Recent work commitments have left me grasping for breath, and hardly any time to complete a decent report of my travels. As you can probably sense reading this report, this has been a rush job, but I thought I should write something about my best Y experience on SQ
in a long time…
Recent reports seem to indicate that SQ
’s inflight service has been doing down the drain. I boarded this flight without much expectation as I had been deeply disappointed with my previous flights with this airline, but I was pleasantly surprised by the time I disembarked in Singapore…
Here’s my report…I hope you like it
SQ403 9VSYA 777-300 STD 2000 ATD 2000 44A DXB
I arrived at DXB
airport earlier in the day from KWI, the last leg of a 2 week working trip to the Middle East. The service on that particular EK
flight was impeccable and I was quite sure that I had found another airline whose service had surpassed SQs by a million light years. Needless to say, I was very impressed. I cleared immigration and headed back to my office in downtown Dubai.
I spent the rest of the afternoon back in the office rushing through reports that had to reach my esteemed leaders back in HQ
before sun down Singapore time. That done, I had just over an hour left to buy some souvenirs and gifts for family and friends back home. I completed by shopping in double quick time. That done, I bid farewell to my colleagues in Dubai, and headed for Dubai International Airport in the scotching Middle Eastern summer.
The heat was almost unbearable if not for the air-con in the car that I was in, and I immediately felt tired and badly in need of a cold shower.
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to my flight back to Singapore on SQ403 in the evening, after a rather disappointing experience on my inbound flight. I felt that EK
had raised the bar for me, and there was no way those robotic SQ
girls would be able to impress me as the multi-national EK
girls did earlier in the day.
I arrived at the airport at half past 5, allowing me a comfortable 2.5 hours to explore the airport. DXB
airport has two terminals, both linked by an underground walkway. The terminal where one goes to check in looks out of place in comparison with the high tech space like satellite. That said, the building shows no signs of age. I would assume that it has recently been renovated. Dubai airport has been touted as the best duty free shopping experience around. Indeed, it was like a shopping arcade…selling almost anything a housewife would need… they don’t sell certain items that are predominantly used/reviewed by men
I entered the terminal and got in line for the security check before the check-in area. An Indian gentleman cut into my line. The gesture didn’t go down well with me. I blame it on the Middle Eastern heat, for I ‘momentarily’ lost control of my trolley, causing the edge of the trolley to jab into the poor guy’s (queue jumper would have been quite appropriate) ankles. He let out a yelp followed by what I thought sounded like a curse word in Indian. As he moved aside to nurse his bruise, I quickly made my way past security and towards the check-in counters.
Check in was a breeze, and the friendly DNATA agent was most obliging to my request for the next seat to be kept empty. The check in process was completed within a minute and after a short chat with the Station Manager, I was on my way. I was told that the flight would not be full tonight…lots of space in fact. Great! I’m contented with lots of space and having the whole row of seats to myself, just so as to whitewash the potentially lousy service that I thought I was going to experience later.
I found the security check points to be quite inefficient, and I didn’t think having to start up my laptop only to be asked to shut it down again to be a pain. To prevent a bottleneck forming (it takes a while for most laptops to start up), many of us had to “force shut down” (or whatever you call that action) our laptops…this inadvertently puts a strain on our fragile laptops.
The airport was vast, and I could imagine that it would be quite a marathon getting from one end of the airport to another. I was glad I was at the airport early! Bottle necks developed at every security or CIQ check point, and it wasn’t even the start of the peak hour at the airport.
There wasn’t much to spot so early in the evening so I made my way to the satellite and spent my last few Dhs on a glass of juice at one of the many F&B outlets overlooking the tarmac. Prices at the various outlets were reasonable compared to what I was paying at the hotel, but service left a lot to be desired. Being in Dubai felt like being in India (except that Dubai has infrastructure that are a thousand times better). Indian foreign labours were found at every corner, from the waiters, to cleaners, to airline staff to the cashier! In second place were the Filipinas working in the DFS.
I felt like a dog after a long day…I was awake at the crack of dawn to catch a hotel transfer to Kuwait Airport for my flight to DXB
… that coupled with the heat in town, I decided that I badly needed to grab a shower before my flight.
I spied on a brochure featuring shower facilities that were going for just 22 Dhs. For an extra 5 Dhs, I could also avail myself to the Jacuzzi. I checked the time and realised that I probably wouldn’t have enough time for an idyllic evening in the jacuzzi, and opted for just the shower. The facilities were located one level above the gates. I got on the escalator which would take me directly to a lobby. It resembled a plush hotel. I was greeted by a Filipina and was directed to another section of the lobby resembling that of a health club. The guy behind the counter tried hard to sell me the full package…a massage, Jacuzzi and shower. I didn’t think I had the time for the full package and decided on just the shower. I paid up and was shown the shower. The individual shower stalls were clean and simple…nothing fanciful. An access card opened the door to the bathroom. The doors to the shower room could only be opened from the inside…so one could rest assured that no one would unwittingly see you in your birthday suit. The décor of the shower room was a little drab. I thought it could do with cosier lightings. After a quick and refreshingly cold shower, I trotted off to gate 23 where my flight was to depart. I had 45 minutes to spare before STD, and decided on a nice cold vanilla shake from Dunkin Donuts next to the gate…just in case SQ
decided to play me out by not serving any meals after departure.
