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SQ Y-class BKK-SIN-SFO-BKK (Very Long, 80+ Pix)  
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

BKK-SIN-HKG-SFO Return Trip
Singapore Airlines Economy Class


For the holidays, Tawn and I made a brief trip back to the United States to see friends and family. Like most of our trips, there was too much crammed into too short a period of time. This is the story of that trip.

Segment 1
Date:
24 December 2005
Route: BKK-SIN
Airline/Flight: SQ 61
Aircraft: B777-212ER (9V-SRQ)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure: 07:45 (07:40)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival: 11:10 (11:05)
Load factor in Economy: approximately 95%
Class / Seat: Economy 52A and C

Only four hours after going to sleep, I was awakened by the rising staccato alarm of my Nokia mobile phone: “Beep… beep beep beep beep… beep beep beep beep…”

It seems that the first, solo beep is enough to re-engage my consciousness, so I mysteriously find myself awake, thinking, “the alarm is about to go…” and then, at that moment, I am interrupted by the first quartet of beeps.

Our holiday trip to the United States was a long time in the planning, and ultimately the best Star Alliance fare we could find was on Singapore Airlines. Something of a circuitous route, backtracking 1400 km south to Singapore before heading back north to Hong Kong and then on to San Francisco, it was the least expensive way to earn additional miles and, let’s face it, SQ is a great way to fly.

Our previous night’s packing and organization paid off handsomely as we had a relaxing routine on the morning of our departure: First, I put “30 by Ella” into the CD player. Then I started our stovetop Italian espresso brewer. No reason to get up early to fly if you can’t do it in style!

Tawn had arranged for two taxis to drive us to Don Muang International Airport because our five checked bags, two trolley bags, and smaller personal bags were too much for a single tiny Toyota Corolla. They were almost too much for two Corollas, in fact, as the compressed natural gas tanks fill the already miniscule trunks of the taxis.

If you’ve read my previous reports, you might know that I generally travel very light, so let me briefly explain that as much as I hate to check baggage, it was necessary this trip. When I moved from the United States to Bangkok three months ago, there were still many items that I left behind. So this trip was, in part, all about bringing empty suitcases to the US and returning to Bangkok with more belongings.

Zipping along the toll way at 140 kph in a fully loaded taxi with a canister of compressed natural gas behind me felt a bit like riding a bottle rocket just waiting to explode. But our drivers deposited us at Terminal 2 in one piece, and thanks to the speed, quite awake for five in the morning.

Departure hall of Terminal 2, Don Muang Airport
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Lines were short at the SQ counter and we only waited a few minutes to check in. The agent, a contracted TG employee, was helpful but not as outgoing as most SQ employees are. At my request, she changed our seats for the SIN-HKG-SFO flight to exit row, although she reported to us in a voice full of regret, that it was an exit row “further back in the cabin” as if this were an unbelievable insult to our dignity.

When I booked our seats online, I had chosen window and aisle seats, leaving an empty middle seat between us. Sometimes this works well and we end up with a row of seats for the two of us. On busy flights, Christmas Eve for example, we end up having to ask the person in the middle seat if he or she would prefer the aisle. They usually say yes.

The agent noticed this situation on the BKK-SIN leg and offered to reassign our seats, either a middle and window or two seats on either side of an aisle. Not wanting to waste a daylight flight and the inherent photo opportunities, I opted for the window and middle seats.

A quick trip to the automated teller machine was necessary as I didn’t have the cash for our 500 baht a person departure tax. Once the new airport is open, hopefully the departure tax will be collected directly from the airlines. Thankfully the deep purple hue of a Siam Commercial Bank ATM was easily recognizable at the far end of the departure hall.

Christmas music and a slow, instrumental version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” played rather incongruously in the background, considering that 97% of Thais are Buddhist, and a small stand of lighted tress was set up near immigration, the airport authority’s concession to traveling Christians.

Immigration proceeded smoothly, allowing us plenty of time to browse duty free, purchase a gift for the son of a friend (a small ceramic elephant holding a snow globe with another elephant inside it) that despite the excessive bubble wrap still ended up breaking along the way, glycerin and glitter gleefully decorating several sweaters.

We visited the Silver Kris lounge, which is fairly small (seating maybe 60 people) but well appointed. A wide range of drinks, fruits, breakfast cereals, and dim sum were set up. We tried a little bit of everything while watching cargo being loaded into the back half of an EVA B747 Combi as the sun began to rise on the other side of the runways.

Silver Kris Lounge, Don Muang Airport
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Fresh tropical fruits at the lounge
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An EVA B747-45EM Combi (B-16407) gets loaded
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The EVA flight pushes back as UA882 to NRT rotates on 21R
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All too soon it was 07:00 so we left the lounge and made our way through security – no lines and no apparent concern when the metal detector beeped as I passed through – and walked down a long corridor to gate 55. Pier 5 was built just a few years ago and as the newest part of the airport it is also the nicest, relatively speaking.

There is a shiny Qantas lounge along with a large Royal Silk Lounge in the windowed corridor to the pier. The pier itself is spacious and has many more windows than the other piers at the airport, affording a good view of the planes. But as there is a sterile walkway between the lounge and the outside windows, taking pictures doesn’t work so well.

Boarding had already commenced. We had head the announcements echoing through the terminal as we made our way to the gate. Even though First, Raffles, and Star Gold were already boarding, the security agent who checked our tickets made us wait until Economy boarding began in earnest, not noticing the “UA*G” on my boarding pass. Not a huge issue, as we were first in line once Economy boarding began.

Our SQ B777-212ER (9V-SRQ)
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The airplane, a B777-200, had festive holiday garlands hung on the cabin walls every five rows or so, and the crew was in good cheer even though they were not wearing red Santa hats. We passed five crew members in the short distance between door 2L and row 52, where we were seated. Every one of them welcomed us aboard and the last one actually showed us to our seats.

Being ahead of the boarding crowd, I snapped some pictures of the clean cabin. Boarding went smoothly even though nearly every seat was full. Attendants were constantly working in the aisles, welcoming people, assisting to place baggage in the overhead compartments.

Cabin shots of our plane
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The biggest difference I’ve observed between SQ flight attendants and their U.S. counterparts is that SQ flight attendants use more words when speaking – words like “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” “ma’am,” and “sir.” What a difference a little courtesy makes. Some people say that SQ flight attendants are too “robotic.” Maybe that’s another word for polite, friendly, and professional?

More than ten minutes before scheduled departure time the passengers were boarded, the cabin secure, and hot towels – honest-to-goodness full-size washcloths, not those cheap wipes that some airlines use – were handed out to passengers. Overhead bins were shut, checked, double-checked and (in what seemed a bit redundant) triple-checked.

We pushed back a full five minutes before scheduled departure time, an early start on our way to Singapore. Taxi-out was quick as we went past a bevy of interesting airliners from around the globe: Royal Brunei, Qantas, Vietnam Airlines, EVA, and Turkmenistan, just to name a few.

