On Tuesday morning we left our home for the drive to Suvarnabhumi. This trip could normally be done in just over one hour, but the roads have been completely messed up over the past year or so due to major road works. Instead of improving the situation over time, it only seems to get worse, and depending on traffic conditions this trip can now take up to 2.5 hours. So we left well in time, and as the traffic wasn’t too bad this time arrived at the airport about 1 hour and 45 minutes before departure. It was surprisingly easy to find a good parking spot this time and off we went to the AirAsia check-in counters in row E of the departures hall. The queue for the Singapore flight was the longest of all – of course - with two counters handling this flight. Both queues contained a huge group of Chinese tourists and it took very long to get to the counter, but once there check-in was done quickly. Next was immigration, which again took quite a long time.
22 May 2007
Thai AirAsia flight FD3503
Boeing 737-300 HS-AAQ
Photo © Teemu Tuuri - FAP
Once in the airside, we wandered around for a while, bought a newspaper and made our way to gate D8A – in other words, we would be taken to the aircraft by bus, a.k.a. the sardines express. Meanwhile another Thai AirAsia 737 pulled up at gate D8 and docked with the passenger boarding bridge, in preparation for its next flight to Hanoi.
Boarding went quite effortless however and we were ready for departure in no-time. We picked seats 6D and 6F, leaving the middle seat free. Luckily the plane was not entirely full, so we had the extra space during the flight. Take-off was from runway 19L, our route taking us over the resort town of Pattaya and U-Taphao air base before turning right and then more or less in a straight line to Singapore.
The resort town of Pattaya, Thailand
The in-flight menu prices on AirAsia are very reasonable. We had a Kit Kat, cashew nuts, two Pepsis and a bottle of mineral water for 210 baht (about USD 6). The three-member cabin crew, two females and one male, were very efficient and service-minded and their English was also very good.
During final approach to Rwy 20C at Changi I got the chance to get some good shots of the Singapore Airlines maintenance hangars, which I was quite delighted with as I couldn’t obtain permission to take photographs of the facilities while I was there for the interview. We parked at a contact gate of Terminal 1, next to a Cathay Pacific 747-400.
One of SIA's newest aircraft, Boeing 777-300ER 9V-SWG
While the airside of the terminal was nice and quiet, the immigration area was extremely overcrowded and it took quite some time to get through. After that we hopped into a taxi to go to our hotel on Bencoolen Street.
After spending the Wednesday in the city, on Thursday morning I took a taxi to the Changi Cargo Centre for the interview at Singapore Airlines Engineering, and after that went to Terminal 1 to take some photographs from the Viewing Mall – the most interesting aircraft for me being an Air Seychelles Boeing 767, which was still missing from my collection. I also took some pictures of the terminal, with the view on writing an article about Changi, and then jumped on the Skytrain to Terminal 2, again to shoot some pictures there. I then took the MRT back to the city.
Air Seychelles Boeing 767-300ER S7-ASY
Around 4 pm we got into a cab and headed for the Budget Terminal, which currently is only used by Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific. I wonder why Jetstar and Thai AirAsia don’t use it?
Singapore Changi is strict with the new cabin baggage rules
I must say I was very impressed with the Budget Terminal. At first it looked as if it really deserves its name; the check-in area is nothing more than a huge empty hall with a café-restaurant on one side and a row of check-in desks along one wall. We arrived there just as the check-in desks for the Bangkok flight opened, two hours before departure. Check-in was quick, and after taking some pictures we made our way through immigration and the security check. After that, it looked as if we entered a terminal like any other international airport’s, with a good selection of shops selling a whole range of items and a couple of food and beverage outlets. The area is clean, spacious and bright, and really looks very nice. As an extra there are computers with free internet access, as well as an area where you can sit down and connect a laptop for free internet as well.
The airside of the Budget Terminal
Boarding commenced 30 minutes before departure, at gate number 9 (out of 10) and literally a couple of steps to the aircraft. It would be a great area for some airside spotting, with a good overview of runway 02R/20L, but the security guards don’t like people taking pictures there.
24 May 2007
Tiger Airways flight TR108
Airbus A320 9V-TAA
Tiger Airways Airbus A320 9V-TAA operating the flight to BKK
We sat down in seats 7D and 7F and, as on the incoming flight, the middle seat remained free. We pushed back on time and started a long and slow taxi to runway 20R, which gave me some nice opportunities to take some extra pictures. Take-off was followed by a left turn, avoiding a couple of thunderstorm clouds, and we were on our way back to Bangkok.
A little extra at Tiger Airways is the in-flight magazine containing some interesting destination articles, but I found the in-flight menu to be less good than AirAsia’s and also the prices are higher (about twice as high, actually). I also found the cabin crew less friendly and helpful than on any AirAsia flight I took – but then again I just might have been unlucky with this particular crew. Finally, the uniforms (if that’s what you can call the leisure clothing they wear) were not very representative of the airline. The male flight attendants’ shirts had only tigerairways.com written in tiny letters on the back, while on the front they had advertising for VISA cards. It’s fine with me to have simple uniforms like that and it’s entirely in the spirit of an LCC; but at least they could have made them a bit more ‘airlinish’. All in all, and despite of the good reviews I previously read on Tiger Airways, I didn’t like them as much as AirAsia. But the assigned seating is definitely a big plus, and the Budget Terminal in Singapore is top-notch if you ask me.
Landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi’s runway 19R and parking at a contact gate of concourse G, this concluded yet another nice trip in South-East Asia. Next flights: Bangkok-Istanbul-Amsterdam with Turkish Airlines on 1 June, Brussels-Frankfurt with Brussels Airlines and Frankfurt-Istanbul-Bangkok with Turkish Airlines on 9 June.