BRAVO7E7 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 1840 posts, RR: 20 Posted (6 years 11 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 28963 times:
This is my report of a recent trip to Asia on the Star Alliance in Business/First. It is very detailed and has plenty of pics, so enjoy! I apologize about the poor quality of some of the pics, which are due to bad lighting (I did not use flash), several cameras being used, and me being in a rush. Because I have so many pics, I have broken this report into several parts, and this thread only contains the outbound portion to ICN.
As summer slowly approached, it was once again time to burn some of those hard earned United miles, and take a vacation to somewhere we would not otherwise go. Me and my dad decided that we wanted to go somewhere in Asia that we had not been, especially Bangkok and Seoul, so I started off by calling United International Reservations. We were very flexible, and especially wanted to try out Singapore Airlines in Raffles (Business Class), something I have not yet done. I started off by asking for a departure on June 12, and to my surprise, it was available with SQ. After some creative routing, I managed to get a Business Class award for the two of us to Bangkok and Seoul, flying five different airlines, namely US/SQ/OZ/TG/UA, all in premium cabins, being gone for a total of 11 days. Considering the routing and airlines, the award was a steal for 90,000 miles per person. United really is competitive in this aspect, with award redemption rates, especially to Asia, where we like to go.
Initially the award routed as follows:
June 12, 2006
Departure Time: 6:50AM
Arrival Time: 8:27AM
Distance in Miles: 507
June 12, 2006
Departure Time: 9:35AM
Arrival Time: 11:38AM
Distance in Miles: 2125
June 12, 2006
Departure Time: 2:35PM
Arrival Time: 6:00PM (next day)
Distance in Miles: 5451
June 13, 2006
Departure Time: 8:30PM
Arrival Time: 10:55PM
Distance in Miles: 765
June 18, 2006
Departure Time: 9:30AM
Arrival Time: 1:05PM
Distance in Miles: 2271
June 22, 2006
Departure Time: 11:15AM
Arrival Time: 2:40PM
Distance in Miles: 894
June 22, 2006
SIN-SFO (stop in HKG)
Departure Time: 5:00PM
Arrival Time: 7:30PM
Distance in Miles: 8444
June 23, 2006
Departure Time: 12:35PM
Arrival Time: 4:01PM
Distance in Miles: 967
June 23, 2006
UA 1478 (Operated by Ted)
Departure Time: 7:34AM
Arrival Time: 12:01AM (next day)
Distance in Miles: 1513
After having it booked for about a month, I decided that I would try to change the domestic return portion of SFO-DEN-TPA, because I saw that UA was running 747's between SFO and IAD. After a quick call to reservations, I was able to change my return to SFO-IAD on the 747 in Business, IAD-ORD on the 777 in Business, and only do ORD-TPA on Ted. Thanks to my 1K status, there was no fee for the change, something which was nice for a change with all of the cost cutting the airlines are doing.
After logging onto united.com to check and make sure that they booked it right, I noticed that they booked the SFO-IAD for the right date, but the IAD-ORD-TPA for a few days earlier, which would not even be possible, given that we would still be in Thailand. After a quick call, they opened up some award seats on the right flights, and we were ready to go. The only part about this award which was not so great was the outbound domestic portion, which would be on US, which I have heard a lot of bad things about.
The new domestic return routing looked like this:
June 23, 2006
Departure Time: 7:54AM
Arrival Time: 3:54PM
Distance in Miles: 2419
June 23, 2006
Departure Time: 5:25PM
Arrival Time: 6:42PM
Distance in Miles: 589
June 23, 2006
UA 1448 (Operated by Ted)
Departure Time: 8:50PM
Arrival Time: 12:29AM (next day)
Distance in Miles: 1012
A few days prior to departure I decided to "Book the Cook," which is Singapore's program whereby you choose what you want to eat aboard, as long as you call at least 24 hours in advance. The choices looked as follows:
Grilled free range chicken with fettuccine pasta and wild mushroom sauce
Peppered fillet mignon with mustard jus, chanterelle mushrooms, fava beans, and paprika red potatoes
Seared Chilean bass with creamy saffron sauce, baby vegetables and wild rice
Steamed crab ravioli in creamy lobster sauce with mixed vegetables
Beef Sukiyaki with steamed rice
Prawns with preserved cabbage, sugar snap peas, and steamed rice
Stir-fried pork with wood ear, enoki mushroom, bell peppers, and steamed rice
Sweet and sour fish with fried noodles
Wok-fried black pepper chicken with carrots, zucchini, gingko nuts, and steamed rice
We both decided to go with the fillet mignon for the first meal of the flight from LAX-NRT, and left the second meal of the flight open, so we could choose from the menu.
The morning of 06/12:
After having gone to bed at around 11PM the night before, I woke up at 3:45AM. I made sure that I had everything packed, and then headed to the computer for a bit. I was concerned by the fact that tropical storm Alberto was said to cause heavy rain and some winds in our area, which I hoped would not affect our trip. Flight status at usair.com showed us as being on time, and I had about twenty minutes to kill. I chatted with a few people online, and before I knew it, it was 4:35AM, and time to head to the airport.
My mom drove us to the airport, as we would be gone for 11 days. I drank a large bottle of Evian water throughout the morning, in order to stay hydrated. After a very rainy drive, we arrived there at around 5:15AM, pulling in at the blue terminal for USAir check in.
The check in area was pretty empty, with no one waiting in line. We reached the counter, at which point the agent said "Phoenix?" We responded that we were going to Seoul, and she asked for our e-ticket and passports. After a few minutes, she cranked out our boarding passes, but only to LAX. She took our bag, which weighed 52lbs, and placed a Star priority tag on it, and checked it all the way to ICN, our destination.
USAir check in
We would be departing the F concourse, so headed to the upper level, which is the departing point for all six concourses. We gave the security lady our boarding passes, and took the tram over to the F concourse.
