I took this trip in early August of this year, but I have been really lazy and have not gotten to writing the report till today. I hadn’t flown for about a year, so I was pretty eager to fly again. Also, we hadn’t been to India for 2 years, so I was pretty excited to go back and visit all my friends and relatives.
Well, here goes…..
August 5th, 2002
B747-412, 9V-SPE c/n26554 line 1070
Sch Dep. Time from LAX: 0125
Act Dep. Time from LAX: 0206
Sch Arr. Time at TPE: 0600 +1
Act Arr. Time at TPE: 0534 +1
Sch Flt. Time: 13:35
Act Flt. Time: 12:29
Sch Dep. Time from TPE: 0710
Act Dep. Time from TPE: 0707
Sch Arr. Time at SIN: 1135
Act Arr. Time at SIN: 1106
Sch. Flt. Time: 4:25
Act. Flt. Time: 3:59
We decide to leave home early for LAX due to the increased security checks that international passengers have to go through and also to get good seats on both SQ29 and SQ412 and most importantly, to avoid the crowd! We left home at about 8:30pm and reached LAX at 9:40pm. We parked the car and went to Tom Bradley International Terminal. When we got there, the whole place was teeming with people. Only passengers are allowed into the check-in line so my Dad, who was not travelling with us (my mom, my sister and myself were going first and he was coming a week later), had to wait while we checked-in. In the aisle where SIA is located, Taca and Malaysia Airlines also had their check-in desks and were the two other active airlines in the area. The place was utter chaos. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the X-ray machine, which apparently only SQ had. We put our three suitcases through the X-ray and were told not to touch them after they came out of the machine. A baggage handler put them on the scale next to the counter where we were checking in. An Irish bloke checked us in and asked us the usual questions. At first, I was thinking of asking him to give us exit row seats, but then I remembered that there are no windows next to them, so instead I asked for 41H,J and K in economy which we easily got. SQ29 would board from gate 122. From the baggage tag, I found that we were the 186th “group” to check in. We also got through check-in to Bombay and got seats 48H,J and K. Wonderful, window seats on both flights for me! After check-in, we went up to the second floor over-looking the departure hall and checked that all our documents were in order. After chatting with my Dad for about 15 minutes, it was about 11:00pm, so we told him that he should head back home. Next, we went down and joined the line for security, which was pretty long. Waving good bye to Dad, we went into the secure area. There were signs telling everyone to take of jewelry and metal objects, so I had to take of my belt. My family and I breezed through the checks and I was surprised that they didn’t check my camera. By now, it was about 11:30pm so we had almost 1:15 to kill before boarding. While walking to the gate, I saw a Mexicana 757, Asiana B744 (OZ203), 2 QF 744s, one GE powered (QF108) and one RR powered (QF12). After QF108, which was at gate 122 had boarded, the three of us sat down and waited. By 12:30, QF108 hadn’t pushed back yet. I went up to the desk up front and asked why, I found out that there was a sick passenger on board and they were trying to find his/her luggage, which was taking some time. By now, MH93’s B744 had pulled in next to QF108 . At about 12:45, QF108 was pushed back and then SQ’s 744 was pulled in from the remote parking. Even before we started boarding, MH93 was pushed back and was on it’s way to TPE. I guess cargo loading and refueling was completed at the remote bay because we boarded at 0110. Boarding was in the order: First, Raffles, Star Alliance/PPS members, passengers with kids and then Economy class by rows starting from the back. When our row was called, we gave our boarding pass to the attendant and then walked down the bridge to be greeted by two smiling Singapore girls who showed us to our seats. 41HJK were situated right over the middle of the wing. The display on the main screen showed a flight time of 12:35. After everyone was on board and the doors shut, we push-backed at 0143. The engines were started up one by one and we taxied on taxiways E,S and the B before finally lining up on 25R after CX883 departed. The lights were dimmed and then we began our take-off run. I heard the distinctive screen of the PW4056s as they spooled up and after a long run of about 1minute 10 seconds, we were airborne at 0206.
Inflight-service was started about 15 minutes after take-off and menus (which had a very nice design) and these clip-on-to –your-ears-headphones were given out. Krisworld was also turned on and I began to watch Changing Lanes, one of the 10 movies (I think!) which were offered. The headphones were really good and I could actually make out that they had surround sound. In between, I checked the flight map and noted that we did a lot of step-climbing, from FL290 – FL310 – FL330 – FL350 – Fl390. We had a maximum tailwind of about 70km/h. For supper, I chose the Indian selection which was pretty good (SIA catering at LAX has improved!), but the best part was the Ice Cream. After the movie ended, I slept for about 3hrs intermittently. I noticed, everytime I woke up , a stewardess would come around with water, sandwiches and pastries. I was offered some, but I only took the water, and then went back to sleep. We encountered almost no turbulence until we were east of Tokyo, with the aircraft dropping and frequent shaking. After passing Japan, we encountered almost turbulence. We took a route which took us directly from the west coast of the USA, over the Pacific Ocean, south of the Aleutian Islands without overflying any land mass before arrival into TPE.
The lights were turned on about 1.5 hrs away from TPE and breakfast was served, which I declined. We began our descent about 259km north of TPE. We had a rather bumpy descent. Flaps were lowered to 15 at 5:29 and the gear and flaps were lowered to 30 degrees at 5:31. We made a pretty stable approach into TPE and at 5:34AM on the 6th of August, we made a nice soft landing onto runway 24. No reverse was used, but the Captain used the spoilers (air brakes) and braked very hard. At TPE, I saw the usual plethora of BR and CI planes. Also in attendance were 2 UA772Ers, NW744, CX343 and 333, VNA320, DragonairA333, FedEx MD11 and a PR733. We parked at gate C6 between a BRMD11 and BR744.
