777MAS From Malaysia, joined Sep 2003, 197 posts, RR: 0 Posted (8 years 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6803 times:
As the title of the post suggests, since this was a farewell trip for Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) Fokker F50, I did not have any notepad with me as I wanted to enjoy the flight rather than being bogged down with recording every detail.
It was now late July, and in little more than a week’s time (w.e.f. 1 August), the Fokker F50 would cease to be part of the Malaysia Airlines fleet. I felt I had to make a farewell trip, even though the same F50s would still be around after July, albeit in the colours of Fly Asian Xpress, the new arm of Air Asia that would take over many of MAS’ domestic “non-trunk” routes. The farewell is specifically for the MAS F50, for a chapter of MAS’ history, which is linked to the 1960s, is coming to an end.
This is therefore not just a trip report, but also some reflections on one of the workhorses, and an unsung hero, if one may use such a term. In recent years, when I made bookings over the phone, the MAS ticketing staff would sometimes even “warn” me that the flight I had chosen: “it’s a Fokker….” as though I was getting myself something inferior. That the majority of people here have a perception that flying in a B737 was (far) more desirable than being on the F50 didn’t help either.
I’m sentimental about the F50 because it is linked to my first love of airplanes. Back in around 1977, when I was a 5-year old kid living in Tawau, the F50’s predecessor, the F27, operated by what was then called “Malaysian Airline System” (MAS) was about the only plane that came my way. I would watch in fascination the action and surrounding activities, from the time it landed up to the time it took off again. It so happened that I considered it to be a beautiful bird, visually. The Tawau airport back then was a simple single-storey building, and the (open air) “viewing gallery” almost led out onto the tarmac itself. Due to the small size of the parking apron (it could, prior to expansion in 1981, accommodate 2 F27s), the plane would be parked quite close to the terminal, but I didn’t mind the noise pollution that the engines generated. I remember the great excitement each time I got to fly on it, it was similar to my excitement now of getting onto a B777. But some of the flights that I was on were marred by the fact that my Mom would insist that we sit in the very back row, where there’s no window!!! Her reason? We’d be the first to get off the plane!!! Such was the case on my first flight (in 1977??), and because there was no view, I wasn’t even aware that a plane needed to do things like taxiing and take off roll before it would climb up into the air – I thought we were already airborne (a la helicopter) after all that noise generated by the engines; when take-off roll commenced, I remember thinking to myself “hmm, now that we’re up in the air, it might be time for the plane to accelerate”!!!
Between the end of December 1980 and December 1992, I did not fly on the F27 again, although this was NOT due to any refusal or non-desire on my part. [In fact, I was never to fly on the F27 again.] By 1990, the F27 had been phased out, to be replaced (thankfully) by the almost identical F50. In between, to my great shame, I had abandoned my love of the F27 around 1981, when MAS started operating the B737-200 to Tawau. For a 9-year-old, it was not unlike “falling in love” with the latest new toy, and forgetting all about the old ones. In 1982, I even felt “sorry” for my parents when I found out they were booked on a F27 when the B737 was also available on that route. And I remember feeling sorry for Dad in 1983, when he had to fly on a route that was served only by the F27. And I remember that during the 80s, MAS actually operated a F27 from Kuching (KCH) to Kuala Lumpur 3 times a week [MH694, on Tue, Thu and Sun] – a 3 hour 10 minute flight, twice as long as a B737. I was even thinking how could they use a F27?? [NOTE: I suspect that F27 flight was a relic from the 1960s, before the jets joined MAS’ fleet. Maybe, somehow, the use of the F27 on that particular flight just never got phased out, despite the arrival of the jets, until maybe the early 90s]
Fast forward to January 1991, when as a more mature 19-year old kid, I watched in fascination as a F50 came in to land at Kota Kinabalu (BKI). Seeing a new and improved (but almost visually identical) version of its illustrious predecessor, I told myself I had to fly in it. The childishness of “bigger is better” (i.e. B737 vs F27) had gone, and my love of the Fokker 27/50 was rekindled, but it would not be until Dec 1992 that I would be able to fly in the F50.
