Singapore Airlines SQ-146
Singapore (SIN/WSSS) to Denpasar, Bali (DPS/WRRR)
Airbus A310-324 (Registration 9V-STC)
Departure Gate: E1
Arrival Gate: 2
Scheduled Departure: 14.00 (GMT+0800)
Scheduled Arrival: 16.30
Scheduled Flight Time: 02.30
Departure: 13.56 (GMT+0800)
Time Parked: 16.17
Flight Time: 02.07
Block Time: 02.21
I did a phone check-in about two days before the flight and was initially assigned seats 41A/C and 42A/C. However, we decided to move further back the plane so I got that changed to 45A/C and 46A/C. Anyway we got to Changi Airport Terminal 2 at around 11.45 to do the check-in. Our flight's check-in row was listed as Row 5 so we went there. There was quite a queue for the baggage security check at the entrance into the check-in counters. We got our two check-in baggages tagged with the Singapore Airlines Security Checked sticker and proceeded to counter 11 where we were checked-in by a lovely lady named Sharin Goh. It took quite some time to check us all in as our bookings were made under different reservation records. Anyhow, about 20 minutes later, our boarding passes were printed and I saw from the print that the boarding was at gate E1, which meant that we were indeed going on an A310 (though I must admit I was secretly hoping for an upgrade). Anyhow, we then went up to the T2 International Restaurant for a bite before boarding as it was still very early. I sneaked off for a glance at the viewing gallery and I saw that our plane was already at its gate and had just completed its catering. The registration was 9V-STC, the 4th newest A310 in the SIA fleet. It didn't look very clean on the outside. The other A310 which came into E2 (9V-STB) was much cleaner overall and shinier.
Anyway, I finished my small bite at the restaurant and we all proceeded into the departure area at around 12.45. Dad and Mum went around to shop for some stuff (or more like window-shopping) while me and my sis just sat around the outside.
We checked the departure screens for SQ146 and were shocked that its status was already showing Last Call. All of us then hurriedly proceeded to the gate and we knew why. The queue for security was so long it stretched a fine 5-metres outside the entrance of the gate. I heard that most of the passengers were from Manchester and as their original flight SQ327 was late, they missed their SQ142 connection and had to settle for this flight instead. Security was extremely strict and I was frisked by the security agent who cleared me after she saw my comb, wallet and pen. I grabbed my bag and went past the gate agent, who gave me a goods declaration form and an immigration card into Indonesia. As it was already 13.20, I quickly filled those up and actually intended to call up Alvin (Mr.BA) to tell him the plane and the rego. However by the time I completed those forms, it was 13.35 and at that moment that I looked up, they made the announcement:
"A very good afternoon to you ladies and gentlemen. Singapore Airlines flight SQ146 to Denpasar is now ready for boarding. We're inviting all First and Raffles Class passengers as well as passengers travelling with young children to board the aircraft first. We would appreciate it if all other passengers remain seated for the moment. On behalf of Singapore Airlines, we wish you a pleasant journey."
I decided against making the call as that area near the phone booth was very crowded. Anyway 2 minutes later, the second announcement came:
"Thank you for waiting ladies and gentlemen. Singapore Airlines is now boarding rows 39 to 49. All passengers seated from rows 39 to 49, please proceed for boarding."
I then walked to the gate where we proceeded down this downward sloping aerobridge into the A310. A glance from outside revealed that the walls looked quite fresh. The reason was that they draped new patterns over the old wall panels. The overhead compartments sure showed their age but overall, the interior looked quite fresh. I entered the plane to be greeted by a cheery Chief Steward. I then walked past the First and Raffles (which had the Ultimo seat fabric) class cabin before proceeding to Row 46 to take my seat. The seats in the Economy Class section looked very nice. The decor was definitely very well-done and it is not evident that this was a 8-year old plane. The lack of PTVs was the only thing which gave it away.
It was an almost full flight with 140 passengers in economy class and totally sold out in Business and First. That leaves only 3 empty seats in economy class.
The seat pitch, as always on the A310, were more than adequate for a person of my stature. From that seat, we could see on our left, the viewing gallery from out of the window. The Airbus windows aren't actually THAT small. It's just that the Boeing ones are bigger. There was also no foot-rests. I found it strange that for a period of around 5 minutes, there was totally no service activity.The stewardesses disappeared and were no where to be found (maybe at the back galley cuz I did not see). Anyway, after a little while, the captain came on to introduce himself:
"A very good afternoon to you ladies and gentlemen. From the flightdeck, this is your captain speaking. I would like to welcome you onboard this flight SQ146 to Denpasar Bali. Our flight time this afternoon is about 2 hours and 10 minutes. In the flightdeck with me this afternoon is First Officer Adrian.We should be departing soon, after we get ATC clearance and we'll be on our way shortly after that. This afternoon we should be taking off on runway two zero left. On behalf of the crew onboard this aircraft, we wish you a pleasant flight."
