Dep FRA: 2225HR
Arr SIN: 1625 +1
Singapore Airline’s newest addition, the B777-300ER, has been the talk of town since it was introduced into its fleet late last year. Many have raved at the sheer spaciousness of its First and Business class cabins, and a number of trip reports have been written about these premium cabins.
With an entitlement to travel only on cattle class, and the fact that there has been no trip report on SQ’s new economy class product on the B77W, made me eager to find out how the new product on their 77W fleet would be like. This report is in fact the final leg of a recent business trip that brought me from Singapore-Frankfurt-Tripoli-Benghazi-Tripoli-Frankfurt-Singapore. I was elated to find out that the final leg of this trip would be on the new 77W! However, my travel agent had difficulty confirming me on SQ for the FRA-SIN sectors, which could mean that I would have to miss the opportunity to experience SQ’s new cabin product to settle for LH that I had been confirmed on instead.
Without any intention to put LH down, but really, there’s simply no comparison between SQ and LH’s Y class inflight product. The thought of flying LH for 12 hours without PTV or subservient Singapore Girls to ensure that everyone is well hydrated and fed and (short of giving me a foot massage) that we have a comfortable flight was daunting…
Alas, I was still unable to confirm my flights on SQ the day I was supposed to have my tickets issued. I risked losing my confirmed reservations on LH if I did not have the tickets issued by the end of the day. The clock was ticking, and I had to decide quickly if I was to go with SQ (with the final sector waitlisted) or to issue my tickets on LH… I decided to play the waiting game, and asked my travel agent to hold on first while I desperately made some calls to my friends at SQ to seek their help to DAPO (“do all possible” in SQ lingo).
I received a call from my agent an hour later to inform me that my booking on SQ325 out of Frankfurt had miraculously been confirmed!! I knew at that point that I would have to make a little trip to the Caviar House at Frankfurt Airport to get my ‘guardian angels’ some good ol’ caviar…
Fast-forward a week later, where I was back in Frankfurt after spending 4 days in Libya. It has been years since I last set foot on German soil and nothing much has changed. Frankfurt airport was anything people friendly. With major renovations on-going, parts of the airport were boarded up, and directional signs were deemed useless as many a times, they led passengers to boarded walls which were original exits leading to various satellites. It was confusing and it took significant effort for anyone to locate their connecting gates. I travel often enough to know, intuitively, where to go at any airport, but FRA, at this point in time just seemed to defy logic. There were transfer counters everywhere, but finding one that was opened was in itself extremely challenging. I must confess that I lost my way twice while at FRA. The first time was after my flight from SIN, when I spent almost an hour searching for a transfer counter to issue my boarding pass for my onward flight to Tripoli. The second time was after I arrived from Tripoli, and several backtracks later, I was told by an unsmiling LH ground staff that I in order to get my boarding pass on SQ325, I could either go to the gate 2 hours before the flight, or go to the land-side check in counters which would open 4 hours before the flight. Getting through immigration was yet another chore. As I had just arrived from Tripoli, I was subjected to further interrogation by a “not-so-friendly” immigration officer. Actually, he was downright rude and condescending!
Airport staff were on most occasions, nonchalant and rude – this was especially so at security check points where passengers were shouted at, and treated with ‘disdain’. Yes the word is ‘disdain’. One was made to feel that they either hated their job so much, or they really hated the passengers that they had to deal with.
In all, transiting through FRA was definitely not a pleasant experience, and I would avoid passing through this airport in future if I can help it.
To cut a long story short, I decided to get into Frankfurt for a look see and at the same time collect my boarding pass from the SQ check in counter.
Frankfurt Airport: Land of Lufthansa!
Having had enough to see, and having been told by friends that clearing security at FRA would be a nightmare, I proceeded back into the airport. They were right! Appearing before me were snaking queues of passengers waiting to clear security checks just before immigration. There were at least 200 passengers waiting to be processed! I was secretly glad that I heeded my friends’ advice. The security checks were definitely thorough. Belts, watches had to be removed, pockets emptied, laptops removed from the bags and shoes scanned. I understand the need for security checks in this day and age, but the abiding crowd and shouting security officers somehow reminded me of a scene from Schindler’s List!
It took me some 30 min before I was back in the main air-side shopping area. I managed to get the caviar that I promised my friends, as well as 2 BOSS belts – just to give myself a little treat for having gone through a difficult week in Libya
Satellite B – Where SQ325 was to depart from.
After some shopping, I decided to check out the Lufthansa Senator Lounge where I waited out the remaining hours before my flight. It was nowhere as elaborate as the Silver Kris Lounges or *A lounges that I have seen around the world. However, the German meats and dessert on offer were simply scrumptious!
I managed to get some work done while relaxing in the lounge before proceeding to gate B46. Boarding by rows had already commenced by the time I got there. The excitement grew as I proceeded down the aerobridge and made my way into SQ’s first 77W – 9VSWA, turned left past the gigantic Business Seats before reaching my seat - 46A. Great! A window seat with the middle seat blocked off (this was my lucky night as there were less than 10 empty seats in Y class)
Photo © Jonathan Derden - Spot This!
Here are some pictures of the ultra cozy and spacious new Y class product…I’ll leave you for a moment to enjoy these exciting new features….
View from my seat...
The personal reading light located just under the PTV screen comes with 3 adjustable levels of brightness. Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier?
