While being stranded at the airport again for nearly 19 hours up till now at Singapore and counting without getting any sleep I decided to start my first part of the trip report instead of wasting my time.
Note: Time of Hong Kong is same as Singapore.
11th October 2002
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Aircraft Type: B747-412 (Megatop)
Departure Gate: 23
Scheduled Departure Time: 18:30pm
Scheduled Arrival Time: 21:40pm
Actual Pull Back Time: 18:54pm
Actual Take-Off Time: 19:02pm
Actual Touch-Down Time in Singapore Changi Airport: 22:08pm
Arrival Gate: E11
Actual Disembark Time: 22:14pm Singapore Time
Photo © Andrew Hunt
Aircraft Registration: 9V-SMF
Seat: 4F, First Class
Flight Time: 3 Hours & 5 Minutes
Distance Flown: 2508km
Maximum Ground Speed: 933km/h approximately
Average Altitude: 39,000 Feet
Again it was time for me to head back for Sydney to continue my studies. Started pack-up 2 hours before I left home and was quite in a rush due to the fact I didn’t realize I had so much to pack, especially food! Took a cab with my mum and dropped her at her office while I kept on heading for Tsing Yi for take the Airport Express. A friend of mine also came along and we took the Airport Express at 16:05. As always it only took around 15 mins to take us to the terminal. Took a look at the terminal and realized that there were quite a number of people ready to check-in at different counters of different airlines. Headed for Check-In Area D where the check-in counters of Singapore Airlines are located at. As always there is 1 counter dedicated to First Class passengers with a red carpet on the floor and some a tray of sweet, while 2 counters were dedicated to Raffles (Business) Class passengers with 2 blue carpets in front of the check-in counters.
However when I saw that there were passengers checking-in at all 3 counters I headed for the Economy Class counters, as a matter of fact a few check-in counters were available at that time. After passing the tickets and passport to the staff I kindly reminded the staff that I’m entitled to fly First. As always it took quite sometime to arrange everything, due to the fact that not every ground staff is familiar with ID90 non-revenue tickets and probably she would wonder “Why on earth someone flying First is checking in at an Economy counter”. Around 15 minutes later after enquiring the duty manager she came back and helped me check-in the luggage. She reminded me (Although I already knew) that I have to check-in again and upload my baggage to Sydney though she helped me check through already. After finished all the check-in procedures I had a drink with my friend at TCBY downstairs at the arrival hall. At around 17:15 I went to a book shop and purchased myself a magazine (However I left it on the plane), then I entered the restricted area through the North Wing.
As a H.K resident using the H.K.I.D is really time-saving, however the lady in front of me seems to have some difficulties, as the staff took nearly 10 minutes to handle her documents, which did piss me off a little bit. As it’s a public holiday in Hong Kong on Monday (Chung Yeung Festival) quite a number of Hong Kong residents are going abroad for a short break. Queued for 5 mins till it was my turn for the X-rays and security check-up. After that I headed slowly for my departure gate and talking on the phone all the time. Also took some notes of what planes I saw:
Gate 22 – Dragonair B-HTG A321
Gate 23 – Singapore Airlines 9V-SMF B744 to Singapore
Gate 24 Air France F-GSPM but Air China CA116 to Beijing scheduled to depart at around 19:40.
Gate 25 – China Airlines A300
Gate 26 – China Eastern B2383 A343 to Shanghai.
Gate 27 – Dragonair A330
Also saw a Virgin Atlantic A343 in old livery, Philippine Airlines N754PR parked at gate 16, a CO772 parked outside at the ramp with a BA B744 Rendezvous. Also saw an Emirates A330-200 (I could recognize it because it’s shorter comparing to the A330-300), a Sri Lankan A343 ready to head for Bangkok and Colombo etc. Not too many CX planes however, with a B744 parked at gate 1 and an A343 parked at gate 2.
