Date : 29 November 2004
Airline : Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Flight No : SQ285
Route : SIN/WSSS to AKL/NZAA
Aircraft : Boeing 747-412
Registration : 9V-SPL (cn 26557/1101)
Seat : 22K (Raffles Class)
Captain : Stephen Lo
First Officer : Kalvin Lye / Graham D'Souza
Block Time : 9h 58min
Flight Time : 9h 38min
POB : 338 pax, 20 crew
Distance : 4659nm
Airport : SIN / WSSS
Parking Bay : E3
Runway : 02R
Fuel Load : 125.2 TONS
ZFW: 232.6 TONS
Flaps : 20
V1 : 153 kts
Vref : 165 kts
V2 : 174 kts
SID : TAN 2A
T/O Rating : TO1
Squawk Code : 0124
Route/Airways : TI A576 CIN T29 AYE G222 PKS A576 KAT H44 SY L521 LVNBI
Cruise Level : FL310 - 330 - 350
Cruise Speed : M.85, 500kts, 945kmh
TOC Time : 1345Z @ FL310
TOD Time : not specified
Total Fuel Burn : 100.7 TONS
Airport : AKL / NZAA
Runway : 23L
Parking Bay : 3
STAR Used : Harbour 1A
Vref/VLS: 145 kts
Vapproach : 145kts
Landing Weight : 257.1 TONS
Photo © Brian Conway
Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages
I left home at 6.20pm, catching a cab to Changi Airport Terminal 2 to check in for the 9pm flight. Arriving at the airport on time, I was stunned and awed by the renovations Terminal 2 is undergoing. The completed portion looked very nicely done and classy. We proceeded to the check-in area, which was thankfully not crowded. However, check-in formalities took forever to clear as NZ immigration requirements stipulate that names on the passports must match names on the tickets for security reasons. Having 5 passports to check and a flustered check-in agent didn't help much. Finally, check-in was done by 7.35pm and we immediately proceeded to the airside area for a dinner. First Class was full this time, but since I had already flown on the SkySuite, Raffles was fine with me this time round as I'd be getting the SpaceBed, which I haven't had an opportunity to sample. However, I was slightly disappointed that I didn't get the upper deck seats. Oh well. There's always a next time.
I learnt from my mistake last year (read here) and wisely chose a double cheeseburger from Burger King for my meal at the newly renovated airside food court. Meal over and done with, we made the long walk to Gate E3 and arrived only to see a horrendous queue outside the holding room due to the intensive security checks. While queueing, the boarding call for First, Raffles, Star Alliance Gold and PPS members were made. The rest in cattle would have to wait. Finally, security checks were done and the baby pram was passed to a ground service staff for stowage in the cargo hold. For this 9-odd hour flight, the rest of the family were in Economy at row 32.
Settling into the relatively huge seat, I was pleasantly suprised to see the Chief Steward was the same one as my flight to Sydney last year. However, I don't think he remembers me, and I took this opportunity to pass the flight information data sheet to him to forward to the captain. I had three windows to myself and just below me, cargo was being loaded into the plane. I began reading Krisworld and Silver Kris magazines, making my selection of movies to watch later. A stewardess came over, asking me what I would like for my pre-takeoff drink. I settled for a cup of OJ. Headsets were already in the seat pocket, and hot towels were distributed as usual. Around the same time, the first stewardess arrived and asked what I would like for my post-takeoff drink, and I settled for a Coca-Cola this time round. Thankfully, the seat next to me was empty, and out of 28 seats in the whole cabin only about 18 were occupied.
At 2055h, the cargo door was closed with the usual loud whine, and doors were closed slightly late at 2102h. Pushback commenced at 2105h and with pushback completed, the new safety video was played. Having heard much about it, I was pleasantly suprised at the changes to the usual video that I'd been accustomed to watching for much of my other flights (and thus more than 5 years). The PW4056 powerplants began firing up and began to taxi once the safety video was completed. Runway 02R was in use for departures as usual for this time of year, and me being seated on the right of the aircraft, had a view of Changi Airport T2. Once turning onto the taxiway parallel to Runway 2R, flaps were lowered to 20 degrees for takeoff and the usual checks on the flight controls were done, although from my location nothing much could be seen. The usual long taxi took place, and shortly after 2120 a 1 minute takeoff roll begun.