Shortly after this announcement, the cabin crew appeared and distributed the hot towels for us to refresh ourselves. The leading stewardess then made an announcement:
"Good afternoon to you ladies and gentlemen. This is your leading stewardess, Geraldy Wong. Welcome onboard this Singapore Airlines flight to Denpasar. As we'll be taking off shortly, please ensure that your seat belts are fastened and that your seat is in the upright position. On behalf of the crew onboard this flight I wish you a pleasant journey."
After that there was hardly any announcements to be heard before takeoff. I took a hot towel to refresh myself a little bit before they came round to collect them again. They also distributed the headsets, which were the new kind. They were dark blue in colour and resembled the new style of earphones, which has the funny clip to clip onto the lobe of your ear. Sound quality was pretty much similar. Then the stewardess came with another announcement:
"In the interest of your safety, we'd like to direct your attention to the safety video presentation which will commence shortly."
Just as this was announced, we were pushed back very quickly by a race-car tow driver. We did that E1-push-back-and-merrily-go-around thing (which SIN spotters should be very familiar with) where we are pushed back nose to face the terminal building and then once we are a little more clear of the fencing we'll do a 180-degree backward turn. Sounds cool right? According to my watch, the time was 13.56 so it meant that we were 4-minutes ahead of schedule. The safety video did not come on for quite some time until around 14.00 when the tow truck was disconnected with a lot of noise from the front. I noticed that the baggage handlers for some reason on this flight are very rough with their handling as I could hear lots of noises from underneath. We could hear the whirring sound of the ground power unit diminishing as it was disconnected from the aircraft and the engines were started. The whole cabin smelt of kerosene.
The safety video was played and the TV screens in the middle section came down to give passengers at the back a clearer view. Flaps were then deployed and at 14.02 we commenced our taxy. Our taxy route was E-EP-20L. There weren't many planes at Terminal 2 at this time. I saw 9V-SLB at E2, 9V-STQ at E6 and 9V-SYD at a remote bay but other than that, nothing much. It was a snappy taxy and at 14.03 the captain came on with an announcement for cabin crew to strap up at their takeoff stations. We then turned quickly to the holding point of 20L and the stewardess announced for all passengers to please fasten their seatbelts and keep their window shades up. The strobes were also turned on at this point and we proceeded onto the runway.
Once on the runway there was no hesitation and the engines were throttled up a little bit first. I then heard a strange knocking sound which increased in frequency with the engines getting louder. Then it was takeoff thrust and I heard the typical whine of the Pratt & Whitney 4152 engines getting higher in pitch. We rolled on the runway for about 45 to 50 seconds before we finally ascended the skies. It was a pretty long roll for an A310 if you ask me! Once airborne, we were hit by a strong gust of wind which threw the plane off to its side. The pilot-flying (PF) then corrected it but his movements were very abrupt and the plane was thrown quite suddenly back again. The captain then came on to warn about clear air turbulence and that we should all be buckled up. The flaps were then retracted and we made a rather steep turn to the left. Then we straightened back out and turned to the right again. This happened quite a few times before we finally levelled off. The climb was very quick and within 20 minutes, we were established at our cruise altitude of 33,000ft. The captain did inform us later that unfortunately there was traffic at 37,000ft where we wanted to climb to originally so we were stuck at 33,000ft.
Shortly after we got airborne, I went off to the toilet immediately after the seat-belt sign was turned off. The stewardess was a very nice lady and she even opened the lavatory door for me! (How sweet!) I went into the lavatory and realised that actually it was indeed very old. The walls were all yellow and even with the lights turned on, it didn't seem to be very bright. The amenities drawer was very sparsely equipped and I didn't see anything more than a couple of sanitary napkins. Anyway I did my business and left the lavatory. Then when I wanted to wash my hands, the tap seem to be broken. I brought this to the attention of an inflight steward, who told me to press down on the tap's flip-switch harder, which I promptly did and finally some water did come out. I think they should make it easier to operate!
While I was in the lavatory, the leading stewardess made an announcement that they would be presenting KrisWorld Main Screen during the flight and that two short features would be shown. As I would later know, the first one was some medical program and the second one was an episode of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'. The television sets in the middle section then came down and the short features started playing. I returned to my seat and very shortly, the bar service started and there was a choice of either Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Beer or Wine. I took the Orange Juice. The A-310's tray tables do not have the cup holder, which the other aircraft have so I had to put down my tray table and place my cup there.
