B-HXB From New Zealand, joined Jan 2001, 744 posts, RR: 0 Posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 11083 times:
Flight: SQ286, April 2000
Aircraft: 747-400, 9V-SMC
Departure time: 1345
Departure gate: 5
Sector: AKL SIN
I decided to try Singapore Airlines’ famous inflight service for my trip to Hong Kong this time instead of Cathay Pacific, and it turned out to be an interesting experience…
Pre-September 11, check-in at the airport was quick (ah, the joys of not having to stand in a long queue for hold baggage to be screened as SIA requires now at AKL), check-in being handled by Air New Zealand agents in the main check in hall. The lady informed me that my boarding pass would get me access to the lounge and that the departure gate was 5 (clear-sided bridge, yay!)
With time to kill, I went straight through immigration – a nightmare. Although about 80% of the counters were open, I had foolishly booked travel on the first day of the New Zealand school holidays. Result – a queue stretching almost all the way out to the entrance to the departures corridor. I was not impressed, and judging by the looks from other passengers, they weren't either. Why Auckland don’t keep up with the times and either offer express clearance for premium passengers, or, like most airports, offer priority channels for New Zealand passport holders, is beyond me.
Most of my time to kill was spent in the extremely hot and stuffy immigration hall, with a one hour queue and a few airline agents at the other end panicking over travellers who left it to the last hour to go through immigration alleviating some of the boredom. Still, I wasn’t very impressed. I’ve been through shorter queues for passport control virtually everywhere else.
With about 20 minutes left to go till boarding, I decided to give the lounge a miss and occupy the rest of the time with some plane spotting. The only aircraft I vaguely remember is the Cathay Pacific A340-300 B-HXE readying for pushback from gate 10.
Strolling back up to gate 5, and wishing Auckland Airport would join the twenty-first century and install some moving walkways, SQ286 appeared to be in the full swing of boarding, a move no doubt inspired by the horrendous queues for passport control.
Singapore Airlines is handled by Air NZ in Auckland, and NZ4286 is tagged as a codeshare service on to this flight. The agents were nothing special, polite and pleasant enough, processing the boarding passes manually.
The procedure ex-AKL is for the main bit of the boarding pass handed back to you, and the airline keeping the stubs, a move usually the other way round at most other airports. I was surprised to find this was the procedure for all four SQ flights I took this trip. Perhaps this has now changed as I have observed that SIA have new boarding passes out, which look remarkably like Cathay Pacific's in design, in that the class of travel is prominently displayed on the left hand side.
A male steward is on hand at door 1L to greet incoming passengers, and to direct them to their seats. This aircraft was equipped with the old First class seats, and I must say that they did not look very impressive to me – I have an impression of purple and green reclining back into what looked like grey plastic buckets.
This was the time when SIA continuously kept sending its non-new First class equipped aircraft to Auckland. With no competition on this route in First class, I guess SIA had better uses for those planes.
My allocated seat today is 11C, on the upper deck, right at the front on the left side. Flight attendants are busy preparing drinks in the galley but one flight attendant, Sharon, escorted me to my seat as she was coming back from escorting someone else.
The new Ultimo seats were fitted on 9V-SMC. Impressive – liked the electronic control panel and the blue ‘upright all’ reset button. The privacy dividers I must say were as good as useless. The seats are upholstered in two different patterns, alternating such that no pair of seats will have the same pattern.
Flight crew came by with drinks shortly after as bright music is played over the cabin speakers. Standard choice of orange juice, water and champagne.
Menus are handed out prior to take-off, along with a round of hot towels. I was surprised to see that the menu also had the ex-Singapore menu as well as the AKL-SIN menu. I was not impressed as this seemed to be really finicky cost cutting. Towards the end of the flight, I observed flight attendants poking around seat pockets and collecting the menus back, obviously a company policy which I feel reeks of cheapness and does not reflect well upon SIA in my view.
Anyway, pushback was delayed slightly due to some pesky transit passengers who had the nerve to get delayed but we were on our way shortly after, rumbling for a takeoff towards Henderson. Flight time was somewhere in the region of 9 hours verging on 10.
After departure, I extended the legrest, which was very comfortable, and the crew began preparations for the meal service. I can’t actually remember what happened – I assume tablecloths were laid and trays handed out, but nothing struck me as particularly untoward.
The menu had a really elegant illustration of a silver fern glistening on a blue airbrushed background. There is a preface of a very odd looking bunch of people – SIA’s ‘culinary panel’ and a long spiel about their various accomplishments. I had the chance to taste two of the ‘special creations’ later on HKG-SIN and SIN-AKL and I can safely say that they were completely disgusting. I now make a point of steering well clear of anything ‘especially created’ by ‘talented chefs’.
