FLIGHT: Singapore Airlines SQ 73
ROUTE: Manila-Ninoy Aquino (MNL) -> Singapore-Changi (SIN)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 777-300
DEPART: August 2, 2003 - 14:15
ARRIVE: August 2, 2003 - 17:30
I was advised to show up at the airport three hours before departure, since Manila security is quite strict. So my relatives and I made the trek from Quezon City Project 8 to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. We left a little after 9:30AM, and the unusually light Manila traffic meant we arrived at the NAIA Terminal 1 at around 10:45AM.
My relatives and I had to say good-bye at the curb because the whole terminal building is restricted to departing passengers only. At the door to the terminal building, a passport and ticket check was done, then all bags were screened before reaching the check-in counters. The Singapore Airlines check-in was virtually empty and I was checked in right away for a exit "window" seat 36A on the B777-300. I was advised to clear security early as they close 30 minutes before departure, and was advised of the Silver Kris lounge location next to Gate 7.
Before clearing security, one has to pay the Philippine airport tax, which is PHP 550 or US $11. First you line up to pay the tax, then you clear departure immigration control. After clearing immigration you needed to find the proper wing for your departure gate, which in my case was Gate 5. After turning toward the left wing, there was yet another security checkpoint. The bags were checked again, and then a brief body search was conducted. For this, you have to stand on a platform while the guards pat you down for weapons and other contraband. There were both male and female officers doing this, and you line up to the one who you want to perform the pat-down. The Philippines has always had security incidents happen from time to time, which is why security is always very strict.
After going through this maze of security, I found the Silver Kris Lounge. It was virtually empty when I arrived, so I quickly found a desk and wrote some emails and postcards. At this time there were not many planes at Terminal 1. While waiting for the flight I encountered an Asiana B767-300, EVA B767-200, China Airlines A300-600R, JAL B747-400, Thai A330-300, Gulf Air A340-300, and a host of PAL aircraft. A Korean Air flight was also boarding, but I didn't see that aircraft.
Shortly after 12:00 noon the SQ B777-300 landed, so a little after 13:00 I packed my things and went to the departure gate. The waiting area for SQ 73 was cordoned off, and yet another bag security check was conducted before entering the waiting area. Boarding procedure was explained, and we boarded a few minutes late.
I found my "window" seat, 36A, and found it to not be a "window" seat. It is by the #3 exit door on the B777-300, but there is some space before the windows start up again. Unfortunately, the windows start up after row 36 - meaning that seat 36A was next to a wall, not window. Perhaps they should call it "wall seat." So, I decided to try and hunt for a good window seat, as it was a day flight and I wanted to see if I can get some nice aerial shots. Apparently the only seats available were at the very last row of the plane. So I ended up snagging the right window seat 61K.
Pushback took place, and we followed a Japan Airlines B747-400. It seems that everyone decided to depart at around the same time. Aside from the PAL aircraft (which get their own terminal 2), the only aircraft at Terminal 1 when we took off were the Thai A330-300 and Malaysia B737. Takeoff was very quick, and there were nice shots of Manila Bay and Lake Taal that I was able to take. Unfortunately the clouds blocked the view afterwards.
A light meal was offered - it was your choice of chicken or Filipino-style pork. I chose the chicken with rice. It was pretty good, considering that I was not expecting a meal on such a short flight.
The routing took us along the long island of Palawan, then went down into Indonesia. After Palawan, the ride became bumpy and the seat belt sign was turned on several times. Then we turned west for the landing into Singapore about three hours later.
After landing, we taxied past the SIA Engineering building and past two SIA A310-300s. Both had the engines covered in red tarp - apparently stored and out of service. Arrived on time, and found that this aircraft would continue to Jakarta. For a big aircraft, SIA sure likes to use them on short sectors.
It was a long walk to immigration, and the immigration officer offered me some candy as he was processing my papers. After that, I walked to baggage claim where my bag was already waiting. Customs just waved me through.
I then caught the airport shuttle to the Furama Hotel, where I would stay one night before the next leg of my trip back home.
Part 3 coming soon!