At this time, the flight became a little more turbulent. The stewardess serving the drinks had to bring her tray lower down to prevent spillage onto somebody's clothes. Fortunately, nothing spilled. The whole flight seemed to be just full of shaking from a lot of Clear Air Turbulence. In any case, just after the bar service, the trolleys came out and the meal service started. As we were seated rather far back in the cabin, we were one of the last ones to be served. Today's meal choices were either "chicken with potatoes" or "sweet and sour fish with rice". I opted for the chicken, which I did not regret. The SIA meals are really getting very good. The entire meal included a pickle salad, soya sauce diced chicken with potatoes, carrots and green beans, a ice-cream chocolate cake, packed water, a soft drink and coffee/tea. The vegetables which they served with the chicken were very tasty. I think they must have been boiled in some flavoured water or something. It did make for a more enjoyable meal anyhow.
At about 15.30, the stewardesses came back to check if anybody needed more drinks and at the same time, collect back the meal trays of those who have finished their meal. I asked for more sprite, which was promptly given. The trolley however, did not have enough space to accomodate my meal tray so I had to wait for the next round. As I had to make a visit to the lavatory, I placed my tray on my seat, making sure that nothing spilled before I went off.
10 minutes later, the captain came on to inform us that we were cruising at Flight Level 330 instead of the intended 370 due to traffic which was ahead of us blocking our access to that altitude. He also informed us that we would be expected to touch down in Bali at 10 past 4, which was 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Since descent was in 5 minutes, the stewardesses went around to collect the headsets, which were distributed prior to the flight. I packed them back nicely into the plastic bags and tied up the cords neatly with the cable tie before I returned them. I noticed a lot of people returning them without the plastic bags. I wonder what the next group of passengers would think! We then did our "military-style" descent, which was terribly steep as it did not feel too comfortable and was definitely unlike any other descent we had experienced before. The deceleration was also very sudden and there was this feeling of being pushed back into your seat. In about 15 minutes we were below the clouds and could see some volcanoes outside our window. For a long time, we did not deploy the flaps and flew on a clean configuration. Then as we went final on the localiser, the flaps came down to 20-degrees and we made two very steep S-turns, which was pretty abrupt (I'm guessing he flew this manually) much like how we countered the winds and turned to our course on takeoff. 5 minutes prior to touchdown, flaps came down to their max setting and we made another sharp right turn. This time, the gear came down as well with a very loud boom sound. I did not however hear the sound of rushing air, which I usually do when the gear comes down. Anyway as we got lower and lower, we could see the huge waves rushing against the beach. The waves were going in our direction, which was a beautiful sight. Weather was just fine, with almost no clouds at all.
The runway itself is situated on a breakwater and only at the last moment will there be any sign of the airport. Our plane made a very steep dive on final and just a few seconds before touchdown did we see any sign of the airport. He then pulled up sharply to flare the plane, which obviously was too late as we slammed down onto runway 09 at Ngurah Rai Airport. Sounds like a slam dunk approach to me! He also used a lot of engine power on approach, quite evident from the sudden power reduction on the flare. The reverse thrust then came on very powerfully to decelerate the plane together with wheel braking before we finally made our turn off at the last possible taxiway. The leading stewardess then made the announcement:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have just landed at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport. The local time is ten past four in the afternoon. The temperature is 29-degrees celsius, 78-degrees farenheit. Should you require any assistance at the airport, please do not hesitate to approach a staff of our ground handling agent, PT Jas. We hope you have enjoyed your flight and hope to see you again soon. Thank you for choosing Singapore Airlines, a member of Star Alliance."
After this announcement, a Bahasa Indonesia version followed, which by the way was the same for all other announcements with the exception of those made by the captain.
The taxiways at Denpasar need to be repaved as they are very bumpy. Once we turned onto the perpendicular taxiway E, the flaps were immediately stowed and spoilers deactivated. We then made our way slowly to gate 2, which required us to taxi the entire length of taxiway E then at the end, made a 90-degree turn to the right before we could park at the last pier at gate 2. A Garuda A330 (PK-GPA) was beside us at gate 1 and Lauda Air's OE-LAZ was beside us at gate 3. Strangely, after we parked and disembarked, we were taken off the aerobridge to a bus which was parked right below our jetway and we had to take that bus to the main arrivals building. On the way there, we saw 2 EVA B767s, a Thai MD-11 and a Cathay Pacific A330 taxying into parking after landing.
The main arrivals area was a 5 minute drive from where we parked. Immigration was much faster than it was in Malaysia, though still not as quick as Singapore. We cleared it in 20 minutes and went to baggage claim. The baggages from our flight were already out and the belt had already stopped moving by the time we went to claim them. That is how fast they unload the baggages! We then proceeded out of the restricted area but before we could do so, they required ALL bags to be put through an X-ray, possibly to prevent people from bringing in restricted items to the island. After we had cleared that, we met our tour guide, who was a nice fellow who drove us to our hotel...
(Part 2 coming up...)