SQNo1 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 690 posts, RR: 1 Posted (9 years 4 months 1 week ago) and read 9865 times:
I would like to welcome you to my trip report that covers my journeys around the world during July and August. Destinations that are mentioned include Paris and Taipei.
Please do keep looking back as I will be updating this page on a regular basis as and when I have the time to do so, not forgetting that I am on holiday and I want to make good use of the time that I have, instead of continuously being on a computer.
Any comments are very much appreciated and I shall try to any questions that you ask about my recent travels. I don’t have anything to say apart from please enjoy!
SQno1 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 690 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 9338 times:
Background to the Trip
In November 2005, I and my mother began to search for flights, with the use of a number of different online travel websites such as Expedia, Opodo and Last Minute for a five week holiday to Singapore, which would take place in July and August 2006.
The reason for the trip is that family is located in the city state and that we can also use Singapore to visit other destinations around the Asia-pacific region.
Along with my younger brother and my father, we had a similar holiday in the summer of 2004, where we flew KLM Royal Dutch Airlines out of London Heathrow, with a stop in Amsterdam. We also had a tour of Beijing, flying on that occasion with Singapore Airlines.
This time though my father would not be coming along because of previous work commitments and my younger brother would be booking a flight at a later date because his holiday had not yet been confirmed by the company he works for.
As I started looking through the fares, it became obvious to me very quickly that a change of aircraft at a particular airline's hub airport would be needed. This was because Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Qantas were charging over Â£800 for direct flights from London Heathrow and Manchester for the dates that we wanted to depart and return. This in my personal opinion was an extortionate amount to be charging.
Even some airlines that could possibly provide a convenient one-stop service were not providing reasonable fares such as Malaysian Airlines, Thai & Cathay Pacific, charging over a £1000 return per person.
So the only airlines that could possibly be considered still were Gulf Air, with a stop in Bahrain or Emirates with a change of aircraft in Dubai. The former had an advantage with the fare costing only £440 return but the departure time of the return flight was at 05:25 am!!
The decision was made that we were to fly on Emirates. One of the main advantages with traveling with this airline is that you can select a number of different departure points from the United Kingdom towards Dubai and onwards to destinations around the world.
With my location in Exeter in the south west of the United Kingdom, it would be feasible when traveling on Emirates to fly from London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Birmingham.
Birmingham airport was the cheapest of the three, at only £489.80 return where as the other two departure points were being priced at around £570 return. From Exeter also it is cheaper to get to Birmingham airport, with the cheapest train tickets to the central station in the city at only £10 one way with Virgin Trains services departing at least once every hour.
Also add another train ride of only eight minutes to the airport station at just £1.70 single, it could easily beat hands down any fares towards London, because of the rip off fares that are charged for the Heathrow and Gatwick express services.
One final consideration that needed to be made was the schedule that we were going to be flying on with Emirates. My first preference would have been to travel on the afternoon flight from Birmingham and then connect into Dubai onto flight EK 404, arriving into Singapore Changi airport at 14:05 in the afternoon. Unfortunately on our date of departure from Dubai the flight was absolutely booked solid, with not a single seat left.
Flight EK 432 also fully booked on the day, with an arrival time into Singapore of 20:05 in the evening and with me and my mother not preparing to travel on flight EK 348, which has an additional stop in Colombo, Sri Lanka the only alternative was to connect to EK 352 in Dubai. This also meant that we were to be traveling on the evening flight from Birmingham.
So it was confirmed, we purchased tickets for myself and my mother at the price mentioned above through lastminute.com, at the end of November 2005 and at the same we joined Emirates frequent flyer program, Skywards.
My younger brother purchased tickets with the same itinerary at a later date for £571.70 and we were also taking a friend of his as well on holiday too.
So all we had to do now was to wait until our departure date.........
Monday July 10th 2006
The day had finally come that we were to be traveling half way across the world from Exeter to Singapore. At around 12:30 in the afternoon we said goodbye to my father, who for the next five weeks would be completing shifts at work (and the decorating ) and we took the car down to Exeter St. David's railway station.
Once arriving at the station we collected our train tickets from one of the machines and went up to the platform to await the arrival of the 13:23 train to Glasgow Central via Leeds & Newcastle, which we would be traveling on as far as Birmingham New Street.
The journey begins - Exeter St. David's Railway Station
The five coach Virgin Voyager arrived bang on time from Plymouth and the passengers quickly got on board to find what few seats were still available.
Those members from the UK will know about the problems with these trains from the start where not enough coaches were ordered originally by the leasing company. Then following a large advertising campaign by Virgin Trains explaining the new train services across the country people flocked to experience but there were not enough seats to facilitate demand from customers, leading to almost continuous overcrowding on some services.