TPE – SIN
After landing at TPE, all the transit passengers were herded into a little transit room where there were some restrooms. After that, we were told to proceed to gate C8 where we underwent pretty stringent security checks. We then walked down a staircase to the holding area and I immediately went to the windows to look at 9V-SPE. The aircraft looked very good and was in immaculate condition. Boarding began at 0635 and First, Raffles, PPS and passengers with small children were asked to board first. Then the economy row numbers were called. Transit passengers were not given priority boarding which I found a bit odd. Anyway, we were again greeted at the door by two smiling stewardesses and led to our original seats. Hot towels were again distributed followed by the safety video. Pushback took place at 0707 and we taxied on to SS –EC – SP- S8 and made a rolling departure on runway 24 at 0718. I also saw the shortcut that a previous SQ29 had taken knocking down a few tailstands.
We had a pretty odd departure routing. After take-off, we made a 180 and then a 180 again! The inflight service began about 20 minutes after take-off and headsets and menus were distributed to the passengers embarking at TPE. We were served brunch which I remember was pretty good. I can’t really remember what I ate! As usual, there were three selections- Indian, Western and Chinese. This time on Krisworld, I watched Mr. Bean and the Official video of the French Open. Our initial flight level was 35,000ft and we then climbed to 39,000 ft. The route took us along the eastern coast of Taiwan, then southwest across the South China Sea into Singapore. It was pretty turbulent throughout the flight and then fasten seat belt sign was on for most of the time. We were flying mostly through high cloud with a maximum tailwind of 94km/h giving us a top cruising speed of about 1000km/h. By now, I was feeling tired so I dozed of for about an hour. The crew on this flight were not as good as the one on the LAX-TPE leg. They didn’t smile as much and weren’t as good looking. They were nice when you tried to talk to them, but there’s nothing worth mentioning after that.
We began our descent into SIN at 1044. There were plenty of clouds during approach. For a minute, I thought we were going to make a landing with no flaps, but at 1101, the flaps were lowered to 30 degrees. The landing gear came down at 1103 and we made a hard landing with full reverse thrust and spoilers at 1106 on 20L. The captain swerved a lot on landing, which was a bit scary feeling the aircraft suddenly go to it’s right at such a high speed. We taxied over the ECP and were at the gate F56 at 1112. I managed to see an Lufthansa Cargo B747-200, Silkair A319s, A320s and 9V-SVI, the B772ER with it’s engines spinning slowly. I noticed the SPE would be on its way to Hong Kong in a matter of hours. We were out of the gate, through immigration and sitting in the taxi on our way to our old home, The Waterside in 20 minutes. Of course, we had no baggage to claim as we were checked all the way through to Bombay.
August 6th, 2002
Sch Dep. Time: 2035
Act Dep. Time: 2053
Sch Arr. Time: 2305
Act. Arr. Time: 2254
Sch. Flt. Time: 5:00
Act. Flt. Time: 4:24
After a wonderful afternoon and evening with our old friends at The Waterside, we headed to the airport at 1900 to meet one of my Dad’s friends who works at the SIA flying college. He bought us some cake and coffee and at about 1945, we headed of to the immigration counter. After zooming through immigration, we walked quickly to E8 where our B777-200 was waiting. The thing which I don’t like about gates E8, E9 and E10 is that they share the same holding area which results in the area being pretty crowded when three flights are departing at the same time. Anyway, boarding began at 2000 with First, Raffles and PPS boarding first and then Economy. We were parked next to and SQA340, and I found that our seats were right above the cargo door which was interesting because I could hear the motors whining when the door was closed. We pushed back at 2038 and were made to hold for a long time and during this time, the crew completed their safety demonstration. Why aren’t the safety demos on the 777s shown as a video on the PTVs? We then made a powerful take-off of 20R with the high pitched whine of the RRs being very distinct. I saw that a QF767, CX772 and SQ772 were waiting there turn to take-off after us. We then climbed quickly to FL350 and then after a 1 or 2 hours, to our final flight level of FL390. Before I fell asleep, I discovered that this aircraft was fitted with the Wisemen 3000 system, which was pretty good. I listened to the Celine Dion album – A new day has come. The audio quality was pretty good also. I slept for most of the flight as I was really out of it, so I couldn’t take notes on the crew and the food. All I noticed was that there were about 5 Indian stewardesses on this flight. The flight was extremely turbulent throughout, possibly because of it being the monsoon season over the Indian Ocean and the Indian subcontinent. The aircraft was dropping quite a bit, and I could see a bit of concern on some of the faces of the passengers. Inflight service was stopped and resumed due to the severe turbulence. We were cruising at about 930km/h throughout the flight.
I woke up when we started our descent at 2229, local Mumbai time. The descent was mainly through clouds and it was very, very bumpy. The flaps were lowered and before we knew it, we landed onto a very wet Runway 27 at Mumbai. Speedbrakes and full reverse thrust was used and it was kinda cool to see all the water spray up behind the wing. We parked next to an Air India A310-300 at 2303 and were out of the terminal in half and hour. We probably arrived right before peak time so immigration was pretty fast. Everything was also really organized and I realized that more than half the people on SQ412 were from SQ29! We had finally arrived in Bombay after being in the air for a total of 20hrs and 52 minutes, which was really, really tiring. We slept most of the next day, and then our activities began.
Overall, I think that SQ was pretty good on these three flights, although the landings could have been a bit better. Look out for my trip report: BOM – SIN –LAX in the next few days.