TG A340-642 (HS-TNC) – now that’s a long plane!
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Orient Thai “One-Two-Go” MD-82 (HS-OMA)
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Air Asia 737-301 (HS-AAJ)
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Bangkok Air B717-23S (HS-PGP)
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TG B747-3D7 (HS-TGO)
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Turkmenistan Airlines B757-22K
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The departure runway was 21R and the captain held the brakes and revved the engines, like they do when clearing snow during winter operations, for about fifteen seconds before releasing the brakes and launching us forward. Twenty-five seconds later we rotated and climbed into the sky. It was a hazy, overcast morning like nearly every other here in Bangkok and as we climbed through 1,000 feet the view was quickly obscured.

TG Airbus holds short as we depart runway 21R
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The seatbelt signs were extinguished shortly and the crew began breakfast service. Prior to departure one of the flight attendants had worked through the cabin with the manifest and confirmed all of the special meals, placing a white SQ sticker on those passengers’ seats for easy identification. Quite a few passengers, maybe 25 in our section of the cabin, had ordered special meals.

Special meals were served first which resulted in me getting a meal a good twenty minutes before Tawn was served his regular meal. I ordered an Indian Vegetarian meal on this leg and Asian Vegetarian meals for the SIN-HKG-SFO legs. My experience has been that special meals usually are better than the regular meals. This was certainly true for this flight.

My meal included (and I’m sorry I don’t know the correct Hindi names for the dishes) a squash curry that was really spicy and delicious, some potato croquettes that were very flavorful and served with apple chutney, and a lentil pancake that had been pan-fried. Very tasty. Also, fruit, plain yoghurt, a roll and marmalade along with orange juice, water and tea to drink.

Indian vegetarian meal – breakfast
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Tawn had not ordered a special meal, part of our strategy to be able to sample a wider variety of SQ’s cuisine. He chose the seafood noodle breakfast over the omelette and chicken sausage. His breakfast smelled fishy and not in a good way. I tried a taste – it included small shrimp, calamari, white fish and shitake mushrooms over thin egg noodles. One bite was enough. Maybe a five out of ten in terms of quality, although the quantity was generous. On this flight, the special meal won, hands-down.

Seafood noodles breakfast
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Flight attendants passed through the cabin several times during the 100-minute flight, refilling coffee and tea and offering water. They were very friendly and attentive, especially for so short a flight.

We began our descent shortly after breakfast service concluded, dropping beneath the fluffy clouds as the captain informed us of rain showers forecast for the afternoon, a damp sign for our five-and-a-half hour layover.

Flying in just off the eastern tip of the island, we turned our base leg to the west about thirty kilometers from the field. Approaching from the south, continuing our descent over dozens and dozens of ships anchored in the strait, we had a great view of the financial district and the mouth of the Singapore River before we crossed the shore and came in for a smooth landing on runway 02C. Our taxi into the gate was quick; terminal two was pretty much deserted as we parked at gate F52.

Downtown Singapore
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Three seconds before touching down on runway 2C
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SQ B777-212ER in Star Alliance colors (9V-SRE)
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With over five hours between our flights we decided to head into town and meet up with some friends to eat Hainanese Chicken Rice, the national dish of Singapore. Otto and Han met us outside immigration and customs, which was fast, efficient and polite as always. The dish of complimentary hard candies at the immigration desk is an especially nice touch.

At lunch we also met up with another friend, Stephanie, who was in town from Melbourne. Earlier in the week, she had been in Bangkok, so it felt very “jet set” to be seeing the same friends in multiple countries in a single week. As Virgin Atlantic says: go, jet set, go!

Stephanie, Chris, Tawn, Otto and Han
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The chicken rice was excellent – we ate at Wee Nam Kee, a pretty well known restaurant – and sat outdoors in the shade of an umbrella enjoying the chicken prepared two ways, sizzling stir-friend venison, as well as several veggie dishes. Afterwards we stopped for coffee at a nearby shopping center. By the time we finished, we were in the midst of a torrential downpour, the captain’s weather forecast having materialized as promised. Han had the only umbrella, and gallantly braved the rain to retrieve the car and come fetch us.

The ride to the airport was a slow one, the heavy rain overwhelming Singapore’s usually sufficient drainage system and leading to several multi-car accidents on the Pan Island Expressway. You would think that Singaporeans would be used to driving in tropical downpours, as these are hardly a rare occurrence just one degree north of the equator!


Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
37 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Segment 2
Date:
24 December 2005
Route: SIN-HKG
Airline/Flight: SQ 2
Aircraft: B747-412 (9V-SPO)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure from SIN: 17:00 (16:52)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival in HKG: 20:45 (20:35)
Load factor in Economy: approximately 90%
Class / Seat: Economy 39A and B

Our original plan was to arrive back at Changi Airport by 15:00 for our 17:00 departure, allowing plenty of time to shop and visit the lounge. Rain delayed, we walked into the air-conditioned departure hall at three minutes before 16:00.

After a return trip through immigration (“Candy?” “Thank you, don’t mind if I do.”) Tawn broke off to do some quick duty free shopping, while I headed to the Star Alliance Gold lounge. This is operated by SQ for the economy class Star Gold passengers. It is nice enough although not as nice as a regular SQ lounge. I was a bit disappointed as, being at SQ’s home airport, I was expecting to visit a very nice lounge.

One thing you can give SQ credit for is that they don’t devalue their premium products: First and Raffles class passengers are not disturbed onboard by people having received complimentary upgrades, nor in their respective lounges by passengers who are “only” flying in Economy!

There wasn’t much to see in the lounge so after a quick bite of a tasty coconut cream cake, I worked my way down to departure gate E22, stopping here and there to take photos. Changi Airport has a gazillion things to do if you are transiting here. Many shops and, significantly, many shops that are different from the others. At Bangkok, for example, all the shops seem to sell the exact same items. After visiting two or three, there’s no point in seeing the others.

There is a nice koi pond and palm tree grove near the Star Gold lounge as well as some areas with good views of the airplanes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much happening on the tarmac at mid-afternoon, so I continued to the gate, through security, and waited for Tawn to arrive a few minutes later. I took some pictures of our jumbo jet before boarding commenced.

The koi pond at Changi Terminal 2
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Silk Air A319-132 (9V-SBA)
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The SQ B747-412 (9V-SPO) that will take us to San Francisco
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Gate room E22, waiting to board
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At 16:30, the boarding announcement was made: First Class, Raffles, and Star Gold were all boarded simultaneously. Most of those people seemed to be absent as we were two of only a dozen people to board during that first call. The other premium passengers must have still been holed up in their cozy lounges. In fact, there was nobody on our jet bridge so I stopped for a photo with the Singapore Girl who was working door 2L.

Welcomed aboard by a smiling Singapore Girl
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Our seats were at the exit row at door 3L – seats 32A and B. Being a 747, the window seat at the exits is cramped as there’s a huge slide raft protruding into your personal space. We ended up quite lucky, though: the person assigned to 32C, the aisle seat, moved to another seat further back in the plane even though the flight was pretty full on the SIN-HKG leg. So I swapped to the aisle seat just before we pushed back.

