Qantasclub From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 757 posts, RR: 3 Posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 18836 times:
Report: SQ MEL-SIN (J) SIN-JFK (Suites)
It’s that time of the year again in what has become an annual pilgrimage to Chicago for a regular work conference. Of course, unlike most sane people, I prefer to embark upon a much more circuitous route that will allow me to spend more time onboard my favourite carrier, SQ. So whilst most of my colleagues are booked on the daily QF whalejet service to LA (QF 93) with connections onto Chicago, I am heading west via Singapore then boarding SQ’s blue ribbon route on SQ 26 to JFK via Frankfurt before ending off with the torturous inevitable US domestic connection to Chicago (SWA). The price to pay for this is that I have to leave a day earlier and arrive a day later than my colleagues; proof that I’m a true A-netter (or A-Nutter which is probably more appropriate). I want to also say, before I start that there are so many wonderful trip reports posted on here and I really do appreciate the time and effort fellow A-netters take to post their reports; I enjoy reading them so much that I check the forum, at least every 1-2 days to see if anything interesting has come up. Anyway, here’s my chance to contribute back a little.
30th May 2012
The day started off with a morning flight on SQ 238 MEL-SIN; left my wife and kids at home sleeping and was dropped off by my sister who wanted to borrow my car whilst I away. Just after the freeway turnoff to MEL, there was already traffic banked up. The drops off areas were congested as usual and the departure hall felt cluttered and moderately crowded. I really find Melbourne airport very disappointing; yet another example of how privatisation has not worked for the benefit of customers. They have simply failed to upgrade what is an essential piece of infrastructure sufficiently to keep up with demand. Whilst it is certainly by no means a diabolical airport, it could be so much better.
Check in was fairly painless and swift. The aircraft today was an SQ retrospectively refurbished 777-300 9V-SYL; delivered in 2005. I was flying in the business cabin today and chose seat 13A. I asked if anyone was sitting next to me, and the check-in lady said no. Not that it matters hugely, but it is always nice to have an empty seat next to me for privacy. After collecting my boarding pass and immigration cards, I was keen to meet up with a colleague of mine who was booked on QF 93 leaving 1 hour earlier than my flight. We cleared immigration and headed to the lounge pavillion. The SQ lounge dragon initially said she couldn’t allow my friend into the Silver Kris lounge as she was travelling business class on Qantas, but she eventually waved us through (as an exception). See, it pays to be nice and smile a lot. Even though I am a Qantas club member, there was no way they would let me in as I wasn’t flying on QF today. Anyway, as most of you know, the SQ lounge at MEL is nothing special at all. In fact, most of SQ’s lounges outside of Singapore are fairly low key…it’s obviously a component of their product they choose to invest less on, which is fine as most people fly SQ for the onboard hard and soft product.
The refurbished bit of MEL is quite nice although it is always annoying to be forced to walk through endless shop after shop after shop on the way to the gates.
Nice pic of the re-birthed Nancy Bird Walton; surely a historic and symbolic aircraft for Qantas; being her first A380 and the first A380 to nearly crash and blow an engine. Here she is, all shiny and new after a $150 million repair. Good to see.
I said good bye to my friend who would arrive in Chicago a full day ahead of me, but one must fulfil one’s duty to fly the more interesting path…
Once through the secure area, Melbourne airport has a lot of nice expansive, glassed areas with full views of the runway and taxiways. As I was sick of the lounge, I sat at the gate gazing across the airfield, trying not to wet myself with excitement at the sheer delight of hanging out with the world’s best airline for the next 36 hours.
By this time, the full contingent of SQ crew and pilots had arrived at the gate but the aircraft had not arrived from Singapore yet. I observed the ground crew briefing the cabin crew on the developments; The incoming flight, SQ 237 was in a holding pattern hence the slight delay. They were updated almost every few minutes with details like “estimated landing in 7 minutes”, revised boarding time in XXX mins, etc and already lists were generated of potentially tight connections in Singapore and what contingency arrangements would have to be made. Overall, this reflected to me a high level of operational efficiency; not always the case with SQ’s MEL ground staff (from my previous experiences).
Anyway, eventually, 9V-SYL arrived and within an hour, the aircraft was ready for boarding which is a rather impressive turnaround for an international medium haul flight.
I was keen to board and settle in. SQ’s regional business class seats are very comfortable for short-medium hauls where long periods of sleep were not required. Once onboard, the SQ show kicked into gear with all the expected deliveries of: warm friendly greeting by name, welcome drink (tropical fizz or champagne), papers, magazines, menus. Eventually a passenger came and sat next to me; oh well. Never mind. He seemed nice enough and we chatted for awhile. German guy from Munich living in Melbourne for work but going to Singapore for meetings.
We left the gate 30 mins late, even though the aircraft was almost an hour late. Well done to the ground crew at MEL for such a quick turnaround.
Those GE B777 engines really pack a punch don’t they. We shot off like a rocket down the runway. Cool.
