Hello again! This is the return trip of my first trip report on a.net. After less than 4 days in Hong Kong, it’s time for me to head back home to Singapore. It was a trip mainly filled with shopping, eating and sleeping (I slept more than 12 hours the first night after the exhausting morning flight!). I was looking forward to another flight on the mighty A380 this afternoon!
The morning dawned bright and sunny, the only sunny day that I experienced here in Hong Kong. That got me really excited because I should have lovely views of some aircraft later on at the airport. My family and I did some last minute shopping at Times Square, near to our hotel, and in a jiffy, it was time to check out of the hotel and make our way to the Central Station to take the Hong Kong Express back to the airport.
Today I would be travelling back to Singapore alone as I had some business to attend to in the evening, while my parents and sister would be taking the later flight. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I could be booked on the A380 while they would be taking the good old 777-200ER. Wheee! So we took a taxi to the Central Station for the In-town check in. It’s always amusing that the taxi drivers are disappointed when we do not ask to be taken to the airport. I do feel rather apologetic too to let them down. In any case, we normally choose the in-town check in for the convenience of checking in our bags immediately after leaving the hotel without the need of dragging them around while shopping for a few more hours.
Check in was brainless and painless as I had pre-chosen my seat while booking. I did not have any check in bags today as those would be brought home by my parents. There was only 1 counter for Singapore Airlines though, regardless of the class of travel, so my parents had to queue behind me. Oops.
After check in and walking around IFC mall a bit, it was time to bid my parents and sister goodbye while I headed down to the airport express for my ride to Hong Kong International Airport.
In 24 minutes (I didn’t actually time it though), I had arrived at the airport. Passengers heading to Terminal 1 disembark on the left side of the train, while those heading to Terminal 2 disembark on the right side.
Hong Kong International airport is really large, but also rather cold and sterile. It is also very crowded. I headed straight for immigration, as I had checked in earlier. And it is annoying that I have to walk either to the left, or to the right for immigration. Today, I chose to go to the ‘North’ side. I notice that immigration is a lot quicker now than before. Seems like they have changed the system and do no chop foreigners’ passports anymore. Upon arrival into Hong Kong, they had printed a slip of paper (that could drop out of your passport anytime) instead of chopping my passport. Perhaps they have a new system that expedites the whole process. In any case, it was certainly much faster today than I ever recall in my past experiences.
View of the terminal after disembarking the airport express
It was almost 2pm by this time and I was hungry. I am a sucker for Hong Kong Bo Lo buns (pineapple buns in English. No, they do not actually contain pineapples, I think.) and their milk tea. Hence, despite the long queue and super crowded eating area, I headed to the Tsui Wah eatery and ordered myself some. To my disappointment, the buns were sold out! I changed my order to a condensed milk bun instead (even more sinful) and immediately whatsapp-ed my parents to inform them to get their fill of bo lo buns before coming to the airport. HKIA has free wifi access everywhere and this is a big plus. No silly registrations required and no time restrictions.
I managed to find a seat at the bar counter and happily ate the bun and milk tea, and took this photo.
I still had an hour to go and quickly made my way to do some last minute shopping to buy snacks for friends back home. After this was done, I walked big-walk style to the Silverkris lounge which is right next to gate 15 where the bulbous A380 was parked. I’m glad I ate some food outside as the food in here wasn’t fantastic. I made myself a latte, and that wasn’t palatable either so I drank, like, the foam on top, and that was it. I did however, treat myself to a mini haagan dazs ice cream.
Here are some shots of the lounge!
Furniture is similar in style to that of the Silverkris lounge in Singapore
An announcement was made for boarding, and I left the lounge soon after and made my way to the gate, which took me, well, less than a minute. I decided then not to board yet but to go to the window to admire my aircraft. HOWEVER. It had started to rain!!! How annoying. After snapping a quick photo and noting that my plane was the 3rd newest A380 in SQ’s fleet, I went back to my gate and sat at the waiting area to use my iPhone for a while saying goodbye to my parents (who were pigging out in town somewhere). I then boarded the aircraft. Exciting!
3 jetways were used with clear signs telling one which jetway to use depending on one’s class of travel. I turned to the one that required me to walk up an incline of several degrees.
Ooh. I made it halfway up and decided the climb was too tiring. So I stopped to take a break and took this photo:
Once done, I continued the climb up and finally made it to the door whereupon I was greeted by 6 FAs (seriously, there were 6 of them) and one escorted me to my seat, seat 15A. This seat is the 4th from the front of the plane, as numbering starts with 11 and the number 13 is omitted from all SQ aircraft.