However on this occasion it didn't matter for me and the rest of our party, we had reserved seats on this train service, two pairs of airline seats next to one another.
The train made calls at Tiverton Parkway and Taunton before I went up to the buffet to find if there was any of Virgin's tasty hot bacon rolls. Once again I was to be disappointed as there were none in stock, so I instead settled for a chicken salad sandwich and a bottle of virgin diet coke.
The service made another call, this time at Bristol Temple Meads where at this point there were no more seats available for passengers and people started to jam up the isles. This stopped me from attempting a second time to get a bacon roll from the buffet.
One last call at Cheltenham Spa, where we didn't wait for five minutes as you normally do stopping there and we were at Birmingham New Street railway station just before 16:00 only a couple of minutes behind schedule.
Before we decided to head down to the airport, we thought it would be suitable to get something to eat in the Palisades shopping centre. We agreed previously that with four suitcases between us and a number of other soft bags and the price of left luggage facilities that it would be unsuitable to head to wards the larger Bullring.
But the Palisades is a very uninviting place to visit fro anybody who doesn't know Birmingham well and within twenty minutes we heading back down towards the train station, to head to airport, although we were booked on a Virgin Pendalino train, scheduled to depart at 18:00
We took the first train service that was available to head down to the airport, and this was the 16:40 Central Trains service to Northampton, for which its first call would be Birmingham International, where we would be alighting. Being a rush hour service the train was very full with every seat taken by the time we boarded, meaning that we just stood away from the open doors.
Departure from Birmingham New Street was exactly on time and we made good speed and as the train hurried though Marston Green, you can get some excellent views of the western end of the Birmingham airport runway. Only a couple of minutes later we disembarked at Birmingham International where there was quite a queue for the lift that would take us to the station concourse and onwards to the airport skylink.
Birmingham International Station, showing one of the same type of train we just alighted from only a few minutes earlier..
The four of us had to get into the lift at two different intervals, so that we could fit our luggage as well. After we were all on the top floor, we walked the short distance the airport skylink from the railway station to the heart of terminal one. To get to the check in desks you then had to take another lift downstairs where the desks for Emirates where located right at the end of the terminal, next to the desks for Pakistan International Airlines to Islamabad and Air Malta (to Malta, where else! ).
The four of us queued at the internet check in desk for economy class, having previously assigned our seats the evening before on the internet at home back in Exeter. But as we were on separate bookings as my brother's reservation was booked later in advance I and my mother went first. But we were probably better off queuing at the main line as the group in front of us; a couple and their SEVEN children had problems with their overweight luggage which took over fifteen minutes to sort out. It was though only 17:00, with the flight not due to depart for another four hours, so I didn't mind time being killed by others mistakes.
Once they had gone away from the desk we were asked to wait for a moment as the agent started to put tags on the fifteen pieces of luggage, tagged through only to Dubai and she asked us to come forwards afterwards. She was quite a nice woman but as she was checking us in, she was having a conversation with her colleague next to her about the number of hours that she was to be doing next week (57 to be precise). Doesn't bother me, but I can think of one particular member that would be pissed off by this
She informed us afterwards that the seats that we had chosen had been kept for both legs and handed out boarding cards for our first flight and also cards for the second flight inside a red wallet those constructions on what to do on arrival at Dubai airport. I then asked her how full this evening's flight was and she replied stating that there were only ten seats spare in economy class.
We both thank you and said goodbye to her and then waited for the other two to complete the formalities at the same desk, whilst noticing that there were many connecting onto other Emirates flights in Dubai including Dar Es Salaam, Johannesburg, Muscat and also a couple connecting onto a Sri Lankan flight to Colombo in Dubai.
But whilst we were waiting I realized that there was some luggage next to me on the floor that was unattended. I quickly pounced on the Emirates manager standing quite closed and with the security situation immediately phoned airport security. The security arrived to take the bags away but just in the nick in time the woman hurried from the economy class line saying it was her luggage. She was given a swift telling off by the Emirates manager for leaving luggage alone like that.
My brother and his friend came back to us with their boarding passes for the two flights for which on the flight out of Birmingham they would be seated six rows ahead of us although on the same aisle, so it would be easy to get to them if we needed anything of theirs.
A quick check on the departures board showed that BMI Baby was not having the greatest of days. Flight WW 1081 to Prague, schedule to depart at 16:50, was to be delayed for four hours and flight WW 1005 to Edinburgh, due to leave at 19:50, was not expected to depart until 23:00!
At least the inbound flight from Dubai was expected ten minutes early.
We needed to get some food to eat, so we went back upstairs to the JD Weatherspoons pub, where I ordered fish and chips for £7.75.
