Bangkok – Singapore
Seat 18 A
Airbus A320-232 (9V-VLB)
Duration: approx 2hr 20 min
22 March 2004
Bangkok is always a top destination for us Singaporeans due to the favorable exchange rate of the Thai Baht and the geographical closeness of the 2 cities. My favorite hotel, The Swiss Lodge, was my choice this time as usual. The weekend market at Chatuchak was the main reason for this trip because I needed to shop for the house.
With tons worth of shopping and baggage, a comfortable hotel limo was our ride to the airport. Now I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would not be fined for being overweight – I mean my baggage.
When I arrived at the airport, the check in counters was in the midst of closing the earlier flight VF
303. Hence, I had to wait for a bit before they opened again for VF
Nevertheless, I was still able to walk up to the viewing gallery and take in the view, which was rather quiet for Bangkok. The check in counters eventually opened again at 1600H and I was free of my baggage. Phew! It registered a total of 39.8kg!
Bangkok International Airport – Airside
The renovation and refurbishing of both terminals is finally complete. I must say that it looks good and comparable to any large international airport of a capital city. All the piers now have large floor to ceiling windows that allow uninterrupted viewing of taxiing aircraft at close distance.
At 1800H, 9V
-VLB inched into gate 35 and unloaded passengers. Thus, it began a sequence of quick turn-round to receive the pax on my flight.
Soon enough, the boarding call for flight came. The usual rush to board was normal and I always wondered why? The plane is still there… I chose to stay outside for a while longer to admire the Emirates A330-200 that was at the opposite end of the concourse. A fabulous looking aircraft if u ask me.
With the traffic outside dwindling, I decided to board and was greet at Door 1L by the usual friendly staff of VF
. The Crew In-Charge, Dorothy, ushered us in and left it to the rest of her friendly colleagues to help us find out seats.
The safety announcement comes on in English, and then Mandarin. This seems to be a practice on this flight. The Captain then comes on and gives us all a welcome.
Dorothy then comes on again and introduces the rest of her team by name, and points to the other in-charge, Irene…. And invites the cabin to look at her at the aft cabin.
“See, see? Can you all see her there?” she goes.
Irene then obliges by waving and surprisingly a lot of the pax actually waves back! Hehehehe… The announcements then continue with “By the way, Audrey will be in charge of your meals tonight so if don’t like you food, you can **hantam
**Hantam means “bludgeon” in Malay.
And with that, the cabin erupted into muffled laughter.
Pushback as the safety demo begins. Audrey and Faridah take the aisle not before receiving some applause. After the demo is completed, the passengers clap again with Audrey commenting to those in her vicinity “My God, you all so drama…”
As the taxi to the runway began, we were informed by the Captain that we were #10 in the line up to take off so it would be quite a wait. The cabin lights were dimmed at 1908H so we just sat in our seats as we inched ever so slowly towards runway 21L.
The take off announcement finally comes on as we line up for take off. A pretty long taxi considering Gate 33 isn’t that far from the holding point! The engine revs a minute later and off we thunder for a 40 sec roll (the aircraft must be heavy from all the shopping bags!).
The flaps retract as the aircraft is now on a steady climb to our cruising altitude. The lights also come on and the cabin crew prepare their meal carts. It is interesting to note that music is played throughout this flight over the PA. Songs like “Fly Me To The Moon”, “Come Fly With Me” and “What a Wonderful World” etc…
The meal cart appear in the aisle and the children appear to be served first. As the girls are maneuvering the carts, Dorothy, who is inching backwards, hits a lady the head along the aisle with her hips! That lady instinctively touches her hair and Dorothy tells her “Don’t worry Ma’am, it’s not messy, still very pretty… Sorry ah?”
The meal box finally comes to me and the hot entrée we have to night appears to be fried noodles. It is accompanied by a walnut muffin and pre-cupped water. The music continues to play while we slurp the delicious noodles. Some pax appear to be dozing off.
After the meal, I am a happy man. Here am I on the right…
The meal boxes are loaded back into the carts while drinks are offered (coffee, tea, water and chilled green tea).
Meanwhile, I ask Irene, who is serving me tea, if a visit to the cockpit would be possible. And what do you know? Permission was granted after landing! Yippee…!
We are now 135 miles from Singapore and the Captain warns of a bumpy approach due to “rough” weather. The descend that followed was bumpy but the crew still managed to balance themselves well along the aisle, taking photographs for the passengers.
Seatbelt sign pings on followed by the final arrival announcement. Irene makes one final walk through of the cabin and stops at my row and tells me…. “Eh, I will charge you for the visit later huh?”
And with that comment, the lights dimmed in preparation for the landing.
Approach for Singapore Changi Airport was done from the north towards runway 20L.
Cabin crew, landing stations, please!
The flaps are extended further and the sounds of gears are heard beneath me. A few minutes later, touchdown – and I was back on home turf.
Dorothy: Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived in Singapore Changi Airport and the local time is now ten twenty, an hour ahead of Bangkok. Please stay in your seats until the aircraft has stopped at the terminal building. You know, some passengers were asking us to sing but unfortunately, none of us can sing today. But we can tell you that we are all dancers and you are more that welcome to stay in the plane later to watch us dance, ok?
And don’t forget, we, at Valuair, love you all very much because we love to help you all save money. So thank you for supporting Singapore’s first private airline and good night!
Laughter and applause from the cabin, while Dorothy waves and bows from the front. Meanwhile, the song “Celebration” was blasted through the PA and that was surely a good end to the flight!
The aircraft finally comes to a stop at Gate D47 at 2225H local time.
While the passengers disembarks, there were actually a few groups that stayed behind and we all joined in and started chanting “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance…” The girls than started blaming Dorothy for staring this whole dancing issue and we all had a good laugh about it. Meanwhile, the cockpit door was open with the Captain beckoning us to come in. Below are some of the photos from the end-of-flight ruckus we created in the cabin.
As we milled out of the cabin, all the girls stood at door 1L and shouted “Bye! Bye!” and Dorothy, being the crazy self that she is shouted “You all better say sorry to the cleaners who are standing there and waiting for you to come out before they can start cleaning…”
The noisy banter didn’t stop there. While we were all queuing at the immigration, Dorothy and her team walked by and again some passengers to wave and stir again. I shouted “We are still waiting for that dance!” loud enough for the hall to hear and once again the chortles flowed.
What a fun flight!
While I was wheeling my luggage out to the taxi stand, Dorothy and Irene actually ran up behind me, grabbed my waist and shouted “HAH!” before running away in squeals of laughter. The Captain ran up behind them not before telling me “No worries mate, I am taking them to the mental hospital now.”
Check in: 8/10… Painless. Handled by Thai Airport Ground Services (TAGS) who were friendly.
Boarding: 9/10… Very orderly, by row numbers. No complaints here.
Inflight service: 10/10… Full marks without hesitation! They successfully managed to interact with the pax and the constant laughter proved it.
Catering: 8/10… Excellent for a budget carrier.
Arrival: 8/10… Luggage was already on the belt. Then again, I did spent a considerable amount of time in the aircraft after the bulk of the pax disembarked!
Overall: 86%... A fabulous first experience with budget travel, Singapore style. The assigned seating was a big bonus because I think culturally; we South East Asians simply cannot be left alone free for all. I have seen what happens when an Air Asia flight boards with people scrambling for the gate. Not good. Therefore, I hope Valuair continues with their present path with more destinations coming on line without diluting their standard of service. Final words – I AM UTTERLY IMPRESSED!