Tawn and Chris in exit row seats to Hong Kong
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We pushed back eight minutes early, which impressed me as it had taken only about twenty minutes to board a nearly full 747. We had a long taxi, seemingly touring the entire airport before pulling back onto runway 02C. The takeoff roll started at 17:08 and thirty-two seconds later, we were climbing into the gray clouds and towards Hong Kong.

About twenty minutes after takeoff, after the first round of people had rushed to use the lavatory, flight attendants distributed menus. This eight-page booklet had a special holiday cover and indicated that we would have the option of a traditional holiday turkey dinner on the HKG-SFO leg, making me momentarily regret my decision to pre-order an Asian Vegetarian meal. The menu was really nice. It looked classy and was printed in both English and Chinese. It was much nicer than the menus I’ve seen aboard any other Economy class flight, and was nicer than the menus I’ve seen even in many airlines’ First or Business class services.

A view down the aisle
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We began with a light beverage service. Flight attendants carried trays of white wine, beer, and orange juice. Additional beverages were available by request, so Tawn asked for a Singapore Sling while I tried the wine, a sweet Riesling that made for a good aperitif. Bags of peanuts were handed out from a picnic-ish wicker basket.

Complimentary and sweet Singapore Sling
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Tawn moved over to the window seat from the middle seat so he could stretch out and lean against the wall. He looked pretty comfortable, confirming as I’ve long suspected, that he was a cat in a past life, as he seems to be able to get comfortable sleeping in most any position. A skill I have not acquired despite many years of flying.

I ordered a Singapore Sling after finishing my wine. It was very sweet but tasty nonetheless. Special meals were handed out first, so my Asian Vegetarian selection arrived before Tawn could make his regular meal selection. My meal consisted of an Asian-style salad with sugar snap peas and shitake mushrooms. The main dish was fried rice with modified vegetable protein (e.g., soybean sheets formed in a meat-like texture) with mushrooms and peppers. It was good although not great. The dessert, a red bean cake, was really good.

The Asian vegetarian meal from SIN-HKG
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The regular menu for the SIN-HKG leg was:

International Selections

    Appetiser
  • Marinated prawns with nicoise salad

    Main course
  • Baked salmon with pesto crust, vegetable medley and roasted potatoes
    or
  • Satay ayam – grilled marinated chicken served with peanut sauce, braised vegetables and steamed rice

    Bread and Cheese
  • Roll and butter
  • Brie and crackers

    Dessert
  • Chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar

Indian Selection

    Appetiser
  • Channa dhai salad – chick peas with Indian spices and corianders

    Entrée
  • Spiced potatoes, curried mixed vegetables served with saffron pilaf accompanied with curd and pickles

    Dessert
  • Chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar


Tawn opted for the chicken satay. His salad, a mixture of potatoes, haricots verte, and shrimp, had three very large shrimp that were fresh and flavorful. (We do share meals, by the way, and I didn’t eat all three shrimp – just one of them!) The satay was tasty, too. It is the same thing that is served as an appetizer in First and Raffles class, but the meat was chopped up instead of on skewers. The chili sauce that comes with it is great.

After finishing our meals, I asked a flight attendant if there were any salmon entrées left over. She went to check and was back in a few minutes to swap out my empty dish for a hot pesto salmon entrée. No muss, no fuss, no sarcasm or snide comments.

The appearance of the salmon entrée was a bit aback taking, with the sauce covering the salmon like a sheet of pesto-colored gelatin. Aside from the appearance, the food itself was fantastic. The best of the three entrées I tried on this flight. The salmon was still very moist and the pesto, once it was stirred a bit, was fresh and garlicky. Thankfully, Tawn helped me finish the very generous portion of fish.

The salmon pesto entrée
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Dessert, in addition to the red bean cake I ate, was a Wall’s Magnum Ice Cream bar. The in-flight supervisor gave me one, too, so I made out quite well overall. The chocolate ice cream bar didn’t seem very traditionally Indian to me (it was served with the Indian meal as well), but perhaps I’m not very knowledgeable about the culture’s desserts!

Duty free sales followed dinner. About an hour before landing (about a 3:30 flight overall) I was pleased to find the lavatory clean and well-stocked with toothbrushes, combs, shaving kits, cologne, aftershave, and lotion. And all this in an Economy class cabin.

Our descent from flight level 400 commenced about thirty minutes before touchdown. The flight attendants collected headsets from the passengers who were deplaning in HKG and passed out immigration forms. The Indian couple traveling in the row behind us were unclear of the correct procedures we would have to follow in HKG (deplaning, clearing security, and re-boarding) and one flight attendant spent several minutes patiently explaining the process to them.

We landed on runway 7L and taxied into gate E15 several minutes ahead of schedule. As we waited to deplane, I chatted with the flight attendant who was in the jump seat ahead of us. He and some of the crew were continuing on to SFO on tomorrow night’s SQ2, while others of the crew were scheduled to work the first flight back to SIN the following morning. That would make for a very quick turnaround. Not sure which is better, really. The crew returning to SIN in the morning would barely have time to rest but would be home in time for Christmas. The crew continuing on would have a good layover in Hong Kong and then arrive in SF in time to spend Christmas there, but of course would be away from home for the holiday. Both are tough options.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Segment 3
Date:
24 December 2005
Route: HKG-SFO
Airline/Flight: SQ 2
Aircraft: B747-400 (9V-SPO)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure from HKG: 21:55 (22:00)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival in SFO: 17:55 (16:50)
Load factor in Economy: approximately 70%
Class / Seat: Economy 32H and K

Our stop in HKG was quick. I went to the SQ lounge, thankfully just outside gate 15, and asked about reassigning our seats to a bulkhead. The exit row seat with its impacted legroom and cold temperatures might be uncomfortable for the long flight ahead, especially if we ended up with a third person sitting in the row.

I know, I should be thankful to even have an exit row seat and not look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. I learned my lesson on the return flight when we not only didn’t have an exit row, we didn’t even have a window in our row! But I figure that as a Star Alliance Gold member (in other words, a very frequent flyer) I’m entitled to some perks and it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask about better seats.

The lady at the lounge was able to move us to 32 H and K, bulkhead aisle and middle seats in the first row of Economy on the right hand side of the aircraft. A trade off from the enormous legroom of the exit row, but the seats would be warmer. And, at the front of the cabin, we would get served dinner first. Oh, wait, I’m already getting my meal first with a special meal. Oh, well.

The SQ lounge in HKG
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I spent the rest of our short stop in the SQ lounge, which is well sized and nicely appointed. While Tawn shopped, I sampled some dim sum and had a glass of sparkling water. On the way to the gate, I stopped and purchased a few English language books.