Lunch was served very soon after take off: Today’s selection was:
Starter: Mesculan with duck liver and duck confit with balsamic dressing
Main: choice of
Snapper Fillet with Cannellini white bean, smoked eggplant puree and gremolata sauce
Oriental Roast Chicken with Chinese greens and fragrant rice
Seared Lamb Loin with Jus, brocolli, cherry tomato and pumpkin mash
Beef curry, spicy vegetables and steamed rice
Macadamina Ice cream and fruit coulis
Tiramisu and kahlua sauce
I chose the Snapper fillet. Both the entre and main were delicious. My neighbour chose the same thing.
We had a nice conversation over lunch. Being German, the conversation invariably moved towards the Euro-zone crisis, and the lingering resentment of German taxpayers having to bailout Greece and other countries and at the same time, ironically, being hated and blamed for the hardship in Greece by locals there. Such a dysfunctional mess with no end in sight. Makes me realise how fortunate we are in Australia to have a booming economy. The economic problems we whinge about are rich man’s problems; insignificant compared with most of the world at present.
Didn’t really fancy what was on offer on Krisworld for May…ended up watching Underworld: Awakenings……dreadful gore-fest. After the movie, I reclined the seat and got a couple of hours sleep. A refreshment was served 1.5 hours pre-landing.
Singapore fried carrot cake with prawns and pickled turnip or
Chicken and mushroom pie.
I chose the carrot cake which came with a tub of belachan…..now…for those of you who are not familiar with this garnishing; belachan is a Malaysian/Singaporean prawn paste. It has a very strong odour not unlike the pungent smell of toe Jam…but only 100X more intense. Having grown up in Singapore myself, I love it but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those passengers who weren’t accustomed to this smell as the aroma of belachan filled the cabin. Anyway, as my wife was back home and I wasn’t planning on kissing anyone for the next week, I happily spread the entire contents of belachan all over my carrot cake. Yum. Much to my surprise, my German neighbour chose the carrot cake too….needless to say…he left the belachan container well alone.
I do love that Singapore airlines has noticeably made a huge effort to cater to Singaporeans over the last few years. Their onboard local hawker food is often authentic and very satisfying; especially for any Singaporean who has lived or spent time overseas and is craving for local Singaporean dishes (and don’t we all have that craving……)
The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful. Landed in Singapore 15 mins early, despite the late departure. I had a few hours to kill before the JFK flight around midnight so I cleared immigration and left the airport. Changi’s Terminal 3 is always a delight to transit through…..just superlative in every way. Period. No wait for anything; immigration, bags, etc. And the surroundings are serene and peaceful.
Having quite a few meals ahead of me, I was adamant I didn’t want to keep eating in Singapore; but catching up with relatives, they insisted on dinner at this new Penang eatery in T3…Gurney drive? Wonderful food…amazing prawn mee.
Anyway, around 9pm, I was dropped off at the first class check in lounge at T3 again. It was rather empty and the check in process was quick, smooth and efficient. Having cleared immigration, I proceeded to the Private Room in the First class lounge section of the Silver Kris lounge.
It’s always funny how this walk through to the inner sanctum of the lounge (the private room) leads one through several posts manned by lounge dragons. I was addressed by name at each post and before entering the private room, I had a quick shower. Great having a refreshing shower before a long haul flight. When I emerged, two lounge staff came up to me (whom I hadn’t even met before) and again, addressed me by name (how did they learn this so quickly?) and asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink. After perusing the menu, I decided to just chill out without eating and save room for dining onboard. See, I do have self control after all….occasionaly.
Soon, boarding was called and I made my way to gate A5. A long-ish security line (for Changi).
As you can see from the holding room, quite a few full flights departing from Changi tonight. Just pre-midnight is generally rush hour for Changi with a dense departure schedule for flights to Europe and Australia. I was chatting to my uncle (who works for SQ) about it and he said that currently, delays are because Changi still uses 1 runway for take off and 1 dedicated for landings but SATs are about to introduce simultaneous take offs and landings on each runway soon to minimise delays. For t hose of you who use Changi often, I’m sure you’ve noticed a dramatic increase in congestion over the past year or so.
As it was getting late, I was tired and keen to board soon and settle down. Thankfully, after parents with small kids, Suites passengers were called to board next. As I headed down the dedicated aerobridge for Suites, the leading stewardess already called out my name “Good evening Dr xxx, welcome aboard. If you would follow me this way, I will take you to your suite”. I chose suite 3A tonight; even though it has less privacy, I always choose 3A because of the extra window (the other suites have only 2 windows).
Don’t know why, as it is actually quite hard to look out of an A380 window on the lower deck due to the narrowing of the actual outside window compared with the cabin window. (most of you who have flown the A380 will know what I mean). I won’t go on about the suite as there are plenty of posted reports with details and pictures already. Tonight’s A380 was 9V-SKE, delivered to SQ in June 2008. She still looks great after 4 years; the suite is still almost brand new. I think this cabin has held it’s age much better than SQ’s business class seats, many of which are falling apart.
Anyway, as I sat down, 2 other crew came and introduced themselves and offered me a drink, hot towel, menu, magazines and papers. Very warm and efficient; as usual, from SQ crew. The leading stewardess had a chat with me about my trip to Chicago; she said SQ used to fly there several years ago.