Upon arriving there, we were greeted by the wonderful TSA agents, who were screaming, "Take your shoes off unless you want more screening." I contemplated for a moment leaving my shoes on just to annoy them and get the extra screening, but then I realized that I was way too tired for that. The line was short, and the whole process was done within five minutes.
We then headed straight for the USAir club, which is right behind security. At first I thought that it was closed since it appeared to have no lights on, and since it was a sliding door which did not open when I approached. Since it was only 5:35AM, and the club was supposed to open at 5:30AM, I thought they were just running a few minutes late. Then I saw a man come through and push the plate on the wall, which made the door open, so we followed him. I have never seen a sliding door at an airport lounge which requires the wall plate to be pushed, but I guess this was just an exception.
USAir club entrance
Soon to be boarding area
Upon entering the club, we took the elevator to the second floor, which is where the lounge is located. The agent, Charlotte, which I thought was an interesting name since it was our destination as well as a major US hub, greeted us. She looked at our itinerary, and I presented her with my Star Gold card, and she let us in.
Elevator to second floor
The club was a lot nicer than I expected, especially because it was USAir. It was nice with tall and curved ceilings, and extremely large given the location. It had a nice selection of food for a domestic lounge, including muffins, yogurt, and biscoff cookies. I took an orange juice and a couple of the mini muffins, yogurt, and biscoffs, since I would not be eating breakfast, and plopped down in a remote area. The club had maybe 10 people in it total, which was not a lot given its size and the fact that it was Monday morning. I watched some of the planes outside in the gloomy weather, including a new color scheme US aircraft coming in from a redeye.
View towards the bar
After relaxing for a little over half an hour, we headed to the boarding gate, F85, which was directly adjacent to the lounge. Within five minutes, boarding started, and our long journey to Korea began.
June 12, 2006
Scheduled Departure Time: 6:50AM
Actual Departure Time: 6:48AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:27AM
Actual Arrival Time: 8:24AM
Distance in Miles: 507
Load Factor: 98%
Seats: 2 A&C (First)
Upon boarding, we were greeted by the friendly purser, who was an African American lady, maybe in her 40's, as well as a slightly younger male. I put my rollaboard in the overhead bin, and took out the usual, including my iPod, Bose headsets, and folder with all the flight information. I sat down in 2A, and immediately observed that the aisle seat across from me was broken, with a rope holding it down. The most striking thing about the cabin was how old it looked, especially the F seats. They had definitely not been refurbished in the past 15 years, but were quite comfortable nonetheless.
Within minutes the very friendly and cheerful purser came around and asked to hang everyone’s coat, followed by asking if anyone would like a pre-departure beverage, and I gladly accepted an apple juice, and my dad took a coffee. The Captain was also in the galley, getting himself and First Officer McDonald some water.
As boarding continued, I overheard a lady telling her friend that this was the same aircraft that she flew in on last week, because of the broken seat. I can't help but wonder how much revenue US is losing, or how many elites it is ticking off with a broken F seat for at least a week. The Captain then came on the PA and told us that we can expect a flight time of one hour and ten minutes, and that it should be a smooth flight, except for takeoff, and that we would be cruising at 39,000 feet. Before I knew it, the door closed, and we were ready for an early pushback. The safety video, which was very dramatic to say the least, began. We quickly taxied out to runway 18R in the light rain, and were number one for takeoff. We slowly started to roll down the runway, in typical Airbus fashion, and were off the ground within a mile.
I took out the USAir magazine, and flipped through the pages. I noticed an interesting article on "Flight Attendant of the Year," for which they chose Jan De Mets, a veteran of 16 years, who did everything she could to help inform customers about the merger taking place between USAir and America West, and how the changes would affect the customers.
FA of the year article
Within twenty minutes we leveled off at FL390, and the Captain finally turned off the seat belt sign. He told us that we could expect a "dandy" ride up towards CLT, and that it was pretty foggy at the airport. The purser started serving the eleven person F cabin, with a cart, to my surprise. This seemed slightly odd, but it made the service quick. I went for another OJ, but had already had three, so my dad and I decided that we would share one can. My dad commented to the purser that "we are just trying to save USAir some money," to which she responded "Oh, don't listen to what CNN says." The service was with cups, which is abysmal for first class, but that is a whole different rant.
Wing view at cruise level
After beverage service, she came around with the snack basket, which consisted of peanuts, biscoffs, snack mix, and shortbread cookies. I took some shortbread cookies and a biscoff, which were quite tasty. The purser came around for refills, and was extremely professional.
My dad pulled out our boarding passes for the next flight, and noticed that we never got a luggage stub, used for verification at the destination or if any problems were to arise, back in TPA. This would be a problem since we had a very complicated itinerary, and our bags being lost would not be unlikely. We went to ask the FA what should be done, and she said to see an agent in CLT.
Within ten minutes the descent began, and the seat belt sign was illuminated. I packed up all of my stuff, and got out the connection info. Within another 10 minutes the Captain came on and said that we were only about 20 miles out, but were landing towards the South, so it would be another 10-12 minutes. The purser came back onto the PA and gave all of the connecting flight info, which was a long list. As we got below the clouds the fog was evident, and really limited any outside viewing. Within a couple of minutes we touched down, with a very smooth landing. We had a substantial taxi of about ten minutes to gate B13, and arrived about five minutes early.
View at the beginning of descent
757 we pulled in next to at CLT
Seat 2A after landing
Upon exiting the plane, we headed straight for the USAir club in the B concourse. The concourse was not too impressive, pretty bland, with many vendors nonetheless. Our connecting flight would be leaving from B3, right next to the USAir club. We proceeded to the club, where the lady asked for our club membership. We explained that we were flying Business Class to Asia and were Star Gold, but she just asked us again for our membership card. After explaining it again, she let us in reluctantly. We also asked her what we should do concerning our missing luggage stub, and she said that it would not be a problem due to the fact that it would be in the computer system.
USAir club entrance
This club was not very impressive, especially for a hub club. The food selection was the same as in TPA, so I went for a muffin and yet another orange juice. After hanging around for thirty minutes, we went to the boarding gate for our flight to LAX. The area was packed, with people standing all around the gate. They started boarding Zones 1 & 2, but it was very hard to get through due to people blocking the gate reader. We managed to get through by the time they started boarding Zone 3, and we were once again on our way.
