After that farce with Air France when I flew SIN-CDG-BHX in april, I decided to fly direct from the UK to Singapore. I went to E-bookers and booked a flight on Virgin with the actual flight itself being operated by Singapore Airlines. Interestingly, the same flight on the same day and at the same time was being sold under a Singapore Airlines flight number for some 50 pounds more.
Date: Wednesday 21st July 2004
Flight time:12hr 45min
FFP:Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
Getting to the airport
The very thought of taking the train from Birmingham to Euston, taking a taxi to Paddington and then the Heathrow Express made me accept my uncle's offer of driving me down to Heathrow. Left the house at 1145 and made our was towards London via the M40 and M4. Reached Heathrow roughly at around 1400. The main central area is like small town as we creeped our way towards one of the car parks. As usual we did the complimentary orbital of the car park about four times to find a parking space, thankfully which was not next to one of those massive concrete pillars. We went into one of the lifts. The lift felt like it was going up and down before the doors finally opened.........to the same floor! Even though we had pressed the right buttons, we decided to take the stairs as we had better things to do with
Check-in for SQ319 had not yet opened so we headed upstairs to Starbucks to have some juice and went donw about 30 minutes later. By this time a sizable queue had formed in check-in row E ( i think). There were about 5 desks servicing SQ319 while the those enxt to it were for the Air New Zealand flight to Los Angeles and Auckland. At the ANZ First Class counter, Jennie Bond; the BBC Correspondant was check-in. She was the third time I had seen a famous person in London in about 10 days. I visited London twice before the day of my flight. On monday I saw Bill Clinton at Jermyn st and Prince Harry in Battersea. After waiting for around 10 minutes, I was checked in and got a window seat as requested, 51K.
I made my way through the security checks, although for some rather strange reason I did not have my passport checked. The T3 departure area looks more like a department store on Oxford st than an airport. Loads and loads and loads of shops. I walked into Boots and purchased the Philips Sonicare Electric toothbrush as well as some Pearl Drops Toothpaste. I found a nice seating area and sat down and read the Godfather. Time passed quickly and I noticed that SQ319 had now been allocated gate 31. I packed my book and made my way towards the gate. T3 transformed into some kind of industrial warehourse. The ceiling was missing and you could see wires dangling down and the walls were just whitewashed with absolutly nothing on them.
A long queue waited patiently outside gate 31. Thankfully everything proceeded rather quickly and I managed to find a seat near the back of the holding lounge.
Some 20 minutes before departure we still had not boarded. Just then an anncouncement came on the intercom...."Ladies and gentleman we regeret to inform you that the cabin crew have been stuck in a traffic jam."....gasps from the passengers...."We expect the flight to be delayed for about 45 minutes...."...even louders gasps and shock-shock-horror-horror from the passengers. It was only around 1845 plus that the cabin crew truned up, I could see them sneaking their way towards the gate. Finally boarding commenced starting from the back and I made was way through the airbridge when my row was called. I took a copy of the Straits Times and was greeted by name-first time ever, by the stewardess at the door.
Pushback and taxi to takeoff
Settled into my seat which was three rows behind the emergency exit and behind the wing. The seat was comfortable and the leg room was more than ok. I have read that legroom on SIA was 32", while on AF it is 34". However my legs felt better in the SIA seat. There was no lumber support on this plane, no worries as never use the blanket. So I stuck it behind my back and took out the inflight magazine. New York was the featured city on the front cover. I flipped through it and made a mental note to put it in my bag upon disembarkation.Pushback finally commenced at about 1920, some 50 minutes late. The safety video played as we taxied out towards 27L. LHR seemed rather quiet at this time. From 27L there were only two movements before we commenced over take-off roll; those of A320s from Aer Lingus and Air France.
Take-off and climb to cruise altitude
The captain advanced the thrust levers and we rumbled down the runway. The plane used at least about 80% of 27L before rotation, you could with out a doubt sense that the plane was heavy. Our SID for today was a Brookmans Park/BPK 5G departure, which involves a right turn towards the Brookmans Park/BPK VOR which is north of London. In the distance I could make out the London skyline, however the plane flew through and above a rather thick blanket of cloud which prevented me from seeing anything clearly.The cabin cabin came around with the menu and headphones for the Krisworld. Thankfully the aircraft was equipped with the Wiseman 3000 AVOD system so I had the choice of plenty of films in several languages as well as over 200 music albums to choose from. Additionally there was amenity kit consisting of toothbrush, toothpaste and socks, but unfortunatly no eyeshades. I still have no idea why airlines supply socks.