The first floor of Birmingham Airport terminal one, taken from the JD Weatherspoons pub..
With still three hours until departure, we went through to the departures area of the terminal, where we went to look around the shops, where there was a nice selection of alcoholic beverages, chocolate and also the packet of 1000 cigarettes! I bought a huge tub of mini dairy milk bars and then went up to the C doors to take some images, some of which are shown here.
Ryanair's EI-DAZ completes pushback and is about to head to DUB as FR673.
Turkmenistan Airlines T5412 begins taxiing to the runway before flying to ASB.
EI-DEN arrives from DUB as EI274.
VP-BUJ arrives from TAS as HY 211.
G-TOYA taxies in.
The apron around the C doors.
I met the other three in the terminal, where my brother and his friend were scoffing into a burger king meal. During my holiday I am trying to stay away from the fast food junk that I have become so accosted to over the years. Whilst waiting I went onto one of the internet terminals and spoke to a friend for five minutes and checking out airliners.net.
Once the other two were ready we walked down to the D concourse and the long corridor to our gate, which was not quite ready for the passengers to go into the gate area, but there was a gentle stream of persons beginning to appear.
At around 20:20 the aircraft was ready for boarding where business class and skywards gold and silver members were allowed to board straight onto the aircraft, where a long line began to snake down the corridor for the people "in the back".
I just waited to the side and sat down on a chair as the line moved slowly. I mean whats the point waiting in long lines that don't actually go anywhere. I mean the plane isn't going to go without me (unless you're really late) so what is the point of putting pressure on my feet!!
Is the captain looking at what I am doing??.
Air Malta Boeing 737-400 At The Opposite Gate.
Emirates Airlines EK 38
From: Birmingham Elmdon, England (BHX)
To: Dubai Dubayy, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
Scheduled Departure: 21:10
Actual Pushback from Gate: D41 @ 21:03
Takeoff: R15 @ 21:17
Scheduled Arrival: 07:10 + 1 Day
Landing: R12L @ 06:46
Taxi to Stand: T5 @ 06:55, Bus into Terminal
Passenger Loading (Approximate) -- 95%
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-243
Registration: A6-EKQ (First Flight 12/18/1998, Delivery To Emirates 10/03/1999)
After the queue had calmed down sufficiently, we went straight onboard and were welcomed by a friendly male Spanish flight attendant who directed me to the left hand side of the aircraft.
Before departure another flight attendant, this time a chinese woman offered me a hot towel with a warm smile, so first impressions were excellent.
Wing Of A6-EKQ
Before we pushed back, I had a sufficient period of time to find out what was available to watch on the personal entertainment screens. Although it wasn't the ice entertainment system that I will look forward to when I travel on a Boeing 777-300ER back to Birmingham, the choice was still wide varying. Movies included Curious George, Ice Age 2 and Shadows in the Sun.
The seat was very comfortable, complete with a footrest, adjustable headrest and 34 inches of legroom. I was however punished however by the fact that there was an entertainment box under the seat in front of me, so I simply improvised and put my feet in the gap between the wall and the seat in front of me. This allowed me to stretch a hell of a long way.
The Cabin Of EK 38 before departure
Air show In Arabic
All the passengers were onboard by 20:45 and we pushed back from the gate ahead of schedule. The safety video was played to us, which took a long period of time as it was spoken in both English and Arabic. Whilst taxiing the weather began to take a turn for the worst and it began to rain heavily and this continued as we performed a rolling take off on runway 15.
During the initial cruise towards 37,000 feet, a passenger was asked twice to stay in his seat over the speakers although I was unable to view who it was, this was still quite a dangerous thing to do. Once the cabin crews were released after 10,000 feet, menus were distributed to all of the passengers. Here is the selection:
* Slices Of Smoked Salmon, Served On A Waldorf Salad
* Fresh Seasonal Salad, Served With a Ginger Dressing
* Sauteed Lamb Medallions, Served With An Onion Sauce, Accompanied With Red Skin Potato Wedges, Romano Peppers & Red Pepper
* Creamy Butter Chicken, Served With Saffron Basmati Rice & Fried Eggplant Topped With Tomato Concasse.
* Raspberry & Chocolate Torte
* Bread & Butter
* Cheese & Biscuits
* Tea, Coffee, Soft Drinks, Alcoholic Beverages
To my surprise I went for the lamb instead of the chicken and I certainly made a great decision. Even with plastic cutlery that was given to me, the lamb was soft and perfectly cooked so that the knife could gently glide through it and the wedges were a great accompament. But the best part of the meal had to be the raspberry and chocolate torte, so much so that I also had my brother's as well.
My meal of Lamb Medallions -- Sorry About The Photo!
