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CPT - SIN - SYD On SQ In Raffles

Thu May 06, 2004 8:16 am

Cape Town - Singapore
777- 200
Raffles Class 13A
Depart: 11.00am
Arrive: 6.30am

What a glorious time I had in South Africa, particularly CPT! I would go back tomorrow if I could! Did all the usual tourist stuff: Robbins Island, Table Mountain, Simons Town, Green Point Market, Township Tour. There were lots of things I didn’t do, so that gives me the perfect excuse to visit again! I also flew Kulala,com the LCC from CPTDUR but that’s another SA Linhas Aereas">TR. As an aside, I thought Durban was very disappointing. The Beach area has obviously seen better days – it was decidedly raffish, down at heel and not very safe.

Took the ‘Trans Oranje’ train that operates once a week Cape Town – Durban – Cape Town. Being something of a closet train lover, I was eagerly anticipating this journey and I was not disappointed. What’s more it was a real bargain at approx. $A140 one way First Class. For non-drivers such as me, this was the perfect opportunity to see at least some of the SA countryside.

After a two-night journey, the train pulled into Bellville Station - the last stop before Cape Town Railway Station. Bellville is a 10-minute journey to CPT. I was assured I could obtain a metered taxi to CPT, no problems. So do you think I could find a taxi? Nope, not for love nor money. I was directed to the mini -taxi rank located nearby. I was squashed into a rather well-worn, battered mini-van with nine other people. I was the only white face in a sea of black and I certainly got some ‘looks’ – not necessarily hostile, more curious. The driver drove like a man possessed!!! We turned corners at frightening speeds, the rows of seats moved with a force of their own!!!!. After eight minutes I could see a KLM 744 landing in the vista. Moments later the driver announced ‘Airport’ and he screeched to a halt on the highway next to a footbridge. I mean I couldn’t really complain that I wasn’t delivered outside the terminal when the fare was R7 which is about $A1.50. So I grabbed my full suitcase and negotiated the footbridge, the traffic and the non-paved areas to finally arrive at the terminal.

Once inside the terminal, proceeded through security to the International Check-in area. Since most international departures ex CPT are in the evening, the only scheduled departures that morning were SQ and MH. Check-in was swift and courteous. Then it was through Immigration and up the escalators to the Business Class lounge operated by BA. A pleasantly appointed lounge with great views of the tarmac and the runway though not as panoramic as, say, NZ’s lounges in SYD or WLG. The SQ 772 was directly in front of me and looked magnificent in the African sunshine The only downside to this lounge was the lack of Internet access. After a bite to eat and a coffee, I decided to stroll around air side. The International Wing is not particularly large but aesthetically pleasing …..lots of windows and easy on the eye décor!! After buying some duty-free it was back to the lounge for half an hour before boarding time.

CPT has only three aerobridges, otherwise it’s the old fashioned portable stairs and bus. Something you rarely see these days. The tarmac had an interesting array of mostly European carriers all parked on remote stands: BA, LH, KL and, of course, SAA.

After having my BP read it was a short walk to the bus which was crowded, hot and uncomfortable. I shouldn’t whinge – after all, we weren’t exactly going across town!. 10 mins after we boarded the bus it was off for the short journey to gleaming SQ772 Jubilee aircraft. Jumped off the bus and grabbed the opportunity to take some photos then it was up the stairs to Raffles Class. Just before entering the cabin doors I took some more photos. Then greeted by a smiling ‘Singapore Boy’ and directed to my seat. A SQ Girl then scurried over and asked if I wanted a drink. Well what could I say but of course….a Kleine Zalze Chardonnay was soon after deposited on my arm rest

This morning sector was only partly full to JNB but the FA did inform me that is was completely full from JNBSIN. It seem SQ does very nicely on this sector as the only other South East Asian carrier is MH.

The portable air stairs were pushed back and taxiing soon commenced. Take-off was to the east and we flew over the grim Cape Flats where many of Cape Towns impoverished live.

Once the seat belt sign was turned off and the usual blurbs were given, the ‘Light Refreshment’ service began. It was not a LR – it was almost a proper main meal and, what’s more, it was delicious!!!!

To nibble on

Pan fried chicken with mushroom red wine sauce, selected vegetables and gratin potatoes


Beef stroganoff with buttered vegetables and fettuccine

A sweet note
Fresh Fruits

The Chicken was just cooked to perfection and the veges were very tasty. I commented to the FA how delicious the meal was and that my Book the Cook Chicken meal from SYD SIN was just terrible. She discreetly remarked how catering can be so ‘variable’.

The Raffles cabin was pristine and I loved the mood lighting! The service was friendly, professional and attentive.