There was a short delay due to congestion at Changi and wait for a take off slot (very usual these days) we were thundering down the runway into the night sky. Almost immediately after the fasten seat belt light when off, the crew sprung into action. A quick supper was served; here is the menu for tonight’s flight:
Grilled white and green asparagus with warm prawn, goat cheese and herb Vinaigrette or
Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella with Pesto and cherry tomatoes with an apple balsamic dressing
White asparagus cream soup with green asparagus timbale and truffle
Double-boiled Cantonese beef broth with turnip and carrot
Black Cod, Barigoule style artichoke, fava beans, mashed potato (Matt Moran)
Wok-fried beef in oriental black peppercorn sauce, vegetables and fried rice
Green asparagus royal tart
Singapore style prawn noodle soup
I had the asparagus; it was surprisingly tasty, from someone who doesn’t eat his veggies.
This was followed by a wonderfully intense an flavoursome Cantonese beef broth
I chose the Singapore prawn noodle soup, even though I had this exact same dish a couple of hours ago at the penang eatery at Changi; I guess I just miss my hawker fare. It was excellent.
Full, and rather sleepy from a food coma, I skipped the fruit and cheese.
After a quick change, I returned to find my suite transformed into a capacious full-length bed. Very comfortable indeed. Toss and turned for a few minutes before drifting into a deep sleep for the next 7-8 hours.
I woke up over eastern Europe; feeling refreshed; watched a movie: Safehouse (average). After this, I preferred to watch a couple of episodes of Come Fly with Me. Had to control myself from chuckling out loud. So incredibly funny.
Went for a wander round and found this interesting console….had to resist pressing a few of those buttons…..
Around 1.5 hours from arrival, breakfast was served. I forgot, but I had actually ordered the book the cook option Yu Pian Mei Fen, but I liked the idea of the braised ee-fu noodles with seafood. This is an SQ and CX classic and I find only these 2 Asian airlines do this dish acceptably well. The stewardess brought the 2 dishes for me to have a look at and recommended I try the ee-fu noodles; I was happy to comply and wasn’t disappointed.
Choice of cereal or yoghurt
Brased ee-fu noodles with prawns, fish, scallops and greens
European breakfast of ham, salami, cheese and egg
Fresh eggs prepared onboard (boiled, scrambled or baked) with poached asparagus, smoked salmon and caviar or bacon and ham.
Bread rolls and pastries
Shortly, we touched down at Frankfurt Main; which is always a hive of activity in the mornings, especially. Huge LH beasts everywhere, including the A380. Also spotted this 787 for the first time.
As I disembarked, an SQ ground staff member carrying a plaque with my name on it; “good morning Dr QFclub, I am here to escort you to the senator lounge. Did you have a pleasant flight?”. Her name was Christiana and we had a nice chat on the way to the lounge. She said since SQ began A380 operations, they began escorts for Suites passengers as the route through security and back up to the departures area was very confusing. Having experienced this first hand on many occasions at FRA, I was grateful for the escort, through a dedicated security lane.
The Lufthansa senator’s lounge is large and quite busy, but perfectly adequate. Nothing special at all, really. Considering this is their home base, but I guess they pulled out al the stops for their separate first class terminal.
Very soon, after around 1 hour or so, I headed back down to the gate.
Large contingent from Nanyang school. Poor things, being made to wear their school uniform for such a long haul. They were very well behaved though.
Very soon, boarding was called again. There’s always a certain inevitable chaos associated with boarding a full A380. There were only 2 passengers in Suites for the short transatlantic hop to JFK. Flying time today would be 7 hrs 45 mins. I was welcomed onboard by the next set of crew.
Departure was on time and uneventful.
Despite the short hop, 2 meals were served on this sector: the menu is as follows:
Brunch (Frankfurt to New York)
Cereals or yoghurt
Kway Teow Soup with chicken and chinese greens
Singapore fired carrot cake
Trilogy of beef fillet, ham, chicken and café de paris butter, vegetables and potato cake
Fresh eggs with ham, bason, chicken sausage, manchego cheese and mesculan
Warm chocolate fondant with raspberry coulis and whipped cream
I had booked the cook ex FRA: Lobster Thermidor. Finally, had my fill of hawker food, but then again, who can say no to Lobster? It was a generous portion and well cooked, but I think ex SIN is still better for this SQ staple BTC dish.
Dessert was amazing. It even passed the ooze test (to qualify for a warm fondant)
After brunch, I got a few hours sleep and watched another movie: Contraband…very good. After this movie, there were really very few movies on Krisworld’s list I had any interest in watching which is disappointing as I usually catch up on movies during these long hauls.
What annoys me about Krisworld are the constant and repetitive Far East Organisation ads at the beginning of every single TV show or movie. Usually, they try to sell luxury apartments or condos in Singapore and the vacuous marketing slogans are mind-numbingly stupid. “Inessence……Luxury today is a physical, mental and even spiritual experience….Inessence….created with space…to give you space…textures…senses….Inessence….YOUR world…according to..YOU…blah blah blah.” Who writes this stuff!? Then there are the banking corporate ads with the Bank of Singapore always featuring a middle aged man appealing to most Singaporeans’ aspiration and obsession with wealth creation; “you’re a rich man….. but then again, as you look around…you’ve always been a rich man….” Then something about values and corporate banking (because the 2 go hand in hand, as we all know). Ok, enough ranting!