During the meal we were offered drinks, for which I asked for a diet cola and I also had a cup of tea. All in all it was a fabulous meal and at that point I felt on top of the moon for choosing Emirates airlines.
We Are Now Over Over Hungary, After Previously Passing Over Leipzig, Germany and Now Going Towards Bourgas, Bulgaria
Following the meal I went up to the toilet, where there was a queue of four people around. The Spanish gentleman and an Iranian woman member of the crew were intelligent enough to offer the passengers a drink before we released our waste into the storage tanks of the Airbus A330-200, for which I had another diet cola.
I also had a quick sneak peak of the crew meals, they looked absolutely vile and were some sort of biscuit (looked like ryvita) and some of those frozen mixed vegetables. I just hope they are allowed to get leftovers from the passengers if there were any.
Also in the galley was an off duty pilot, who was flying back home to Dubai and when I said where I came from he was surprised that I chose Birmingham airport ahead of Heathrow or Gatwick. We also had a conversation about our flying habits and even the cabin crew got involved.
I went back to my seat and then sat down to see what was on the entertainment system. Although it was a wide a varied selection none of the movies really appealed to me. I tried to watch Curious George but felt it was a bit too childish for my liking about twenty minutes in.
So initially I settled down to play some games of Tetris and yep, I was completely rubbish at it. At least the PTV was touch screen and that the television handset was in the armrest and not down the side, like Singapore Airlines is. One of the other functions of the PTV was that you could get a front view camera on landing!
Then the cabin crew announced that the full detail of the world cup final in Berlin, that was played the evening before was also avliable on the entertainment system, including the horror of Zinedine Zidane's head butt!
Now the aircraft had climbed to a new cruising altitude of 41,000 feet, as we made the diversionary turn to avoid Iraq.
Aircraft Completes Turn To Avoid Mosul & Kirkuk
The World Cup Final On My PTV!
After passing to the east of Kuwait, we descended back down to an altitude of 39,000 feet and the crew started a drinks service, although I had found out in the menu card earlier that there was to be no breakfast service, which was the most disappointing aspect of the flight.
The crew offered us one cold drink, this time I had an orange juice and also had a cup of tea afterwards. Also given to us was a small oat cake with blueberries that was edible but, only just.
Nearly Into Dubai!
As soon as the tray was cleared, the cabin was prepared for a decent into Dubai airport. The descent was quite a fast one and we were from cruise to landing in about fifteen minutes.
Out of the window you couldn't see anything notable apart from water because of the heat haze until we were on a very short final to the airport. At that point I could see part of Dubai city but not the major landmarks such as the Burj El Arab and the Palm Beach.
More importantly though we landed on runway 12L just under 25 minutes ahead of the schedule, where we then taxied to one of the remote stands, next to where the new terminal is being built.
Getting off the aircraft was not a pleasant experience as for me initially I found it hard to breathe because of the dry heat of the Middle East, something which I had never experienced before.
Taxiing Into Stand T5, Next To Two Company A330-200s
But we were onto buses very quickly as we were transferred towards the terminal. During the ride there was an automated message telling passengers that if they were transferring in Dubai, to get off at the first stop and if Dubai was passengers final destination then they must alight at the second stop.
The driver was maybe a reckless, as he took a couple of the turns quite quickly, making me and other people lose their balance and making one person fall onto the floor.
The ride was only around five minutes and we got off at the first stop as requested for the security control for transferring Emirates passengers.
All in all this was a very good flight with Emirates Airlines with excellent food, very friendly cabin attendants, comfortable seating and an early arrival into Dubai. But let's see if the standards can be matched on a second flight with Emirates in just over two hours time.
9/10 EK 38 BHX-DXB 10/07/06
One Point Deducted For No Breakfast Service
SQNo1 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 690 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 8693 times:
Tuesday 11th July 2006
After getting off the bus that took us from the first aircraft, we then entered a security control area which was particularly busy, probably of the amount of Emirates flights that come in from western europe at around 07:00 in the morning.
Even though the area was busy, we passed through one of the seven baggage search areas that were in this small area of the terminal, with five being open at the time for passengers.
I have heard on some occasions on other websites that some have had to wait over two hours to get past security control, meaning that some have missed their onward flights with Emirates.
But my experience was much more positive and we were through into the terminal building in around five minutes. The staff on the security control may not be friendly in any aspect, but at least they kept the queue flowing at a constant and steady rate.
Now we were on the first floor of the departures area of the airports. For those who have not been to Dubai, the duty free is covered throughout on the ground floor and when the time comes where you need to go to the gate, you have to go up to the first floor of the terminal.
Here is only part of Dubai Airport's extravagant duty free section. Note the rather nice car as well!