June 12, 2006
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:35AM
Actual Departure Time: 9:32AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:38AM
Actual Arrival Time: 11:30AM
Distance in Miles: 2125
Load Factor: 95%
Seats: 3 A&C (First)
We boarded through door 1L, and walked the short distance to row three. I quickly put my rollaboard in the overhead, leaving the aisle clear, since boarding was already in full swing. Within a few minutes one of the FA's came around hanging coats, and then came around with individual bottles of water for all F passengers, as opposed to a choice of pre-departure drinks. As soon as boarding slowed down a bit, I got up to retrieve my iPod, Bose headsets, and everything else I would be using in-flight from the overhead.
About twenty minutes later the door closed, and we immediately pushed back. The safety video started, and we quickly taxied to runway 18R for takeoff. When we got there, we were number seven for takeoff, with plenty of regional jets as well as a couple of US A321's in front of us. Eventually it was our turn, and we slowly rolled down the runway, taking off with 4,000 feet of runway left.
A321 in front of us for takeoff
Planes behind us for takeoff
We climbed out at an extremely slow rate, and reached our cruising altitude of 34,000 feet after what seemed to be eternity. The Captain came on the PA and gave us our route, as well as informing us that the flight time would be a short 4hr35min. The seatbelt sign was then turned off, and the purser made her announcements. She proclaimed to the entire plane that the First Class meal choices would be either portabella gnocchi or chicken with potatoes, and that "believe it or not, this is a lunch flight." I found this to be quite unprofessional, and that this should just have been told to the F passengers. She went on to say that the in-flight movie would be "Firewall," and that there would be a preview within a few minutes, and that we should all close our window shades for better viewing.
She then came around with complimentary headsets for First Class passengers. Following this, she took meal and drink orders. I went with a Diet Coke and the chicken with potatoes, and my dad went with the gnocchi. A few minutes later she returned with the drinks and a package of snack mix.
Drinks & snack mix
About twenty minutes later the food showed up. The tray consisted of the main course, a small salad with tomatoes, croutons, cucumbers, and Asian Sesame Ginger dressing, some "breadsticks," and shortbread cookies for dessert. The salad was pretty good, the chicken was fairly moist, and the potatoes were tasty. I also tried my dad's, which was not nearly as good.
My dad’s tray
Unfortunately, this was a sad excuse for a First Class meal service, even compared to other American carriers. On the same flight on United there would have been hot towels, table linens, a separate hot nut service prior to the meal, a slightly more substantial meal, an ice cream sundae, real silverware, and real glasses. Overall, this was what I expected from USAir, but it was disappointing, nonetheless.
After the meal service I put on my Bose headsets and watched what was on the screen, which was "Gags," and was absolutely hilarious. After about twenty minutes of this I tried to get some sleep, since I was not very interested in the movie. Unfortunately, I could not sleep, so went up to the galley. I used the restroom, and then talked with the purser for a bit. I told her that we were going to Seoul, and she commented that two more passengers were heading there as well.
After talking for a bit, I headed back to my seat, and started reading the "Three Perfect Days" article on Seoul. These are always written by United in their Hemispheres Magazine, and are always excellent guides for exploring new cities. Whenever I travel, I print out the article from the online archive, and it always serves as a great general guide to the city.
After reading the article, the Purser came around with the snack basket, consisting of biscoffs, cookies, nuts, and snack mix. I looked outside for a bit, and there were some very nice views.
Snacks from the basket
I just passed the next hour or so, and then the Captain came on and told us that we were just passing over Palm Springs, and that we would be beginning our descent shortly. The views were nice, and I just peered outside for the rest of the flight. I packed up all of my stuff into my bag in the overhead, and we landed on runway 25R within half an hour.
View before landing
Right as we touched down I saw Donald Trumps airplane, and was so angry that I did not have my camera handy. We taxied all the way to the north side of the airport, seeing some nice planes, including an Asiana 747, and got to the gate just a few minutes early.
Overall, US was just what I expected. The product was pretty bad, but the service was quite good overall, especially on the first flight. I knew what was to come would be a lot better, so I was really excited.
Upon deplaning, we tried to make our way through the herd of people in this part of the terminal. We headed towards the exit, since we had to go to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. On our way out, I saw a Southwest gate which had a ton of red, white, and blue balloons, and a lot of people. I don't know whether it was a pilot's last flight, or whether a soldier was either leaving or arriving.
After a ten minute walk we made it outside, and headed for the terminal connection bus. I was a smartass and insisted that one of the buses was the right one, so we boarded it, but my dad asked the driver, and he said that it would be the next one, and that this one would be leaving the airport. We got off, and within minutes the right bus pulled up. After about ten minutes, we pulled up to TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal). It was huge, and had around twenty airlines. They seemed to be going in alphabetical order, so we kept walking. Eventually Qantas came, so we though Singapore would be next. We kept walking, and eventually realized that we had gone all the way to Terminal Four. We went straight back, and decided to find Singapore Airlines check in from inside the terminal, this time.
Outside the terminal
View towards the tarmac
Within a couple of minutes we made it to the Raffles check in area, and there was only one person in front of us. The First Class check in had only one person as well, and Economy was absolutely packed! I took two pictures with my small digital camera, and was quickly approached by one of the Singapore agents and told to please "not take pictures of Singapore airport operations." Whatever!
SQ Raffles & First check in
After waiting for a bit we were directed over to one of the Economy counters, and we showed the agent our e-ticket. She asked us if we were going to check any bags, and we told her that we had one that we had checked in at TPA, but that it was checked in all the way to ICN. We asked her if it would be a problem if we did not have the tag, and she said yes. She said that there was no way that she could access information on it, since the systems were completely different, and that the bag had to be retagged in LAX. Thanks US! She then took out a form to fill out, and asked us to describe the bag. After she filled everything out, she placed the sheet of paper as well as a First Class priority tag in a crate, through the baggage carousel. She said that we should see at the gate whether the bag would make it or not, and get the luggage stub there.
