Mid-January, I found out that I had to attend a short training workshop in our Hong Kong offices. This was a welcome change as the Singapore offices usually host training sessions for the region. Three days prior to departure, I got my ticket and was very surprised to find out that I was going to travel in J. The company policy is for staff to travel in Y for flights under 6 hours. I knew better than to ask why, I just thought they might want to compensate us for having to work on a weekend
08 February 2007
SQ 862 SIN-HKG
Scheduled: 11.00 – 14.45
Actual: 11.00– 14.37
Departure Gate: F59
Arrival Gate: 15
I left the house at 08.00, picked up my colleague who lives nearby, and reached the airport at 08.25. There weren’t many people checking-in at the J counters and lots of counters were open, so we were attended to almost immediately. I had done online check-in some 40 hours prior and managed to snag seat 11K, the first row of the first of two J cabins on SQ
’s new 77W.
Check-in was completed in about 3 minutes and after waiting for our other colleague to arrive and finish checking-in, we went to the airside to wait for our Boss. The boss arrived around 09.00 and off we went to the Silver Kris Lounge.
My boss is a Solitaire PPS so we all gained access to the F section. The lounge is indeed not the best lounge in the world (my biggest gripes are the lack of apron view and natural lighting), but IMHO it still is a great lounge with lots of food and drink offerings, full bar service, free WiFi, and friendly staff. Nonetheless, I do hope SQ
will come up with a better lounge offering once T3
opens for business.
Hot food on offer that morning included Scrambled Eggs with Chicken Sausage and Sautéed Mushrooms, a selection of Dim Sum, as well as popular local fares of Fried Carrot Cake and Mee Rebus. Cold sandwiches, croissants and other breakfast pastries, and a selection of cheese and fruits were also available.
There was also a separate food station where you can order Congee (Porridge) from the attendant on duty.
Our flight was assigned gate F59, one of the furthest gates from the lounge. One of my colleagues suggested that we arranged for a buggy ride, but the boss was having none of it, saying that the walk would be a good exercise for us! So we left the lounge rather early at 10.15 and reached the gate when boarding had just begun.
-SWA would take me to HKG
The In-flight Supervisor was on hand to greet us at the spacious entryway at door 1L. This could be the IFS’ first flight on the 77W as he sent my colleague the wrong way to her seat. The new interior with wood/timber panels looked great and classy. Found my seat just behind the F cabin. A Flight Stewardess came, said hello, and offered to hang my jacket. While another one asked me if I would like to read a paper. Finally, a third one passed the menu and asked if I would like a welcome drink. I asked for a glass of champagne (1999 Piper Heidsieck), which was delivered promptly along with my paper (Today).
My first thought upon seating down was how wide the seat was! At first it felt rather odd not being able to rest my left arm due to the width of the seat, so I put the pillow to wedge the gap and put my elbow on it.
I was glad I got a bulkhead seat, as it is more spacious and far less enclosing than the non-bulkhead seats. The 15” PTV monitor is also located further away and there is a shelf in front, which made for a nice foot stool.
The leather was soft and felt nice although it was quite slippery. The cabin felt very private and even more so in the forward cabin, which only seats 8. Apart from those seated at the same row, you wouldn’t see the other passengers unless you try hard enough.
Row 11 has two windows…
…and this was what I saw when looking out of the windows. SIN
was completely deserted!
We pushed back bang on time at 11.00 and without any wait, we roared down runway 02C and were airborne at 11.16. Those GE
engines were very noisy.
Shortly after the seat belt sign was turned off, my post-take-off drink of Singapore Sling was delivered with a packet of assorted nuts.
While waiting for lunch to be served, I played around with the seat. Here is a picture of the seat control.
Storage compartment and USB/Video ports and power plugs.
Headphone hook. There are two headphone ports to plug your headphone into (one on each side of the seat). The active noise-canceling headphone is superb btw!
Then it was time to check out the next generation KrisWorld.
