This is a follow up to my previous trip report, "Excellent trip on SQ" from Singapore to Christchurch
Date: 1 Jan 2002
Actual time of departure: 1530
Got to Christchurch airport at 1pm and checked in at the Raffles Class counter, which had no queue. Of course ultimately we got Economy Class boarding passes, but well, it did feel great checking in there. Seats allocated to us were 46G, H and K. (H and K were emergency exit seats which a very kind person on this forum helped me get)
We had some tea at the cafe next to the departure lounge after which we said our goodbyes and went through to the restricted area.
Christchurch airport looks much better than it was a few years ago. At least it looks more like a decent international airport now, with the new international wing added just a couple of years back. SQ298 was the only international flight departing in the next 2 hours or so, therefore the shopping area was full of just the people on our flight.
Went over to the Air NZ International Lounge, which is terribly small! If I'm not wrong, there was a Silver Kris Lounge in Christchurch the last time I was here but it has now been replaced by a Qantas one. Unfortunately, mum wasn't a PPS the last time we were here so we didn't get to use it.
We saw the Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore in the lounge. He was alone and must have been on a business trip. I wonder what Christchurch had to offer him though, unless he had been in Wellington and Christchurch was his transit point on the way to Singapore. This is not the first time i've been on a flight with him though. On May 29 1999, we were in the same CABIN on SQ26 SIN-FRA-JFK. (ie first class. My second last first class trip on SIA before EWR-AMS-SIN)
Anyway, that aside, we boarded the A340-300 registration 9V-SJN at 1515. It did seem like a spanking new aircraft, with Christmas decorations as well.
For those of you out there crying for details on which planes were parked next to mine, there were NONE. The domestic terminal had a couple of Air NZ 737s and I think there was a Qantas 737 somewhere. At the hangar was an Ansett Australia 737 and I had no idea what it was doing there
Hot towels were given out soon after all doors were shut and the Captain came on. I forgot his name, but he was Malay. This is the first time in my life I ever got a Malay captain on SIA. I never knew SIA had them as Malaysia has always accused Singapore of discriminating against them and not letting them attain the Captain's rank, so it's very nice to know that there are capable ones out there.
Due to unusually strong headwinds, the Captain said, our flight time to Singapore would be 10h 20 minutes which is longer than usual.
Pushback was at 1530 and we taxied to the extreme end of the runway and waited for an Air NZ 737-300 to land, after which we turned in and began our extremely long takeoff roll. We headed east towards Canterbury Bight before we banked left to head west towards Singapore.(Northwest, to be precise)
The cabin crew were great and looked very refreshed and most of them were pretty! There was this particular one who was rather good with the babies/kids in the adjacent seat.
The bar service began which included the usual set of drinks, as well as Champagne. There was a choice for New Zealand White Wine as well.
A light meal was served soon after. I think the only difference between a light meal and a main meal is the absence of crackers and cheese for the former. Besides that, it seemed like a main meal to me:
Seasonal mixed salad
Braised egg noodles with chicken, black mushrooms and leafy greens
Spicy crumbed fish with mushrooms, carrots and parsley potatoes
Cherry crumble flan
from the bakery:
Roll and butter
I chose the noodles which was pretty good. As I said, I've always enjoyed the food out of CHC, regardless of the airline I take.
I was warned by someone from SIA inflight entertainment that January is usually a very bad month for movies, which was kind of true. It gets irritating when you have 22 channels of crap to choose from.
Watched Serendipity which I'm glad I didn't pay $8.50 to watch in the theatres. There was also "The others" starring Nicole Kidman and like the movie poster says, I shall do my friends (ie you, the reader) a favour and not tell them the ending. Hated that show too.
Besides that, I didn't watch anything else and just read, with the airshow in front of me.
After lunch, I was still hungry so I asked for some instant noodles, which was brought to me in a jiffy.
In between meals, the cabin crew came round every few minutes, offering drinks and snacks. They now have a snack basket consisting of sandwiches, muffins, cheese and biscuits etc where passengers can just pick what they want. Thought that was pretty cool.
We took a really weird flight path. We headed way north towads Brisbane then entered Australian airspace there, flew over Brisbane, near Cairns, then over to Darwin, Bathurst Island near Darwin, Kupang (Indonesia) the southern part of Borneo near Banjarmasin, then onwards straight to SIN. Usually from CHC we head to either Sydney or Melbourne and travel across the entire continent of Australia. This time though, we seemed to be just at the periphery of the country.
It did help that I had heaps of leg room to stretch my long legs. THANK YOU ROB!
2 hours 45 minutes before landing, somewhere over Indonesia just after we left Aussie airspace, and just as the sun was setting, dinner was served.
Antipasto salad (Italian styled grilled vegetables in olive oil)
Cod fillet in soya curry cream with tomatoes, green beans and ginger flavoured potatoes (which was exclusively created by the SIA International Culinary Panel)
Wok fried beef with ginger and Chinese wine, seasonal vegetables and fried rice
Cheese and crackers
from the bakery
Roll and butter
I chose the Cod fillet which i found excellent but mum hated it and asked for the beef instead. THey were out of beef and got her duck, which was delicious! I wonder where the duck came from. It probably was a special meal, but which special meal has such delicious duck dripping in soya sauce?
After dinner, they screened an arrival video on Singapore's airport and attractions. Which was rather useless to most people on the flight who were British and connecting to flights to Manchester and London. The number of Singaporeans on this flight, as with most SIA flights, numbered a handful.
To all you Singaporeans and residents of Singapore out there, you might be interested in my flight path into Changi. Over Batam, we headed directly west, then banked right and headed north towards where I suppose Tuas is. We went across the western part of the island, where I got an excellent view of the AYE and ECP, with the Benjamin Sheares Bridge rather obvious in the middle of the island. It's fun observing Singapore from (perhaps 1500 feet) in the air and reasling how small it is. Anyway we headed north into Johor then circled back down into Singapore airspace and approached Changi from the Southwest direction. The people sitting at the extreme left of the plane must have had an excellent view of the Singapore skyline, the condominiums lining the East Coast Parkway, Tampines and Simei, (Eastpoint, with its neon lighting on its facade stands out prominantly), the MRT depot at Tanah Merah, the Singapore expo and finally over the PIE past SATS Inflight Catering Centre 2 into Runway 02L(I think. Alvin, you might want to correct me on this!)
Since we landed in the Terminal One side of CHangi, we had to taxi for about 15 minutes to gate F59 at T2.
All in all it was an excellent 10h 20 minutes. As in typical Singaporean efficiency, I was in the car 20 minutes after disembarking the aircraft.
I pitied the Brits who had another 14 hours to bear onward to Heathrow, (longer for those to Manchester via Paris)
My next long flight should be SQ2 SIN-HKG-SFO in May.
I really enjoyed my flights to and from Christchurch with Singapore Airlines. Everything I said in my previous trip report on SIN-CHC applied on my return leg.
JSC_23: I prefer the A340 to the 744 because it's a newer aircraft. However I hate turbulence and the 744, being larger, has more stability and gives me a greater sense of security. Also, it takes a shorter time to deplane an A340, which I like.