She printed out our Boarding Passes, which looked quite neat, and wrote on them our invitation to the Qantas Lounge, which was on the fifth floor. Boarding was supposed to be at 2:00PM, but she crossed that out and put down 1:45PM, due to the fact that we would be bussing over to the airplane from gate 117. We thanked her for her help, and went to security, which was only a few steps away.
We handed the Spanish speaking lady our boarding passes as well as passports, and joined the queue for security. It was quite long, but moved quickly, and only took about five minutes. Directly after security were a bunch of elevators, which had a sign that read "VIP Lounges," so we got on the elevator and headed to the fifth floor. This floor had many lounges, including Lufthansa. It smelled really bad, like an old attic. Each lounge was themed after a movie theater, with lights and a marquee. The Qantas lounge, which was also shared with British Airways, was the first one on the right, and we proceeded straight in.
The agent swiped our boarding passes, and we were in within a few seconds. She told us that she would make an announcement when boarding began for our flight. This lounge was relatively disappointing, considering that it was Qantas. The lounge had quite a few people in it, but was far from full.
We took a seat in the corner by the TV, where the Maury Show was playing. This episode was about "Who's your baby’s daddy?" which seems slightly odd for an airline lounge. Anyway, I watched it in amusement, and went to get something to drink and eat. I got a Diet Coke, a danish, and some of the prepackaged snacks. Besides the snack basket and danishes, they had some finger sandwiches and the like, but nothing substantial. I did not eat a whole lot, since I was anticipating the fillet mignon that I preordered through Singapore's "Book the Cook."
Snack with sparkling water
An Italian man came and sat in our area, and asked if he could turn on the World Cup. I agreed, since I was not watching the show too much anyway, was interested in the World Cup, and I saw that his home team was playing. I watched for about half an hour and made a few phone calls before leaving the country. In the meantime, I always kept an eye on the taxiway, where there were several international heavies taxiing by. I then went to use the restroom, which was located outside the lounge, and was very dirty.
Traffic on the taxiway
View of terminal from outside the lounge
I then wandered over to the Lufthansa lounge, which was not nice at all, and had a very meager food selection. I even checked out the First Class section of their lounge, and it was still not as nice as the Qantas lounge. After spending some time there it was around 1:30PM, and boarding would begin in 15 minutes. In order to beat the rush and make sure that our bag would make it, we decided to head straight to the gate.
Upon arrival there, we already saw a lot of people lined up in the economy line, ready to be bussed to the airplane. We then asked the agent if our bag had arrived, and she apologetically said not yet. At this point we got pretty worried, given that it had been over two hours, so I decided to call USAir baggage department to see if there was anything that they could do. The terminal was very loud and my phone was very quiet, and I could hardly hear what the rep. was saying, especially over his strong agent. While I was on the phone, the agent came up to us and told us that they had found the bag, so I thanked the rep. for his time and hung up. The lady from Singapore Airlines gave us the stub, and we were almost ready to go.
We were the first in line in the Business/First area, and within ten minutes they started boarding all passengers on the bus. We tried to stay in the front area, and made it out on the first bus, which left within five more minutes. I am not sure whether Singapore always does this bussing, and if so, whether it is to save money or because there is no gate available. After a long drive, whereby we passed about four Qantas plane and tens of FedEx planes, we finally made it to the incredibly huge seeming and magnificent Megatop 747. At this point I was extremely excited, and had my camera ready.
Upon getting off the bus we headed to the seeming maze, to get us up towards the aircraft. It was almost as if it was a normal gate, in the middle of the tarmac. I spotted an Air Tahiti Nui plane at the gate next to us. After going up several ramps, we finally made it to the jet way. I was among the first through the jet way, and was immediately impressed by the open space.
To the plane!
[Edited 2006-06-26 07:12:47]
"To find fault is easy: To do better may be difficult." -Plutarch
BRAVO7E7 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 1840 posts, RR: 20 Reply 1, posted (6 years 11 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 29037 times:
June 12, 2006
Scheduled Departure Time: 2:35PM
Actual Departure Time: 2:50PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:00PM (next day)
Actual Arrival Time: 5:30PM
Distance in Miles: 5451
Load Factor: 95%
Seats: 23 A&C (Raffles/Business)
There were four Singapore Girls standing at the entrance, asking for boarding passes and directing people towards their seats. The stairs were located right at the entrance, and it just had a very open and modern feel. We headed left to our seats, which were on the lower deck. I immediately took some pictures of the cabin, while it was still empty.
I then stored my bag in the overhead bin, removed the plush pillow and blanket from my seat, and sat down to take in the greatness of this aircraft. The seats were in immaculate condition, and extremely comfortable. The individual screens were very large, and the seat was just extremely well designed overall. The menus and wine list were stored in the seat pockets, as well as all of the in-flight magazines.
Menu, magazines, and quality noise canceling headsets
Within seconds of being seated we were greeted by a very pleasant flight attendant, Christina. She had a variety of Japanese and American newspapers to choose from, and I took USA Today. Just moments later she came around with a selection of magazines, and I took Business Traveler and Reader's Digest. Again, just about a minute later, another FA came around with pre-departure beverages, including orange juice, champagne, and water. I took another OJ, and my dad took some Champagne.
Up until this point I was just extremely impressed by everything, and it could not have been any better. The purser, who was a male of Indian descent, maybe in his 50's, walked through the cabin, making sure everything was working well. The man in the seat behind me wanted to walk around the plane, but the purser asked him to be seated due to the fact that it was very busy during boarding, in a very friendly manner. Moments later the First Officer walked by, who appeared to be very young, and must have been greeting the First Class passengers, or something.