At around 18:00 boarding finally commenced. I wasn’t in a rush anyways so I waited until 18:10 then I finally got up and head to the left hand side of the gate, when right hand side is used by Economy Class passengers while the left one is used by First and Business Class passengers. Headed slowly down the slope and then turned left into the air bridge. The Inflight Supervisor and a Leading Stewardess was at 1L greeting the passengers. Handed the boarding pass and a flight attendant led me to my seat 4F, a seat by itself due to the fact that the 16 seater B744s are configured in 2-2 for the first 3 rows and 1-2-1 for the last row. As the over-head compartment over-me was full of stuff the flight attendant helped me stall it in the over-head compartment above row 3. Also a bit surprising to see that I was actually the first to be seated in the first class cabin as I was already quite late to board the plane. The flight attendant addressed me in name and asked what I’d like to drink. After that the Leading Stewardess brought a trolley which was full of magazines and newspaper, along with the menu and headphone. Not long later other first class passengers started to board the plane. Altogether there were 9 passengers in First which is a quite good load factor. Strangely Cathay do not offer First Class seatings due to the fact they use A333 and B777 on HKG – SIN vv, did see the B744s in Singapore though (Correct me if I’m wrong), probably they reckon there’s not much market for First?
At around 18:24 the cabin door was closed and the captain made a brief greeting to everyone onboard. Although I’ve forgotten his name, he was definitely not a Singaporean, while I’m sure co-pilot Fung should be a Singaporean. Up til now although the doors were closed however there was no sign of movements of our flight. The flight attendant came and asked if I’d like another cup of O.J but I told him I’d have a drink after take off. The leading stewardess then came and offered hot towels to everyone and also took the menu of each individual. Sadly I forgot to bring the menu along (Sorry John!) so I could only remember what I ate and a bit of what they offered. At around 18:53 there were finally signs of push-back and we were being pulled back from our departure gate. The safety video was shown on the main screen at the front of the cabin, due to the fact that on the normal First Class B744s the PTV screens are stowed like the Ultimo Seats in Raffles, difference is that the PTVS are easier to be pulled back from the first class seats as it got this balance thing in which if you press it will bounce up from the right hand side of the arm-rest and that if you want to stall it back you just sort of like fold the screen and push it back towards the gap under the right-hand side of the arm-rest.
The doors were turned into automatic and captain announced cabin crew to take off stations, at around 19:00 we were standing at the end of Runway 25L with a China Eastern MD90 on the right-hand side of us. Although the MU flight was in front of us all the time but we took off first instead. At around 19:03 we were finally airborne after quite a while of delay due to heavy traffic at CLK. Around 5 mins later the seat-belt sign was off and the leading stewardess announced that dinner will be offered soon and that Krisworld will also be turned on.
For those who are wondering who’s the one to make all the announcements usually it’s the leading stewardess in the first class cabin; however there’s also a Putonghua announcement every time after the English announcement. My glass of Orange Juice came. Also there were roasted nuts offered but I wasn’t really interested so I didn’t take the nuts, although it’s indeed a nice touch. I only watched “Bend It like Beckham” during the flight as HKG – SIN is only around 3hours and a little bit more. After everyone (except me) had finished the roasted nuts the tables were set. While setting the table I was looking at the table cloth and realized that the main colour was in blue. I do find it a bit strange as SQ uses Blue to represent Raffles Class and the setting was just like Raffles Class, just that the symbols were all the “F” symbols. Also the seats were in blue so I guess blue does make sense after all. After the tables were set up the starter was offered: (I regret I didn't bring my camera along!)
STARTER: I opted for the Chilled Caviar, while the other choice was some Seafood I don’t really remember. SQ only serves Caviar on night-time flights due to the fact that supply of Caviar has been dropping in the past few years and that it can’t cope with the demand. Well Caviar always tastes good, with the onion pickles and other decorations I don’t remember, mix them up and take it with the 3 crackers it really makes your appetite come up! Also different kinds of rolls were offered, and I opted for the Garlic Bread with a small bottle of Extra Virgin Oil.