And now, the F50 is about to become history as far as MAS is concerned. I felt I had to undertake these farewell trips for the MAS F50s. I know I’ll still get to fly them when they are in FAX colours, but it simply won’t be the same as a MALAYSIA AIRLINES F50. Especially when the Fokker 27/50 in Malaysia had been associated with MAS for perhaps 40 years now. It certainly is the end of an era.
1ST LEG: SANDAKAN TO TAWAU
DATE: July 2006 – exact day not disclosed (see further below for reasons)
Flight No.: MH2139
FROM/TO: Sandakan (SDK) – Tawau (TWU)
Flying time: 40 minutes
Estimated distance: 180 km
Fare paid: MYR74 + 15 fuel surcharge + 5 insurance + 6 airport tax. Total: MYR100 (Published, full fare; Y Class)
What better way to do my commemorative trip than to fly back to Tawau, where it all started, where I first fell in love with airplanes? The only regret is that the old airport in Tawau is no longer in use, and, given the modernity of the new one, there simply won’t be that unsophisticated atmosphere of the 1970s (albeit “updated” somewhat to the 1990s) that I would certainly have found nostalgic.
On boarding, I was greeted by “S” (I’m not mentioning any names, and you’ll see why further below. Let’s just say the “S” here stands for “stewardess”) and immediately noticed her eyelashes must be artificial – they can’t be really that long, surely?
From seat 3D, I could see a few of the goings-on in the cockpit, and it turned out that they never once closed the cockpit door, even during the flight, so, I’m not too sure whether there had been any violation of rules here. Therefore, I’m not mentioning the names of any flight crew, even the date and time of my flight is not disclosed.
From my seat, I could also see the starboard engine’s zebra-striped propeller blades. Couldn’t help noticing that something black-coloured that resembled (metallic) adhesive tape had been pasted along part of the length of each blade facing the front. What struck me was that on every blade, large portions of “tape” had already peeled off but are still connected to the blade by those portions not yet peeled off.
S pressed a button without releasing it, and soon the front left door-cum-stairs was closed. Welcome address was made on behalf of Captain “C” (C for Captain), and they went out of their way to welcome Enrich (FFP) members, of which I am one. You won’t get such a special welcome on Air Asia!
As we taxied out of the parking apron, I couldn’t help noticing that the engine sound effects of the F50 were almost identical to the F27 – those of you who have noticed a “Ngaaa-ohhhhh” sound as the plane is turning to enter the runway would know what I mean. (This sound can be heard whether you’re on the plane or inside the terminal.)
The pilot’s right hand pushed the throttle levers all the way forward, and the engines very responsively became more and more “aggressive” and noisy, and soon we were airborne. It was then that I noticed that the top of the cockpit instrument panel was almost up to the eye level of the pilot. Imagine if your car’s dashboard was just as high, and you can imagine how restricted the pilot’s field of vision might be. How do they cope?
Without touching the throttle levers again, the pilots turned a number of knobs behind/beside those levers, and soon after take off, the engines quietened down somewhat as we continued to climb to cruising altitude.
Flying above lots of oil palm plantations, our route took us over the airspace of Lahad Datu, which is roughly midway between Sandakan and Tawau, although it’s not in a straight line. From there, we turned, say, 15 degrees to the right, and headed for Tawau. Glad for the opportunity to see Lahad Datu and Darvel Bay from the air, and for the simple pleasure of being served a cup of mango juice – probably no free inflight services come 1st of August!!
All too soon, we reached Tawau. Just before the final approach, I noticed that the plane was pointing downwards at an angle that was perhaps twice as steep as usual for descent. Was the pilot trying to make a very rapid descent? There was a feeling that one could easily slip forward out of one’s seat! Just then, I had the rare opportunity of beholding a B733 of Air Asia making its final approach – it was perhaps 500 feet below us, 1 mile to the right. Air-to-air sightings, what an experience!