The rest area next to Dunkin Donuts provided passengers with an impressive view of the tarmac. I was “intrigued” by the sight of 2 SQ
773s parked side by side. The aircraft that was to take me home tonight came in from IST
while the other was a delayed flight coming in from CAI. Both were slated to depart at 2000hrs that night. I was told by the station manager that the flight from CAI had AOGed in CAI for more than 23 hours, and hence I was rewarded with a rare sighting of 2 SQ773s in DXB
. The aircraft that I was flying on was SYA, while the delayed aircraft was SYB! The sun was fast setting, making it a challenge to photograph this ‘unnatural phenomenon’ without the flash causing reflections on the tinted glass. Ah well…
I proceeded to the gate 10 minutes before STD where boarding had already commenced.
Boarding was done in an orderly fashion, by the colour of the sticker on your boarding pass. The process was quick as this particular flight was only 60% full. A CSS (Chief Stewardess) was at the door giving everyone a cheerful welcome.
My gut feel told me that this would be a good flight, or at least better than my inbound flight. I was right, for as I moved down the aisle towards my assigned seat 44ABC…
, I was greeted by smiling crew (I have gotten used to SQ
’s plastic smiles, so I wasn’t too bothered whether they were genuinely happy to welcome me onboard. If you asked me, a plastic smile was better than no smiles at all). It always feels nice being on an SQ
flight headed for home. Being on an SQ
aircraft and among Singaporean crew (ok, maybe some of them were Indian nationals or Malaysians) added to that “homecoming” experience! The familiar strains of fake accents intertwined with Singlish that is so typically Singaporean… the schizophrenic Singapore Girl who could miraculously lapse into British, Australian and American accents as she articulated her thoughts in one conversation….
I settled down in my seat and scrutinized the features of this aircraft.
My aisle was served by an FSS who I suspect was wearing ill fitting contact lenses - her left eye was winking more than the right one… “What a freak! A Singapore Girl with winking spasms!” I muttered to myself as I gazed out of the window to see SYB getting ready to be pushed back. 2 other leading stewards served my aisle. The boys took over from the winking FSS just after push back and for the rest of the flight. I have to admit that those Singapore boys were excellent. Extremely friendly, human (as opposed to robotic), and definitely smiled more than the female crew – no plastic smiles there! They even made an effort to chat with every passenger (albeit very briefly) whenever they came in contact with them. I would never have thought that the best Y service I have ever had on SQ
was from the Singapore Boys… time to buck up girls!
To be fair, 2 other female crew serving the other aisle were also good … they were friendly with the kids, addressing them affectionately as “my dear”…., checking on them every now and then during the flight, and offering them extra servings of ice-cream after the meal.
The usual safety announcements were made followed by the familiar “safety video” with the out of sync “Have a pleasant flight”…. It’s about time SQ
changed their safety video to something more up-scale. The crew came round with the menu, headsets and amenity kits after the video.
The flimsy menus made their appearance again, revealing the menu for the earlier IST
sector. I flipped through the menu, and was immediately gratified to find that 2 meals would be served on this flight, dinner and refreshments. The cabin lights went off and after a long wait at the holding point, we were off.
Bar service commenced immediately after the seatbelt signs were turned off. Unlike my inbound flight when only sparkling wine, juice and beer from the tray were offered, drinks were served from the cart this time. I must add that although the company is bleeding millions a day, this particular set of crew were extremely generous with what they had on offer…. I got a whole can of beer, as did many other passengers who requested for the less popular beverages. The drinks cart came around not once, but twice, and more salted nuts were offered.
Dinner was served shortly after the bar service. Main course comprised a choice of chicken or beef, 2 rolls of bread, and ice cream for dessert. Although the menu had indicated a generic appetiser, none were available when the tray came. They were still using the awful red terracotta service ware on the flights to west Asia. I assumed that all stations would have cut over to the new sky blue service wares by now!
I requested for a cola to go with my meal and was asked if I would like to have the whole can! Most definitely!!
The rest of the flight was uneventful…I didn’t see the need to test the crew this time as I was pretty sure they were up to mark. I got down to catching some of the movies that were on offer…nothing nice… the comedy channel as usual helped ease my boredom substantially. Will&Grace was hilarious (the Kevin Bacon episode), while Friends has always been my favourite. The aircraft wasn’t AVOD equipped but that didn’t bother me.
The crew diligently came round during the flight offering passengers a choice of water and juice. I got my juice and also asked for a coke. Again, I got a whole can!
I didn’t see the need for the blanket test and I most certainly wasn’t sick enough to attempt a sanitary napkin absorbency test. I was just glad that my cups and cans of coke were cleared quickly and that the lavatories onboard were always kept dry and clean.
The lights came on and refreshments were served 1hr30min before arrival into SIN
. The LS
(leading steward) greeted me with a cheery good morning as he stopped his food cart beside me and enquired if I had a good night’s rest as he served me my refreshment…
Due to the SARS, SQ
had drastically cut down on their onboard catering in Y class. The continental breakfast service that would have typically been served just before a morning arrival for flights lasting more than 6 hours and less than 8 hours had degenerated to cold refreshments. We were offered a “choice” of coffee or tea, a muffin or Danish. No fruits no nothing… It was pathetic.
We touched down 10 min ahead of schedule in SIN
and thus ended my best Y class flight ever on SQ
Service and Attentiveness of Crew – 10/10 (I expect a lot from SQ
, and for them to get a full 10 points truly shows how satisfied I was with their service. In comparison, I still feel that EK
had better inflight service in Y.)
Food – 4/10 (Poorly presented, cost cutting measures showed clearly)
Comfort – 8/10 (I like the old 777 seats better than those found on the newer 777s)
Krisworld – 8/10 Great as usual, although Wisemen is better as I love the fact that I am able to compile my own album from the CD
Overall – 7.5/10 (results badly affected by the food)
There's always a better way to fly...