There was certainly a very large selection of wines, spirits and tobacco products available for purchase, so we decided to purchase two bottles of Jacob's Creek shiraz and a bottle of Courvoisier brandy for around Â£18. That's a definite bargain in my eyes!
The four of us then went our separate ways. I tried to find somewhere to view the apron of the airport and found a reasonable area that was located in one of the food courts and at the same time I purchased a portion of fries from McDonalds.
There was definitely a bit of activity on the apron this morning. Although none of the continental European carriers were present, as they generally fly into Dubai in the late evening, I could see a BA 777-200 that was being tugged to a stand from the cargo area and also a Virgin Atlantic A340-600 both for London Heathrow.
Also present was a Pakistan International Airlines A310-300, Royal Jordanian A310-300, Sri Lankan A330-200, JAT Yugoslavian B737-400 and of course vast numbers of Emirates aircraft. There should have also been a Royal Brunei Airlines B767-300 also for LHR, but it was delayed for eight hours!
An unknown EK B773 about to depart for KHI as EK600.
I met my mother, younger brother and his friend at around 08:40 outside the food court so we could go together as a group to the gate for our flight. First we needed to find out the gate the flight was departing through with the use of the information boards. This was because one had not been assigned the evening before whilst we were departing from Birmingham.
But where were the information screens , I think there was only three in the centre of the terminal and not a single one by any of the gates and with so many flights departing between eight and nine in the morning, all the screens were showing were flights that were closing or had already closed.
The only thing we could do was to ask the gentleman at the information desk who quickly told me that it was gate 42 which was a twenty minute walk away. It then became apparent to us that we had to start moving immediately.
It seemed like an eternity before we got even close to where we needed to be, and we began to panic about the possibility of missing the flight, so we ran some of the way. One thing I did notice was the amount of people that were sleeping on the floor in the terminal, is that common in DXB?
Once we got there the airline dispatcher noticed that we were running as we arrived five minutes before the scheduled departure and said that there was still another 65 passengers missing and that the flight would almost certainly have a delayed departure.
The long terminal around gate 19, still quite a way to go!
Another shot of the long terminal building, bad photo though!
After our boarding passes our handed back to us we walked down a footpath that went down three levels until we reached a bus that was waiting for us. Once again the bus driver took a couple of the corners quite forcefully and it was not a pleasant experience to have.
As we moved further down the apron I saw the aircraft that I traveled on from Birmingham just a couple of hours earlier. But before I could get a decent view, we make a left turn once we went past A6-EKQ, which made me think the that we may be heading for the exact same plane. But we carried on going forward and made a right turn to the steps of A6-EAS.
A6-EKQ was however ready for departure as passengers were climbing up the steps, if anybody knows where it headed that morning; it would be very interesting to know.
An unidentifiable A330-200 at gate 38, it is heading for HAM though.
A6-EAS at the stand before its departure to SIN & KUL.
Emirates Airlines EK 352
From: Dubai Dubayy, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
To: Singapore Changi (SIN)
Continuing To: Kuala Lumpur Sepang, Malaysia (KUL) & Dubai Dubayy, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
Scheduled Departure: 09:10
Actual Push-back from Gate: 42, Followed By Bus to Stand T6 @ 09:25
Takeoff: R12L @ 09:45
Scheduled Arrival: 20:55
Landing: R20R @ 20:57
Taxi to Gate: D34 @ 21:03
Passenger Loading (Approximate): 90%
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-243
Registration: A6-EAS (First Flight 04/02/2003, Delivery to Emirates 19/09/2003)
Once we got off the bus, the heat could really be felt whilst we were waiting on the stairs to board the aircraft. Once we did we were welcomed on board by an Australian gentleman and in the middle of the front section of economy class was a British woman who would be serving my needs.
A6-EMS arrives on stand T7 from an unknown origin.
The aircraft began to fill up gradually but we were still missing a number of passengers as the departure time passed. All persons boarded eventually and the doors were closed fifteen minutes behind the scheduled departure.
The same long and tiresome safety demonstration was played whilst we taxied as hot towels were also offered and we waiting as the third aircraft in line to take off, behind an Emirates sky cargo B747-400 and Sri Lankan Airlines A330-200.
The cabin of A6-EAS before our departure.
We finally took off half an hour behind schedule and made the climb to 34000 feet. As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off, we were distributed menus and it stated that we were to be offered a continental breakfast plus a lunch service later in the flight. Here are the selections:
Assorted Seasonal Fruits
Croissant Served With Butter & Jam
Dill Marinated Shrimps, Served With Roasted Peppers
Seasonal Salad, Served With A Olive Oil Dressing
Stir-Fried Hammour Fillet With Black Bean Sauce, Accompanied With Asian Mixed Vegetables & Egg Fired Rice.
