Here is the last installment of Ryan's trilogy
As he takes a break
for the time being, we shall patiently await his next exciting trip report! Till then, feel free to comment and vote (Ryan was very encouraged by the 5 star rating for his SIN-KUL-BKK on MH report...
Singapore_Air, feeling compelled to write to SQ already?
SQ 116, SIN – KUL, F Class, 777-200 (9V-SRI)
I arrived at the airport 2 hours before my scheduled departure time of 1835H. As my taxi pulled up along the kerb, the porters seem confused as to whether was I really a F Class pax, or just and errand-departing passenger simply getting off at the wrong part of the departure level? Thus, I received none of the much-hyped about kerb-side greeting for SQ’s First Class passengers.
After alighting from my taxi, I proceeded into the terminal through the F Class entrance and was immediately greeted by two smiling SQ customer service agents.
“Are you flying to Kuala Lumpur today, Sir?” anticipated one Japanese looking female agent, she had a Japanese accent and a 1000-watt smile to boot!
“Yes, I am.” I replied, rather surprised and impressed at the same time at her accurate guess. I then gave her my passport and credit card (I was travelling on SQ E-ticket).
Together with a porter, they proceeded to put my bag on a trolley and escorted me to the exclusive First Class check-in lounge. Located at the northern end of Changi Airport T2, the lounge is bathed in elegant soft lights and dark colors. Soft music and designer fiberglass walls with lights emitting from behind created a futuristic yet cozy environment. Individual check-in desks were seen but I did not get a chance to use it. Instead, I was invited to relax in the lounge area while my Japanese service agent saw to all my check-in formalities.
I wish I had more time to savor the warmth of the check-in lounge because no sooner did the service agent return with my boarding pass, baggage tags and credit card. By this time, I was wondering why didn’t Malaysia Airlines have the same ground service like SQ?
“Mr. Soh, thank you for flying with us today. Boarding will be at gate E11 and you can now proceed to the First Class Lounge. Have a pleasant flight. Do you know where the lounge is located?”
Sigh… I wish I remembered her name!
The check-in lounge had direct access to the immigration so I did not have to go back into the main departure level of T2. The airport was usually quiet at that time of the day. I found the Silver Kris Lounge without any difficulty.
Separated into Raffles and First Class, the lounge left much to be desired. There was no view of the apron, which was a major disappointment for an avid aviation enthusiast like me! It was either enjoying the perks of the lounge, or the sights of the metal birds. A tough decision!
The décor of the lounge shared the same concept of the check-in lounge. Dark green (I think) marble walls and lush carpeting with fish tanks built into the walls. However, the lounge that I was in now had brighter lighting.
There were a wide variety of foods from sushi and cold cuts, to entrees like pasta and nasi goreng, to deserts like tarts and Hagen Daz ice cream. The size of the lounge was rather small too. I can imagine it being crammed like a sardine can during peak hours. Boredom soon set in and I found myself back outside the main departure hall.
I decided to take a slow walk to my departure gate. Meanwhile, I snapped pictures of the apron, which was pretty quiet. All I saw was a LH 747-400 (D-ABVO) and my departure aircraft, 9V-SRI. There isn’t much apron action at this time of the day so that was a disappointment.
After security screening, I waited in the holding area for gate E11 and caught a glimpse of my fellow passengers joining me on SQ 116, a 45-min hop from SIN – KUL. The call to board came promptly at 1810H. Boarding commenced with row numbers but F Class pax were invited to board at their own leisure, through aerobridge A.
9V-SRI is a newly delivered 777-200. It is configured in a two-class layout. The front cabin inter-changes between Raffles (J) and First (F) Class depending on which sector the aircraft is flying. Since there are no J Class seats on SIN – KUL vv. sectors, the cabin was designated to be F Class today, the seat covers and pillows are also changed to the F Class ones (mahogany colored fabric with small “FC” lettering at the corner). I was assigned seat 14K – a window seat that I did not even ask for! Thanks a million Japanese-looking service agent! The in-flight supervisor was a middle-aged man whose generous smile beckoned at the entrance of Door 1L. The cabin was bright and extremely spacious! A great difference from the MH 737-400 / A330 F Class cabins that I normally fly in between SIN – KUL! The SQ seat was the usual J Class seat in their B777 SQ series but had the dark blue Ultimo seat covers instead. It was the same blue Ultimo seat, which on my last J Class trip made my knees numb.
The immaculately made up F Class female cabin crews underlined the fact that the plane that I was on was only a few months old.
“Would you like a drink, Sir?” Hmm… first flaw in the cabin service. I was never referred to by my name throughout the entire flight, not even when my dinner order was taken. The choice for the evening was Foccassia Bread with Roast Chicken, or Smoked Salmon.
The aircraft was pushed back on time and we were soon thundering down rwy 02L. As soon as the aircraft was stabilized on a gentle climb, dinner service commenced for F Class (Y Class pax are served only drinks on this sector). Bright white linen with blue trimmings was laid out on the tray table of those who ordered the meal. A nice change from the peach pink linen that I am used to on MH. I ordered that Foccassia Bread with Roast Chicken that was dry and tasteless. I looked at my neighbor across the wide aisle with envy as he ate his salmon.
As soon as the crew finished serving the passengers their meals, they disappeared into the forward galley and could be seen chatting – flaw number two. Even though they had two members of the cabin crew walking the aisle, the sight of the rest of them laughing and even eating in the galley was unprofessional. I could only assume that they had done several turn-around flights that day on 9V-SRI and the goings-on were becoming routine.
The flight soon began its gradual descend for KUL. The meal service was cleared promptly for landing. Touchdown was smooth and announcements in both Bahasa Melayu and English welcomed us to Kuala Lumpur. My 45-min F Class experience on SQ came to an end too quickly.
As I disembarked from 9V-SRI, I left behind one of the most neatly co-ordinated, spacious and airy looking F Class cabins I have ever seen (looks like a picture from a Boeing catalogue).
The in-flight service could do with a little improvement. It was obvious that the crew could not be bothered with service on a 45-min sector. Catering could be better too! Munching on dry chicken isn’t my idea of fun!
Malaysia Airlines definitely has better, more personalized service than SQ. But their planes on the SIN – KUL sectors are so old! The 737-400s (which are mostly used on this sector) are badly in need of a cabin refurbishment – which MH is in the process of doing and the cabin of the newly upholstered 9M-MMG looks fantastic! The F Class cabin of the newer A330 (which occassionally fly this sector when they stopover from Kuching, Penang or Kota Kinabalu on the way to / from KUL) are nothing to scream about either. MH also loses to SQ in terms of efficient ground service, from kerb-side greetings to check-in lounges. MH ground staff in KUL looks like they are always having a bad day!
The Silver Kris Lounge, hmm… you would think that SQ would have done better than that on their home turf of Changi T2. The MH Golden Lounge in KUL’s satellite terminal, the largest of its kind in the world, beats SQ’s lounge hands down. There isn’t any comparison at all.
SQ E-ticket is a convenient way to travel when you are in a rush and do not have time to go down to the travel agent. Unfortunately, MASET (MH E-ticket) service is not available in Singapore s that was how I ended up flying SQ, not MH (which is my preferred carrier ). I hope MH would consider implementing MASET here in Singapore.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip report as I have tried to be as detailed as possible.
There's always a better way to fly...