Singapore Airlines SQ286
Boeing 747-412 9V-SPC
14 August 2003
STD 1415 ATD 1438
STA 2045 ATA 2052
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Glenn Stewart
Bright sunshine made it hard to leave New Zealand on this beautiful day. I had rung up that same morning to get seats on the flights SQ offer between Auckland, Singapore, Frankfurt and Hamburg. There was exactly one seat left on the flight to Singapore and Singapore Airlines reservations in Auckland waitlisted me onto SQ26, the flight that left Singapore the same night that I would be arriving. As usual, this flight was full.
My inital plan was to take the Air NZ flight that leaves a bit earlier and then the Lufthansa flight out of Singapore simply because I had some Airpoints to spare for an upgrade as well as some Miles with Lufthansa and I would have loved the idea of flying Business class the whole way. However, apparently they coldnt do that with my ticket (weird, on a cheaper ticket I could change to those airlines!)
Getting to the airport at Auckland was the usual hassle, the road to the airport mainly takes you through suburbia and residential zones which results in frequent stopping and waiting at the lights. From Auckland's North Shore to the airport it took me about 45 minutes. Crossing the Harbour Bridge before leaving the country always has this special feel to it, and today it was no different.
Once I arrived at the airport I proceeded down to the Singapore Airlines office to check whether I had been confirmed on SQ26, because otherwise I might have to stay a night in Singapore and catch the daytime flight to Frankfurt. Fortunately I was confirmed and it was entering the queue for me.
There is a x-ray machine at the beginning of the queue where some people that think they are really important screened all my bags, and put a "security seal" on a random zip of my bag. One really has to wonder what the point of this is, because firstly people can still smuggle stuff on them and secondly that "security seal" is a real piece of crap, in fact it fell off most bags by the time the passengers reached queue. I didnt feel like having an argument about this with any security staff so I just let it all happen to me.
Queuing for check took a good half hour, as there was only 4 counters open. All sorts of people were wanting to catch this flight, from seniors to families to large tourist groups. Its interesting to see how SQ attracts all sorts of people.
I was checked in by a very nice guy and we kept joking, which added a real nice touch. I was assigned seat 49K, I knew this was the exit row but at the same time this is the seat right next to the door with the emergency slide container right in front of me. The other downside of this row is that its next to the galley and you essentially get served last, and in most cases your meal choice would have been gone.
I still dont know what to think of Auckland airport, while the international terminal seems to be fairly new it lacks the stylishness of other airports. And the check in area is a bit depressing as it is quite dark. Mind you, I think I read the international terminal is about 25 years old and it isnt doing too badly for that.
Once more a big queue for immigration which took up another 15 minutes, but by 1355 I was officially out of the country. However, this constant queueing when leaving and entering the country needs to be changed. Especially upon arrival you can add a good 45 minutes until you are actually out of the terminal from the time you touch down. This is not good enough and definitely needs to be improved.
While walkinn up to the gate I noticed 2 Emirates B777-300s parked at the gates, which was rather interesting to see. The routing back to Dubai doesnt sound too attractive though, with the aircraft stopping in Sydney (Melbourne) and Singapore. This will certainly not attract customers but Emirates promised to put the A340-500 on this route which will hopefully ease travel between NZ and the UAE.
As always, I was one of the last people to board the aircraft. I hate getting on early as I know I will be spending more than enough time cramped up in my seat inside a big machine. I was seated next to a friendly English couple who were travelling with their children. This flight was 100% full.
At 1423 we finally were pushed back from our gate 6 and towed out onto the taxiway. The usual engine starting procedure while the hilarious safety video was played. It has been discussed on here numerous times how the two girls at the end just cant say "have a good flight" at the same time. It just sounds awfully bad and unprofessional.
Obviously this aircraft, registration 9V-SPC, was Wisemen 3000 equipped, SQs Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment system.
A fairly long, slow taxi took us out to the runway where we took off without holding at 1438 and an incredibly long take off run. Initially we were heading out west over the water, then made a right turn and followed NZ's coast up to Cape Reinga. On this beautiful day this was an awesome sight and I took many nice photos of New Zealands awesome beaches.
Our inital cruising altitude would be 30,000ft and it took a fair while to get there (talk about the A340 being a slow climber). Meanwhile, Krisworld was ready to be used and beverage service commenced. I was disappointed to discover that many things on Krisworld havent changed from July to August. Many movies are still screening (including Bulletproof Monk and Legally Blonde) and I dont think the music section has been updated at all.
We were served a beer from cups on a tray but it wasnt much and while the flight attendants were busy running around the cabin I eyed 4 glasses of beer in the galley and just started serving them to the people in my row. They were very positively surprised!
Anyway, me and my English neighbours just kept drinking basically throughout the flight and at one stage we were going to ask if the flight attendant could just leave the bottle of wine with us...
It took ages for the food service to come around to us (like I said, row 49 gets served last) and due to turbulence the service was interrupted for a good 10 minutes. I was starving by the time they finally came around to us, and guess what there was no choice left. The pasta was gone. No drama though as I wanted the Thai style red curry beef anyway. What I got was something completely different, it just looked like beef, rice and vegetable but it was far from a Thai style curry.
Throughout the flight, I kept going up grabbing snacks and drinks as SQs flight attendants are pretty slack coming aorund with water, and you would really want to keep yourself hydrated if you are a professional wine drinker...
We took a rather northerly route this time, even further north than Brisbane! The furthest south I have gone on this route is over Sydney. Those with geographical knowledge will be able to tell the difference! We actually overflew the beautiful Whitsunday Islands which made for another gorgeous photo opportunity.
I watched the movie "Anger Management" with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, as well as some of my favourite comedies: That 70s Show, Third Rock From The Sun and Friends.
Strong headwinds catered for a flight time of over 10 hours for the roughly 8800km distance.
A couple of hours before landing dinner was served. For some reason this time we were served amongst the first people. Therefore, my first choice was still available. I have already forgotten what it was but I can assure you that I wasnt anything spectacular.
At 2052 local time, 9V-SPC touched down very smoothly on terra firma. It was about a 10-minute taxi onto our position E31. Once the plane came to a halt of course everyone jumped up even though it took at least another 10 minutes until us Economy people could leave the aircraft. While my onward journey would take me to Frankfurt then to Hamburg, this aircraft would continue on to Amsterdam and Newark that night.
Just some overall comments on SQ:
Food was OK but nothing spectacular. Unfortunately it took ages for them to bring the first meal. I would also wish that they come up and down the aisles with glasses of water even more often. The inflight snacks they offer are nice, I had an apple and a sandwich between the meals, as well as some crackers.
Wisemen was very enjoyable however the system is too slow and the advertisements before every item that you are trying to watch gets a bit on my nerves, especially as fast forward is rather hard to do. The headsets they distribute are supposed to be Dolby Surround which I suppose they are, but they are the ones you clip behind your ear and after 10 hours or so my ear began to hurt.
I'll see if I can find the time to write something decent about my onward flight SQ26. Even though there seems to be a lot of reports about that particular flight on this forum.
Please send in some comments or critism. I was half asleep writing most of this between flights at the airport!
Thank you for taking your time to read through this.
[Edited 2003-08-15 19:43:42]