Boarding at gate 15, HKG
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When we boarded, the man assigned to the window seat of our row was already sitting in the aisle seat. I decided not to question it, since we arrived at twilight in SFO so there might be something worth seeing out the window. The drawback is that the aisle seat in this particular row has extra legroom. The bulkhead only extends across the middle and window seats, allowing the person in the aisle to stick his or her feet out in front of a closet.

When the announcement was made for flight attendants to arm their doors, the man sitting on the aisle moved over to the aisle seat of the center section of the bulkhead row. This allowed him to have an empty seat next to him (and we received the same benefit by his move, too) but a couple and their infant occupied the remaining two seats. What a tradeoff!

The game of musical chairs finally over, we pushed back at 22:00, about five minutes late. The captain informed us that we’d be following a strong jet stream and he expected an arrival about fifty minutes early into SFO. Looking around the cabin, it looked like very few people had joined the flight in HKG. Economy load factor was down to about seventy percent, giving people enough room to stretch out that during the night several people had rows of three or four seats to themselves. A very comfortable flight for them, I’m sure!

We pulled onto runway 7R at 22:20 after a slow taxi across the airport. The roll lasted forty seconds and we had a smooth liftoff, climbing alongside Lantau Island on a beautiful, clear evening. We made a right turn about a minute after takeoff, heading up and over Central on Hong Kong Island with Victoria Peak passing underneath our right wing. Having previously lived in Hong Kong back in 1998-1999, it was fun to see the familiar sights.

Beverage and snack services proceeded just as they had out of SIN. I started up Kris World, SQ’s AVOD IFE system, finding at least ten of the sixty feature films of interest to me. So I started watching Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Wererabbit.

The regular dinner menu for the HKG-SFO leg was:

International Selections

    Appetiser
  • Smoked salmon with mesclun and caper

    Main course
  • Christmas Tom turkey with herbed bread stuffing, green beans, candied chestnuts and pumpkin mash
    or
  • West lake style sweet and sour fish fillet served with seasonal greens and steamed rice

    Bread and Cheese
  • Roll and butter
  • Boursin cheese and crackers

    Dessert
  • Yuletide log cake for the festival season

Indian Selection

    Appetiser
  • Mixed salad with vinaigrette

    Entrée
  • Masala spiced pumpkin, mushroom curry and basmati rice with raisins and cashew nuts

    Dessert
  • Yuletide log cake for the festival season


My Asian Vegetarian selection was a stir-fry of sea cucumber, shitake mushrooms and carrots in an oyster sauce, bok choy, and rice. Dessert was a yellow bean thing, sort of a cross between a pudding and jell-o. Cathay Pacific catering had done the meal, and I wasn’t that impressed with it.

Asian vegetarian dinner from HKG-SFO
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Tawn, in a burst of holiday spirit, selected the turkey dinner. Not really a good meal, I’m afraid. The turkey, dressing, and mash were kind of a big, gloppy mess, and the gravy was awfully sweet. For the first time, our SQ food service left us disappointed. The chocolate Yuletide log cake was nice, though. Having eaten a lot of food in the twelve or so hours since we left home, I decided against asking if there was any leftover sweet and sour fish entrées.

Tom turkey dinner – a gloppy mess
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5311.jpg

The cheery Yuletide log cake
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5306.jpg

As the movie ended (it was very enjoyable, by the way) I was getting drowsy so I settled down as comfortably as possible and slept on and off for the next few hours. The legroom was sufficient enough so that I could stretch out, but the seats on a 747, especially in bulkhead rows, are a bit narrow. The handset for the Kris World system gouges you in the upper thigh, so I left it sitting out on the middle seat for the duration of the flight.

I reached a point where I figured I had had enough sleep. I wanted to be able to sleep once we arrived in SFO, so I woke up, turned on the light and checked the sky map. We had turned out to the Pacific near Okinawa and were now a bit east of the International Date Line, several hundred kilometers north of Hawai’i. According to the display, we had about four hours left.

A flight attendant appeared just a moment later with a basket of snacks: chips, Oreo cookies, apples, and veggie and pastrami sandwiches.

Starting up Kris World again, I watched “Hustle & Flow” a dramatic independent film starring Terrence Howard that received a good deal of notice in the film festival circuit this year, but that largely missed an audience at the cinemas. The story is about a disillusioned philosopher-pimp in a southern US city. It was very well acted and compelling, more so than I had anticipated.

A little more than two hours left in the flight, the cabin lights were raised and the flight attendants handed out hot towels in preparation for a light meal service.

The “before touchdown” menu:

  • Fruit appetiser

    Wholesome beginnings
  • Lor mai kai – steamed glutinous rice with marinated chicken and black mushrooms
    or
  • Cheese omelette with ham steak, roasted tomato and hash brown potatoes
    or
  • Indian style bread with green peas masala and spiced minced cottage cheese with curd, chutney and pickles

  • Assorted breakfast rolls, butter, and fruit preserves

My Asian Vegetarian breakfast (Lunch? Dinner? Hard to keep track at this point) was two types of dim sum dumplings and some lo mein noodles. Pretty tasty although by the end of a long flight the food was looking a bit dehydrated. Tawn had the sticky rice, the portion of which was large and very tasty.

Asian vegetarian breakfast HKG-SFO
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5315.jpg

Sticky rice breakfast HKG-SFO
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5316.jpg

Cleaning up prior to landing in SFO, I was thankful for the amenities that were made available. Tawn mentioned that he wasn’t sure why we bother to fly UA Economy anymore. The mileage bonus I receive (and extra 100%) is a nice benefit of flying United, but the travel experience on SQ (or TG or KE or CX or…) is so much nicer.

Despite being a lifelong UA fan, and very eager that they make it out of bankruptcy and upgrade their product, I’m having a hard time justifying spending money on them. Not only does their product lag behind most other airlines, but the service is usually only so-so. The exception being when I’m flying with a Narita-based crew (generally better than the US-based crews) or when one of my friends is working my flight. Okay, enough with my soapbox. I’ll get down and continue the trip report.

About forty minutes before landing I opened the window shades to a very bright late afternoon Pacific sky. A thick, wavy blanket of clouds spread for a hundred kilometers in every direction, orange-pink behind us, blue ahead. We approached the coast heading due east, crossing the shore just south of Half Moon Bay.

Crossing onto the North American continent
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5322.jpg

A left turn over the Stanford University Linear Accelerator provided a great view of the lower Peninsula and all of the South Bay. We turned to line up with runway 28L just inside the Dumbarton Bridge and proceeded on a visual approach, smoothly touching down more than an hour early.

Moments before touching down at 27L
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5343.jpg

At the gate in SFO’s international terminal
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5358.jpg

Our early arrival was made up for in the immigration process. I cleared quickly but Tawn was held up in a slow-moving line and didn’t join me in the baggage claim area for almost fifty minutes. Despite that, I only had to wait for him about ten minutes because our bags were slow to arrive. It turns out that only one of our checked bags was given a Star Alliance priority tag. And that one, of course, made it to the carrousel very quickly. The others took a long time to arrive.