After a flight of 1.48min we flew into JNB. What an enormous airfield! SYD and KL / NZAA), New Zealand">AKL look like regional airfields in comparison. I believe that the extremely long runways are due to JNB’s elevation. The terminal building didn’t look particularly impressive and I have heard that it is not exactly user-friendly. Unfortunately, we had to remain on board for the brief stopover though it was interesting to watch Cabin Services people remove and restock the catering. Following re-catering and a change of crew we were away to SIN.Taxied past an interesting array of aircraft including an Air Malaw1 733 – can they afford a national airline? – and an Air Afrique DC8-62. I can’t remember the last time I saw a DC8.Take-off was long and slow but, eventually, we were flying across the townships that surround JNB.

Seat belt signs turned off, the FAs swung into action taking drinks and lunch orders. After the sublime LR from CPTJNB I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry but what possessed me to order chicken again is beyond me! It was nowhere as tasty as the LR – I just picked at it. The ice cream dessert was tasty but the Cheese Board was unimaginative.

Lunch Menu

A Savoury Note
Fresh seasonal salad with
Smoked salmon and potato.

The Main Event
Chicken in tarragon vinegar sauce with
Seasonal vegetables and raisin basmati rice.

Pan fried fish with creamy mustard sauce
served with pappardella pasta and white beans.

Grilled tournedos of beef with forest
mushroom sauce, seasonal vegetables and
roasted vegetables.

The Cheese Board
Selection of cheese with garnishes

A Sweet Note
A selection of fresh fruit
Ice Cream

Once lunch was finished, I glanced out the window and realised night was falling. The two days on the train had caught up with me and I was feeling very tired. I adjusted the ‘Spacebed’ into sleep mode, popped a sleeping pill and fell into an uninterrupted sleep. Sleeping in Raffles Class is a decidedly more pleasurable experience than in Y. I awoke as the Breakfast Service was about to commence. I chose the Omelette with Pork Sausages and Bacon. It was average – nothing special. I wish SQ could make a decent hot cup of coffee in Raffles. Every coffee I had in Raffles was tepid at best. I recall reading somewhere that airlines have great difficulty in bringing water to boil due to the altitude! This time I asked the FA for a second cup and politely asked he if she could make it a bit hotter. Alas, it was no hotter than the first. Oh well, at least I tried!

We arrived at a wet and dark SIN on time. Said goodbye to the excellent crew on this flight and made a mad dash to the SilverKris Lounge. I must say the lack of windows in this lounge is disappointing and it can get very crowded. There was a half-hour wait for showers. The Shower Attendant was in a serious bad mood. ‘You wait. I very blusy’ he yelled at me. Very unSingaporean I thought but then he was probably paid a pittance

Breakfast Menu

A Fresh Start
A choice of apple, tomato and freshly squeezed orange

A selection of fresh fruit

A Health Note
With low fat or full cream milk

The Main Event
Currant and ricotta pancakes with
Caramelized apple syrup and chicken

Spinach quiche with tomato, beef
Sausage, sauteed mushrooms and potatoes.

Omelette with pork sausages and bacon, grilled tomato and potatoes.

Singapore - Sydney
747- 400
Raffles Class 24A
Depart: 8.40am
Arrive: 7.50pm

Boarded quickly and directed to my seat. Either the FA gave me the wrong directions (unlikely) or maybe I was just having a vague moment. So I end up sitting in 24K. The aisle seat was occupied by an elderly Australian women with – I swear you not - a beard. The moment I sat down she started yapping about her European Opera Tour. ‘Oh lord’ I thought to myself ‘Not 7 hours of this’. Plus she had one of those irritating posh Aussie accents – yes we know that’s a contradiction in terms but……. As a distraction I looked into my bag to grab some mineral water and realised it had leaked everywhere!!! A delightful SQ FA noticed and scurried along to get some towels so I could clean up my bag. Meanwhile Miss Snooty Face next to me was still prattling on. What happened next was priceless. The FAs were scurrying around the cabin distributing drinks. ‘Oh goodie’ I thought ‘a glass of wine’. So I says to the trout sitting next to me. ‘Oh good, a glass of wine’. So Trout Face just looks at me and says in her best Queen Elizabeth voice ‘Young man, it is far too early in the morning to be drinking wine’. Now I ask you fellow a.netters. What is wrong with wine at 8.30am on an international flight. Precisely – I knew you would think the same as me. Nothing wrong at all! Besides, who flies SQ in Raffles to drink frigggin water for seven hours?!!

What happened next was even better!! The Purser came up and said “Mr 767er we are terribly sorry but you are in the wrong seat. You are on the other side of the cabin’. I could have kissed him. I grabbed my belongings, scurried past Snot Face and accompanied the Purser to the other side where my new seat companion was much more personable.

Two of the reasons I enjoy taking the daylight SIN SYD flight is, firstly, flying over the Australian desert during daylight hours and, secondly, arriving in Sydney at night so you can go home to bed and avoid the dreaded jet lag! But alas, it was cloud cover across the entire Australian continent. Very disappointing.

