heald Green
Having not flown from MAN T2 for quite a while I decided to get to the airport early to have a look around so caught the 06:32 train to the airport. Only a few minutes later I was making my way from the station to T2 and for once all the moving walkways were working.
Moving walkway between “The Station” and T2
Upon entering the terminal I was reminded that it was school holidays as the check in hall was packed with Thomson flights to the Caribbean the main cause of the queues. The SQ desks were very quiet so I went for a walk before checking in. Interestingly when I walked past the US Airways check in the screens were showing flight cancelled and some very angry looking passengers were standing by the US Airways ticket desk waiting for someone to show. As it happens the flight wasn’t cancelled and the aircraft arrived on stand from PHL before we pushed back (strange!)
T2 check in hall near SQ desks
Outside view of T2
Clearly the business cabin on this flight is mainly populated by MUC flyers because checking the seat map a few days before departure the MUC-SIN sector was almost 100% full in business but MAN-SIN only had 3 other people. Because all the best seats had been snapped up ex MUC all but one of the other MAN travellers (all continuing to SIN) were consigned to the back of the rear cabin. As I was only travelling to MUC I had a free choice of seats so chose 11A in the front mini cabin (known as 3A by some as it is not far off the F class seats). So I checked in and was given 11A as reserved and also checked through to ATH. I was disappointed that the boarding pass was not an SQ one but a flimsy paper one on which “Business class” stickers were carefully placed (only on SQ!) I was also given an invitation to the Escape Lounge.
Now that all the shops are post-security there was nothing left but to head up the stairs and through the checkpoint. I had fast track access to bypass the queues. Strangely at security I placed my bag down in the tray and noticed I had left my water bottle in the side pocket. I told the security officer so he could remove it before it went through the scanner which he did and then he placed it back into my tray! On the other side another officer took my tray to one side and told me I couldn’t take water through the security checkpoint and would have to search my bag! I just rolled my eyes and politely pointed out that his colleague put it in there to which I got a strange look. I just went along with it all!
T2 airside shopping
Skipping the expanded retail opportunities I went straight to the gate areas to see which aircraft were around. It was mostly charter flight from Thomson and Monarch as none of the scheduled long haul flights had arrived yet. I wanted to wait until the SQ 77W arrived before heading to the lounge and it duly arrived early at 07:30. Strangely it was marshalled to a remote area facing the terminal where it stayed for quite some time. It turns out a Monarch A300 was occupying the intended stand (206) and was showing no sign of moving (the ground staff looking after the SQ flight were sitting near me wondering what was going on). I eventually gave up waiting and headed to the escape lounge.
9C-SWH arriving from MUC
The lounge was busy being as it is the lounge for SQ/DL/UA and others. However I found a seat and helped myself to some pastries and toast. The selection also included porridge, cheeses and a few other bits and bobs. Fine for me as I don’t do breakfast usually. I didn’t linger for long as there are no airfield views from the lounge so after 20 minutes went to track down my aircraft which had found a home at gate 204 (the Monarch A300 was still on stand 206). One thing I must mention is that the windows at MAN are filthy making photos difficult in some parts. They should really invest in a window cleaner. I’m sure many here would volunteer!
The offending MON A300 finally pushing back from gate 206
Boarding commended at 08:45 and the gate area was quite empty. I don’t know what SQ loads ex MAN are like at the moment but it didn’t look great (I know the flight is shared with MUC but remember out of the people joining in MAN some would be leaving in MUC so I’d be surprised if MAN provided more than 25% of the SIN load).
9V-SWH at the gate in MAN
9V-SWH from the other side!
Walking down the jetway I was already getting a whiff of that distinctive smell you get on an SQ aircraft. I was the first to board and was warmly welcomed at the door by a male and female FA as I had the pleasure of turning left to find my seat. First impression was the seat was very dirty and a little worn. This was my second experience of the long haul SQ business seat (the first on a brand new A380) and they don’t seem to be wearing well. Incidentally this was my second flight on this aircraft, the first in F class from SIN-LHR so I really am going down in the world
Forward mini biz cabin
At my seat was a menu, headset, blanket and pillow. No slippers or other amenities were offered unsurprisingly. No sooner had a sat down than I was offered a drink and I obliged with an OJ. I was addressed by name as always which occurred every time I was asked anything, although remembering 4 names isn’t that hard! I was joined in the mini cabin by one more passenger in 12A and that was it as per the seat map. Premium loads were F0, C4. Not great.
Where am I?
Boarding was completed and doors closed within 15 minutes and we pushed back ahead of schedule at 09:05. It was an easterly wind so we departed from runway 05L, taxiing past the runway viewing park (hopefully someone snapped a photo). The take off run was longer than expected given that we were only fuelled for a 1:50 hour flight, although I have heard the mighty GE90 straining more on takeoff before.
T2 line up after pushback
Lining up on runway 05L
Lift off after a long take off run
Shortly later the seatbelt sign was switched off and the crew set to work. First I was offered another drink and then meal choice was taken. The choice on this short flight was between stir fried chicken and apply pancakes. Now usually SQ like to put meat in everything so I had ordered a vegetarian meal and I was offered this or my choice from the menu.