The main menu looked cleaner and easier to navigate than earlier versions and the response time was noticeably faster than the Wisemen 3000. The local time at both the origin and destination cities as well as the remaining flight time are always on display at the corners of the screen when in the interactive menu mode.
Lots and lots and lots of AVOD programming to choose from.
The handset unit looks neat and it has a nifty display screen where the title of the programming is displayed along with the remaining flight time. And perhaps most importantly, there is a one-touch button that takes you to the flight path mode. Cool! No more rummaging through the menu!
A Qwerty-type keyboard at the back of the handset to use with the Office applications.
Soon enough lunch was served.
The meal was served in new crockery, which I didn’t like. The light grey trim made it looked dull indeed. Drinks are now served in full-sized glassware, which was very much welcomed, but no more proper wine/champagne glasses. The tray table is large and oriented diagonally (slightly facing the windows in my case). It is height-adjustable for use when the seat is in bed mode.
the new cutlery
A Savoury Note
Salad of scallop with waterchesnut and black fungus
I had the German Riesling with the meal.
The Main Event
I had ordered ‘Book the Cook’ for the main course, which was Slipper Lobster Thermidor with Saffron Rice, Asparagus and Vine-ripened Tomatoes
A Sweet Note
Ben & Jerry’s chunky monkey ice cream
Banana and walnut ice cream garnished with chocolate sauce and tuile
I skipped the cheese and fruit courses and finished off my meal with a cup of Cappuccino.
The Chief Stewardess brought around a tray of Pralines to end the meal.
Service was attentive, my wine glass never stayed empty and my water was topped up regularly. Overall the meal was good and filling, although the lobster was a bit of a disappointment after hearing such good things about it. Lunch was cleared when were off the coast of Vietnam.
raked wingtip over the South China Sea
The new flight path software is terrific. Much more detailed graphics and it even shows the current position of the Sun.
I then visited the lavatory, which was much improved. Here is the rather fancy sink design with motion-activated water tap.
There is also a magnifying vanity mirror.
And the wood/timber finishing make the lavatory looks very nice. The only thing missing is a window.
I then ventured to the aft J cabin, which was rather sparsely filled.
And took a photo of the non-bulkhead seat.
With just over one hour to go before we land, I decided to convert the seat to bed mode. It’s a shame that SQ
did not provide a seat guide like they did when they rolled out the Ultimo, Ultimo Plus, and the Spacebed. Although, to be fair, there is an instructional video in Krisworld on how to convert the seat to bed mode.
Converting the seat to bed was easy enough and there was a duvet and a bigger pillow at the back of the seat back.
The sleeping position is flat, parallel to the floor, but you have to lie diagonally. Sleeping on your side is probably the best and most comfortable position due to the constrained shoulder/head area and legroom area in non-bulkhead seats. If you’re over 6’ tall, sleeping on your side might be the only option, as you will need to bend your knees because of the limited pitch. I’m 6’2” and I found that I had to bend my knees quite a bit even when sleeping on my side on a bulkhead seat. Although I found this to be no problem at all as I usually sleep on my side anyway. The bed itself was nice to sleep on, firm and comfortable.
All too soon, the captain announced our descent in to Chek Lap Kok and we had some spectacular scenery prior to landing.
We landed on 25R at 14.31 after a flight time of 3 hours and 15 minutes and taxied to gate 15.
Immigration was packed as usual but the line moved at a very brisk pace. It took less than 15 minutes to clear, by which time my bag was already waiting on the belt. After we all got our bags, we were off to the city for our 4-day stay in Hong Kong.
Overall this was a very good flight. However, the cabin crew on this flight was average, not bad but not great either. They were faultless, attentive enough, and efficient. I was addressed by name and most of my requests were delivered promptly and most of the time with a smile. But, no warmth whatsoever. I felt that they could’ve done better to make the flight a memorable one, especially given the fact that there were 6 (!) cabin crew in a rather empty Business cabin.