We had a warm greeting by the Australian Captain. Today was the final of the World Cup and the Captain cheerfully advised us not to bother the Crew with queries about the results as we weren’t scheduled to arrive until 7.50 and the match didn’t start until 8pm. The Captain said ‘ For those Sydneysiders on board, the streets tonight will be empty so you should be home in plenty of time to catch the match’.

Anyway back to the flight………..my new seat companion was the nicest I had struck on all my flights. She was Australian Chinese and casually remarked ‘ I hope this bloody plane is on time as I have to meet my mates at the ‘The Oaks’ in Neutral Bay to watch the game. What’s more I bet they’ll be all pissed when I arrive!’

I had pre-ordered Rack of Lamb from ‘Book the Cook’ and it was atrocious. Rack of Lamb used to be something of a dinner party specialty and I have cooked it 100s of times. This must be the worst I have ever eaten. It was over-cooked, dry and tasteless. I have eaten better in a RSL. My neighbour had some type of Indian dish and hated it. Unfortunately, I have misplaced the menu so I’m unable to give you a complete listing

The meal aside, it was a very pleasant flight. Had an extremely attentive and attractive FA. The seven hours flew by. I slept, drank, read my book and chatted to my neighbour. Before I knew it we had begun our descent into a dark and overcast SYD. We landed precisely on time at 7.50pm. Pier B was virtually deserted with SQ being the only arrival. I was through immigration, customs and landside within 20 minutes. It was therefore a surprise to see such a huge crowd in the arrivals hall. The penny suddenly dropped and I realised it was not the ‘MrSydney’ Fan Club. No indeed. People were crowded around huge screen TVs to watch the World Cup Final. I was tempted to stay and watch but it was time to head home. As an aside, the SQ Captain was indeed correct – there was scarcely a car on the road. I was home in record time!

Overall Impressions:

SQ provides a very good product indeed. The service was faultless. The crews were outstanding. Nothing was too much trouble. Cabins were spotless and well appointed.

My one criticism was the catering. With two exceptions the catering was very patchy indeed. My two favourite meals were the Light Refreshments served JNBCPT & CPTJNB: they were very tasty indeed. Book the Cook was very disappointing – the Rack of Lamb from SINSYD was terrible! The wine was very pleasant indeed!

Despite the video selection for that particular month being disappointing, Krisworld is everything people say it is and more. The selection is vast! I hope when NZ revamps their 744s and IFE, it will match Krisworld.

Would I fly SQ again? Most definitely! SQ and NZ rate as my two favourite airlines. You just can’t beat their levels of service. True, they are both two very different airlines from two very distinct cultures. But what they both collectively provide is top service in a world where airline service is a byword for rude check in staff, surly Flight Attendants, grungy aircraft and minimal or no catering.

Aircraft flown:F27,Viscount. EMB120, SAAB340, ATR70, 737-200.737-300,DC8, DC10,747-100,747-200,747-300,747-400, A320, A3
Posts: 1351
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2002 5:43 am

RE: CPT - SIN - SYD On SQ In Raffles

Fri May 07, 2004 4:18 am

Nice report. Thank you for all the detail.

The inconsistency in meal quality can be a problem at SQ because different caterers are used and sometimes SQ pushes menu items that some caterers just do not have the expertise to handle. One would imagine that any "Book the Cook" menu would be somewhat decent ex-SIN, though, because they make those items every day! Ex-SIN, you would generally do better with Asian meal choices because the chefs are more used to those items, and the ingredients are likely to be a little fresher. Ironically, both the chicken dishes you had CPT-JNB and JNB-SIN were probably catered from the JNB kitchen.

I see you sat in the wrong seat SIN-SYD, and you mentioned that you sat in 13A CPT-SIN. You really must have problems navigating aircraft cabins- there is no Row 13 on SQ aircraft  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2001 9:15 pm

RE: CPT - SIN - SYD On SQ In Raffles

Mon May 10, 2004 2:55 am

I was squashed into a rather well-worn, battered mini-van with nine other people. I was the only white face in a sea of black and I certainly got some ‘looks’ – not necessarily hostile, more curious. The driver drove like a man possessed!!! We turned corners at frightening speeds, the rows of seats moved with a force of their own!!!!.

ha ha! Big grin You should pat yourself on the back for experiencing the thrill of an infamous taxi ride in South Africa!  Big grin

The terminal building didn’t look particularly impressive and I have heard that it is not exactly user-friendly.

I think you'd find that JNB is a lot better than CPT. It's far more modern, it's much bigger and these days, is more user-friendly than it used to be.

Did you go to Johannesburg by any chance? It's a pity about Durban... Cape Town has got it right, but Durban just hasn't been given enough attention. I think you would agree with me that it has so much potential?

So glad you enjoyed your trip though!  Smile

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