After having a few minutes to take in the wonders of Singapore Airlines, Christina came around again with refills for the drinks. Everytime that I said thank you, it was responded to with something along the lines of, "my pleasure," or "certainly," or anything like that. To be honest I was expecting the famed "Singapore Girls" to appear more to be putting on a show than having a sincere smile, and that everything would be very commercialized. What I found was actually the opposite. Everything seemed extremely sincere, heartfelt, classy, and warm. I sat there for a while going over the menu, even though I had preordered my meal.
The menu read as follows:
LUNCH MENU To Nibble On...
with onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce
A Savoury Note
Seared ahi tuna, heart of romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan cheese, anchoiade vinaigrette
The Main Event
Roasted chicken with fondant pear, braised fennel and roasted potato
Wok fried Chinese style beef steak with black pepper sauce, sauteed vegetables and fried rice
Grilled double cut pork chop served with mustard sauce, caesar salad
The Cheese Board
Gourmet cheese with garnishes
A Sweet Note
Mocha almond fudge ice cream
A selection of fresh fruit
A Connoisseur's Choice
Selection of tea
Fancy a snack?
Simply take your pick from a range of delectable snacks and make your selecion known to our cabin crew
Fish ball broth with kway teow or bee hoon noodles
Vegetarian and non-vegetarian instant noodles
Feta cheese sandwich
Roasted mixed nuts
LIGHT MEAL MENU
A Savoury Note
Smoked turkey with potato salad, ranch dressing
The Main Event
Grilled halibut served with cilantro butter,
sauteed spinach and fingerling potato
Steamed rice sheet cake with char siew, pork siew and prawn har kow
A Sweet Note
Bitter chocolate layer with mousseline
A Connoisseur's Choice
Selection of tea
I then read the in-flight entertainment magazine, which had all of the movies that were available, as well as the Silver Kris magazine, Healthy Travel pamphlet, and Duty Free magazine. There were a vast amount of movies to choose from, but that is nothing new for Singapore Airlines.
Silver Kris magazine
Healthy Air Travel
As the anticipated departure time approached, Captain Jerry came on the PA and welcomed us all aboard, very apologetically saying that we would be departing a few minutes late due to the fact that we were just loading the last few bags. He told us that our flight time would be 10hrs25min, and that First Officers John and Bradley would be getting us to NRT today. Within ten minutes he came back on and sincerely apologized that we had still not pushed back, but that we would be doing so very, very shortly. Within two minutes, we were rolling. The safety video started, and it too was quite interesting. After the video, the FA's came around with hot towels, and collected them again quickly. I then observed that there were two empty seats in our section of the Business Class cabin, but the rest of the plane appeared to be quite full. Our Business Class cabin appeared to be quite Western, with no more than a handful of Asians.
After a quick taxi, we made it to runway 24L, and accelerated very quickly. We rotated with about 4,000 feet of runway left, and had quite a steep climb to our cruising altitude of 34,000 feet. Through 10,000 feet the Captain turned off the seatbelt sign, and told us that we should please respect when he turns it on, for our safety.
Outside view after takeoff
Within a couple of minutes Christina came to our seats, bowed down and confirmed that we had preorder fillet mignon. She then asked us what we would like to drink. I took a Diet Coke, and my dad took champagne. Within two minutes she brought the drinks, which were in very nice glassware. She refilled them every five minutes, and within twenty minutes food service started.
The Satay cart, which was presented in a very, very nice way, made its way through the Business Class cabin. Our 24 passenger business class cabin appeared to have four flight attendants. Unlike at United, the Singapore 747 only has 50 Business Class seats, with the small cabin downstairs, and the upper deck.
Our other excellent flight attendant, Khor, offered us the Satay, asking if we would like everything with it. I gladly accepted, and he put it all on a plate in a very neat manner, taking pride in the presentation. This came with a large fork and knife, as well as a moist packaged towel. This was my first time having Satay, and I must say that it was absolutely delicious. After the Satay was served, Khor and Christina were around every couple of minutes to either clear the plates or refill beverages. Whenever a glass got near empty, it was instantly refilled, with a new glass every time.
Large table linens were laid out on the tray tables immediately. Within a few minutes, Christina and Khor started serving the appetizer, which consisted of romaine lettuce and tuna, and was very good. This was served on the tray, which was incredibly appointed. It had so many little details, as well as the square plates, which made it quite nice. Within a minute another FA came around with the bread basket, from which I took a slice of garlic bread. She then came around with a large bottle of Evian, with which she filled everyone’s water glass.
After clearing the main plate, which was done with a gripping device, beverages were refilled again. I started to play around with the TV, and put it onto the airshow. We were north, right above San Francisco. After a few minutes, Christina brought our fillet mignon's, which looked excellent. They were served with beans and potatoes, and simply looked and smelled amazing. Again, the FA came around with the breadbasket, and asked if I would like some more garlic bread, which I took. I then tasted the meat, which was excellent. Everything about it was just amazing. As soon as we were finished, our plates were cleared.
After that was finished, they were around within a couple of minutes again, to clear plates. Ten minutes later Khor and Christina came around with the cheese cart, which had a variety of cheeses, as well as crackers, hard fruit pieces, and berries. I went for the cheese, which had crackers, grapes, orange fruit pieces, nuts, berries, and a variety of cheeses, which were absolutely excellent.
After the cheese was served Christina came around with some ice cream, which was the most delicious airplane ice cream I have ever had. It was mocha flavored, and had lots of sweet chunks in it. It was just the right temperature, not frozen to the point that it was inedible, as is usually the case on airplanes.
Following that, Christina came around asking whether anyone wanted coffee or tea, to which I stupidly replies "yes." She then laughed, and asked if I had a preference. I took a coffee, with milk and sugar. After everything was cleared off, another FA came around with two plates, which consisted of both white and dark chocolate pralines. Again, they were absolutely delicious, among the best I have had.
Once dinner service was done, there was another round of hot towels, which made a great conclusion to an amazing meal.
After this, I headed to the restroom, which was extremely large, approximately double the size of a usual airplane bathroom. It had flowers in it, as well as hand lotion and perfume. I stretched my legs for a little bit in the nice open area, and then returned to my seat.