We passed through customs quickly, telling the officer that the only thing we had to declare were some Thai desserts. As these are not made with meat or uncooked vegetables, he cleared us quickly, asked if we were staying in the City or connecting to another flight, and pointed us in the right direction. Some twenty-five hours later, we had made it to San Francisco.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

A week in the United States

We were in the US for eight days and flew all over the place. Christmas morning we left SFO and flew through Denver to Kansas City. Three days later we made a trip through Denver to Seattle and returned the next morning. After one more night in Kansas City we headed back our to San Francisco, passing through Denver for the fourth time in six days!

I didn’t bother to prepare a full trip report for the domestic flights as the routes and service have been covered extensively before. I’ll include a few pictures of interesting things we saw along the way, for your enjoyment.

The Tebow, Schultz, and Stoll families gather for Christmas (thought you’d like to see my family since I’ve invited you along on my trip)
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5385.jpg

Our arrival into the emerald city of Seattle
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5439.jpg

Flying over Boeing Field – can you make out the Concorde parked below?
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5450.jpg

Moments before touchdown at SEA
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5452.jpg

Winds from the west gusting at up to 50 mph force all DEN traffic to depart on runway 25, leading to a backup of 14 aircraft behind us when we took off.
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5480.jpg

Aerial view as we turn to the east after departing DEN. Fantastic view of the runway complex and you can see several large clouds of dust being kicked up.
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5500.jpg

Sunrise as we approach DEN for the fourth time in six days.
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5511.jpg

A United Airbus is silhouetted by the rising sun while on a parallel approach to runway 35R
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5521.jpg



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Segments 3 and 4
Date:
2 January 2006
Route: SFO-HKG-SIN
Airline/Flight: SQ 1
Aircraft: B747-412 (9V-SPE)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure from SFO: 00:05 (00:09)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival in HKG: 06:20 +1 (on time)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure from HKG: 08:00 (07:55)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival in SFO: 11:50 (11:40)
Load factor in Economy: 100%
Class / Seat: Economy 35A and C

Our week in the United States passed too quickly: Christmas with the family in Kansas city, New Year’s with friends in San Francisco, and a surprise side trip to Seattle to watch Pink Martini as part of Tawn’s Christmas present.

On Sunday the first, we spent the day in San Francisco, shopping in Union Square and having an early dinner of Cuban tapas at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission District. By 20:30 we arrived at SFO for our 00:05 flight. Plenty of time to check in, refuel the rental car and drop it off.

Because of my recent move to Bangkok, still having a lot of things to move over there, we had six bags to check – one more than was allowed even with my Star Gold status. I discovered that we were assigned a regular Economy row and asked whether bulkhead or exit rows were available. The agent checked but said the flight was completely full and we weren’t going to do any better than the seats we were assigned. After getting checking in and ensuring all the bags were tagged, labeled, and given Star Priority tags, I waited for another Swissport agent to process my US$109 extra baggage charge.

The departure hall at SFO’s new international terminal
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5555.jpg

After returning the car and clearing security, we stopped by the SQ lounge, which is tucked away behind United’s massive but bland Red Carpet Club. The SQ lounge is small – just large enough to accommodate all the First and Raffles passengers on a single flight if they squeeze into every seat – and it is very well appointed. A wide selection of appetizers and snacks were available. I enjoyed some crostini with tomato and mozzarella cheese as well as a roast beef and cheddar combination. Sparkling water and grenadine syrup combined for a light spritzer with which to wash down my snacks.

SQ lounge at SFO
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5564.jpg

UA Ted A320-232 (N408UA) on a rainy night at SFO
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5575.jpg

Snacks at the SQ lounge
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5577.jpg

Local television news played on one wall, a bit more interesting than CNN since I grew up in the Bay Area. One lounge attendant walked around and announced boarding about 23:25. By the time we made it to gate 97, First and Raffles classes had boarded as well as Star Gold members. I stopped by the counter to check one last time for better seats. None were available. The seat between us was assigned, the agent told me.

Boarding the flight, we were greeted at the door by an in-flight supervisor and a lead flight attendant. Holiday decorations still graced the cabin. We arrived at row 35 and discovered that on SQ’s 747s, row 35 is (like some sort of airborne Merchant-Ivory film) a row without a view.

I wasn’t overjoyed by this discovery. As an aviation enthusiast, not having a window almost makes it not worthwhile to even fly! To top it off, the lady in the row ahead of us and her elderly father had already fully reclined their seats, blocking access to our seats. I politely asked if they would bring their seatbacks upright so that we could get into our seats. The lady made a modest attempt to do so. Her father, on the aisle, either did not want to comply with my request or simply didn’t understand it. I could feel my frustration rising, my Zen-like calmness being unconstructively knocked off-kilter. Many fellow long-distance and frequent travelers will agree, one of the things that really makes air travel unpleasant is the inexperienced travelers who don’t consider how their actions impact others.

Finally after getting seated and possibly accidentally bumping into the still-reclined aisle seat in front of us, I calmed down a bit, reasoning that the entire flight was a nighttime flight: we would depart and arrive in the dark, so what was there to see even if I did have a window?

The young man who was assigned the middle seat arrived and was relieved to be offered the aisle seat. He, too, looked annoyed by the full recline that the man in front of him had already achieved.

We pushed back just a few minutes late. The captain informed us that our flight time was scheduled at 13:10. With a winter weather system in the Bay Area, we took off in the direction opposite that normally used, on runway 10L. We began our roll at 00:30, a long one but not at all surprising given the long flight and strong headwinds that are typical of the North Pacific during the winter.

There was consistent, moderate turbulence on the climb out, so much so that the flight attendants were asked to be seated, interrupting the start of the meal service. They had already passed out towels, menus, and small amenity kits containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and slipper socks before being directed back to their jump seats.

As the flight smoothed out at cruising altitude, the flight attendants resumed their service, walking along the aisles with trays of water, beer, and juice, taking requests for other beverages. Tawn and I ordered Singapore Slings. A fellow diner at our Cuban meal this evening asked whether, being based in Singapore, the airline shouldn’t just refer to the drink as a “Sling”?

The regular supper menu for the SFO-HKG leg was:

International Selections

    Appetiser
  • Smoked salmon with romaine lettuce and caesar dressing

    Main course
  • Chicken with barbecue sauce, cabbage slaw and potato
    or
  • Stir fried pork with ginger and spring onion served with seasonal vegetables and rice

    Bread and Cheese
  • Roll and butter
  • Tillamook cheddar cheese and crackers

    Dessert
  • Chocolate brownie cake

Indian Selection

    Appetiser
  • Mixed salad with vinaigrette

    Entrée
  • Cottage cheese with onion-tomatoes, black lentils in butter and green peas pilaf with curd, chutney and pickles

    Dessert
  • Chocolate brownie cake


Dinner was okay. Unlike the inbound trip, I had not pre-ordered any special meals. Tawn had the stir-friend pork, which was just bland and in desperate need of nam plaa (fish sauce) or any other Thai condiment that can add serious dimension to any dish. The BBQ chicken, which according to the menu was created by Nancy Oakes of Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, was tasty but the cabbage was a dry mess. I did have a nice white wine with the meal, though, and the dessert had a tasty crème anglaise sauce.