Hong Kong is always a nice city to visit. The weather was perfect during my stay, although it was a bit chilly on the day we left. We stayed at the Langham Place in Mong Kok (Kowloon). A very nice hotel with some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever met. It’s connected to a huge shopping mall, which is connected to Mong Kok MTR station, which made getting around a breeze.
I must say that I was very impressed with the level of service in Hong Kong. Everyone from the airport staff, hotel staff, MTR staff, waiter/waitresses to shop assistants, were all very polite, friendly, and willing to help. Singapore service providers should definitely take a cue from them.
11 February 2007
SQ 861 HKG-SIN
Scheduled: 16.00 – 19.50
Actual: 16.02– 19.49
Departure Gate: 17
Arrival Gate: F56
After a few wrong turns, the taxi driver finally managed to drop us off shortly before 13.30. We went straight to SQ
check-in counters at Area D and there was no line at the two J counters. The check-in agent was very polite and friendly and confirmed my special meal request. That puzzled me since I hadn’t ordered any special meal. The agent then said it was a special birthday cake. Whoa, needless to say it was a nice surprise! My birthday was two days before and my boss and my two colleagues had conspired to order a cake on the return flight!
Check-in was done very quickly and I went over to the other counter to thank my colleagues and the boss for the birthday cake. Immigration and the subsequent security checkpoint were jam-packed, but there were lots of booths open so we cleared them in no time. Our next stop was the Silver Kris Lounge.
The SKL in HKG
is nothing special. It’s gloomy-looking with dated interiors and no windows at all. Again, we had access to the F side thanks to our boss’ Solitaire PPS card.
Food on offer included a Chinese Herbal Soup, a selection of Dim Sum, assorted hot finger food, and assorted cold sandwiches. There were also snacks and crackers, nuts, cheese and fruit, and small tub-sized Haagen-Dasz ice creams in various flavors.
Passengers on the F side were also allowed to cross over to the J side buffet where they had a different soup on offer; otherwise, the food selection was more or less similar to the F section.
We left the lounge at 15.25 and proceeded to gate 17, a short distance away. Boarding was well under way and most Y passengers had already boarded when we reached the gate, even though it was only a little past 15.30.
-SWB was operating this flight. I was glad I didn’t have to fly on SWA twice on the same trip.
Boarded through 1L and was greeted by a very young IFS. My seat was 14A, another bulkhead, the first row of the second J cabin. The Chief Steward hang my jacket and I was offered a welcome drink and a newspaper. I took Champagne and The Sunday Times.
The seat, although barely two months old, already had some scratches, markings, and sticky stains on it.
All the bulkhead seats have shelves that make for a nice foot stool.
Doors were closed at 15.55 and we pushed back two minutes late at 16.02.
Saw an Oasis Hong Kong 744 for the first time. Nice color scheme!
After a rather lengthy taxi to 07R…
…we were number three for take off, after a CX
…and an Air China B737-800.
We were airborne at 16.20 and those seated on the right hand side was treated with an aerial view of the terminal building.
Post-take off drinks were delivered soon after take-off. I had Singapore Sling again. This one was a lot stronger than the one on the outbound leg.
The cabin crew didn’t wait very long to start the meal service. I hadn’t even finished my Singapore Sling when a Flight Stewardess came, dressed my tray table with linen and brought out the appetizer tray.
A Savoury Note
Marinated scallops with jellyfish and mesclun
As with the outbound leg, I had the German Riesling to go along with the meal.
The Main Event
Roasted Chilean Bass Fillet in a New England Clam Chowder Sauce with Bacon and Spinach
exclusively created by Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill, New York
A Sweet Note
Black and White Sesame Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jelly
I didn’t partake in the cheese and fruit courses and finished off the meal with a cup of Coffee.