In the bathroom
By the time I returned to my seat, the FA's had distributed individual bottles of Crystal Geyser water to every seat, another great detail. As soon as I settled in, the duty free cart came through, and my dad purchased some cologne. The FA was extremely knowledgeable, and even made a recommendation regarding the products. After this, Christina came around and distributed slippers and eyeshades, and placed them in the storage pockets for those that were already asleep.
Eyeshades & sock slippers
Once this was all done, I decided to watch "Pink Panther," starring Steve Martin. All of the window shades had been lowered and the lights had been dimmed, which made for much easier viewing of the screens. I enjoyed the movie, although it was a very stupid type of comedy, something I was in the mood for nonetheless. Throughout the film the FA's were around about every ten minutes, constantly making sure that everyone was satisfied.
At this point, there were about six hours left in the flight, so I decided to see what else Singapore had to offer when it came to in-flight entertainment. I took a look at some of the brain teasers and logic tests, which were a great way to pass some time. Furthermore, they had many TV shows which are popular in the US.
After this, I headed to the galley, to see what snacks they were offering. There was a basket consisting of fruit, Kit-Kat bars, chips, etc. Within a moment of looking at it, Christina popped out of the galley, and recommended that I have a Kit-Kat, explaining to me how tasty they were, as if they were a delicacy of Singapore, and available nowhere else. I refused, but asked for a sparkling water. She told me that she would bring it to my seat, so I returned immediately. Within a few seconds, she was by with a fresh glass, and asked if I wanted anything else. I thanked her profusely, and said that I was just fine.
I decided that I would watch one more movie before catching some sleep, but I was indecisive in regards to which one. I eventually settled for "Best in Show." I started the movie, and within minutes Christina came back to refill my sparkling water. After watching "Best in Show" I decided that it was time to take a nap. I always have a set schedule for napping when I go to Asia, which usually helps me in regards to the time change. Since flights into Asia, or at least the parts that I go to, arrive in the evening, I like to grab a two hour nap before the second meal service. This way I am a little bit refreshed before my arrival, and I can still enjoy the flight. Whenever I fall asleep it is hard to wake me up, so this way I get the best of both meals, and some rest at the same time.
I reclined my seat into the flat position, and found it to be quite comfortable. I put a pillow under my head, put the blanket around me, pulled up the shield inbetween the seats, and got about two hours of sleep. Once I woke up, meal service was about to begin, so I quickly headed to the bathroom to freshen up. I brushed my teeth, put on some deodorant and cologne, and headed back to my seat feeling refreshed.
The meal choices were not exactly to my liking, consisting of either an Asian choice or halibut fish. I am not much of a fish person, but I took it nonetheless, since I was not very hungry anyway. The service started with hot towels, followed by the appetizer, which was turkey with potato salad, and was quite delicious. Its presentation was immaculate, and it tasted very fresh.
Minutes later, Christina served the main course, which, again, was excellently presented. I ate the potatoes and spinach, which were both delicious, and left the fish. I was still pleasantly full, given my large lunch. Finally, after the plates were cleared, dessert was served, which was a delicious chocolate cake, decorated with some kind of berry sauce.
After the meal
After service was finished, we went to the galley and complimented them on the amazing service, and how impressed we were by the product that Singapore Airlines has to offer. They were very humbled, and thanked us profusely. We told them that we wanted to write a letter to Singapore, complimenting them on the great service. A few minutes later, Christina came by our seat, with a stationary pack, similar to the ones found in First Class, with her name, her fellow FA's name, and the purser's name for us to write on. We gladly wrote a positive report for them, thanking them for their excellent service and superior product. We put it in an envelope, and addressed it to the CEO of Singapore Airlines. We brought it back to the galley, where Christina was very thankful. After reading it, she and Khor came to our seats, and thanked us immensely.
Minutes later, the Captain came on the PA, saying that we were a few hundred miles out of NRT, and that we would be beginning our descent soon. He went on to say that we would be arriving about half an hour early, and thanked everyone for flying Singapore Airlines. Christina then came to our seats, and brought us four decks of Singapore Airlines playing cards, two for each of us. After a few more minutes, the Purser came to our seats, thanked us for the letter, and talked to us for a few minutes.
I then went to retrieve my carryon from the overhead bin, and stored all of the stuff that I had taken out during the flight, as well as the menu, slippers, and eyeshades, and placed them in my carryon, which seemed to be exponentially heavier than at the beginning of the flight. I took one last trip to the restroom, and then returned to my seat.
As we descended through about 10,000 feet, the Captain turned on the seat belt sign, and the Purser came on the PA telling us that the in-flight entertainment would now be concluded. Finally, Christina came through the cabin with a tray containing bom-bom's for each passenger, a very nice, detail oriented touch. Finally, Khor came through the cabin for a last round of hot towels, and collected them again quickly. Within a few minutes, we had a smooth touchdown at NRT. We taxied for several minutes, and I counted nearly a dozen United aircraft, especially 777's.
Nice little touch
Soon we arrived at the gate, and the seatbelt sign was turned off. We headed to door 2L, where my dad's garment bag was stored. We talked with Christina and Khor for a few more minutes while the door was getting ready to open, and they mentioned that they were in NRT for two days, and then would be continuing to SIN on the same flight. Khor then jokingly said to my dad that Christina would make a great wife, if he were not married or would ever be looking for a wife. We said our last thank you's and goodbye's, and headed out of the plane to the wonderful NRT airport.
"To find fault is easy: To do better may be difficult." -Plutarch
BRAVO7E7 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 1840 posts, RR: 20 Reply 2, posted (6 years 11 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 29016 times:
Upon arrival, we followed the signs to the transit area, which only required us to go through security. The line was nonexistent, since we were among the first off, and it appeared that most people on our flight were staying in Japan as their final destination. I have to say, security in NRT is very interesting, and actually enjoyable. Instead of the overly-friendly TSA agents, we are greeted by amiable people in red uniforms, with cool red hats to top if off. Security was a breeze, especially, since I did not have to take my shoes or belt off, and we headed straight down the escalator.