We climbed rather quickly, overflying Pulau Tekong and making a right turn, providing me with a view of the whole Changi Airport complex, including the new runway purpose-built for the RSAF. On my flight to Sydney last year I had a similar opportunity, only Runway 3/21 was not lit up as it was incomplete. Once we climbed through 10000 feet about 15 minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off and the KrisWorld entertainment system was turned on. Browsed the AVoD menu to choose what movie I would watch first and thus decided on the movie "The Terminal". Shortly after, the captain came on the PA system to talk about today's flight details, mentioning there would be some turbulent weather en route.Since the seat next to me was empty, I turned the PTV on that seat to the Flightpath channel so I wouldn't have to keep switching channels. My post-takeoff drink arrived and I was asked what I wanted for dinner at the same time. The dinner menu is as follows:
singapore >> auckland
A Savoury Note
Romaine lettuce in Oriental dressing with drunken prawns and marinated jelly fish
The Main Event
Panroasted beef fillet with creamed spinach, onion jam and roesti potatoes
Exclusively created by Matthew Moran of Aria Restaurant, Sydney
Indian style fish fillet in masala spices with vegetable korma and steamed basmati rice
Slow-braised lamb shank in soya anise with seasonal vegetables and fried rice
Chicken in basil-white wine sauce with creamed leek, ceps mushrooms and flava beans
The Cheese Board
Gourmet cheese with garnishes
A Sweet Note
A selection of fresh fruit
Ben and Jerry ice cream
Cherry garcia or chocolate fudge brownie
A Connoisseur's Choice
Selection of tea
I chose to go with the chicken as I was hungry by then since I hadn't had much before the flight.
I started with the movie "The Terminal", quite appropriate as I would be arriving in a foreign country much like Viktor Naborski in the movie. A very good movie choice as I had always wanted to watch it but couldn't find the time to do so. Halfway through, my meal arrived. The prawn appetizer was delicious, as I managed to finish the whole plate up (yes, even the vegetables). My chicken came soon after and I wasn't disappointed by the choice. It tasted wonderful, pity that I had to leave a portion behind as I was simply too stuffed to continue. In the meantime, a cup of Evian was poured for me, leaving two drinks (as I hadn't finished the previous cup of Coca-Cola) and continued watching the movie.
Declined the cheese as it came around, and took two bananas from the fruit basket that was brought around. Again declined the ice cream as I was too full, and requested for another cup of Coca-Cola to top the meal off. Meal trays were cleared soon after. Continued watching the movie till it ended, and watched a bit of the flightpath map before selecting my next movie, Spider-Man 2. Although I had watched it before, I decided to watch it again as none of the other movies appealed to me. Shortly after, I was requested by the stewardess (there were 2 serving my area) to close the window shades so as to not disturb the sleep of the other passengers as day would break in about 3 hours. Continued watching my movie and the cabin was regularly patrolled by the crew. Making use of this, I requested for a glass of water, which was periodically refilled by the Chief Steward from a bottle of Evian.
Finished the movie, and started figuring out how to configure the seat into sleeping position as the seat controls were in a big mess (the SkySuite is so much easier). Took me quite a while before I could get the seat into the flat position and popped into bed for a while. However, I had this odd sensation that I was rolling off the bed and that probably prevented me from having a good sleep. Slept for about two hours before waking up due to that uncomfortable sensation (probably comes from the SkySuite being tilted at an angle of 8° to the floor of the aircraft. Went to the washroom to freshen up and returned to my seat, configuring it to its original position with legrest extended and slightly reclined seat back (like it was before I went to sleep), and begun the third movie, Ella Enchanted.
By this time we were flying over Australia and soon Sydney. Pity I couldn't see much of Sydney due to cloud cover and due to the fact my window shades remained closed (although I did open them a bit to look where we were overflying). Shortly after, while over the Tasman Sea, having past Sydney, breakfast was served.
singapore >> auckland
A Fresh Start
A choice of apple, tomato and freshly squeezed orange
A selection of fresh fruit
A Healthy Note
with low fat or full cream milk
The Main Event
Lotus leaf rice
Steamed fragrant rice with chicken, Chinese pork sausage and dried shrimps
Baked vegetable frittata with ham, sausage and roma tomato
Mushroom-herb omelette with veal sausage, roasted tomato and new potatoes
From the Bakery
Assorted breakfast rolls
Butter - Fruit Preserve
A Connoisseur's Choice
Selection of tea
Chose the omelette this time, and honestly I was quite disappointed (read on). I was first asked what drink I would like and chose an OJ. Thereafter, I was asked if I would want cereal or yoghurt and I chose the latter. A basket of fresh bread rolls were brought around and I chose a buttered crossiant. After the starters were completed, my omelette arrived. The omelette tasted terrible, however the sausage and potatoes made up for it. As such I finished everything, leaving a large portion of omelette behind. After finishing this main course, the bread rolls were brought around, and I chose another crossiant so that I would be full.