SIA also offers a lighter alternative of refreshments available throughout the flight of hot soup with crispy wholemeal crackers, flavourful Chinese instant noodles, sandwiches and a range of assorted biscuits. To complement my meal, my menu informs me, is SIA’s ‘special touches’ – freshly brewed espresso and cappuccino, and unique Kris Chilli sauce.
At the bottom is a little disclaimer saying that espresso and cappuccino are not available on selected Megatop 747s, Jubilee 777s and Celestar A340s. The small print also contains some sort of code with the flight number, sector and a few miscellaneous letters… this is a 3 month menu March-June.
Mixed seasonal salad
Tenderloin of beef in potato crust with Italian pesto sauce
Peperonata (Italian style mixed capsicum stew)
Wok fried prawns in hot bean paste with dried chillies
Steamed rice with egg julienne
Roasted escalope of ostrich in black pepper and thyme gravy
Seasonal vegetable medley
Buttered spiral noodles
Dark chocolate crème brulee
Coffee – tea
I must admit I was tempted to try the ostrich but opted for the beef itself. Rather tough and didn’t like the pesto much. A hot bread basket was offered once or twice – the usual selection of rolls and garlic bread. Drinks were available with the meal. Water top-ups were non-existent – much better on Air New Zealand.
I had a little flick through the PTV programming, and wasn’t very impressed. There were about three movies in English, one of them being kid-orientated, and two Chinese movies and a lifestyle channel of some sort. Even though the aircraft was not Wisemen equipped, the choice was poor.
The video games were a good way to pass the time, despite my efforts to try and race a little car around a futuristic track (it ended up flying off the side every time) and a quick nap with a pillow and decent blanket provided soon saw dinner being served.
Marinated chicken salad with spiced raspberries
Fresh garden salad
Grilled marinated chicken with Asian spiced yoghurt*
with fragrant rice
Wok fried salmon in black pepper and onion sauce
Chinese greens with carrots and black mushrooms
Grilled lamb noisettes with pearl onions in sage sauce
Selection of cheese with garnishes
Mandarin orange and pineapple gateau
Coffee – Tea
* Exclusively created by Mr Dietmar Sawyere of Forty One Restaurant, Sydney
I chose the salmon, which was considerably more tasty than the beef for the light meal, although the noodles were a bit on the crispy side i.e. undercooked or overcooked, whichever way you want to look at it!
The fruits and cheese were served together – the usual selection of melon bits etc., and then crew came by with the coffee and tea service, and the pralines.
Soon 9V-SMC began to descend into Singapore Changi Airport, the British pilot coming on over the PA system to advise of arrival information. A spectacular view of Singapore was visible as we began our final approach in. Parking today at gate E26, with the reclaim belt displayed on the sign as we exited the transit area.
Immigration was practically empty, with a big bowl of fruit lollies (rather like Air NZ’s) at each counter. The reclaim belts were the flat-belt type, like at Auckland, and luggage was offloaded pretty swiftly, with my bag being first on to the belt, a first-time experience for me!
Customs, like at most Asian airports was non-existent and that ended my first leg on Singapore Airlines!
Inflight product (seating and catering)
I was impressed with the Raffles class seat – at the time I thought it better than Cathay Pacific’s, particularly due to its electronics system. The wheel of time has turned and now, comparing the Spacebed to CX’s new Business class, I have to say that CX has turned out a more elegant product. The Ultimo seats will have been installed for a very short time – perhaps the shortest in history? Catering was okay, nothing spectacular and, as stated earlier, I thought the very obvious collection of menus prior to landing to be in very poor taste. Inflight entertainment I considered to be particularly weak, with a poor selection of movies.
I honestly can’t remember that much of the flight, which seems a good indication that none of the flight attendants were spectacularly rude. I do remember thinking that the service wasn’t all it was hyped up to be – yes, it was good, but I have had equally good or better service on other airlines, including Cathay and Malaysian (and even a really good crew once on British Airways).
Sorry for the continuous comparisons with Cathay but that really is the only airline I travel regularly and so their standards are the 'yardstick' which I use to measure up other airlines by on similar routes.
I know this report lacks more detail than some of my other ones, for two reasons. One, this trip was two years ago, and my memory is hazy; and two, I would be interested to know which type of style all you readers out there prefer.
UALbrat From United States of America, joined May 2006, 2 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 10978 times:
Another superb report!
About the relative lack of detail, all I can say is that even so, this report contains more substance than many of the TRs I've read, regardless of length.
I think that the items that remain in memory after two years are probably more meaningful than the details that are fresh in the mind just after a trip. I am tempted now to write a report of my one and only trans-Pacific flight, several years ago on UA C class.
Pardon me for prying but how do you get to travel so much and always, it seems, in premium cabins? If you don't want to answer no problem but I can't help but wonder... just a nosy American here (but a big fan of your writing.)
SQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 10933 times:
Great report. Give me details anytime. Reports that leave alot to my imagine simply irks me. This report definitely lacks the details of your previous reports, but that's understandable.
3 English movie choices on KrisWorld? How very odd... even on non-WISEMEN equipt aircrafts, you usually have more than 20 channels of movies, comedies and other short features. As for the selection of inflight movies, I would have to add that most airlines offering passengers with a choice of movies basically shows almost the same movies for that particular month. I have compared the IFE booklets of different airlines but in the same month, and realised that most "latest movies" are the same, with the exception of some oldies etc. If the movies on SQ for that month did not impress you, chances are it will be the same on CX, MH or any other airline providing you with a choice of movies.
B-HXB, if you had read some of the SQ trip reports that other members have written, you would have made the conscious effort to avoid "culinary panel" dishes like the plague. Keep to the traditional choices and you won't be too "disgusted".
Yes, the menus are usually re-cycled, if they are still in good condition. I don't see anything wrong with that actually, as long as they do not stop you from sneaking a copy out of the aircraft like I always do.
A menu cycle lasts 3 months. However the meal choices for F and J class are changed every month. So essentially, there will be 3 menu changes in 1 cycle. Its a common practice among airlines, not just in SQ. Y class menus are changed once every 3 months though.
On single sectors such as SIN-AKL-SIN, the menu cards will usually reflect both sectors. However, this is not done on multi-sector flights such as my recent SIN-AMS-ORD trip; where there were different menus for the inbound and outbound flights. Yes, it is definitely cost cutting in action here, but I wouldn't call that 'cheap'. I think they are just trying not to be too 'extravagent'...
I personally would have liked this report to be more detailed, so that readers could at least get a clearer picture of why you felt SQ's service could not be compared to CX's.
B-HXB From New Zealand, joined Jan 2001, 744 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 10935 times:
It's not so much that the menus are recycled, but that flight attendants go round in full view of the pax collecting them up and poking through seat pockets to do so. Looking at it from most people's views, the menu to them is just to look at during the flight - they are not likely to take it away with them. So SIA are welcome to the menus left behind - but I feel that they should do this after all the paxes have left. After all, the seat pockets need to be checked anyway before the next flight.
As for the return menu being listed, Cathay Pacific and Malaysian definitely don't do it, and neither did Air NZ for AKL/SYD/AKL, and surely the cost isn't that much more... penny pinching?
As for the 3 English movie choices, I apologise for that mistake. I actually meant 3 English first run movie choices. I believe there were actually about 16 channels in all, with, as stated by SQ772, classics and short features. Sorry, slip-up there.
SQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5 Reply 4, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 10913 times:
I believe MH does list inbound and outbound meals in their menu too. I actually have a recent J class menu from MH (courtesy of Ryanair!!!) and it did list both meals for the KUL-BKK-KUL sectors. I would say that whether both sectors or just one sector is printed on the menu card is really dependent on space, and perhaps the number of meals on each sector, or even whether additional pages need to be accorded to the non-English version of the menu.
I do agree on your point that it would be much classier to collect the menus after all pax have deplaned. They do this in F class too. In fact, the crew clears all that you have on your seat before arrival ie. your earphones, blankets, menus. It could be SQ's way of clearing up your personal space before the end of the flight so that you do not see the clutter and mess around you when you disembark.... I am just guessing the rationale here...
Ryanair!!! From Singapore, joined Mar 2002, 4664 posts, RR: 27 Reply 5, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10888 times:
Another great report from you. Understandable that you cannot remeber much details as the flight was so long ago. I am presently trying to recall flights I took long ago as well, and trying to come up with the trip reports.
That is why my current trip reports are all dated 2000. But I make it a habit to take down details of the journey in my trusty palm... that was way before i discovered a.net! Well, looks like its all paying off now!
I found the privacy screen to be useless as well. I did not find the Ultimo seats that all comfortable anyway... My knees got numb. But I find the "reset" feature useful when you are trying to re-configure your seat for meals. One touch - viola! Your seat is back to its original config.
Anyway, keep the reports coming! No matter how old!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
SQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5 Reply 6, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10866 times:
BTW, why do you feel that the privacy screens are useless? I actually found it useful as it shielded me from my neighbour's face whenever I needed some private moments. This is especially so when both seats are in complete recline.
It would be great if the screen could fold out and shield me like a cocoon to give me absolute privacy, but then, this isn't first class. IMHO, something is better than nothing.
Ryanair!!! From Singapore, joined Mar 2002, 4664 posts, RR: 27 Reply 7, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10823 times:
Private moments? Geez... you are in an aircraft cabin. What private moments are u talking about? I thought the privacy screen would entertain a small child because it slides in and out, in and out, in and out...