A light meal was served prior to touch down in JFK, actually, around 1 hour 30 mins before to be precise:
Warm seared spiced prawn with caviar, cauliflower custard and tomato soup
This dish has been on the menu before on my previous flights to JFK….it must be popular for them to retain it 1 whole year later. I found it quite boring, as I had tasted it before. Same with the next dish of Lobster….but hey…I can’t say no to Lobster.
Bresse chicken with morel polenta, roasted zuchinni, asparagus and jus
Oriental lobster in ginger-spring onion sauce with flower mushrooms, leafy greens and fried rice
White german asparagus with butter sauce, new potatoes, smoked and cooked ham
Strawberry ice cream with dark cherries and chocolate sauce
Dessert was a nice refreshing end to the meal, the creamy sweetness of the ice cream with the acidity of the cherries.
Well, after an epic journey more than halfway around the world; we landed in JFK on time.
On final approach wit h mantatten skyline to the left.
I thanked each of the crew for looking after me so well and bid them farewell. The leading stewardess and I had a chat about what she enjoyed doing in Frankfurt….she said the food was amazing…pasta, steak, etc…and I thought….can SQ girls eat normally? Their figures are so slim it must take quite a bit of work/diet modification to keep it that way.
Immigration was a breeze, but it took AGES for the bags to come out. Ground staff seemed confused and helpless to rectify the delay as the economy bags were coming out well before the Suites and Business class bags. Oh well.
The last sector of my trip involved a tight connection from LGA to MDW. I got to LGA in a cab, with plenty of time to spare. After such a wonderful time in suites on SQ, it was always going to be a rude shock to the system to fly domestically within the US. LGA was a diabolical MESS. Long security queues, extremely crowded terminal gate areas with half the number of seats compared with passengers, there was even a queue to go to the toilets and when I got inside, there was 1 urinal and 1 toilet bowl….filthy, of course. How did it get to this? Anyway, today’s flight was on SWA; they did an ok job. The plane was packed and uncomfortable. We arrived into a stormy Chicago and quite a hairy landing….I remembered there a crash not that long ago involving a runway overrun? Anyway, we landed and I’m alive so all’s good!
The return Leg:
After a wonderful few days in Chicago, it was time to head home. I was missing my wife and kids sorely but first, there was another round of serious flying to do! The return leg was the same except that I flew AA from ORD to JFK to meet my connecting SQ flight home. I think AA is still in bankruptcy protection? I wasn’t impressed that after already paying for my fare, they charge $60 for 2 bags and the lady wanted to add another $100 extra because one of my bags weighed 26kg (as opposed to the allowed 23kg), so I had to repack and recheck-in to avoid the rather exorbitant charges. Mind you, most of the check in process was self service. They ask you whether you want to pay an extra $9 to board the plane first….and I thought why? When everyone already has assigned seating. It all left quite a sour taste from yet another legacy carrier desperate to squeeze more money from passengers without actually delivering any more value whatsoever. I would recommend flying Jetblue or Southwest any day over AA. So at the gate, they called for boarding according to groups; I was in group 3. Presumably, people who were gullible enough to pay $9 (despite already having an assigned seat) got to board first. Why anyone would want to spend a second longer onboard a full US domestic AA flight is just beyond me.
Anyway, as I boarded, there was no one to greet any of the passengers at the door; like…seriously..no one. Instead, diagonally in the front galley, there 2 flight attendants chatting away to the tune of “….so he called me last night and said…blah blah blah….oh MY god. You’re kidding! After all that….blah blah blah”. So everyone pretty much boarded and found their own seats. Utterly unprofessional. There really wasn’t much else to add about this flight. If AA flights are anywhere near what I saw on this leg….they deserve to go bust. I love how at the end of the flight, the captain says “we appreciate you have a choice in who you fly with and we appreciate your business…..” and I thought, yeah, some insight finally; we DO have a choice and you’re making it quite easy for us to choose in the future, actually.
Arrived at JFK on time; the Airtrain transfer between terminals is a breeze to use and very efficient. I love how you also get a great view of the tarmac and gate areas from the train. I repacked my extra shopping back into my suitcase and headed for terminal 4 to begin my journey with a decent airline for a change. (ok, enough AA bashing)
SQ 25 was scheduled to depart at 20.30pm. I arrived at terminal 4 at 4.30pm. Surprisingly, there was already quite a long line at the SQ check in, both for Economy and business class. Even though there was nobody waiting in the Suites line, I stood for ages waiting for the check in agent to beckon me over. When he did, he apologised and said there had been a system glitch. I noticed that pretty much al the check in agents looked like barely 18 year old boys. Interesting. Anyway, my bags were tagged all the way to MEL. I was invited to the new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK located on the airside so passengers could now clear security earlier and spend more time in the lounge. Here are some pics.
This couch looks good, but felt completely crap to sit on.
The clubhouse was quite crowded given a whole string of VS flights to LHR. This definitely detracted slightly from the intended ‘coolness’ of the place. Alot of Austin Poweresque furniture added to the retro-coolness the virgin brand is known for. I asked for a cocktail: a redhead…very nice.
Also a jug of iced pear and ginger tea later which was refreshing and delicious.