Nancy Oakes’ chicken dinner
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5584.jpg

As a chased to dinner I popped 25mg of Diphenhydramine HCI (the active ingredient in my otherwise generic sleeping pill) and was able to get about five hours of pretty decent sleep. SQ’s seats recline far enough and the headrests have wings that support your head pretty well. The seat pitch, a not-very-generous 32”, wasn’t very comfortable. Especially since the folks in the front of us didn’t hesitate to fully recline their seat the instant dinner service ended. In fact, more than once the lady in front of me struggled to push her seat back even further, as if she was dissatisfied that she could not lay her head in my lap. Fortunately, the mechanical limits of the recline mechanism kept that from happening.

Our outbound and return menus – very nice
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5818.jpg

Somewhere over the northern edge of the Sea of Japan I woke up and climbed over our young seatmate on the aisle to use the toilet. I’ve decided I really don’t like center seats. Only aisle seats for me in the future. The toilet was spotlessly clean and well-stocked with amenities.

About three hours before landing the cabin lights were raised halfway, and people started waking up. Hot towels were passed out and special meals were delivered. Regular breakfast service began, this time working from the rear of the aircraft to the front. We were nearing Taiwan by the time our row was served.

Hot towels to freshen up
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5594.jpg

The “before touchdown” menu:

  • Fruit appetiser

    Wholesome beginnings
  • Fried rice with Chinese roast chicken and vegetables
    or
  • Scrambled egg with sautéed capsicums, onion and mushroom served with ham steak and hash brown
    or
  • “Poori’ fried Indian bread and rice flour pancake served with potato curry, chutney and curd

  • Assorted breakfast rolls, butter, and fruit preserves

There was some delay when the cart reached us as more trays of entrees had to be brought up from the rear galley. “Sorry for the delay, sir” said the flight attendant. Both Tawn and I had the fried rice which, with SQ’s signature Kris chili sauce, was quite tasty. I had several cups of dark and strong coffee.

Fried rice before landing in Hong Kong
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5598.jpg

The final hour of this long leg (we had headed all the way north to Alaska and flew over the Aleutian Islands) passed uneventfully. I queued up to use the lavatory and freshen up. Duty free sales concluded and we started our descent into HKG from the east. We touched down on runway 7R with strong headwinds of about 20 mph.

Our time in HKG was too brief: I went to the SQ lounge and enquired about a seat change, but unfortunately all seats remained booked for the second leg. I used the shower room to freshen up and change underclothes. While there is just one shower room at the SQ HKG lounge, it is a nice one. While I was at it I decided the hair on my normally shaven head was getting long, so went ahead and shaved it, chasing the ever-elusive Yul Brenner look. I wondered whether our seatmate would notice the difference.

Dim sum at the SQ lounge in HKG
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5607.jpg

After Tawn showered and freshened up, too (but didn’t shave his head), we went to gate 21 where boarding was in final call. Our seatmate had not boarded yet, perhaps patiently waiting for us so he wouldn’t have to be climbed over. He didn’t mention my newly-shorn head. We boarded as a trio, but our seatmate didn’t escape the fate of being climbed over: after Tawn was seated, he realized that he had left his newly purchased velvet blazer at the lounge.

So he got up, climbed across us, and went to speak with the flight attendant. The flight attendant contacted the gate agent, who contacted the lounge, and Tawn waited at the gate door until one of the SQ employees from the lounge brought the jacket to him. Very nice service.

Glancing outside the windows in the row in front and behind us, there were so many great sights to see. I’d like to have taken pictures, if only I had a window, too. Next time, maybe I’ll build a longer layover in HKG to take advantage of the viewing opportunities.

We pushed back five minutes early at 7:55 and took fifteen minutes to get to the end of runway 7R. Our takeoff roll was short and we climbed steeply, turning north toward the mainland then after a few minutes turning eastward again, breaking through the clouds as we continued turning to the right and eventually settled on a southwesterly heading toward Vietnam and Singapore.

Bright white sunlight streamed into the cabin, rendering colors in great brilliance and making the cabin seem very airy. Shortly, most of the passengers on the port side of the aircraft closed their window shades, less awed and more annoyed than I at the brightness of the light. Ah, the joys of having a window in your row.

Breakfast service, preceded by a quick juice service (during which we ordered more Singapore Slings), began with delivery of the special meals. SQ1 and 2 are code share flights with Air India and that, along with the large South Asian population in Singapore, resulted in a very large number of special meal requests on this flight, mostly Muslim and Indian Vegetarian meals. Instead of carrying the trays by hand, a regular food cart was used to deliver these meals, there were so many of them.

The breakfast menu from HKG-SIN:

  • Fruit appetiser

    Wholesome beginnings
  • Wok-friend spaghetti noodle with seafood, onion, and capsicum
    or
  • Chicken picatta served with stewed vegetables and roasted potato
    or
  • Kaju mattar (cashew and green peas) masala, subzi shahi korma, jeera pillaw, mixed vegetables in cashew gravy and cumin flavored rice

  • Assorted breakfast rolls, butter, and fruit preserves

For breakfast, Tawn ordered the chicken picatta and I ordered the Indian vegetarian meal. Both meals were really tasty, although the cart was out of chicken so there was about a ten minute wait as the flight attendant returned to the galley and restocked the cart with more chicken meals to dole out to the hungrily waiting passengers.

Indian vegetarian meal – kaju mattar
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5617.jpg

Chicken picatta
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5620.jpg

The remainder of the three-hour flight to Singapore was uneventful. Tawn and I discussed our impressions of SQ’s overall service and how this experience would impact our future flying plans:

Without a doubt, SQ’s service and inflight entertainment are world-class, even in Economy. The food is good, but not great, compared with other carriers. One SQ inflight supervisor who lives in Bangkok even admitted to me during our conversation on an earlier flight, that he usually flies TG when commuting to work because their food is better. Seat comfort, especially pitch, is average. Additionally, having to fly two extra hours out of our way to connect in Singapore means adding about 5-6 additional hours to the overall trip.

Staying in the Star Alliance is important to me, and as the alliance is implementing a scheme in 2006 that will allow members to redeem mileage in one carrier’s frequent flyer program to upgrade on another alliance partner’s flights, I think SQ will remain an attractive choice.

At the same time, TG’s nonstop BKK-LAX and BKK-JFK service, with its 36” pitch in Economy and comparable service and IFE, is more convenient and comfortable for a similar price. I haven’t tried NH or OZ in Economy, perhaps someone can respond with some insights on their seat comfort.