Roasted Chicken Breast, Marinated In Basil & Chilli, Served With Broccoli, Red Peppers & Mashed Potato
Diplomat Bavarios, With White Chocolate Shavings
Bread & Butter
Cheese & Biscuits
Tea, Coffee, Soft Drinks, Alcoholic Beverages
Around half an hour after takeoff, the cabin crew came around and offered each passenger a croissant for breakfast and a drink. The British woman serving my section was friendly in the tone of her voice but never really showed any facial expression or a smile.
The croissant was simple but very tasty and piping hot, and it tasted even better when the butter was spread throughout. But then again it is almost impossible to balls up a continental breakfast!
The time in between the breakfast and lunch services gave me an opportunity once more to see what was on the entertainment system. It was pretty much the same except for the kids movie Curious George was replaced with the movie Firewall.
The cabin crew also announced once more that a replay of the world cup final was available to watch on the system. With nothing else for my liking I thought I should watch it again for my amusement.
Following the game I decided to sleep for an hour before I woke up and played some more Tetris and also a game I always used to play when I was younger, Yahtzee.
We are now heading over the Indian Ocean.
Whilst making our cruise over the ocean, it started getting quite bumpy, the captain said asked for the crew to return to stations and he also informed that the meal service would be suspended until conditions had improved.
The seatbelt sings were turned off around 20 minutes later and when the female cabin attendant eventually got to my row, I opted for the chicken meal, whilst my mother chose the fish fillet.
Here is an image of my meal of Chicken and Mashed Potatoes..
Here is an image of the Hammour Fish Fillet.
The chicken wad also very tasty and the mash potatoes were creamy without any lumps. However the most concerning thing in the dish was the apperance of a substantial amount of water. I presume that's one of the main disadvantages of reheating food. My mother stated that the fish dish was excellent throughout. I didn't eat the dessert, as it's not really my thing so I couldn't comment about it.
Now we were still around two hours away from arrival from Singapore and it began to get dark very quickly and we started to fly to the west of Thailand. I tried to watch Firewall but now I was very tired and fell asleep on the window with the film still playing.
Around an hour out we were handed immigration cards for Singapore and instructions were also announced for passengers who were traveling on to Kuala Lumpur.
The fast sunsets of South East Asia quickly dawns upon the passengers.
Whilst the cabin crews made their landing checks, I noticed that my seat would not recline forwards with the use of the button on the arm rest. However once the member of the crew arrived we performed the task together by putting her hand on the back of my seat and after a short pause the seat moved up.
We made our approach from the north as you normally do with not too much wind around in Singapore and we landed just a couple of minutes behind the schedule.
Following disembarkation and the walk towards baggage reclaim and customs I was very surprised to find long lines at immigration, mainly because that a Japan Airlines flight from Osaka and an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul had landed at around the same time.
It was not like the usual Singapore Airport experience you would have where you could be in a taxi ten minutes after leaving your plane. The long queues in the all passport queues meant we were waiting for over forty minutes to pass through, the bags as always were waiting for us on the carousel. My mother however as a Singapore went straight through to wait on the other side for us.
At the customs area my mum queried about the amount of alcoholic beverages she was allowed to bring through. Having purchased two bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy in Dubai, she was over the maximum limit of alcohol that persons entering Singapore are permitted.
But the customs officer let her though. Maybe if I was in the same position as a British passport holder my spirits would have been confiscated. Once through we met my extended family in the terminal building and at that point we would be starting our five week holiday around South-East Asia.
This flight was another good effort by Emirates and although the crew were not as freidnly as on the flight into Dubai from Birmingham, they still did their jobs effectively.
SQNo1 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 690 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (9 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7849 times:
Before we departed from the United Kingdom to Singapore, we wanted to book a package trip to Hong Kong for a few days to see the sights of Singapore's big tourist rival. However a few days before we departed my mother's sister called to say that she had booked a five night, six day trip to see the sights of Taiwan. The package did originally include a flight with China Airlines, but we made a collective decision to pay the extra money to go on Singapore Airlines. It turned out to be a very good choice as we found out towards the latter stages of the trip. (More on that in the next instalment).
Originally I wasn't that impressed, simply because I had done a lot of research on Hong Kong specifically and Taiwan was a place I knew nothing about the country, apart from there were two major cities Taiwan and Kaohsiung, the tallest building in the world is located in the country and the former leader was by the name of Chiang Kai Shek.
The morning after we arrived in Singapore, we headed straight to the People's Park Centre in Chinatown to book a four or five day trip to Hong Kong. We headed straight to a travel agent that we had used on a previous occasion for a excursion to China in 2004 when we last visited Singapore and also who we booked our trip to Taiwan with.