Not wanting to spoil my appetite for later, I also ordered just an appetiser; duck rillettes, which came served on a wooden board.
After this, I had a shower to prepare for the long flight ahead. Something was wrong with the water temperature controls in the clubhouse shower and the water wasn’t warm but freezing cold. Nevertheless, I couldn’t be bothered dressing up again and going to get the attendant so I just had a quick freezing rinse and left the lounge.
Nice to see QF using 744s back on the LAX-JFK route.
Closer to 8pm, I made my way downstairs towards the gate area which was PACKED. Also a noticeable proportion of traffic to India (despite direct flights being available with Air India). Another full flight presumably. I think SQ must be doing very well on these new A380 flights to justify the increase in capacity from the 744s.
SQ’s (and Qantas’s too) enemy watched on from a remote stand until her later departure to Dubai.
Families with young children were called to board first (Qantas has a similar policy as well I think); as someone who often travels with my 3 and 5 year old, I think this is a very appropriate procedure. Suites were up next and once again, I was warmly greeted at the door and shown to my seat which was initially seat 3A. There were 3 other passengers in Suites today, an annoying Singaporean couple where the wife barked orders at the crew as if they were her maids. I couldn’t bear to be close to her any longer so I asked to be moved over to seat 2F which is a much more private Suite.
The other was a mysterious looking older man with loads of “equipment” in a large black hard carry case. He wore a jacket with the seal of the US presidency on the front left and ‘white house staff’ on the right. I was thinking…if that was true…wouldn’t he want to be more discrete about it and not draw too much attention? Just saying.
The crew today were particularly friendly and several of them came up to me and we had fairly long chats about my trip, where I lived in Melbourne, my work, etc etc. I don’t think I have ever felt that SQ crews were robotic and unspontaneous, despite what some people have said on this forum. They may be robotic in terms of their efficiency, but I think their level of engagement and interest in passengers goes way above and beyond just about any other airline.
Another SQ-ism is the sheer number of hot towels they hand out on every flight. One pre take off and on landing, one before AND after each meal…where do they keep it all?!
I ordered an iced earl grey tea before take off and my usual magazine trio of Time/Newsweek and Business Traveller all of which were promptly sourced and delivered. We left the gate on time and joined the long evening JFK queue for take off. It had started to rain and at the endof the taxiway….we just sat there…for 45 mins! The captain apologised for the traffic congestion but then I saw plane after plane take off, bypassing us for ages until we were allowed clearance for departure. I wonder whether it’s because the A380 requires a larger clearance footprint…but it certainly didn’t look like ‘first come first served’ to me.
Dinner was served shortly after take off; tonight’s menu:
Chilled Malossol caviar with Melba toast and condiments
Serrano Ham with feta and stuffed bell peppers, dressed salad and aged basalmic
Cream of mushroom with mushroom custard flan and chives or
Oriental clear chicken broth with watercress
Salad: Caesar Salad
Roasted Maine Lobster with Lobster sauce, fava beans, corn kernel and chanterelle mushrooms
Thai style masaman curry beef with seasonal vegetables and fragrant rice
Sear Chicken in Thyme Jus, roasted vegetables, mashed potato with leek
Singapore style fish soup: sliced halibut with bean curd, tomato, preserved vegetables with a light fish soup served with steamed rice
Warmed chocolate pear tart with macadamia nut ice cream and raspberry coulis
Panna cotta with passionfruit soup
I chose the caviar, chicken soup, skipped the Caesar salad and went with the Maine lobster.
Have to say, the lobster disappointed me. The flavour combination just didn’t work. See, celebrity chefs don’t always get it right.
After dinner, I went to the bathroom to change…this would have taken barely 2 minutes and when I returned the suite’s bed had already been made up. Fast, efficient and pre-emptive SQ service.
I slept soundly all the way until around 40 mins from landing at Frankfurt. As I skipped continental breakfast, I was offered an orange juice and coffee.
We had taken a more southerly route today, presumably due to available tail winds
Upon disembarkation, all 4 suites passengers, including myself, the annoying couple and Mr CIA agent were escorted to the senator’s lounge.
I had a great shower in the lounge, without any need to wait for availability despite the lounge being almost 80-90% full. Decent water temperature and pressure instead of these piddley water saving showerheads. Just what was needed between long haul flights.
As I emerged from the showers, the SQ ground staff lady came and found me to inform me there would be a slight delay to our departure from Frankfurt due to a technical issue, but that it was minor. I appreciated her keeping me informed. I had a 3.5 hour transit connection to Melbourne in SIN so hopefully this would have left enough buffer time to absorb the delay.
Boarding commenced 30 mins late at 12.30pm. A new set of crew welcomed me onboard. I asked the previous crew if I could keep my new seat at 2F for the onward journey to Singapore and she said she would look into it; well, my new boarding pass was handed to me at the gate.
The captain informed us of the slight delay and apologised. We left the gate at 1.10pm, 40 mins later than scheduled. After what seemed like a very long taxi to the runway, the captain addressed us again to say that the minor hydraulic problem detected earlier had resurfaced and the aircraft had to return to a parking bay to the engineers could take a look at it again. Once again, apologies all round. Since it would be another hour at least before we depart, we were served drinks and canapés: Satay.