Even though I groused about UA earlier in the report, as a 1K on UA, if I know I can get a confirmed upgrade then with the incentive of double miles on UA, that’s a pretty decent reason to stick with them. Plus their Economy Plus seating has good pitch. Their IFE and service is a lot lower quality than TG or SQ, but space and comfort are maybe just a hair higher on my priority list for long-haul flights.

And before someone accuses me of wanting too much but not being willing to pay for it, flying a Star Alliance carrier cost me a premium compared with flying on EVA, China Airlines, or Korean Airlines. Tawn and I agreed that we’d be willing to scrimp and save and pay the equivalent of US$500 per person extra to be able to travel in a more comfortable style such as the TG non-stops to LAX or JFK, or SQ non-stops to LAX or EWR.

We landed in Singapore on runway 2L at 11:30 and had a long taxi around the entire terminal complex before arriving at gate E22. As we waited for First and Raffles classes to exit, the curtains between the cabins having been redrawn to prevent any mixing of the passengers, we strategized our brief layover.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Segment 5
Date:
3 January 2006
Route: SIN-BKK
Airline/Flight: SQ 64
Aircraft: B747-412 (9V-SPN)
Scheduled (Actual) Departure from SIN: 13:05 (13:02)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival in BKK: 14:30 (14:54)
Load factor in Economy: 85%
Class / Seat: Economy 34J and K

According to our boarding passes, our connecting flight would begin boarding at 12:05, a full sixty minutes before departure and only fifteen minutes after we finally exited the plane from HKG. Tawn wanted to go to Terminal 1 to buy a duty free item that apparently is only sold in that terminal, so we rushed and caught the inter-terminal shuttle, an old Westinghouse design, that whisked us between terminals in a matter of a minute or two.

Along the way, we could see construction being finished on the shuttle train that will connect to the new Terminal 3, opening in March exclusively for low cost carriers. The train design is angular and more futuristic looking than the old model, but in a 1980’s “Tron” sort of way.

The new shuttle train at SIN
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5629.jpg

Thankfully our departure gate was E20, directly next to our arrival gate. Very convenient, although the trek to terminal 1 pretty much minimized any of the convenience.

While Tawn shopped, I took a few pictures and had an iced latte at one of the coffee shops. As it seems is the case with most coffee in Southeast Asia, it arrived pre-sweetened with plenty of simple syrup in it. After the long trip, it was good to get some espresso into the veins. Oh, and some sugar, too.

The control tower standing over tropical Changi airport
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5642.jpg

Tawn was finished quite quickly, having found the Bobbi Brown facial cream he wanted. So we headed back over to Terminal 2 and arrived several minutes before boarding. Once boarding started, it was very smooth. There were very few First and Raffles class passengers actually in the boarding area, so we were among the first passengers to board.

A flight attendant checks his watch, waiting for depature
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5664.jpg

The aircraft we flew in from SFO and HKG, parked next to our departure gate to BKK
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5667.jpg

We discovered, quite pleasantly, that not only did our row have a window but we also had an empty seat in our row, giving us enough room to spread out. The flight pushed back at 13:02, three minutes early. Again, the plane taxied around the entire airport, affording a great view of many different aircraft and airlines before departing on runway 2L for a smooth climb out of Singapore and into the Malaysian sky.

A Berkut B747
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5673.jpg

Air Hongkong/DHL A300 freighter
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5675.jpg

Lufthansa Cargo MD-11
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5677.jpg

Changi airport as we depart – you can see all of the previous planes along the taxiway to the left of the picture
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5700.jpg

Lovely turquoise waters of Malaysia as we climb out of SIN
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5706.jpg

For lunch service, Tawn chose the hor mok, a Thai-style steamed fish cake that has a pudding-like consistency and was served with a curry sauce and pineapple fried rice. When describing it, the flight attendant completely failed to mention that it was a fish dish, calling it “pineapple fried rice.” I opted for the roast chicken breast with rice pilaf.

Beverage and meal service
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5708.jpg

Roast chicken and rice pilaf
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5711.jpg

Hor mok, a Thai-style fish cake
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5717.jpg

Both meals also came with a pasta salad with tomato dressing, and a coconut custard-like (but non-dairy) Thai-style dessert that had kernels of corn in it. Normally, it would have had a coconut cream sauce to add a salty dimension to the flavor, but SQ served it instead with a crème anglaise and a slice of strawberry.

Our beautiful but not terribly tasty dessert
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5719.jpg

The lunch was quite tasty, although the dessert didn’t do much for me. Overall, I think the food out of BKK was the best. The SFO and SIN catering tied for second, and the HKG catering was kind of disappointing.

Our friendliest flight attendant of the entire trip was on the HKG-SIN leg, one lady who actually looked a bit like one of Tawn’s friends. She was extremely outgoing, had great verbal skills and was a very articulate communicator.

Short final for runway 21L
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5733.jpg

Golfers on the military course between the runways
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5741.jpg

We approached BKK from the east, turning to the northeast and then making a wide left turn to line up with runway 21L, one wat after another passing below us. As we landed and crossed the golf course and runway 21R, we came to a stop on taxiway C just past runway 21R. After about a minute of just sitting there, the captain came on the PA and explained that he had received an indicator about some sort of a steering problem, so had requested the maintenance personnel to come out and tow them into the gate.

Royal Jordanian A340
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5751.jpg

Philippines A330 departs 21R
http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/christao17/December%202005/DSCF5764.jpg

Our choice of places to stop was not very convenient. We blocked other arriving aircraft from getting to the taxiways, so departing traffic had to be held to allow the arriving planes to taxi northbound along 21R then cut over to taxiway C beyond us. While this delay inconvenienced everyone else on the plane, I thought it was great. I had a fantastic view of the departing runway so sat there snapping pictures of planes taxiing one way and taking off the other. We sat there for about twenty minutes before finally being towed into gate 55, the only leg of our trip to arrive appreciably late.

Exiting the plane, we were greeted by Don Muang’s dank, mildewy smell that I’ve come to recognize as a sign that I’m home. A long journey, but a good one.

Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

Other Trip Reports by christao17

[Edited 2006-01-12 11:32:22]


Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Excellent, thorough report with fantastic pictures.

Thanks for sharing your holiday trip!


User currently offlineA319114 From Netherlands, joined Aug 2004, 541 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

All I can say is 'wow'!

Excellent trip report, thanks for taking the time sharing it with us!



Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation
User currently offlineLoungeLover From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 148 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Man I love trip reports like these. The more detail the better.

Thanks for sharing with us!


User currently offlineMAS777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2935 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

another great report. this malaysian777 is looking forward to yet another SQ trip in a few weeks since I decided to switch between MH and SQ throughout the year to compare and contrast...

User currently offlineMatt27 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks Chris!!! An other excellent report from you.

Keep 'em coming  bigthumbsup 


User currently offlineTifoso From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 440 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Wonderful trip report, as always. Your attention to detail is very impressive. How much time does it take you to write these things?  boggled 

Quoting Christao17 (Reply 1):
Being a 747, the window seat at the exits is cramped as there’s a huge slide raft protruding into your personal space.