Breakfast trays were cleared about an hour out of Auckland, and my movie also finished around the same time, so I went off to the toilet again. Came back to my seat and changed the channel fo FlightPath as usual. Arrival cards for New Zealand were distributed and not having a pen, I borrowed one from a steward to fill the card up. One grouse about SIA blue pens : the ink always has problems flowing. This problem was present in the pen I used and I had to write several times over the original writing to get the ink to flow. The menu cards were also collected, however I requested if I could keep a set and the crew happily obliged.
The captain came on the PA system again to announce our impending arrival into Auckland and that we would be descending soon after. I was in luck today, the runway in use was Runway 23L, and we were coming in from the west. Descent was rather rapid and we completed initial descent just as we began overflying New Zealand soil at Whatipu. Being seated on the right, great views of Auckland airport, Manakau City, Manakau Harbour, the suburbs of Mangere and Middlemore, home to the Auckland Golf Course, were present. We made a right turn over the suburb of Whitford and aligned for approach to Runway 23L. Flaps were set as we slowed down, and we practically followed Puhinui Road all the way down the runway. Gears were retracted without that loud whine I experienced last year. I was suprised that as we got lower and lower, the runway didn't appear. As we overflew a creek, the runway suddenly began and we touched down at 11.25am local time about 200m down the runway.
Reverse thrust and spoilers were deployed, and as we hurtled down 23L Air New Zealand (Mount Cook Air) ATR72s and other props were seen. The only traffic at Auckland airport at the time consisted of a solitary Air New Zealand B747, with some A320s and B737s lying around, plus an Asiana B777 from Seoul. As we exited the runway, an Air New Zealand B737(or a prop, forgot) took to the air, and shortly after a ANZ B767 arrived, also from Singapore. This B767 departs earlier and arrives later than our B747, probably due to the B747's much faster cruising speed. Taxi to Gate 3 was relatively short, crossing Runway 05L/23R to get to the apron. We stopped just before the entry to the gate and the captain came on the PA system, announcing we would be towed into the gate. Engines were then shut down and the tug came shortly after, towing us into the gate. This has to be the first time that my flight has been towed into the gate instead of taxiing directly into it. Interestingly, the Air New Zealand B747 began pushing back while the B767 entered the apron, making for an interesting sight. The B747 was pushed back quite a far distance to the furthest opening and held there, waiting for the B767 to pass, at the same time, firing up its engines.
We docked at 1135h and the cargo door below me was promptly opened. Auckland airport gates have only one jetway instead of two, so everyone had to deplane through the front door. My flight information data sheet was returned to me and I proceeded to disembark. I Waited at the holding area for my parents to come out from Economy, and the baby pram to come out of the hold. The pram took quite a while to emerge from the hold, and by the time it was collected, the Air NZ passengers were already filing to immigration. Thankfully, immigration had a special queue for families with young children and the queue wasn't very long, as everyone else filed into the long queues for general travellers since they weren't eligible for this queue. Immigration was cleared in 10 minutes and off we went to baggage claim. This time, our bags were already on the belt, and we went off to clear customs. Customs wasn't as stringent as that in Australia, although bags were also inspected.
Out we went into landside and I was quite amazed how small Auckland Airport is (Christchurch too). Popped over to Hertz to get the rental we had prebooked and proceeded to the car in the rental lots, headed to Auckland city and check in for our hotel.
Flight - 4/5
Flight was very enjoyable. The crew was great as well.
Food - 4/5
The dinner menu was splendid. However, the egg dish for breakfast prevented my rating from being 5/5.
Seat - 3/5
The SpaceBed is poorly designed. It is extremely uncomfortable trying to sleep while at the same time having a sliding sensation.
Airport Facilities - 4/5
Auckland airport is a spartan place, very small but gets the job done. Changi Airport, needless to say, is great.