Thursday 29 April 2004
Scheduled Dep: 1010
Actual Dep: 1105
Checked in early at around 0720, being early hardly any one in the queue. Had my 2 bags security stickered (how come QF dont do this on their international flights?), and then check in. A painless 4 minute process, I ensured my SK Eurobonus no was in the booking.
Then headed for breakfast in the food court by the Virgin Blue terminal. Whilst filling in my departure card, saw an Air China B777 being loaded, a QF 774 and a QF 733 , operated by Jet Connect from New Zealand pulled into the gate nearby. Also saw numerous Virgin Bllue 737s move around the place.
Walked over to the QF domestic terminal and saw several QF 767s and 737s moving all over the place.
Then headed for immigration and hit the duty free stores. My friends in Singapore wanted some chocolates and some other local food stuffs which I managed to source, as well as a bottle of Campari and film roll for myself.
Spent the rest of the time spotting. A busy morning at MEL. EK B777 for Auckland, Air China B777 for SYD/SHA/EK / ZBAA), China">PEK, China Southern B777 for SYD/CAN, CX 330 to HKG, QF 744 to SYD, AIR NZ 320s to AKL and CHC (one in the LOTR livery, the one with Liv Tyler on), DJ 737 to CHC.
The notable arrivals were UA 744 from LAX/SYD arrived, as well as Vietnam Airlines B767.
An hour before departure our SQ 777 pulled into gate 3.
Bought a copy of Airliner World and then sat by the gate, by which time it was nearly boarding time.
Boarding finally commenced, but bizarelly no announcement was made. Everyone just joined the queue and it was only minutes later when they called the flight.
A little old Italian lady who I noticed in front of me could barely walk. She was with her son and she was walking very fraily. I wondered why she wasnt offered a wheelchair or assitance for boarding.
On board, my seat was 39K, the crew were positioned throughout the aircraft and offered eveyrone a smile and welcome. I wish other carriers like QF would do the same all the time.
This flight was around 70% full in Y class, and before the doors were shut, papers were offered. Decided to grab the SIngapore Strait Times, thought I'd familiarize myself with the headlines there.
The captain then came on board saying there was technical glitch which should take about 45 minutes to fix up. Drinks were offered now. And hot towels. Hot towels with that unique airline fragrance to them!! With this smell , I put the towel on my face, closed my eyes and I knew my holiday had begun!(I wish QF would do this)
Then he came on board saying we had missed our slot and a further delay of around 20 mins will be expected.
Finally we pushed back, behind several QF and DJ aircraft.
Got airborne and menus were handed out. Immigration cards too,but I noticed not many pax took them which indicated a big load of transit pax.
As this was the first time I had flown SQ in over 3 years, I noticed the menus dont carry info on the culinary panel. Have SQ ditched this concept?
I cant remember much but the choice was something like pasta or Indonesian styled fish curry, which I opted for the latter. It was pretty much okay.Desert was ice cream handed out. Since when have SQ gone this way! What happened to proper deserts?
Had a few gin and tonics and enjoyed Krisvision, this wasnt on-demand. I wasnt in the mood for concentrating on any of the movies, so I opted for the comedy channel, which had Frasier (an episode I hadnt seen), Will and Grace, Coupling, Ab Fab and some others which kept me pretty much entertained.
Duty free was offered, and the SQ luggage strap caught my eye. Hey, anything funky looking with an airline logo, and Im sold!
Most of the flight was pretty much uneventful as we crossed the red centre in grey skies, and then over the PA system, they asked if any doctors were on board. I could see in the forward cabin this old Italian lady had several crew hovering around her. the Senior purser came around as well, and blankets and an oxygen mask were brought out.
Then they called for a nurse, or ANYONE with a medical background. Unfortunately no one responded.
We thought everything was going to be fine, when as we crossed he north coast of WA heading out towards Java, the aircraft suddenly banked to the right. I then switched to the flight path and noticed a route diversion to Darwin! This poor lady obviously needed urgent medical attention.