I settled into my seat, noting that this newer A380 had overhead bins only in the centre column of the Business Class cabin. Earlier A380s have the centre bins omitted but have bins on the side instead, if I am not mistaken. In any case, I did not have to use them as I had the handy side compartments to store my bag! Comparing the A380 Business Class to the Boeing 777-300ER version, I much prefer the A380’s. The cabin in the Airbus is much more cosy with its lower ceiling and curvier walls. The Boeing’s wider fuselage makes the cabin a little too large and impersonal. Not to mention, it is noisier. There are mild differences in the seats too. Seats on the 777 have an additional leather portion for your feet as there is extra cabin space to spare. The centre seats have a full divider and one cannot cross between the centre seats. Those on the A380 lack this divider and extra leg space. Nevertheless, I still prefer the A380 cabin for its extra quietness and cosy factor. My seat today also features an extra headrest, no doubt installed due to complaints from having too ‘square’ a seat back with no head rests. Check out photos on airliners.net for comparisons.
Champagne was served
The little corner for your feet while sleeping
My favourite side compartments
Note the lovely soft orange light emanating from below the seat
Note the centre overhead bins. Photo taken later while in flight
It seemed the usual business on board where various FAs came around asking me for my preferred choice of magazine (Top Gear), drinks (champagne), and newspaper (The Straits Times). However, at this point, a surprise came along! Suddenly, a male inflight supervisor (the highest grade of FAs!) appeared by my side, knelt down and shook my hand, while introducing himself.
“Welcome back on board Mr XX. I am so and so (I was too stunned and didn’t catch his name) and if you have anything or require any assistance, please do not hesitate to call me”. –I gawked- Oops. I mean. I composed myself, smiled and said “Thank you very much.”
Now, this was extremely strange. Why on earth would the inflight supervisor introduce himself to me? He got my name right, so it wasn’t as though he got the wrong seat. I pondered this for nearly 5 minutes and the only reasonable conclusion that I came to was that somehow, my dad’s frequent flier status must have been reflected in my booking since I used his account to redeem my flight. Going by how problematic SQ’s online system is, I wasn’t entirely skeptical of my own conclusion. In any case, my internal self was jumping in joy and clapping his hands gleefully. Externally, I remained composed, drank my champagne, and ignored the strange glances the other passengers were giving me.
In any case, I tried to read my magazine and newspaper. However, I was too restless to do any of those properly and instead decided to stare out of my window for some viewing pleasure. Nothing much pleasurable out there in the gloom though. I mean. How much pleasure does Jetstar Asia give?
I can't imagine jumping onto that slide from the upper deck during an emergency. Must be terrifying. Okay. Any emergency would be terrifying...
Anyway. We soon pushed back on time and our very quiet Trent 900s spooled up one by one. The slats were extended. They make a very cute electric whining noise which only appears cute up here but is rather alarmingly loud when one is right next to them on the lower deck (they alarmed me last year when I was downstairs). Soon, with much inertia, the giant A380 moved off and we made our way, very slowly, to the runway. I must say that the A380 is really kind of cumbersome on the ground. Everytime it turns a corner I am reminded of an elephant trying to make a turn while walking. Eventually we made it to the runway…
Look what came along...
And decided to cut our queue and take off first.
And another guy came along
And cut us again!!
And another one comes again!
But it’s us first before him! We turned (slowly) onto the runway and, without stopping, the Trent 900s spooled up and, alarmingly, I was pushed back into my seat quite forcefully. But it seemed like the pilots weren’t too happy with the A380’s acceleration and turned the engines up another notch. And seriously, I was in shock when we lifted off after such a short take off run of about 25 seconds.
Anyway. Does anyone here know why the A380s do that? On my trips so far (only on SQ’s A380s though) I always notice this initial spool up (which sounds like a derated take-off) followed by an increase in thrust after a few seconds. Does this happen only on RR engines? Or on EA engines too?
I quickly squeeze some juice out of my camera’s battery and take a few more shots during take-off. The Trent 900s really have a very mechanical sound to them and the stability of the A380 on takeoff just makes me feel like I’m on a big solid moving house, rather than a plane. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a different experience versus, say, an A320 wobbling about on take-off in rain. As we continue our climb our engines suddenly go rather silent and we level off. This happened to me the last time I was flying out of Hong Kong too, and I suppose it’s the way the ATC has assigned our flight levels? In any case, we eventually spooled up and continue on our way to Singapore.
There was mild turbulence and my FA for the day, a friendly Ms Chen, came around to tell me that my Cappuccino could not be served. No biggie. I was still full from my milk tea earlier. I requested for water instead. Later on, she came to confirm that I had booked the cook for this flight, and I informed her that I would like to have my meal as late as possible, as I wanted it to be my dinner. Eventually, I was served about 1 hour and 15 mins before landing at 6pm, after everyone else had eaten.
And so I turned on Adele again and started rolling in the deep. Took out my laptop. Completed my previous trip report, and started on this one! Mr Inflight supervisor came along again to ask if everything was alright. And at this point, I requested for an Economy Class blanket. Why?! You might ask. Economy Class blankets are made from fleece material (I think) while Business Class blankets are made from.. some scratchy material. Mr Inflight Supervisor was more than happy to oblige and returned, to my gawking face, with not just an Economy class blanket, but a blanket from the Suites! He explained that the Economy blanket did not seem especially soft, so he brought me one from the Suities and asked me to choose between the two. I sheepishly asked “Can I have both?” to which he gladly obliged. I have never sat the Suites and this is probably the closest experience I will get to it. In any case, it turns out that the Suites blanket was.. not comfortable. It was made of the same scratchy material. And my economy class blanket was a let-down! Well, since ALL my blankets were scratchy, I chose to use the Suites’ one of course, once again ignoring strange stares from the passengers next to me. Oops.