At the bottom of the escalator were the transit airline desks, and we quickly found the one for Asiana. Since we did not have the boarding passes for our NRT-ICN flight, we quickly checked in. The agent printed out our boarding passes, and gave us prewritten lounge invitations to the ANA lounge. Usually, I frequent the RCC or SQ lounge, but it has unfortunately closed ever since the integration of the Star Alliance into terminal one, just a week prior.
The ANA lounge was just a quick escalator ride down, and looked very modern from the outside.
Upon entering, we gave the agent our invitations, and she quickly granted us access. The club was very modern, with large sitting areas. We sat down in a corner, and I went to check out the food and drink selection. The food selection was not too great, with prepackaged croissants, packaged truffles, and some other small snacks. I did notice the noodle bar, which I was too full to try, but it did appear that plenty of people were enjoying it.
High tech toilets
I then headed over to the computer area, which boasted about ten computer booths, as well as plenty of laptop stations. It was very nice, and I used one of the PC's for about an hour. I then went back to the sitting area to relax for a little bit, and then headed to the boarding area for our next flight, which was only a two minute walk away.
I was getting pretty tired by the time we got there, so we sat down for about ten minutes, at which point boarding commenced. Four ladies in cool uniforms with caps were doing the boarding, all very professional and proficient in English. I must say that the 767 looked really huge, probably because I was really tired. They started by calling for all Business Class passengers, which appeared to be just us. We walked forward, and headed down the jet way.
June 13, 2006
Scheduled Departure Time: 8:30PM
Actual Departure Time: 8:28PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:55PM
Actual Arrival Time: 10:45PM
Distance in Miles: 765
Load Factor: 33% in C, 90% in Y
Seats: 2 F&G (Business)
Upon boarding, we were shown to our seats by one of the four FA's standing in the galley area. The first thing I noticed was their interesting uniforms, which were very classy. We were seated in row two of this 767, which had a total of only three rows of Business Class. These seats were very old and not in the best shape, and were similar to domestic First Class on an American carrier. The only noticeable difference was that they had a lot more pitch, maybe an extra five inches.
I put my carryon in the overhead bin, but had some trouble, because my carryon was fairly wide from all the stuff I stashed in it from all of my flights. One of the FA's immediately came up to me and helped me push it all the way in. I then took my seat, and observed that almost everyone boarding was Asian, with only six total westerners that I could count.
Across the plane
The Purser then came around with the immigration forms for South Korea, which consisted of two forms per person, which I filled out immediately. She then offered pre-departure beverages, which were champagne, water, or orange juice. I took an orange juice, and my dad took champagne. A few minutes later the same lady came around with packaged slippers, which I was not expecting for such a short flight. At this point, there was only one other person in the C cabin, seated on the completely opposite side.
After another ten minutes of boarding, one more Asian man settled in on the other side of the cabin, and two Germans settled in the front row bulkhead on the left. After a couple of minutes they reseated to the center row, right across from us, saying there was more leg space. We started talking to them since we are also German, and they told us that they worked in IT for Volkswagen. They were on a two week trip to Asia, visiting many cities, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, and a few others that I can't remember. I then reviewed the safety card, which made me laugh, because it showed the wing of an airplane with a wingtip, clearly not the 767.
Within a few minutes, the door was closed, strangely vertically, as opposed to horizontally, and we pushed back. The safety video started, as we started a curvy taxi to the active. Within five minutes we arrived at the runway, and had an extremely powerful takeoff. Our route was showing on the projection screen located in the front of the cabin. As soon as we passed through 10,000 feet the Captain came on the PA and told us that we could expect a flight time of two hours even, which seemed long to me, given that it was only a 765 mile flight. Within minutes the four flight attendants serving the six passenger Business cabin began their service. They distributed menus, and promptly took drink orders. I went for a Diet Coke, and my dad a Merlot.
The Menu read as follows:
Smoked Salmon with Seasonal Salad
Served with Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Beef Tenderloin Steak
Enhanced by Chanterelly Mushroom Sauce,
Accompanied by Garlic Potato, Asparagus, Carrot
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
'Mixing and Harmonizing'
A Famous Korean Cuisine 'Bi-Bim-Bab'
Steamed RIce Mixed with Various Kinds of Vegetables,
Accompanied by Hot Pepper Paste, Sesame Oil,
Assorted Side Dishes and Soup
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Black, Ginseng, Green, Jasmine, Date
A few minutes later they distributed hot towels, which were not quite as hot and moist as those on Singapore. The Purser then started taking meal orders on the opposite side of the cabin, and came to our side at the end. The meal choices were between Western and Korean, and I took the Western. She then frowned, and told my dad that they only had a Korean left, which he was not interested in. He was not very hungry anyway, so told her not to worry about it, but she apologized profusely. We decided to share one meal, along with an extra fruit plate.
Within a few minutes, one of the FA's came to distribute table linens. About ten minutes later the meals were delivered on trays, with everything. It looked very delicious, and smelled good. A few minutes later the FA brought the breadbasket, from which I took a roll. I gave my dad the salad, and started on the beef tenderloin, asparagus, and potatoes. It was very good, but I was not very hungry, so I only ate about half of it. After finishing, the FA promptly cleared my tray, and asked if I wanted coffee. I declined, but took a refill on my drink.
I then watched the show "Gags" on the screen, the same show that I saw on USAir. Again, it was absolutely hilarious, and had me to the point of crying for almost twenty minutes. After that, we had about an hour left in flight, so I decided to recline my seat a bit, and try to get some rest. I was amazed by how far back the seat went, as well as how far up the foot rest went. I rested for about half an hour, and already felt a bit better. After that Airshow came on, and showed our position.
As we approach Incheon
I then watched the informational program on the screen, which was about arriving at the airport. The FA then came around with packaged nuts, which I took, but did not eat.