The meal service concluded 1.5 hours after we took off, which was very fast considering Business was full. We had 6 cabin crew in J, which I thought was a very low crew/passenger ratio (1 FA
for every 7 passengers). As a comparison, the 3-class 772 has the same number of seats in J (42) but only 4 cabin crew.
At this point I thought the cabin crew had forgotten about my birthday cake or worse, that it hadn’t been loaded on to the flight. So I asked one of the girls who said that she would check for me. The Flight Stewardess came back within a minute and said that they had it, but it was supposed to be a surprise and they would give it to me before landing so I could take it home! Ahh, I guess the check-in agent ruined the surprise
flying over Vietnam
Krisworld was a bit buggy on this flight. Response time was very slow and the program menu was mixed up in some places. After watching an episode of Friends and an Australian Open special, I decided to take a little nap.
the seat in fully reclined position
seat in bed mode, ready for me to take a nap on
I didn’t know why but this time the shoulder/head area felt less constricted than the seat on the outbound flight. I was able to lie on my back quite comfortably. However, my seat was just next to the galley and I kept awoken by clanking sounds from the galley.
About 45 minutes later, a Flight Stewardess woke me up and said that we would be landing shortly. My jacket was already returned and placed on the coat hook. I went to the lavatory to freshen up and after I returned, the Chief Steward and a Flight Stewardess came to my seat, shook my hand, and wished me ‘Happy Birthday’. The Flight Stewardess gave me the cake and some chocolates, which came in a nice little box and also a birthday card signed by the Captain, FO, and all 15 cabin crew! I was absolutely blown away.
An approach for 02L saw us flying down south before turning back to line up with the runway, allowing for a rather impressive view of downtown Singapore at dusk.
We landed at 19.38 and after a long taxi, docked at gate F56 at 19.49.
Service on this flight was slightly better than the outbound; the Chief Steward was particularly outstanding. But overall the service level was nowhere near the best I’ve had in J. Nonetheless this was another very good flight and was very memorable indeed.
New Business Class Verdict:
The new cabin feels very classy with the use of wood/timber finishing. The color scheme is also very nice although I’m not to keen on the darker leather. It also feels very private, especially if you are seated in the forward cabin or the bulkhead seats in the aft cabin. There is mood lighting, but since both flights were daylight flights it didn’t have much effect. The lack of center overhead bins didn’t really pose a problem since there was plenty of storage space for everyone.
The new seat is a vast improvement over the Spacebed. I like the ability to sleep fully flat, parallel to the floor and the bed is very comfortable indeed. The shoulder/head room (and leg room on non-bulkhead seats) might feel a bit restrictive for the very big and tall, especially when lying flat on your back. The recline function is essentially hopeless as the seat doesn't recline far enough to be comfortable. Bulkhead seats are by far more superior and have more space than non-bulkhead seats. I have yet to experience non-bulkhead seats but I imagine the level of comfort can be quite different between the two.
The new KrisWorld is simply amazing and a definite improvement over the Wisemen 3000. With the breadth of choice it’s hard to imagine anyone who cannot find something to watch or do. The system still has a few bugs that will hopefully be fixed in the coming months.
No significant difference over the current meal service, although on 77W longer routes, trays are no longer used. I don’t like the new crockery and table linen, which I think look dull. The new full-sized glassware, though, is very nice.
There are no changes in terms of amenities offered, although now you’ve got two pillows with different shapes and thickness and also a duvet in addition to the blanket. The blue/turquoise color of the pillows, blanket, and duvet is very nice. The sockettes and eye-shades also come in the same color. L’occitane and Etro products were available on the lavatory.
Overall, I’m very happy with the new Business Class. The overall product is very nice and a good step up from the Spacebed.
’s service level might be slipping and signs of cost-cutting were evident, but at the end of the day, I still think SQ
as one of the better and perhaps the most consistent airline in the air today. And with their new products, IMHO, they will continue to be ‘a great way to fly’ for many years to come.
Thank you for reading, I hope it was enjoyable. Comments are always appreciated.