SOUP: The Chinese-style chicken soup tasted great, just like it was boiled by my mum!
SALAD – As always SQ offers a very traditional kind of salad with green leaves and peeled tomatoes. However it tastes really fresh with the compliment of the Thousand Island Dressing! I wish there were some prawns or lobster so that it would not be so plain!
MAIN COURSE – Out of the 4 main courses that were offered I could only remember two of them. One was the Hong Kong style sliced Abalone created by one of the SQ chefs Yeung Kwun Yat from Hong Kong. However I did not opt for the Abalone (No idea why not!) instead I opted for the spiced chilli lamb with white rice and vegetables. Lamb was tender and juicy, however I accidentally ate the red chilli which was really hot and I nearly had to stick my tongue out!
FRUITS AND CHEESE – I wasn’t really interested in cheese but I never reject and fruits. So I had a banana which is…a banana!
DESERT – The leading stewardess asked me if I’d like to try the deserts…well why not? It was a chocolate ice-cream with a honey orange made biscuit which was really a great end to my meal. I also had a cup of tea with milk and sugar after the desert.
The flight was really smooth only with a couple of small turbulence which makes no harm at all. After finishing dinner and finished the movie I took a nap. Although the seat could not turn out to be a flat bed, however IMO it’s actually near a flat bed with the recline of the seat nearly flat and that the footrest could be raised till it’s nearly flat with the seat itself. Also you could adjust the head support and of course lumbar support. It was also mentioned that there’s no obvious difference between the Ultimo Seats and the First Class seats, however that is probably wrong due to the fact that there’s indeed much more legroom and privacy. Behind every seat there’s a shell so that you could recline your seat and that it ensures no-one behind you would be able to disturb you by bumping onto the seat. However even with the existence of the shell, there’s still plenty much of legroom between each row which, comparing to Raffles Class on the B744 this is the main difference. The seat itself does not have an obvious difference, I reckon both seats are quite around the same size with the same width, only thing is the recline of the seat and the footrest seems to be in advantage comparing with the Ultimo Seats.
20 Minutes before touch-down I woke up and the leasing stewardess came by and asked if I’d want a drink before we land at Changi. One more thing to mention was that during the flight there was a Chief Attendant (In Black Suits) whom was sitting in 4A for most of the time but did not serve any passengers, only handling his documents or so. Not long later lights were dimmed and the leading stewardess offered sweets to us. Lots of clouds could be seen out of the window in the dark misty sky as our flight steadily passed through the clouds and finally I could see lights shining from below and not long later I realized that we were to land on 20R. Landing was smooth and soon we were turning left heading 02 back to terminal 2. Saw 4 Qantas planes in a row with 2 BA B744s parked together, also JAL Disneyland Sea world was in sight. SQ 9V-SJL was parked at the end of terminal E, also there was a China Yunnan Airlines B763 parked at the gate (which I forgot). SQ 9V-SMC and B772 9V-SQE was parked at gate E24 and E26 respectively, with a Lufthansa B744 at E22. Turned left and was surprised to know that we were parking at E11, the gate that I used to take SQ2 2 weeks ago. Before leaving the aircraft I had a chat with the leading stewardess, she asked me if I’m heading to my certain destination for my studies and we talked about the hiring of SQ flight attendants. She’s a Chinese from Malaysia and she told me from where SQ hires flight attendants, she also told me that there were a few number of flight attendants from Hong Kong, but not sure if they are still in the team. She and the flight stewards both wished me a nice journey and so I left E11L and headed for transfer counter E which was the start of a nightmare for me.
So that’s the 1st part of my trip report, not perfect because I'm really feeling dizzy now. I’m not sure when I will continue my journey so that’s why I’m posting SQ865 separately. Thanks for reading it.
Best Regards from Singapore