The exit row on an LH 744 has only two seats. Three seats would have been quite cramped.

Quoting Christao17 (Reply 2):
The cheery Yuletide log cake

Looks like SQ does not believe in political correctness  Wink  Silly

Quoting Christao17 (Reply 3):
Winds from the west gusting at up to 50 mph force all DEN traffic to depart on runway 25, leading to a backup of 14 aircraft behind us when we took off.

Very cool picture.


User currently offlineDutch122 From Netherlands, joined Feb 2005, 66 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Chris,


Excellent reports, a real joy to read and look at.

Well done.

Dutch122


User currently offlineScandinavian From Sweden, joined Sep 2000, 267 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Excellent report with great photos! I especially like the photo of the golfers in Bangkok.

I took more than an hour to read it.



"He was a wise man who invented beer"-Platon
User currently offlineLucky727 From Canada, joined Sep 2003, 602 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Chris - another great report - a really enjoyable read & lots of fantastic pics. You've just helped me kill a good hour here at work (quiet day) and I always look forward to a good vicarious travel experience with your reports...

Kevin

p.s. add any SQ-ware to your collection? I noticed the stemless glasses & all that nice shiny cutlery!



··· [·] oooooooo [·] oooo oo ooooo [·] ooooooooooooooooooo [·]
User currently offlineLH459 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 886 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32767 times:

Yet another excellent report! As always, excellent photos and entertaining commentary. Who knows, maybe I'll run into you at Cha Cha Cha sometime--after reading most of your reports, I would certainly recognize you!  Smile

[Edited 2006-01-12 22:40:44]


"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi
User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting MAS777 (Reply 9):
this malaysian777 is looking forward to yet another SQ trip in a few weeks since I decided to switch between MH and SQ throughout the year to compare and contrast...

Not having flown MH before, I'd love to hear your thoughts about how they compare. I get the impression that they are pretty good, maybe about the same as TG?

Quoting Tifoso (Reply 11):
Looks like SQ does not believe in political correctness

I think the Yule log was more about the commercial holiday rather than the spritual one. We definitely didn't see any Ramadan desserts, for example. (Which you wouldn't be able to eat until after sundown!)

Quoting Lucky727 (Reply 14):
p.s. add any SQ-ware to your collection? I noticed the stemless glasses & all that nice shiny cutlery

The most tempting item, although I didn't pick any up, was the demitasse spoon. On every segment except one, the silverware included a real metal demitasse spoon for your coffee. Shoot, you can't even get one of those in First class on most airlines - it is just a regular teaspoon.

Quoting Tifoso (Reply 11):
How much time does it take you to write these things?

This report was pretty intensive. Not including the time I spent taking notes during the flight, I spent about six hours typing and editing, three hours sorting, preparing and downloading photos onto photobucket, and then another hour or so getting the post onto a.net and making minor edits. But if other people enjoy reading trip reports as much as I do, then it is worth it.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

This is what I call a trip report that has the efforts and heart of the author all rolled into one. It makes for great reading, and I almost felt the author's sincerity through his report. A wonderful report.

After learning that you spent that number of hours putting this report together, me thinks I'll honor it by reading it a few more times!!  Smile

Keep up those reports. I love your unbiased *wink* views about SQ's service!! heheh...

Pardon my ignorance, what's a demitasse spoon by the way??



There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineFuffla From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 401 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Fantastic report.
From experience from a recent trip to BKK, I know how a 140km/h trip down the raised highways to the airport in the morning can wake you up, quite hair raising really.


User currently offlineChristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 17):
Pardon my ignorance, what's a demitasse spoon by the way??

No pardoning needed - a demitasse (literally, a "half spoon" in French) is the small spoon served with coffee or espresso drinks. A stir stick works nearly as well, but a demitasse is a mark of a classy joint.

I once was in suburban Denver eating at a local steak restaurant with colleagues and when we ordered espresso after dinner (needed somethign to cut through all that cow fat!) the only spoons they had were these huge soup spoons. They were so big, the head of the spoon didn't fit in the espresso cup. We had to use our knives to stir in the sugar!

Quoting Fuffla (Reply 18):
From experience from a recent trip to BKK, I know how a 140km/h trip down the raised highways to the airport in the morning can wake you up, quite hair raising really.

And as you can tell, I don't have much hair left to raise!
 headache 



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks for the explaination. I always thought those demitasse were just 'teaspoons'...!!


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offline4xRuv From Israel, joined Dec 2003, 388 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Wow,
Perfect report.
I wonder how much time did it take just to write it.
Anyway, thanks for the time and efforts you've put into it. It was great reading it.


User currently offlineTACAA320 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (8 years 3 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting Christao17 (Thread starter):
Some people say that SQ flight attendants are too “robotic.” Maybe that’s another word for polite, friendly, and professional?

Definitely. They among the most professional and polite F/A in the whole industry. Indeed.
Robotics? Nahhh.


User currently offlineBoeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1819 posts, RR: 24
Reply 23, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Wow... Honestly the most detailed and intersting trip report I have read on this site. I have also read your others, but you have outdone yourself this time! biggrin  Especially with the pics. Thanks for sharing!

User currently offlineAirbus3801 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1089 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

if I am not mistaken, on one of your photos when you were in the 744 exit row, is their a Louis Vuitton bag in the aisle seat?!

25 CXA330300 : WOW. Great report!
26 Aukahkay : What an impressive report! The photos that you took were really awesome! Thanks for flying Singapore Airlines - A great way to fly!
27 Semsem : Fantastic thanks. I thought SQ was supposed to be tops for Y service / food etc. I am sure they also cut like so many other airlines.
28 Christao17 : Yes, you are correct... but why? You're welcome. I see from your profile that you are a neutral, disinterested party! Well, I'd say SQ is still very
29 Post contains images MH017 : Fabulous trip-report and very well documented with excellent pictures: it was like making the trip myself (including visiting your relatives)... Thank
30 Post contains images AirPacific747 : wow.. thats all I can say 5 out of 5 stars for sure!!
31 FRAspotter : Wow, great report. It was very long though. How long exactly did it take you to write the entire thing and add all the photos???? 5 out of 5 for sure.
32 Christao17 : FRAspotter - that would be about 10 hours total. Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed the report.
33 RetroLivery : Another excellent trip report! Every time I need to get myself pepped up for a major international haul, I'm always sure to read one of your TR's. I'l
34 Ryanair!!! : You should thank your lucky stars that you can fly SQ paying those prices. Here in Singapore, FAT HOPE! I thank god that the SQ crew have not donned
35 Post contains images Cathay Pacific : Thank you so much for such a wonderful report, the photos certainly make it more interesting to read. Keep up the good work mate
36 ZKSUJ : Excellent report there. Great picfs and very nice detailed description. Thanks for sharing
37 Christao17 : Never been and don't even know where it is, so I'm sure it wasn't me. You know, all of us balding 30-something white guys with goatees look the same!
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