Jacinta, who served me most of the time said this to me in her singlish “you know lah, us Singaporeans, always very Kiasu one, so we won’t leave until we are very sure, even though it’s a very minor problem” Hilarious. That being said, with such a large aircraft…a system like the hydraulics better be 100% working! Announcements were made constantly throughout the delay and we were told that ground staff in Singapore was already monitoring the situation and ready to automatically rebook passengers who may miss their connecting flights.
Meanwhile, I was quite happy to tuck into some satay. I know MH has a better and probably more generous version of this dish, but it actually tasted pretty good. Certainly better than what I would get at any Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne!
Interesting article, but I didn’t think Qantas’s drop in share price was worthy of front page news..
After around 1.5 hours, everything seemed fine again and we were off. A short taxi to the runway and the flight crew didn’t waste anytime merging straight into a take off roll. Our revised arrival time to Singapore was rescheduled for 8.30am, just under 2 hours delay. That would mean my transit time at Changi would be shaved to 1 hour 25 mins, still plenty of time to make my MEL connection. No hope if this was LAX or LHR.
Shortly after take off, brunch was served. Here is the menu for today’s FRA-SIN sector:
Frankfurt to Singapore:
Satay with onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce
Chilled malossal caviar
Poached Lobster with confit of eggplant and capsicum with a basalmic vinegratte
Creamed fennel soup with mint, seared scallop and small pasta
Tom Yum soup with prawn and lemon grass
Salad of red oak, frisee, coral lettuce garnished with endive, toasted walnut and dried cranberries, with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.
Seared tournedos of beef in green peppercorn jus, sautéed morel baby carrot and gratin potatoes
Roast Pork in a caraway seed sauce, braised savoy cabbage and bread dumplings
Soya sauce noodle soup: egg noodle broth garnished with braised chicken, leafy greens and mushrooms
Ikan Assam padas: malay style fish in a sour sauce with stir fried vegetables and steamed rice.
Bitter chocolate moulieux cake with chocolate ice cream and a mocca vanilla sauce
Mixed berries in wine jelly and passionfruit coulis
I chose the poached lobster (very tasty and good combination with the vegetable confit), the tom yum soup, and the pork for main course, which I assume was a very german dish, with the bread dumplings etc. This was as delicious as the entrée.
For dessert, I chose the chocolate cake with ice cream to round off an excellent meal.
Qantasclub From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 757 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 17911 times:
So sorry, of course, this is the last part of the report:
And yes, sorry. I meant Trent engines on the B777, not GE. oops.
For dessert, I chose the chocolate cake with ice cream to round off an excellent meal.
As I sipped on after dinner coffee, Jacinta came round and told me that she had already made the bed in the adjacent, unoccupied suite so I could retire to sleep whenever I was ready.
I then changed into my pyjamas and pretty much sleep soundly for the next 8 hours without any interruption. I am 100% I would have snored, so I hope that this annoyed that Singaporean couple a few rows behind me. The CIA agent in 2A was already fast asleep.
I woke up just northwest of the Thai coast.
As soon as my feet hit the deck, Jacinta appeared and wished me good morning. I asked for some orange juice and a coffee. After changing back into civilian clothes, both drinks were already there in 2F waiting for me with a hot towel.
Here’s the breakfast menu:
To start with: choice of apple/orange or tomato juice
Fresh fruit plate
Cereal/corn flakes or yoghurt
Bee hoon soup: Rice noodles with sliced chicken and greens in broth
European breakfast with mortadella sausage, pork sausage, provolone and cambozola cheese, eggs prepared on board.
Warm French toast with a berry compote and mascarpone cheese
Fresh eggs (baked, boiled or scrambled) served with bacon or chicken sausages, tomato and mushrooms
I skipped the pastries and cereal to start off with fruit, followed by the bee hoon noodles.
This was just delicious and full of flavour; really hit the spot. The chillies also gave it the perfect kick. Again, really fantastic Singaporean food.
Jacinta then came back and as she cleared the tray, we chatted about Singapore and Melbourne. She lives not far from where I grew up in Singapore, in Tai Keng gardens. Most of the SQ crew seem to know Melbourne well, given the relatively high frequency of 3 flights a day. They usually stay at the Crown Plaza near the casino.
After a quick descent and a short taxi, we pulled into gate B8. As I arrived at the gate, there was already an army of ground staff with a list of connecting flights, gate numbers as well as temporary tables with new boarding passes printed out for onward connections that may have been missed as a result of the delay. Astounding efficiency. Really just so impressive to watch.
Thankfully, my flight on SQ 217 was located just next door at gate B8. I figured I had time to grab a quick shower in the lounge before heading back o the gate.
A final glance at 9V SKB:
The final leg of the journey was in J class on the B777-300ER. I will skip most of the details except to say that I had finally reached my lobster threshold and gave up my BTC lobster thermidor for a bowl of prawn noodles again. Here are the pics:
East coast on take off
Balik Salmon Nicoise salad:
Amazing Prawn Noodles
Chendol with coconut ice cream
And a snack of Chicken satay before landing (a much more generous serving than before!)