I then went to the bathroom, which contained Asiana toothbrushes, combs, and kits. I took some for my collection, and went back to my seat. Since we were about to begin our descent, I decided to pack up my bag, and get ready for arrival. I was getting really, really, tired at this point, so just wanted the flight to end, and to head to the hotel. Eventually we had a smooth touchdown, and a quick taxi to the gate. We said our bye's to the friendly FA's, and headed towards customs and immigration.
The jet ways at ICN are very nice, fully glass, similar to the ones in AMS, I believe. After getting off the jet way, we found a deserted terminal, and headed straight to immigration. The terminal seemed very nice and modern. The walk to immigration seemed like forever, and must have taken ten minutes, even with moving escalators. I passed several planes, including a Cathay Pacific A330, United 777, and many more. Eventually we made it to immigration, where we were the first in line for the non-Korean citizen line. Within a minute we were through the line, and headed to baggage carousel 20, where our bags arrived within five minutes, the first time that I have ever seen a priority tag work. We then left the secured area and went to the terminal, which reminded me somewhat of HKG, with tall, curved ceilings.
Over to the left, I saw a TV, with what seemed to be a hundred Koreans gathered around it. I quickly went to use the restroom before our long drive to Seoul, and as I left, I heard a huge scream from the people watching the TV. It turned out that Korea was playing in the World Cup, and that they had just scored to tie up the game. Everyone was excited, hugging each other, and jumping up and down. We then went over to the currency exchange counter to get some Korean money, which was selling at a 929:1 ratio.
Unfortunately, due to our lack of proper planning in this regard, we were stuck taking a taxi to our hotel, the COEX InterContinental, and it ended up taking fifty minutes, and costing $150USD! I did not realize until a quick search in the lounge in NRT that the airport, Incheon, was actually about 50 miles out of the actual city of Seoul. We got to the hotel around midnight, and it was very nice. We checked in, and I went straight to bed for a nice, long night of sleep.
Overall, I was very impressed. While USAir was not good, I did not come in with high expectations. Singapore Airlines was simply amazing in every regard, about as perfect of a flight as I have ever had. Fortunately, I can’t say that my opinions above are at all exaggerated, as the service was really that great. Asiana, although only a two hour flight, was excellent, with very friendly FA’s, and a superior product.
I hope that everyone enjoyed the first part of my report. The next few parts are still to come. All comments and questions are greatly appreciated. If you are interested in the wine lists for either SQ or OZ, please let me know, and I will post them. Thanks!
"To find fault is easy: To do better may be difficult." -Plutarch
Christao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 889 posts, RR: 9 Reply 10, posted (6 years 11 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 28745 times:
Fantastic report. It mirrors trips that I've taken and I really enjoy reading the perspective of another aviation enthusiast. Sadly, about halfway through (just before the dinner photos on SQ) the pictures started coming through as small red x's. So I'll have to try again later to see the pictures.
Quoting BRAVO7E7 (Thread starter): Everytime that I said thank you, it was responded to with something along the lines of, "my pleasure," or "certainly," or anything like that. To be honest I was expecting the famed "Singapore Girls" to appear more to be putting on a show than having a sincere smile, and that everything would be very commercialized. What I found was actually the opposite. Everything seemed extremely sincere, heartfelt, classy, and warm.
It is true, their service is sincere and is motivated among other things by a deep pride in their company. Perhaps those who complain of them being "robotic" are too cynical too recognize true, heartfelt customer service.
Quoting BRAVO7E7 (Thread starter): Christina popped out of the galley, and recommended that I have a Kit-Kat, explaining to me how tasty they were, as if they were a delicacy of Singapore, and available nowhere else
Christina's enthusaism for Kit-Kats rings true. You may not believe it, but Kit-Kats are one of the few U.S. candies sold here in Southeast Asia and they are widely enjoyed. For those of us here, they really are a kind of delicacy!
Next time you're on Asiana and there's only a Korean meal left, don't skip it! Asiana's Korean meals are really superb, especially in the premium classes.
Quoting Cabso1 (Reply 5): Talk about high tech! What were all the buttons for?!
While I did not actually use any of the buttons, I believe they were just the basics, as well as "self washing."
Quoting ANCFlyer (Reply 7): I noted you didn't care for the US Air CLub in CLT, there is a larger, nicer club in CLT at the junction between C and D Concourse . . . MUCH nicer.
I have heard that as well. I wish I would have had time to go there, but we only had around 30 minutes, and this club was very convenient. I will certainly not judge USAir's clubs by that, since I know that UA has some crappy RCC's in ORD as well.
Quoting Christao17 (Reply 10): Fantastic report. It mirrors trips that I've taken and I really enjoy reading the perspective of another aviation enthusiast.
Thanks, I actually booked and modelled my trip after the Star trip that you took to Asia, except in C for most of the way. My next flight is actually TG659, which I believe you took and wrote about in detail. My experience was quite different, I believe.
"To find fault is easy: To do better may be difficult." -Plutarch
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1750 posts, RR: 26 Reply 20, posted (6 years 11 months 16 hours ago) and read 27790 times:
What an outstanding report! The report took me about 20 minutes to read, and this was also because I kept looking over the pictures again and again! Truly excellent report; A+!
Quoting BRAVO7E7 (Thread starter): I found this to be quite unprofessional, and that this should just have been told to the F passengers.
That does seem strange. If I was in the coach cabin, I probably would not want to hear what First was getting!
Quoting BRAVO7E7 (Thread starter): Throughout the film the FA's were around about every ten minutes, constantly making sure that everyone was satisfied.
That is the main reason I want to fly Singapore Airlines. They truly sound incredible. The attention to detail is amazing. I remember reading somewhere that Singapore's service is "what other airlines talk about." I bet that is the case!
LH459 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 886 posts, RR: 1 Reply 22, posted (6 years 11 months 13 hours ago) and read 27625 times:
Your attention to detail is astounding! This is one of the best reports I've read in a long time! I have to agree with Christao, though--next time you are offered Bibimbop on a Korean carrier (whether Asiana or Korean Air), take it! It's delicious, provided you enjoy spicy food.
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi