Singapore Airlines SQ26
Boeing 747-412 9V-SMW
14 August 2003
STD 2350 ATD 0025
STA 0630 ATA 0629
Photo © Philippe Bleus
Photo © Dietmar Schreiber
As much as I love flying, the night flight from Singapore to Frankfurt has always been like hell to me. Due to strong headwinds, it's nearly 12 hours long, it's dark the whole time, and very cramped on board one of SQ's B747s.
So as you can guess, I wasnt really looking forward to this flight. I had a 3 hour layover in Singapore from my previous flight out of Auckland, which passed very quickly as there is lots to see and do in Changi.
I arrived at the gate at 2230. It was still shut but there was a notice up on the display saying it would open at 2340. And indeed, a few minutes later, the lounge was illuminated and staff entered the lounge, as well as the flight attendants. At 2340 sharp I was asked for my boarding pass and passport, then went through security screening. No problems here and I settled down in one of the numerous seats to start writing my trip report on my laptop for my flight from Auckland.
The lounge slowly filled with passengers. I knew this was a full flight as I had to waitlist for it and was unable to get an exit row even though I requested one.
This flight was packed with Germans and a few Americans that would continue on to JFK.
Boarding began at 2310 roughly by row numbers but I stayed in the lounge as I figured I'd be sitting on that plane long enough. About 10 minutes before scheduled departure I was the only passenger left in the departure lounge. I asked staff and I was indeed the last passenger so I boarded the aircraft not hoping for too much of a delay due to late passengers.
Unfortunately most overhead bins were full but the stewardess was very helpful spreading out my stuff all over the cabin - and on my boarding pass she wrote the row numbers where I could find my stuff. It looked like this:
That was a nice touch I thought and maybe a good sign for a comfortable journey... Or so I thought.
A few minutes later the captain came on the PA describing the route we'd be taking. The usual routing, over Kuala Lumpur, Gulf of Bengal, Delhi, Afghanistan, Baku, Black Sea, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and finally Germany. Then he went on to say that they had requested push back but that we had to sit at the gate for a good 20 minutes before we would be able to take off due to congestion. The exact same thing happened when I was doing this flight earlier this year!
I was hoping the attendants would come around the cabin serving drinks but nothing happened. At least Krisworld was working. And they even distributed the head seats already! Finally at 0020 we were pushed back, taxied out to the runway and did an intermediate take off. This seemed to take forever, which was no surprise to me. Full load and long flight. I am sure there wasnt much runway to spare...
Meanwhile the passenger in 47A starting coughing in this really annoying and disgusting way and on top of that, really long, which brought back memories of SARS...
All announcements by the flight attendants were made in English and poor German, but good enough to understand for most people.
Soon the beverage service started and I just tried to get really drunk so I would be able to sleep through the night and stand the annoying passenger. He must have been the most disgusting man I have ever seen.
There was a choice between battered fish and some chicken dish, I had the chicken but I was so disgusted that I really couldnt eat much. So I really cant tell whether it was good or not. I definitely didnt enjoy it.
Most passengers around the man in 47A were really annoyed by now, but the attendants showed no sign of concern. People in a condition like this should really not be travelling.
Finally, after about 2 hours after take off, the cabin lights were dimmed so I could give sleeping a go. I slept for about 1 hour, but then was woken by other peoples reading lights. The entire cabin was quiet by now but this one person must have hit the button in his sleep, and when the whole cabin is dark then one reading light can give quite a bit of light. Not that the attendants were bothered by this. So I asked for ear plugs and eye shades and received them. Finally I could get a bit more sleep, which was nice.
I woke about 6 hours into the flight, somewhere over India I think. The man decided he had to get up so he squeezed past the lady that sat in the middle and then pushed against my leg as if he was wanting to squeeze past me too. No word whatsoever. So I get up and let him, no thank you either. Whenever I have a window seat I ask the people politely if I could get up and thank them for it. This man was just being a rude bastard. Same when he wanted to sit down again, tapped my shoulder, murmed something in German and then stood right in the way so it became a mission to get up even. Couldnt stand that guy.
The flight was fairly uneventful apart from occasional turbulent weather. The full moon reflecting on the wing added a really nice touch. It also illuminated the countried beneath us, so interesting to see the Afghanistan mountains, then Iran and Turkey. Over east Turkey, and about 2,5 hours before landing, the cabin was illuminated and I received a "cold" hot towel. Not good enough. I love them REALLY hot.
Meal choice this time was an omelette or noodles. I went for the omelette which wasnt cooked very well. It came with a muffin, orange juice and a roll from the "bakery"...
They came around serving more juice, coffee and tea while we were eating.
At 6am, somewhere over Bavaria, we began our decent and the captain came on announcing that we would be vectored in and he expected us to land in about 30 minutes. Finally this flight would take an end!
It seemed we didnt have to fly any holding patterns (would have been surprised to this time of the day!) and at 6.29am touched down on runway 07L on German soil. Only light braking was applied as we needed to go all the way to pretty much the end of the runway anyway.
We taxied past an SAA A346 ZS-SNA and parked at gate C5, where SQ26 parks most days. Once the doors where opened a lady with a *strong* German accent came on the PA announcing that people going to New York should be back in 1,5 hours and that German authorities were carrying out a check so everyone should have their passport handy. She repeated it in German and then finally at 0645 I was stepping out of the aircraft. The people carrying on to New York would be in for a treat... A nice blackout!
Only got to walk a few meters as there was a huge queue in the actual jet bridge. Welcome to Germany! Just what I needed after a flight like that. So I had to wait for another 10 minutes for them to check the passports and then went on the long hike to the Skyrail.
The rail took me straight through to gates A, where my onward flight to Hamburg would be departing. Had to show my passport to immigration but there where no queues so it was a breeze. No customs whatsoever this time!
Lufthansa Business Lounge, Frankfurt/Main Schengen
Had to walk about 2 kilometres out the Lufthansas *conveniently* located lounge at the end of the terminal complex. As SQ could not issue me with a boarding pass for this onward flight, I had to check in. A rude lounge attendant checked me in and placed me on seat 22K, a window seat in second row of Economy.
I went to the showers straight away, as I had been looking forward to them ever since I arrived in Singapore. Unfortunately there was none available immediately so I had to put my name down on a wait list. Fair enough. Had a cappucino then was called up to the shower lady.
Those showers after long flights are always the best!
Once I finished, I had a bit more time to wait around. To my surprise the lounge was packed on this working day morning. There was a good selection of newspapers and drinks. I just wish they would give you mabye sandwiches or fruit even. But all there was is peanuts and some cookies.
Lufthansa German Airlines LH128
Airbus A300B4-603 D-AIAI
15 August 2003
STD 0820 ATD 0830
STA 0920 ATA 0917
Photo © AirNikon
Photo © Vasco Garcia
Flying short hops has always been a pleasure to me, as opposed to those extra long long hauls I fly sometimes.
I arrived at the gate at 0810 and was one of the last few passengers to board. This flight wasnt too full but it did have a big business class. LH can change the layout of their aircraft by shifting a curtain from one row to another. This results in all seats being the same. Personally I wouldnt want to pay the extra surcharge to fly Bizfor such crappy seats and service LH offer on their European network.
We were pushed back at 0820 and taxied out to rwy 07L. We rotated after a short and fast run at 0830 into the sunny skies over Germany. Flight time today was about 45 minutes. 20 minutes into the flight we were served one drink, but as always I asked for 2, a coffee and some water. They havent said no yet...
The pilot came on the PA when we were over Hanover already and announced a remaining flight time of about 20 minutes and that we would begin our decent soon. The attendants could barely finish the beverage service, as the seat belt signs came on soon. Minutes later we were on the ILS down runway 23 and touched down nice and smoothly 3 minutes ahead of schedule.
Quick taxi to the gate, and at 0930 I had once again finished a *very* long trip. I had to wait about 20 minutes for my bag, even though it was one of the first. This definitely needs to be improved.
Well, this is it. There are some photos to look at here: http://www.geocities.com/falkowestphalen/sq26.htm. Sorry its basic.
Thank you for taking the time to read this report. Feedback and comments as always welcome.