I wasn’t planning on writing a trip report this time, as I have increasing amounts of work to do on the plane and trying to accurately document all these flights becomes more of a burden than a pleasure. Hence, I did not have my camera available and there will be no aviation related pics this time. I will try to make it up by being brief, concise, and putting on my writer’s hat in order to make it more enjoyable.
Actually, the reason I decided to write a report on this trip was to document the huge differences of SQ’s Raffles Class (that is business class for those of you who don’t know). So, here we go!
Flight: SQ 237
Date: 3 Feb 2007
Dep Time: 23:10
Arr Time: 09:35 +1
Equip: Boeing 777-300
Since I joined my company just over 3 months ago, I had to attend what we call a Group Graduate week, which is a workshop for employees that joined recently after college. I was scheduled to go to Melbourne, where our primary headquarters are (secondary are in London) to attend a week-long conference and learn about the company’s values, do some team building with colleagues from other areas of the world, and, of course, party ‘til we dropped.
I actually arrived at the airport around 7:30pm thinking I was on the 9pm flight to Melbourne. After what nearly amounted to an argument with the nice check-in agent, I realized how silly I was after I checked my itinerary. Damn, this meant I would get the 777-300. Although it would be my first time on the -300 version, I knew this a/c had the regional business class seats, which do not compare to the Spacebeds on the 744. I had lots of time, so I went over to the SilverKris lounge to catch up on some personal emails and get some work done for the coming week. As I walked towards the lounge I stopped at the American Express booth to ask about the documents required to apply for the KrisFlyer Amex Gold card. Since I’ve started to rack up some miles on SQ (without actually having flown them – but TG and LX) and having had a bad experience applying for an HSBC credit card, I figured I’d go with Amex. Docs required were a copy of my passport and employment pass, and a copy of a pay slip. Don’t ask me why, but I actually had a pay slip on me. As I write this while seated on seat 19A on my way back, I reflect on how I finally will be able to purchase stuff online in Singapore and possibly getting rid of the stupid Nets card.
Anyway. Although this was my first time actually flying SQ, it was not my first time at the SQ lounge. I personally don’t like the SilverKris lounge in Singapore. It has no windows and it is quite dark. It is big, but feels very cramped due to all the seats and tables they managed to fit in there. Definitely not on par for an airline such as SQ. I actually prefer QF’s lounge both in SIN as well as in SYD. Even BA’s lounges in London are far better.
After meeting up with one of my colleagues at the lounge, we made our way to the gate lounge and soon enough onto our a/c to MEL. Although by now I knew I would have those horrid regional business class seats, it was still a disappointment to actually see them in person. I originally had seat 18A, but managed to change to 17J to seat next to my colleague.
Now for some SQ bashing. I’m just hoping Singapore_Air does not manage to find out where in Singapore do I live, otherwise I’m in for some ass kicking!
The seat… wow, I really don’t want to use the word horrible, but it was. Heck, even AA’s business class seats on the 777 are far superior! Last time I flew MIA-LHR I managed to get a good 5hrs sleep on them and arrived quite refreshed. Seems like SQ’s seats don’t recline as much. I will say they are very comparable to EI’s Premier Class seats. Not comfy at all.
Onto the amenity kit. Oh, wait. There wasn’t one! Now while last time I took QF, an airline that seems to be struggling and in the middle of a bidding war between possible buyers, they did give me a very nice amenity kit with Rochas products that I actually kept. SQ? Eye shades. That’s it. Eye shades. Heck, even B6 offers more on their red-eye flights!
As far as the service goes, although I did notice a bit of a robotic and pre-disposed attitude, it was nothing special and definitely nothing to write home about. The head F/A (or whatever name or acronym they use) for Raffles was quite pleasant and quite a number too! The other F/A in charge of our side of the Raffles cabin was a bit pudgy, although I guess the corset helped her a bit. One thing is that I do feel sorry for those girls. Wearing a corset and that tight dress cannot be comfortable to move around and serve people on an airplane. It does make you want to rip their little dresses off, both for pity and for sexual reasons. It’s a win-win situation!
No menus were handed out, instead the chubby F/A came around with a list of offerings. Now this was highly unexpected from SQ. In my last trip report, which was flying QF on the SIN-SYD sector and back, I mentioned how we got a full meal and a delicious Foccacia as a second meal. On SQ? Well, there was breakfast… and that was it! The choice was to have breakfast at 11:30pm or around 8:30am… Well, not much of a choice, is it? I noticed there were some sandwiches on the list that the F/A had on her. According to the F/A they were just one of the other choices for breakfast. So did I want it now or in the morning? Sigh. In the morning, of course. I must say that the American breakfast was quite tasty and quite filling.
So, first leg on SQ done and what can I say? Well, I can say I’ve had better experiences flying on airlines in the US.
Flight: DJ 895
Date: 9 Feb 2007
Dep Time: 20:45 (21:15)
Arr Time: 22:05 (22:35)
Equip: Boeing 737-800
Not a lot to report on the Virgin Blue flight. One thing I found quirky at first and annoying after a while was how all the announcements went: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…” Another annoyance was how the flight was boarded via a jetbridge as well as stairs in the back. This felt really stupid, especially for us seated in the middle of the plane. It got messy and added to our delay. I really think it’s just simpler to board everyone through one door. Period. Last but not least, one of the F/A’s seemed to have found her long estranged sister in the row in front of mine, as she actually sat down next to her and didn’t shut her trap for quite a while. By the time she got around to getting my drink, I had enough time to have one sip and throw it away in the garbage bag. Sigh again. All in all, Virgin Blue was nothing special. Just another LCC in a different part of the world.
Flight: SQ 222
Date: 11 Feb 2007
Dep Time: 16:55 (17:30)
Arr Time: 21:55 (21:45)
Equip: Boeing 747-400
I was a bit upbeat about this flight, considering it would be on the 744 with the Spacebeds and not the regional seats. However, the flight leaving in the mid-afternoon and arriving in the evening does not really entice you to go to sleep. It wouldn’t have been an inconvenience to have the regional seats on the flights.
Check-in was efficient, although not a very friendly vibe from the agent. I wanted to change my original seat, 23K, to an aisle seat, as I’ve come to realize that I do like to get up and move around the cabin. Although there was one aisle seat available on the lower deck, I could not resist the temptation of the upper deck and went for a window seat up there: 19A.
Check-in done, I went past customs and the security checkpoint and up the escalator to the KrisFlyer lounge. This one gave me mixed feelings. The lounge is obviously much smaller than the one in SIN, and although it was fairly quiet when I arrived (about 4 other people), it did get quite busy and crowded closer to boarding time. On the plus side, it was very well lit and had some windows over looking some of the international gates where I spotted a TG 744, UA 744, and VS A346. I also had a nice view of arriving and departing aircraft. The food was ok. At least in SIN you get hot food and some local stuff, like dumplings and different kinds of noodles. And although the selection at SYD was not great, the humus and pates were quite good.
Boarding time came and I made my way to gate 53. As I entered the aircraft I was greeted by several of the F/A’s and was shown to my seat on the upper deck. Having sat down I was offered a copy of The Economist along with a glass of some fruit cocktail (I was actually given the ingredients, but was told it was an in-house secret).
Pushback was delayed for a while. First due to some inconsistencies in the manifest and then due to some electrical problem while firing up the engines. Thankfully we did not have to return to the gate (I feared that once I saw the tug returning and pulling up to the nose gear). After the problem was solved we were on our way to departure (I still haven’t familiarized myself with SYD, so no idea which rwy we used).
Up up and away! After about 15mins of flying the F/A’s came around with cocktails and nuts in a bag. I had the Silver Kris Sling, SQ’s own version of the Singapore Sling. The nuts were good, too bad they did not come in a nice bowl instead. After this orders for dinner were taken, and I had the following:
Caprese salad with prawns and prosciuto
Stir fried beef with peppercorn sauce, mixed vegetables, and fried rice
Ice cream with strawberry syrup
I must say that the meal service was top notch! Wow, this is possibly, if not the best meal I’ve ever had on an airplane in my life. This is what I was expecting from SQ.
The IFE was the Wisemen AVOD. In retrospect, I did not make use of the IFE at all on the flight down under, however looking at one of the screens I could tell it was not on demand. On this flight I watched The Departed, although due to some announcements it kept getting cut and I didn’t follow it that much. Would like to see it some time again. After that I watched an episode of The Office and a few episodes of The Simpsons before going back to the movies on demand and watching Accepted. The other movie I wanted to watch was The Prestige, but then I had to do some work due on Monday. Although the video and audio library was quite large, I did not find much stuff that I was keen on. As a matter of fact I only found one CD in the collection that I actually wanted to listen to. I thought Qantas had a better selection, albeit a much smaller one.
Again no amenity kits were offered, although this could be excused for the fact that it is technically a day flight.
The F/A’s were also much more attentive this time around and not robotic at all! While doing some work I asked for a cup of coffee, and the male F/A on the upper deck brewed me a fresh, strong cup of coffee and also brought me some short bread cookies. A very nice touch!
I still have mixed feelings about SQ. The flight to MEL on the 773 was totally disappointing. The return lived up to my expectations, although I should point out that the lack of an amenity kit and the fact that the Spacebeds are indeed showing their age fails to leave a lasting impression of SQ on me that so many others seem to boast about. I would, however, love to try out the Raffless class on the new 777-300ER. However my next trips on SQ’s Raffless class will be to JNB and PVG, both destinations which are not served by the new plane (and PVG is served with the 773! Groan).
Again apologies for the lack of pictures. Nonetheless I would love to hear what your impressions are of SQ’s Raffless class or any other comments you may want to make.
Other recent trip reports:
SIN-SYD-SIN On 744 QF Business (Pics) (by Coal Jan 15 2007 in Trip Reports)
Thai Trip I: SIN-BKK-SIN LX Business/Economy PIX! (by Coal Dec 29 2006 in Trip Reports)
Thai Trip II: BKK-CNX-BKK TG Royal Silk Class PIX! (by Coal Dec 30 2006 in Trip Reports)