We landed in Melbourne a little early at 7.30 with t he help of strong tailwinds despite the slightly delayed departure due to Changi congestion. So good to be home.
I hope you enjoyed this epic journey. As you can see, SQ still shines in all it’s premium cabins. The exceptionally high level of personalised, efficient service and consistency is hard to beat. I am amazed that on every sector, pretty much every crew member addressed me by name without exception. The seats in J are getting a little worn around the edges, but the Suites are still the most glorious and private cabin in the skies today. I love the subtle tones of wood and leather; infinitely classier than Emirates’s horrible tacky gold trim in their first suite.
Feedback is more than welcome and I hope you enjoyed my report as much as I enjoy reading all of your reports out there.
captainsloo From Singapore, joined Dec 2011, 54 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 17493 times:
This trip report is amazing! Thank you for taking the time to write.
Quoting Qantasclub (Thread starter): As I sipped on after dinner coffee, Jacinta came round and told me that she had already made the bed in the adjacent, unoccupied suite so I could retire to sleep whenever I was ready.
lychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1065 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 17484 times:
Great to see that SQ have Suites in C and not just in F.
As to the Euro, Germany benefits enormously from a low exchange rate. Had the DM existed today it would be overvalued like the CHF so it's not only the others that benefit.
As to La Guardia having 1 uniral there is a terminal in Frankfurt that has exactly the same problem. I agree that the old terminal at La Guardia is a slum. Suitcases are also stolen there by baggage staff.
LondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1448 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 17289 times:
Quoting Qantasclub (Thread starter): Our revised arrival time to Singapore was rescheduled for 8.30am, just under 2 hours delay. That would mean my transit time at Changi would be shaved to 1 hour 25 mins, still plenty of time to make my MEL connection. No hope if this was LAX or LHR.
Great and detailed report ! However it's incorrect to say "no hope if this was LAX or LHR." You can make international connections at LHR in a minimum of 60 mins, provided you fly in and out of T5 with BA.
Quoting Qantasclub (Thread starter): I think AA is still in bankruptcy protection? I wasn’t impressed that after already paying for my fare, they charge $60 for 2 bags and the lady wanted to add another $100 extra because one of my bags weighed 26kg (as opposed to the allowed 23kg), so I had to repack and recheck-in to avoid the rather exorbitant charges
I am sure that if you were making an international connection onto AA or a BA code-share or perhaps a fellow Oneworld member then as a first class passenger these charges would not apply. That's the drawback of choosing a different alliance member carrier !
burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 900 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 16237 times:
Very cool trip report!
I can only imagine the culture shock after going through Changi and Frankfurt and then being exposed to the "joys" of LGA!
The AA fee to board early is actually really important for a lot of fliers.
Since you have to pay to check bags most people fly with only carry-on/cabin baggage since that is free.
If you are NOT among the first to board the overhead bin space runs out. Once that happens they start to check the carry-on/cabin baggage. They do not charge for this BUT the checked baggage gets delivered to baggage claim along with the other checked/hold baggage. So it is a pain to have to wait for it to be unloaded. That is why people are always in such a rush to board domestic flights early in the boarding process....to get their stuff into the overhead bins!
Of course people traveling internationally do not tend to have a lot of cabin baggage so it isn't as big of a deal.
I wish I could say that I am surprised at the AA FA's gossiping instead of greeting passengers...but alas I am not.
AA is going through some very difficult times and most employees have lost faith in their management and are basically demoralized....which then leads to bad service...which leads to fewer customers which leads to even more problems for he airlines....it is a vicious cycle!
Docpepz From Singapore, joined May 2001, 1968 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 14721 times:
Absolutely fantastic trip report! How do you eat so much? Do you have two stomachs?! The amount of lobster and caviar you can fit in there, haha
Whenever I overeat on flights, I tend not to be able to sleep well and get horrendous nightmares. Did you suffer any of that?
Quoting Qantasclub (Thread starter): What annoys me about Krisworld are the constant and repetitive Far East Organisation ads at the beginning of every single TV show or movie. Usually, they try to sell luxury apartments or condos in Singapore and the vacuous marketing slogans are mind-numbingly stupid. “Inessence……Luxury today is a physical, mental and even spiritual experience….Inessence….created with space…to give you space…textures…senses….Inessence….YOUR world…according to..YOU…blah blah blah.” Who writes this stuff!? Then there are the banking corporate ads with the Bank of Singapore always featuring a middle aged man appealing to most Singaporeans’ aspiration and obsession with wealth creation; “you’re a rich man….. but then again, as you look around…you’ve always been a rich man….” Then something about values and corporate banking (because the 2 go hand in hand, as we all know). Ok, enough ranting!
Oh I find those ads immensely annoying, I usually just press the fast forward button. And don't forget the stuff scrolling at the bottom:
No Capital Gains Tax.... No Estate Duty..... Freehold Land.... No Excise Duty.... No Capital Controls..... No Foreign Currency Restrictions.... And if you see the residential property ads in the papers they're even more tacky. Like a man in a tux and a woman in a gown standing by their grand piano in a suburban condominium..... Riiiiiiiiiight.
Again, I love your trip reports - they're worthy of a food blog! Why did you take such a long way to get to JFK/ORD, and also why was MEL-SIN-MEL in J and not F?