After some haggling over which airline to use and the hotel that we were going to stay at, myself and my mother finally settled on a four day, three night trip leaving on the 21st July.The package also included return flights with Cathay Pacific and also a half day city tour at a total cost of S$668 per person. Very good value I thought to myself. I was also very pleased because I finally would have the opportunity to experience Singapore Airlines big rival in South East Asia, but first we had a trip to Taiwan to look forward to.
We returned to my auntie's home in the far east of the island, to begin organising clothing and other items and to help my mother's two sisters and cousin who would also be travelling with. During this period I made the mistake of taking one short drinks break to watch the television which unfortunately showed a weather report that a typhoon by the name of "Bilis" was heading straight through Taiwan within the next twenty-four hours!
The morning of our flight to Taipei came and before we departed from the apartment that we were staying in, we double checked with Singapore Airlines that the flight would still be running, despite the typhoon heading straight for the island. The green light was given and my brother and his friend set off on the MRT to Changi Airport at 05:45am. Me, my mother and her younger sister went in a taxi where we met another of my mother's sisters and her son outside the internet check in desks on rows seven and eight at around 06:15am. The two stragglers arrived from the MRT station around ten minutes later.
The night before I used Singapore Airlines internet check in service and checked to see what seats were assigned to us. The good thing was that the seven of us were in the same row, unfortunately there was no scope to change anything, there were one three seats in economy left. I assigned myself the aisle seat on the right hand side of the aircraft, next to other passengers and to be away from other distractions such as my brother, simply because I was expecting this flight to be a bumpy one.
The internet check in desks were rather quiet at this time of morning, despite the number of flights to other destinations around Asia departing around this time and the flight to London Heathrow, leaving at 09:00. We were immediately processed together at a single desk and our twelve bags were checked quickly and efficiently. Our boarding passes were given out one by one, with a departure gate of F42.
The check in area at Singapore Changi terminal two.
After the check in process had been completed, we went straight through to the departures area of the airport where we all got some food to eat. There was then an announcement informing that the gate for the flight to Taipei had been changed from F42 to F58. Not really a problem, we were nowhere near the gate anyway.
At around 07:45 we started to walk towards the gate and in true Singapore airport fashion, it was already stated as last call 40 minutes before the flight was due to depart, so it came as no surprise to me when I just saw a departure lounge full of passengers.So it can be a good tool to frighten passengers to arrive to the gate ahead of schedule but for those who have regularly been through this airport like myself, it can be rather annoying.
The security searches at each single gate are a good idea and the queue passed through relatively quickly. Why no other airports have decided upon this approach is certainly a surprise to me. With no seating in the lounge left, it gave me a good opportunity to look out of the window to see what was on the airfield. There wasn't a lot at this time of day, there was an Qantas A330 taxiing to the runway as was a Cathay Pacific A330 for HKG. At our gate though was Singapore Airlines 12th and newest of its Boeing 777-300 fleet, having being delivered only in May 2005.
Boarding began at around 08:10 with First and Raffles class passengers invited to go down to the aircraft first, followed by passengers in economy at the far rear of the plane, our party was in the second group of economy passengers to board.
Singapore Airlines SQ 872
From: Singapore Changi (SIN)
To: Taipei Chiang Kai Shek, Taiwan (TPE)
Scheduled Departure From Gate F42: 08:35
Actual Departure From Gate F58: 08:45
Takeoff From Runway 20C: 08:57
Scheduled Arrival: 13:15
Actual Arrival On Runway 5: 13:17
Arrival At Gate: 13:24
Passenger Loading (Approximate): 95-100%
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-312
Registration: 9V-SYL (First Flight 26/04/2005, Delivery To Singapore Airlines 06/05/2005)
9V-SYL at the gate.
A unidentifiable Singapore Airlines 777-200 about to head to Jakarta as SQ166.
The scheduled departure time came and went as more passengers went past us towards the economy seats in the rear section. Five minutes later the captain came on the PA and apologised for the late departure from Singapore. He stated that the aircraft that was supposed to operate the sector had developed a fault with its autopilot system and it had become unserviceable. Despite this we only taxied back from the gate about ten minutes behind schedule.
A very crowded gate F58 departure lounge.
Hot towels were passed throughout the cabin as is the standard with most international airlines. The two people who were sat next to me were an elderly Taiwanese couple, connecting onto another flight to KHH, and they clearly wanted to sleep. Good for me, I won't be required to move out of my seat.
After the hot towels were collected by the twelve members of crew that were on today's flight, the safety demonstration was played on the personal entertainment screens and also on the main screens within the cabin as the plane made its forward taxi towards Runway 20C.