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1702 posts, RR: 42 Reply 9, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10809 times:
I think you mentioned all of the important details and thats what counts. It was a very interesting and well written report. I never really liked the Ultimo seat either but have flown CX's full flat and have to admit, the Spacebed looks like serious competition!
I personally prefer CX than SQ. (some of U know why!) What do U prefer? Are you going to go out of your way to fly SQ again or are you going to stick with CX?
Regarding the menu collection, NW did this. Infact I had to say, "mind if I keep it?" I agree that they could have collected them after the pax had disembarked. This is not something I would think an Asian airline would do! Food has also never been a strong point of SQ. I have infact had cold food served to me. Half of the cabin along with me sent the food back for reheating, and even then it was really bad, all this in Raffles by the way.
SQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5 Reply 10, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10820 times:
Private moments... not having to look at anyone's face or have my neighour see my saliva dripping off the corner of my mouth when I sleep.
Ryan, you must have entertained yourself alot sliding the screen in and out.... It didn't even occur to me to play with that screen. What small child? You talking about yourself, right? See, it is not useless after all.
ExSQer, thanks for your kind advice. Will take that into consideration if I ever decide to join the mile high club.
Singapore_Air From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 13711 posts, RR: 21 Reply 11, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 10804 times:
An interesting trip report.
Did you fly with SIA in April 2000 or is that a mistake?
It's a pity to hear that you did not enjoy the entertainment options available on the KRISWORLD system. The problem SIA has is that they tend to go for more recent films and if they are crap (which in your opinion they were) then they are. If SIA however, went more more classics and great films like Titanic and Independence Day, people would complain that they are being stingy even though the movies are old and everyone's seen them etc...
Ex_SQer From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 1435 posts, RR: 6 Reply 12, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 10746 times:
I would hardly consider "Titanic" and "Independence Day" "classics", but I think Ryanair!!! might well consider "Titanic" a classic because it has a Celine Dion song. I for one was falling asleep and waiting for the damed boat to sink.
But I digress....
I concur with the point about finding a mix of decent English films. It's hard to strike a balance between current releases, classics and blockbusters, especially when that particular month's new releases have no decent offerings. I don't sleep well on planes, and I once flew SQ twice in a calender month, long-haul, on duty travel, and the only decent film on KrisWorld that I hadn't already watched was "Contact". One can only watch that film so many times, even if it does have my former neighbourhood gal Jodie in it! And another time I was stuck watching Madonna belt out "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". Shudder.
It's hard to please everyone, even with 22 channels. I sometimes wonder how the non-English speaking crowd view their (minimal) selections.
B-HXB From New Zealand, joined Jan 2001, 744 posts, RR: 0 Reply 13, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 10712 times:
I think there was one decent film on, and I watched that on one leg, and the other two 'recent' films on were "Stuart Little" (for the younger ones) and "Anna and the King", which was so boring it sent me straight off to sleep.
That was the other major sticking point - for some reason, every flight I was on had basically the same cycle of movies, which I remember thinking at the time was strange...
Ryanair!!! From Singapore, joined Mar 2002, 4664 posts, RR: 27 Reply 14, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 10671 times:
Don't forget y'all... Singapore Airlines markets its Krisworld as the "largest show in the sky", with a Singapore Girl holding a magic hat and all the PTVs glowing in the background.
So do you think it lives up to its name? But I find the selection useful because I can watch a movie which I don't think I would pay to see it at the cinema. For example Spiceworld, I would not even want to be seen walking into the cinema screening it! And yet, I was so curious as to how crappy that movie was?
Hence, May 1998, SIN-SYD, I sat in the comfort of SQ22.. something (can't remember the flight number) and saw the entire movie, without anyone knowing! I smiled... satisfied.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
9V-SPK From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2001, 1646 posts, RR: 6 Reply 16, posted (10 years 11 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 10646 times:
Great Report indeed. It's always nice to read reports written by you.
I've flown on 9V-SMC 3 times, and I'm afriad I'll have to say that all of them were on First, that means the old first class seats. It might not look good, however if you compare the seats with other first class seats on other airlines (Not beds, seats only) I can tell you that it's really a great seat. Not 180 degrees recline, but neaerly. Also there's this thing behind your seat that prevents other first class passengers to bump onto your seat when they want to go to the toilet or so while your seat was reclined fully. Of course this also means that legroom is a bit limited, however it's still enough for me. (I
m 6 feet tall). Also you do have enough privacy when you recline your bed fully, however not like the skysuites, they have this thing that you could slide in and out when you are seating in the upright position, however it's no big deal, comparing the seats are not skysuites on SMC.
Ultimo seats are indeed fantastic, however when SQ installs the spacebed on their B744s and B772ERs I think you won't find Ultimo that attractive! I've a friend that just flew LHR - SIN - HKG and he got the spacebed aircraft. Just like I expected, he said the spacebed was much much superior than the Ultimo Seats, with more comfort and much more privacy.