We soon banked to the right to make a 180-degree turn, and the plane’s nose was still pointing downwards rather steeply, much to my anxiety. Had to reassure myself with examples of how World War 2 dive bombers could cope with near-suicidal dive angles! That sorted itself out during final approach, and the plane “drew level” and we landed in the usual manner. At the parking apron was the up-until-recently rare sight of 2 Air Asia B737-300s at Tawau at the same time; one had just arrived from Kota Kinabalu (BKI), from which Air Asia had very recently commenced services. The other B733 is presumably from and bound for Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
2nd LEG: TAWAU to SANDAKAN
DATE: 23 July 2006
Flight No.: MH2142
FROM/TO: Tawau (TWU) – Sandakan (SDK)
ETD/ETA: 1730 - 1810
Flying time: 40 minutes
Estimated distance: 180 km
Fare paid: MYR74 + 15 fuel surcharge + 5 insurance + 6 airport tax. Total: MYR100 (Published, full fare; Y Class)
This is it, today it will literally be my last flight on a MAS Fokker 50. The end of an era, for me personally, it’s 1977 to 2006…… There was therefore a sense of reluctance as I made my way to the airport.
The check in area is air-conditioned, and is the only public area to have such a facility (one of the cafes upstairs is also air-conditioned, I think), which is just as well, for, having arrived early, I found none of the check in counters open – there was a lull in flight activity from around 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm, and so presumably the staff may have been on some kind of break. And just as well there were some seats here, and I sat down and just as well I had brought a book to read. That made 75 minutes pass quickly, and around 4.50 pm, I checked in.
Went upstairs to the departure lounge immediately after that, but the security officers told me they would only let pax in at 5.00 pm. Annoying. While waiting outside, I appreciated the modernity of the most modern airport in Sabah; yet, I’d give a thousand bucks to be able to soak up that unsophisticated atmosphere of the now disused old Tawau airport.
5.00 pm came and went, and as I made my way to the seat inside the departure lounge, I caught sight of our plane taxiing into the parking apron, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Now, if only Air Asia can be as punctual as MAS. The TV was on, but there wasn’t anything worth watching. At around 5.10 pm we were asked to board, and descended the staircase leading to the tarmac, but were held up at the bottom of the stairs for about 2 minutes, after which they let us out onto the tarmac. I walked towards a MAS Fokker F50 for the last time with a reluctant, end-of-era feeling. The sound of that APU (auxiliary power unit) was all too familiar. What a long way the F50 had come – I was told on the F27 you’d have to wait until the engines started before there would be any air-conditioning.
Was greeted by a smiling and pleasant stewardess [if Air Asia’s advertisements are to be believed, they have the most fun-loving and friendly cabin crew. But wait, where were they when MAS went about setting the standard starting from the early 1990s onwards??] whose name I unfortunately forgot – no thanks to my not having a notepad and my tardiness in posting this report L As soon as I entered, to the right, in that little storage compartment next to the toilet, were some of the day’s newspapers for pax reading pleasure. Not sure whether FAX will provide these when they take over……… Made my way to seat no. 11F. (Or was it 12F?)
The flight was about ¾ full, and since all the pax had been punctual, at around 5.20 pm, 10 minutes ahead of schedule [FAX and Air Asia, you’ve got pretty big shoes to fill!!!!!!!!], the engines started. That familiar whine filled the cabin, and the FA gave the usual safety demo. Again, as we turned left to exit the parking apron and turn into the runway, that same “Ngaaa-ohhhhh” sound was heard. This is the same sound that I had heard way back in the late 70s with the F27, and you’ll never hear it except when you’re turning as you exit the parking apron on your way to take off!! Hmmmm….
Almost immediately, since the parking apron is at one end of the runway, we commenced take off roll and once airborne we headed in the direction of Lahad Datu, which, as mentioned earlier, is a minor deviation from the “straight line” from Tawau to Sandakan. Not too sure why they don’t choose the straight line flight path…… but I was once again glad for the opportunity to see Lahad Datu from the air – the port area with a recently reclaimed area for the Palm Oil Industry Complex, and also the Lahad Datu airport stood out in the fading sunset. The plane then turned, say, 15 degrees to the left, and we were on our way to Sandakan.