Business Class blanket
Suites blanket with orange mood lighting in full swing. The blanket is actually white
I have to say that these Long-haul Business Class seats are not the best seats for day flights. They may be fantastic as beds, but the rather square-ish hard seatback surface (as it doubles up as the bed when flipped down) is not contoured and therefore lacks support of the lower back due to the sharp angle between seat back and seat cushion. Therefore, I decided after a short while to flip my seat back down in order to try out piling pillows to make me feel like I was using my laptop in bed. This worked out only marginally better as I now had to put my laptop on my lap, as opposed to the tray table. After squirming about, I did in fact manage to find a rather comfortable spot and remained that way till dinner.
Seat in normal position. Note the headrests that are not there in the earlier A380s
Seat in flat-bed position
Can you see my feet? Hehe!
As I typed away, my cappuccino eventually came after the turbulence was over. I was feeling greedy and my weakness for ice cream overcame me. So I asked an amused Ms Chen whether I could have my dessert before dinner to which she obliged and informed me that a second serving after dinner was ‘subject to availability’. Aww. I would take my chances.
Green Tea ice cream with Orange hue
After donning down the Green Tea Ice cream, I took the chance to walk around the cabin and took a few shots of the toilet and my seat. However, it was soon time for my dinner. Ms Chen helped flip my seat back into its upright position while I was in the toilet and prepared my tray table.
Largest aircraft toilet I've been in. Love the curved ceiling!
Starters were yummy - an assortment of ham, prawns, cheese, and vegetables. I devoured everything down.
At this point in time, turbulence hit our aircraft and meal service was halted. Eventually, though, my tenderloin beef that I had ordered through Book the Cook service was served. It looked mouth-watering but was unfortunately extremely salty! The generous amount of mashed potatoes helped to neutralize the saltiness of the beef somewhat, but I still felt rather let down. Having said that, I have heard that airplane food is made saltier because our senses are dulled by the decrease in air pressure. Is that true? If yes, then they certainly overcompensated on this piece of meat. Nevertheless, I ate it all because I was kind of hungry.
And guess what! Green Tea Ice cream was still available for dessert #2! Hurray!
Some nasty turbulence going on there...
The meal tray was cleared quickly and I decided to take another walk around the cabin, this time to the back of the aircraft. I also took the chance to chat with several FAs who informed me that the Hong Kong service was a turn-around service, unless they were scheduled on the last flight of the day, or the one that carries on to San Francisco. The Hong Kong flight is flown by A380s that only have business class on the upper deck. A tip: Rows 11, 17, 91, and 96 have the full legroom instead of a tiny footrest in the corner as they are bulkhead rows. However, I did not get to chat long as it was time for descent into Singapore.
Views from different windows:
During the descent, Mr Inflight Supervisor came to check on me again. I took the chance to ask for an amenity kit since I had something to attend to immediately after landing. Of course, I was secretly hoping he might give me something from the Suites!! Unfortunately, he explained that amenity kits were not given out even in the Suites since this was a short flight. Cost cutting much?? In any case, he was kind enough to put together a zip-lock bag full of amenities for me which proved extremely useful later on! Kudos to Mr Inflight Supervisor for being creative!
The makeshift amenity bag
Making a cute little loop before touching down
It's getting dark...
Finals for Singapore
And not long later, we touched down, or rather, slammed down into Singapore Changi Airport. I have to say my worst landings are always either to, or from, Hong Kong. Are newer A380 pilots put on this route for aircraft familiarization? With that assertive confirmation that I was firmly back on home ground, we soon reached the gate. Doors were opened quickly and in my hurry to get out of the airport and to where I needed to be, I apologize for the lack of pictures of Singapore Changi Airport!
Well, I would be back here the next day for my flight to Jakarta on Jetstar Asia. I am not writing a report on that trip as there really isn’t anything to write about except the measly legroom.
In conclusion, the A380 business class experience on SQ has definitely not failed me yet again. If I had known earlier about the trip report forum, I would have written about the one to Paris where I was given a bag full of Ferrero Rochers and lots of uh, writing paper to write love letters (don’t ask). The long-haul seat is not the most comfortable for a day flight, but it really is not that bad when there’s just so much space and one can ask for pillows to make it more comfortable. In any case, I had the chance to attend the launch of the new cabin products that will be introduced next month on the 777s. The new Business class provides much more ergonomic sitting positions ideal for day flight. They are narrower, however, and seem to require one to contort in an even more slanted position than the current product. Yikes. If I ever get to try one, I’ll be sure to write a report on it!