During the time that the plane taxied I took the time to see what was available on the Krisworld entertainment system. Movies included Ice Age: The Meltdown, She's The Man, Mission Impossible 2 and many others. But I had already set my sights on watching both episodes of The Apprentice that were available to watch, since its just the best programme in the world!
The aircraft being a full flight took a long time to leave the runway and as we headed southwards, we made an immediate right turn so that we could see the airport once again in our initial ascent.
The cruising height for today's flight would be 36,000ft and the cabin crew were released after 10,000 feet, where the menus were handed out to the passengers. The flight would have a brunch service that would be served about an hour into the flight. Here's the menu from the flight;
Braised seafood noodles with leafy greens and mushrooms
Chive omelette served with chicken sausage, roasted tomato and hash brown
Soya milk pudding with lychee
From The Bakery
Butter & Fruit Preserves
First the cabin crew came round with a drinks service, for which I opted for a diet coke and this also came with a bag of peanuts, which I am not able to eat because of an allergy that I have. So I just passed it on to my brother who would keep it as a collection for one of his other friends as a joke, as he has not flown before.
Back to the meal service, I am personally not the biggest fan of seafood, so I made the decision to go for the western breakfast of the omelette. Sadly this was not the best attempt of an airline meal. The omelette was dry throughout and there was no real point of adding the chives to the egg, because you couldn't taste it. The hash brown was also rather dry and you had to conserve the juices from the "cherry tomato" to make it more edible. The chicken sausage was of a reasonable quality. I noticed that the couple sitting next to me, who both had the seafood noodles only ate the noodles and left the seafood so I guess that wasn't too clever either.
My omelette and chicken sausage meal, yuck!!!
During the meal I began to watch Mission Impossible 2, unfortunately it was not as good as I hoped and I lost interest in it. I decided to turn to the two episodes of the Apprentice. The first episode was the task where the teams had to create an advertising campaign for Dove body wash, and the result was that one of the teams made a soft porn advert and the other just completed an advert that didn't portray the product correctly.
We continued to make significant progress over the South China sea and we headed towards the Philippines at the same cruising altitude that we were previously.
Our position half way into the flight.
The cabin crew made one last drinks service, where I opted for yet another diet cola. They where however throughout the flight continuously topping up passengers with Water and Orange Juice, which of course is a nice touch.
However into the drinks service the weather began to get a bit nasty over the Philippines, as we were beginning to touch the fringes of the tropical storm. The cabin crew took the decision to suspend the cabin service and return to their seats.
Unfortunately it was not soon enough as the aircraft went through an air pocket, and you could really feel it as your stomach went from your belly to your throat. The cabin crouched down when the pocket arrived, had a little giggle to each other and when the time was right return to their seats.
The position of our flight just after the air pocket struck.
The captain then came on the PA system again to say that the aircraft had dropped around 2000 feet in the air pocket, but that we were back at the specified cruisng altitude.
The cabin crew stayed in their seats for a good thirty minutes until the weather calmed down siginificantly, where we were now skirting the coast of Taiwan. At this point entrance cards and customs declaration forms were handed out and passengers hurried to use the toilet before the aircraft began its decent, including the Taiwanese couple who were sat next to me.
The economy cabin of our Boeing 777-300.
We began our decent to the south west of Taipei and went past Taipei and then made a few right hand turns to be in-line with Runway 5. At this point the weather once began to make a change and it became a very bumpy decent in the rain and clouds on our short final. We however touched down on the runway only a couple of minutes behind schedule, followed by a China Airlines Boeing 747-400.
Our taxi to the gate that was assigned for our flight took a few minutes, and we in between two Japan Asia Airways Boeing 747-300s, registrations JA8162 and JA8189. Also present was a World Airways MD-11, Mandarin Airlines MD-80 and of course numerous China Airlines and EVA Air aircraft.
Disembarkation took a further couple of minutes and as we waited the rain started to get even heavier. I said goodbye to the crew and made the long walk from the gate to the immigration building, including a walk on the world's most pointless travalator.
China Airlines Boeing 747-400.
Customs hall before immigration.
Immigration took over an hour to get through as there were only four rows for international passengers, where there were absolutely no queues for Taiwanese passengers. When we arrived at the baggage hall, we queued for the bags only to find that they had not arrived, but bags were already coming through for a Dragonair flight from HKG. Our bags were eventually found at the side of the belt, which was rather annoying as they could have been taken by anyone!!
Once getting through we met the tour company that for the next six days would take us to the best sights of the Democratic Republic Of China.
Outside the arrivals hall at TPE terminal 2.
Overall it was a reasonable flight by Singapore Airlines. The cabin crew were very friendly as you come to expect with this airline and Krisworld didn't disappoint. But the meal that I had was so poor and that gave a clear reflection that standards have partially slipped, as you would probably come to expect.