The view below was mostly of oil palm plantations and numerous rivers; could see a couple of ox bow lakes as well. As we drew nearer to Sandakan, mangrove rivers and swamps could also be seen. Flew over Sandakan Bay, and we were soon on final approach. Touched down at around 6.00 pm, again 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
I deliberately waited for the other pax to disembark, and was the last to get off the plane, and being seated at the rear end, I walked along the entire length of the cabin for the last time, on my way out. At the front, the stewardess wished me the usual farewell and thank you, I wanted to ask her for her comments on the fact that the end is nigh for the MAS F50, but didn’t, for she may (or may not) be out of a job soon – that might be a bit insensitive. Whatever the future was, she maintained that warm and friendly outward appearance. A moment later, I went down the stairs of a MALAYSIA AIRLINES FOKKER F50 for the last time. That’s it, the end of an era for me.
Again, the walk across the tarmac to the terminal building was not without a heavy heart. The sound of the APU filled the air, but faded as I walked further and further away, often looking back at what I was wlaking away from. A couple of tourists (presumably from Japan) were gaily going about the business of snapping some shots of the F50 on the tarmac; I think they weren’t aware of the end-of-era thing. Even if they were, they probably may not be able to appreciate in full my sentiments.
FAREWELL AND TRIBUTE
I walked up the ramp leading to the terminal, with my head looking over my shoulder at the plane almost all the way, as though it was some king of salute. Just before entering the terminal, I stopped for a moment and had one last look (or so I thought) at a MALAYSIA AIRLINES FOKKER F50 – I told myself this is it, your last sight of it. The 2 Japanese tourists were also nearby, again I don’t think they realize the significance of the times. As I entered the terminal, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and so, my last view (literally) of a MALAYSIA AIRLINES FOKKER F50 was through the glass window of the terminal, in the fading sunset.
The feeling has since sunk in that I would never again see a Fokker F50 in MAS colours. Indeed, 8 days later, on 31 July 2006, an era in MAS history came to an end (without any fanfare on MAS part, regrettably). Sure, the same F50s operated by MAS were immediately taken over by FAX, and in the first weeks of August, had MAS livery and colours on them (the repainting job had to wait, apparently, so, FAX merely painted the letters-cum-logo “FAX” somewhere on the fuselage). But it’s just not the same. Very regrettably, MAS didn’t appear to be sentimental about it in the same way that I am; I got the impression they were thinking the sooner we get rid of this F50 albatross-around-our-necks, the better [they had in the past claimed that to breakeven on F50 operations, they need a 110% load factor – that’s presumably based on the then-existing fare structure]. So, it’s left to people like me to pay the tributes and do the commemorations.
And so, I close this personal chapter of my love of airplanes with a heavy heart, but at the same time grateful that I have had the opportunity to fly one last time before MAS’s F50s are consigned to history – it was the only way to pay tribute and wish farewell to this great plane that had played such an important yet undeservedly low-profile role in its 40 year-long service with MAS. I’m sure some people reading this in Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Labuan, Miri, Bintulu, Sibu and Kuching (the towns which MAS F50s serviced) would agree.
Levent From France, joined Sep 2004, 1718 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 6788 times:
Thanks for this detailed report. I also like the Fokker 50 very much and flew a lot on them when working for Denim Air / Air Nostrum in Spain. Very sturdy planes and also surprisingly quiet in the passenger cabin, despite their age.
So am I correct by saying that Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) will continue operating the Fokker 50 and DHC Twin Otter? I would love to visit Borneo and make a few flights there, maybe in the near future.
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6438 times:
Prior to becoming an Airliners.Net member, I was always astonished by any of your comment in the forums as well as your trip reports.