The funny thing is the only announced our diversion some 20 minutes later.
We were still an hour from Darwin from the time of the announcement, but soonr we could see the jungle beneath us getting closer and closer. Darwin looked like a very small place, set in a tropical jungle. Its funny to think this is Australia as other cities on the southern coast are completely different in every sense. We couldnt see the city from our side of the aicraft, only lush jungle. Im sure the local townsfolk beneath were wondering what this SQ 777 was heading into DRW for.
Landed at DRW quite smoothly and headed to the terminal, which was empty. I was surprised to know it has 3 air bridges, does DRW ever get more than 2 jets at any one given time?
Pulled up to the international bridge, and straight away medical staff came and escorted her off in a stretcher, as well as her son who was travelling with her. I think she was going to be okay as the crew were smiling with her and the son looked like he was in somewat good spirits. The crew aologized to us over and over again for the delay and thanked us for our patience and understanding and that "the family would appreciate our understanding". Everyone on board totally understood this.
The crew came along and looked after passengers and asked if everything was ok. At one point, I must have looked really "depressed"( i was actually bored staring into the open space) when the stewardess came up to me, and sympathetically asked me if I was ok. That was a nice , unexpected touch, which I know other airlines would not bother with.
We were allowed out on to the air bridge if we wanted to use our phones which practically all pax did. Then the crew went around collecting messages from passengers to relay to anyone overseas to advise about the delay. I told them to contact my friend there to say not to meet me at my hotel as I would be getting late and miss our appointment which they said they would do.
We were advised our stop in DRW would be for 30 mins, enough time to refuel and off load the bags. But this turned into 90 minutes!
For the entire duration, the only movement at DRW was a tiny aircraft belonging to some airline like Arnhem air Charter (?).
We finally left DRW around 4.30 pm local time , and the meal service on this sector was the light refreshment as per the menu, muffin and some cake thingy. Not very interesting.
Everyone had had a long day by this point and most pax slept, I didnt bother too much with the PTV, I think I just listened to some music on the chart channel.
The descent into SIN finally commenced around 8.30pm in the midst of a tropical storm, which delayed our landing a further 15 minutes. We hit the ground around 9ish,landing on the runway alongside terminal 2 (dont ask my about ruway specifics!). Heaps of SQ metal on the ground, other than that, through the rain I managed to make out an AIr France 777, and a ValueAir A320 parked at a remote bay. As we taxiied to the gate a Fed Ex Md11 landed.
We docked at gate E27, and the ground staff came on board. Pax connecting to Bangalore and Chennai were asked to disembark first as they had either a few mins to make it or had missed their connections. I noticed a LOT of the pax on board were of Indian origin and were making these connections, I noticed several others were connecting to Mumbai and Colombo as well, but they had time on their hands. In the waiting lounge by our gate, the transit pax were ferried there and temporary counters set up . All pax leaving in Singapore were offered taxi vouchers which I thought was great!
Got through immigration in like 2 second, headed over to the duty free stores to buy some cologne (which they didn even have!), and by this time my bags were on the belt. Headed for the taxi tank, and get this, 9.30pm in Singapore and hardly any taxis! We waited a good part of 45 minutes in the maze queue. I noticed several pax had arrived on flights from Malaysia and Indonesia in the queue, so a need for taxis at this time was not an unusual call. It wasnt like we had unexpectedly arrived at like 3am.
Overall, the service was fine.The crew never stopped apoloizing for the unexpectd delay, and drinks were offerred like every hour. The crew acted very professional and courteous through out the entire drama. No one appeared to panic or look distressed. SQ are reallly a professonal product, in my opinion streets ahead of QF. Flying out of MEL to Asia, I would definetly take SQ again. A good flight, with an event I wont forget!The only down sight was that SQ ground staff in SIN did not relay my message to my friend. She ended up waiting for me int he lobby and gave up after a while!