The plane levelled of at 31000ft as the cabin crew came around with the drinks trolley. I ordered an orange juice, which came with peanuts and a napkin. Well I have not had peanuts on a plane for a very long time, maybe around 4 odd years. I started to select the songs that I wanted for my personal playlist, I choose around 15 odd songs and saved it. Next I watched two episodes of friends, one of which is the one where Ross gets on of those tans from a tanning centre. I could not help bursting out with laughter while watching it. Two hours after take-off, we were served dinner. The menu is below:
Oriental style pasta salad with chicken
Sauteed chicken in red wine sauce with confit of lemon slices, fircassee of peas-mushrooms and potatoes (Exclusively created by Mr Gordon Ramsay, London)
Stirfried beef and vegatables in oriental black pepper sauce with steamed rice
Roll and butter
Cheese and Crackers
I choose the chicken as it was created by Gordon Ramsey himself of Hell's Kitchen fame. However, by the time the meal service got down to my row, the chicken had run out and me and my three neighbours had to settle for the stirfried beef, however the stewardess assured us that they would start from the front of our cabin section for the next meal-and they did in fact. I tried the salad. There was no pasta, instead there were strips of tofu. No big problem since I like tofu anyway. That was gone in no time and then I turned my attention to the beef. YUCKS!! Without a doubt the worse main course that I have had on an airline since the beef stew on JAL in 2001. The texture was slimy and some pieces had gristle in them. I left the beef aside and just concentrated on the sauce, vegatbles and rice. The cabin crew came around and handed out a small carton of mango and passion fruit ice cream which was lovely. Full and content, I gulped my way through another orange juice
as our wing was lit up by lightning followed by some heavy turburlence somewhere over the coast of eastern europe.
I watched Anita and me, absolutly boring I must add. I tried to get some sleep, but woke up over nothern Afghanistan with a rumbling stomach. I have noticed this happening on some of my flights. I can fell gas moving around my stomach and it hurts, but not soo much. Its just and annoying and uncomfortable sensation. Knowing that it was light outside, I found it difficult to sleep even though the cabin was completly dark. I decided to listen to my playlist which I had saved earlier. Time flew by as I listened and finally I got some sleep as we flew over the Indian coast. This time I slept with my head against the wall, the way I normally do. i woke up startled. The stewardess was tapping me on the shoulder in an attempt to wake me up for lunch.
Rice vermicelli with chicken and vegatables
Omelette with baken beans, grilled tomatoes and potatoes
Bread, jam and butter
I chose the vermicelli, however since I was in a complete daze I just picked at it with my fork and hardly ate anything. Shame really becasue it was very nice. By now we were just north of Phuket. The captain came on the intercom and announced that we woould be roughly 30 minutes late. He gave the weather report for Singapore which was hot and slightly cloudy.
Descent and landing
Our approach into Changi was the Johor Bahru 1B/VJR 1b arrival with a slight hold at NYLON holding point. This involves flying north of Singapore and then turning right onto final approach about 10-15 miles from the threshold. We touched down on 20R and rolled of one of the taxiways.
Changi was mostly empty. I saw only around 5 aircraft at Terminal 1 as we made our wasy around and docked about 35 minutes late at the gate. After a short wait for immigration and my bag I was finally out and in a taxi.
Seat and interior:4/5-The seat pitch was good, despite being only 32".
Cabin Crew:3.5/5-Excellent this time round, certainly the best crew I have flown with, but marks deducted for being so late, otherwise they would have got at least 4/5.
IFE:6/5-OUT OF THIS WORLD, gave a bonus mark! First time ever. Absolutly wonderful for a long flight.
Food:3.5/5-Let down by that awful beef for dinner
This was my first long haul flight on SIA and I was more than impressed. What made this flight was the IFE and the cabin crew. I feel this more than confirms SIA's position as the premier airline in the region if not asia. Since I will be going to uni in Canterbury, SIA will be my first choice if I have to return to Singapore.
Going to Bangkok tomorrow(4/8/2004) and returning 2 days later. Both flights on SIA, 747s I think.