Menu for MAN-MUC sector
The pancakes sounded nice so I went for them. Within 5 minutes of ordering my table was made up and my meal delivered. All I can say is that was one tasty breakfast – top marks to SQ there.
I didn’t bother with the entertainment system other than the airshow given the short duration of the flight but a full choice was available.
Putting my feet up (shoes are clean but they were removed after photo taken!)
One difference between this flight and other SQ flights I have taken is that the crew were not over attentive to the extent that they were annoying (usually I find it overkill the number of times they check on you etc.) That is not to say the service wasn’t good, it was. It just wasn’t overkill. Luckily they were just sitting around in the galley and the F cabin for most of the flight giving me the opportunity to roam and photo!
My seat (11A)
With the other two business class passengers at the back the second cabin looked deserted so I got some clean photos of the cabin.
Rear Business Cabin
Rear Business Cabin (Front view)
Rear Biz cabin standard window seat
After that I had 20 minutes of R&R before we were already descending into MUC. It was a nice day in Germany as well with some nice views on landing which was very smooth. Before long we had reached our gate where jetways were attached to both doors 1 and 2 L. Wanting a snap of the F cabin I exited through the front door, saying my goodbyes and entering the nice T2 at MUC. A final photo of my aircraft (through clean windows!) and I was off to find the Senator lounge to wait for my onward flight to ATH.
Landing in MUC
F Cabin (front view)
F Cabin (rear view)
In summary a very nice flight and great to experience the SQ product so close to home. They always seem to deliver and they did again this time even though the flight was only short. It seemed very strange flying SQ and not going to Singapore (wish I was) but I’ll be back there at the end of the year courtesy of SQ business again. I’m very much looking forward to that.
Knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1408 posts, RR: 17 Reply 5, posted (11 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 10545 times:
Cool report. I've been wondering for a while what kind of service SQ provides on such a short intra European flight in Business Class. Those pancakes look so soft and fluffy! Pity the route doesn't seem to be doing too well.
How does the bulkhead seat compare to a standard seat in J?
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): This was my second experience of the long haul SQ business seat (the first on a brand new A380) and they don’t seem to be wearing well.
Couldn't agree more, there was lots of wear and tear visible on my seat on the A380. Also I thought the seatback storage compartments appeared to be very flimsy. It was interesting because I flew on a 772 from 2002 the next day with the business class seats looking almost brand new (except that they were the old style cradle seats). I don't know why the new business class seats are ageing so badly.
ManchesterMAN From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 1192 posts, RR: 1 Reply 10, posted (11 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 6633 times:
F is still F at the end of the day. Yes there isn't a great difference between row 11 on the 77W and the F cabin but the service is very different both on the ground and in the air. I'd take F any day, although admittedly wouldn't pay using my own money, but how many people do!?
mainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2064 posts, RR: 6 Reply 13, posted (11 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5842 times:
Thanks ManchesterMAN. An interesting read, such a shame that it involves such an under-utilised SQ departure!
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): I told the security officer so he could remove it before it went through the scanner which he did and then he placed it back into my tray! On the other side another officer took my tray to one side and told me I couldn’t take water through the security checkpoint and would have to search my bag! I just rolled my eyes and politely pointed out that his colleague put it in there to which I got a strange look. I just went along with it all!
Quoting ManchesterMAN (Thread starter): ! I was joined in the mini cabin by one more passenger in 12A and that was it as per the seat map. Premium loads were F0, C4. Not great.
Anecdotally, SQ is doing better than it had at one stage. Recent figures have been sounding optimistically healthy. We live in hope. At least MAN didn't go the same way as SQ's ATH and AUH (I think it was) routes, and there's obviously no sentimentality in business.
Precisely the kind of thing which upsets some of us MAN supporters. Complete lack of attention to detail, I always think. The smoking area at T1 is diabolical, and should be much better, bearing in mind that even impressionable, high yielding, front end foreign business people (and inward investors) smoke.
ManchesterMAN From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 1192 posts, RR: 1 Reply 14, posted (11 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4784 times:
Quoting adamspotter (Reply 12): hehe, so it's quite common that one of them doesn't work? Just like my last visit..
Yes very common in my experience!
Quoting mainMAN (Reply 13): Anecdotally, SQ is doing better than it had at one stage. Recent figures have been sounding optimistically healthy. We live in hope. At least MAN didn't go the same way as SQ's ATH and AUH (I think it was) routes, and there's obviously no sentimentality in business.
The stop in MUC must make this route less attractive for some flyers. From MAN-PER for example you can fly EK with 1 stop or now with SQ you get 2 stops. Even to SIN there are many 1 stop options. Ok a stop in MUC on the same aircraft is better than a connection as you don't stand any chance of missing it but a stop is a stop and SQ's prices are never the cheapest. The only thing countering that is that SQ use the latest inflight product on the route compared with the older 772 when it was non stop. But again you can fly EK and get an A380 and connect onto an A345 to PER which isn't too shabby either. I was looking at the premium loads ex MAN for other days close to my flight and things were better so I think/hope I got lucky and the route is doing much better. Hopefully SIN-MAN sticks around for many more years to come.