This is indeed the most melancholic report I have ever stumbled upon to in Airliners.Net. And I am sharing the same sentiment as yours too. Most people even in Malaysia itself, doesn't really know what the new domestic aviation policy had caused.
I have flew on MH's F50s on 19 legs throughout my life and the last time I flew on it was on March 19th, 2006, from KCH to PNK. The route was the most frequent F50 route I used nowadays as I work in PNK, apart from the KCH-BTU route. MH has since pulled out of service in PNK on March 31st, 2006 leaving an Indonesian carrier, 7P experiencing monopoly on the route. At that time, although the August 1st new domectic aviation policy has yet to be announced to the public, I had the feeling that I won't be flying the turboprop frame again. And boy, I was right.
I always enjoy flying on a F50. I think it is more classic, and since it flies on lower altitudes than a jet, I can get a wonderful view during the entire flight. I also think that I am in a better controlled condition in a F50 compared to a jet, as I won't get the annoying 'air pressure inside the ear thingy' when the frame start to decend. MH's F50 service to PNK also was accompanied by some light refreshments which consist of a bun and a slice of cake with an OJ on the outbound leg, while a tuna and ham sandwitches and a slice of 'bingka' with an OJ on the inbound leg. A luxury for a short 130 miles international journey I must say.
I have been to TWU and know every single places that you mentioned in the report. The old TWU airport is indeed very central-located. Although I never flew a F27 and using the old airport myself, I can imagine how things were back in your heyday.
The airport and the turboprop also marked in history in Malaysia. It was at the old TWU airport when a MH F50 skidded off the runway and plunged into the squarters outside the airport's perimeter. It was one of the two incidents which involved fatalities to MH. If I was not mistaken, 34 people died in the 1993 incident. It was caused by a sudden changed in wind direction when the frame was about to land. The incident also saw the old TWU airport to be closed and replaced by the present airport.
Your report is indeed bringing a lot of memories.
I wish all the best for MH's turboprops F50s and DC6s. I hope FAX will take good care of them, just like MH does.
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 6338 times:
wow... just reading what you wrote is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I am not Malaysian but my love for MAS is no secret to the members of this forum. And it is indeed a sad chapter because of the brainless people who ran the airline into its present position.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Zarniwoop From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 265 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6289 times:
Hi 777MAS. My wife was born and lived in Tawau before her family shifted to KK. She probably lived in Tawau the same time you were there. I've been meaning to make a trip there (i'm currently in Singapore) to see where she grew up. I was hoping to travel on an F50 but she is terrified of them from when she was young!
777MAS From Malaysia, joined Sep 2003, 197 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 6132 times:
Quoting Zarniwoop (Reply 4): I was hoping to travel on an F50 but she is terrified of them from when she was young!
It's the noise of the engines, no doubt.......
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 2): It was one of the two incidents which involved fatalities to MH. If I was not mistaken, 34 people died in the 1993 incident. It was caused by a sudden changed in wind direction when the frame was about to land.
Eyewitness accounts are that the plane landed on a part of the runway such that there's not enough runway length left for it to stop. Donno if this was due to the wind, though..... Yes 34 people were killed, it took place in 1995, not '93.
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 3): And it is indeed a sad chapter because of the brainless people who ran the airline into its present position.
One name: Tajuddin
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 2): I wish all the best for MH's turboprops F50s and DC6s
That would be DHC6, I think, we don't want to excite DC6 fans into thinking it's still available for flying as a commercial route
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 2): Most people even in Malaysia itself, doesn't really know what the new domestic aviation policy had caused.
Those who like to say MAS is no good, etc. will now know what "no good" means, when they have to start put up with the numerous delays (nay, "retimed") of Air Asia. Just a few days ago, about 47 Taiwanese tourists on the now Air Asia-monopolized Miri-Kota Kinabalu route had their flight from Miri to KK "retimed" by 2 hours or so - that meant when they arrived in KK they missed their connecting MAS flight to Kaohsiung. That's bad for tourism image, and is a sign of things to come.
Quoting Levent (Reply 1): So am I correct by saying that Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) will continue operating the Fokker 50 and DHC Twin Otter?
MEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4320 posts, RR: 36
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6054 times:
nice moody report !
FAX will only take 6 of the original 10 F-50s or Malaysian. Does anyone know already which, and what will happen with the other 4.
I can imagine service wise Malaysian in the F-50 would come around with water and juice only? Did longer Fokker flights have meals/snacks? Anyone know the differences on FAX flights? Paid on board service same as Air Asia?
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
No wait, I thought there's more: Munir Majid, Low Chee Tong, Mazidah Mohamed Noor and Haji Yusif to name a few. Oppsss...
Oh yeah, you remind me of those hare-brained post-Tajuddin era buffoons who, even though MAS was haemorraghing losses every day, went and paid some Argentinian painter MYR1.2 million just for some painting to adorn the area in the corporate head office, near the Chairman's (Munir) office!!!!
Maybe we might add Ralph Gotz as well.......
Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 6): I can imagine service wise Malaysian in the F-50 would come around with water and juice only? Did longer Fokker flights have meals/snacks? Anyone know the differences on FAX flights? Paid on board service same as Air Asia?
Longer F50 flights, presumably over 1 hour, would have a snack (a couple of finger sandwiches, I think) on top of the usual OJ/coffee. At least that was the case when I flew from Kota Kinabalu to Sibu (1 hr 35 mins) back in 2000. On a similar duration flight on their B737, it'll be a light meal - that's the comparison. From 1992 up to 1995, before Tajuddin and his gang took control of MAS, you'd have what I described in the first line of this paragraph even on 40-minute flights, whether on the F50 or 737 - Tajuddin then introduced his version of "cost controls" and this aspect of MAS service went downhill thereafter.
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5981 times:
Quoting 777MAS (Reply 8): paid some Argentinian painter MYR1.2 million just for some painting to adorn the area in the corporate head office,
Which was sold to Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) in June. I wonder where did they put the painting right now?
Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 6): I can imagine service wise Malaysian in the F-50 would come around with water and juice only? Did longer Fokker flights have meals/snacks?
As I posted in my reply,
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 2): MH's F50 service to PNK also was accompanied by some light refreshments which consist of a bun and a slice of cake with an OJ on the outbound leg, while a tuna and ham sandwitches and a slice of 'bingka' with an OJ on the inbound leg. A luxury for a short 130 miles international journey I must say.
It was consistent (the same bun, cake, sandwitches and 'bingka') in all 15 legs which I experienced on the KCH-PNK route. The journey takes about 35 - 45 minutes depending on the weather.
Christao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 940 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 5932 times:
That was a very refreshingly different report. Very nice writing and you captured that experience that many of us share when we first fell in love with airplanes. If only there had been just a few pictures to enhance the words.
777MAS From Malaysia, joined Sep 2003, 197 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 5877 times:
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 9): Which was sold to Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) in June. I wonder where did they put the painting right now?
As usual, someone with deeper pockets had to absorb the costly implications of hare brained decisions - sounds all too familiar to us here in Malaysia - As far as bailouts go, how's that for lowering the bar - even a painting needs to be bailed out !!!
MAS777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2935 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5700 times:
Sure am gonna miss those F50s. I last flew on one between Sibu and Kuching in 1990 just before Sibu was upgraded to a 737 airfield.
I liked your recollection of watching those F27s. I used to go to Subang on a regular basis as a kid too (with family constantly flying in/out of/to London) and judging by your report - we are about the same age and I used to love the noise those F27s made at Subang which reverberated through the old terminal building. Wasn't it great when they even had their own swirly ramp at Subang!
I myself grew up flying on MAS' 737s and SIA's 727 'Hi-Tails' on a regular basis before progressing to SQ's 757s and A'3TENs' before 'graduating' to the BA 747-Classics and Tristars that stopped at all those 'exotic' refuelling airports like Muscat and Bombay. Those were indeed the days!!!
Life's never really been quite the same shuttling back-and-forth to KL on today's 747-400s...