Nothing new there with the reduced speed limits and endless roadworks
Quoting Qantasclub (Thread starter): The refurbished bit of MEL is quite nice although it is always annoying to be forced to walk through endless shop after shop after shop on the way to the gates.
Looks great but being forced to walk in a large circle through the duty free is a disgrace and not seen elsewhere around the world from what I understand. I respond by not getting into the hype of duty free and power walking through. The prices aren't even that great when you factor in that tax has been removed, better to by in Asia or elsewhere.
Tired decor and minimal facilities. I don't understand why they blocked out the views of the tarmac? When I was there the other Star Alliance lounges were closed, were you apple to use the Air New Zealand lounge or the United lounge?
One of the many wonders of SQ is how they memorise names and every staff member addresses you by name. Would have loved to have experienced the first lounge experience at Changi, perhaps sometime in the future. The multiple posts of dragons is quite amusing.
nethkt From Thailand, joined Apr 2001, 1044 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 12938 times:
Just simply amazing.
This suite class across the continents is absolutely the best way to travel!
The romance of travel lives on Singapore Airlines suite class for sure
Having seen both Asiana and SQ F/Suite class report on here recently, I'm divined!
The new VS Upper class lounge in T4 is well designed with correct sense of corporate brand.
Those furniture with too modern of a design mostly don't provide comfort.
Why can't modernism comes with comfort? Why do most of us put images before comfort?
Must be nightmare after leaving SQ Suite for a US domestic, esp on a free-seating concept SWA?
Many thanks for sharing this wonderful trip MEL-NYC!
jayhup From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 452 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 12190 times:
Quoting burj (Reply 12): AA is going through some very difficult times and most employees have lost faith in their management and are basically demoralized....which then leads to bad service...which leads to fewer customers which leads to even more problems for he airlines....it is a vicious cycle!
Burj...sorry, but that excuse just doesn't cut it. Even when AA was making money the cabin crew were not that good and were always complaining about "management."
Look at how quick they were to jump in bed with US because they have ALWAYS thought that the grass is greener.
Qantasclub From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 757 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (1 year 10 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 11295 times:
Quoting LondonCity (Reply 9): However it's incorrect to say "no hope if this was LAX or LHR." You can make international connections at LHR in a minimum of 60 mins, provided you fly in and out of T5 with BA.
I don't think any sane person would try this.
Quoting burj (Reply 12): I can only imagine the culture shock after going through Changi and Frankfurt and then being exposed to the "joys" of LGA!
LGA is so well located but clearly underdeveloped. They should just bulldoze the whole thing and start again. Chicago's Midway was actually quite a nice airport! Close to the city and re-developed.
Quoting burj (Reply 12): I wish I could say that I am surprised at the AA FA's gossiping instead of greeting passengers...but alas I am not.
I am still stunned by this and I have never EVER seen this kind of apathy on any other airline. Anywhere.
Quoting Docpepz (Reply 13): How do you eat so much? Do you have two stomachs?! The amount of lobster and caviar you can fit in there, haha
Um...I'm a complete pig. No other excuse, really. I actually counted that I ate around 9 whole lobsters (including on the ground in Chicago) on this trip. I swam everyday in the hotel pool (25m lap pool at the intercontinental) so I ended up only putting on 1kg in weight for the whole trip (which is equivalent to 1 standard bowel motion).
Quoting Docpepz (Reply 13): Whenever I overeat on flights, I tend not to be able to sleep well and get horrendous nightmares. Did you suffer any of that?
Not really, especially is enough alcohol is involved, sleep is inevitable.
Quoting Docpepz (Reply 13): Why did you take such a long way to get to JFK/ORD, and also why was MEL-SIN-MEL in J and not F?
It's the only way to maximise my time on SQ. The J MEL-SIN sector was just positioning for a paid ticket ex sin.
Quoting timb777 (Reply 14): SQ F down to SWA Y has to be one of the biggest paradoxes in airline travel!!
Yeah, it sucked. But to be honest, I would fly SWA any day over AA. You actually got staff that smiled and were friendly, they did a decent job. And they don't charge you for check in bags.
Quoting themit9 (Reply 15): Looks great but being forced to walk in a large circle through the duty free is a disgrace and not seen elsewhere around the world from what I understand. I respond by not getting into the hype of duty free and power walking through. The prices aren't even that great when you factor in that tax has been removed, better to by in Asia or elsewhere.
I know. It's very Australian. My favourite is after a long flight and you arrive towards immigration in the early hours of the morning and there's this duty free saleswoman talking into a mic attached to a loudspeaker in that department store voice.......scary...and very surreal. Reminds us we still live in a Kath and Kim world.
Quoting themit9 (Reply 15): One of the many wonders of SQ is how they memorise names and every staff member addresses you by name. Would have loved to have experienced the first lounge experience at Changi, perhaps sometime in the future. The multiple posts of dragons is quite amusing.
Without doubt this is the most impressive feature of SQ and CX service. How much more personalised service can you get when they memorise your name?
Quoting nethkt (Reply 17): Must be nightmare after leaving SQ Suite for a US domestic, esp on a free-seating concept SWA?