Here are the rest of the in-seat features…
A Qwerty keypad on the other side of the consol.
Spectacle and cup holder.
The office software provided by Sun Microsystems, and an instruction manual on how to use it.
New wall panel designs…
I’m not too sure what the seat pitch was, but it definitely felt wider than the 33 inch that I’m used to on their 772ER aircrafts. My guess is it’s 34 inch cos I was actually able to cross my legs quite comfortably when seated! I know some people have commented how awful the new carpets on 77W look, but I do think they look great…quite similar to those on AF.
Plush pillows with new and softer covers were placed on every seat. They definitely look much better than the pink ones on the rest of the SQ fleet. The fleece blanket was also nice and warm - and most important of all, one does not get hit by the static that seems to happen all the time with the wool ones on the other aircrafts.
The light but thick fleece blanket is on the left of the cabin floor AND no more large intrusive entertainment system boxes that eats into your leg space. These boxes now come in slim black boxes under the seat and are hardly noticeable.
It started pouring heavily outside as soon as the powerful GE90 engines spooled up. I’m not sure if this is a characteristic of the GE engines, but the noise was almost deafening as the they spooled up; so much so that the inflight announcements became inaudible, and the cabin vibrated throughout. The noise and vibration lasted a good 2 minutes before they quietened down.
SQ325 thundered down the runway for a good 1 min or more before lifting up into the wet and dark skies. Heavy turbulence swayed the aircraft around for a substantial amount of time before the seat belt signs were finally switched off. English and German announcements were made for all passengers to remain seated while the cabin crew went about their duties. Speaking of German announcements, there were 2 cabin crew who spoke German on this evening’s flight, a leading steward and a flight stewardess. The stewardess made most of the German announcements on this flight, while the steward occasionally made the announcements asking passengers to get back to their seat whenever there was turbulence. Truth be told, the steward’s German announcement sounded rather authentic to me (I don’t speak German, but I’ve heard the announcements on Lufthansa earlier that day so I know how German should sound like). On the other hand, the stewardess’ German announcements were jarring. How should I put this nicely… For the Singaporean a.netters, perhaps you’ll understand what I am saying. Try imagining an Ah Lian speaking German. It sounded like a very strong Singaporean accent (not Singlish) but in German. Yes, the SQ Ah Lians have struck again… this time in German!!
The crew swung into action, distributing menus and amenity kits. Now, it seems that apart from the menus, everything on the 77W has been ‘upgraded’, from pillows and blankets right down to the amenity kits! Here’s the proof –
Menu: Similar to those on every other non-77W operated flight.
Givenchy Amenity kit: Available only on 77W operated flight.
New sockettes and toothbrush sets! An interesting point to note is that toothbrush sets are no longer provided in the lavatories on flights where amenity kits are provided – only shaving kits are available.
After takeoff beverages and peanuts were handed out by the crew on a tray. White wine, orange juice and beer were on offer. I resisted asking for anything that was not on the tray as I was too occupied checking out the surroundings.
The foldable table provided much more space and comfort. EK has had this for ages, and I’m surprised it took SQ so long to discover the benefits of this design. The rectangular indent on the right side of the tray can be slid open to reveal a mirror!
All one needed to do was to adjust the angle of the tray table to see himself in the mirror.
Dinner was served about an hour into the flight. New cutlery and servicewares exclusively on 77W operated flights! They look really classy compared to the standard ones!
As with all ultra-long haul flights on SQ, three mains were available tonight.
Appetiser: Smoked Salmon with leek salad – a thick slab of salmon at that!
Kang Gai – Siamese style chicken curry served with selected vegetables and steamed rice ( I don’t recall why I chose this, but it tasted great, albeit not as authentic as those you find in BKK or SIN)
Other mains on offer were:
# Beef fillet with rosemary sauce, assorted vegetables and sautéed potato with onion.
# Chinese style braised fish fillet in preserved black bean sauce, seasonable vegetables and steamed rice.
Cheese & crackers and roll and butter
Dessert: Ice Cream
Kaffee or Tee
For those who are interested, here’re some close-ups of the new wavy-edged serviceware.
Dinner service was slow, and it was almost 1am (Frankfurt time) by the time the dinner service and several coffee/tea refills ended and cleared. The mandatory trip to the lavatory before turning in for the night was made… No sanitary pad absorbency tests were made, so the subsequent pictures are alright for general viewing.
The new lavatories were decently furnished and equipped, sans the toothbrush sets which are already in your personal amenity kits.
Cabin lights were dimmed as I popped a sleeping pill and checked out some hotel deals from Business Traveller. The personal reading lights were unintrusive and provided sufficient lighting in the pitch dark cabin.
I knocked out completely as the sleeping pill kicked in, missing the mid-flight snacks that were handed out.
Sandwiches – savory and vegetarian sandwich
Snacks – Roasted peanuts, Bread Stick Snack, Wafer Biscuit, Potato Chips, Assorted Sweet Biscuits and Fruit.
1.5 hrs into SIN, the cabin lights were illuminated and the “before touch down” meal service commenced. This was essentially breakfast, but it was 3pm in SIN so I opted for the noodles instead of scrambled eggs.
Fresh fruit plate
Wholesome beginnings: Braised egg noodles with minced beef in oriental sauce and vegetables – the meal came with a tiny tub of sweet chilli sauce (It wasn’t bad at all and the portions were substantial. The size of the main casserole was 1/3 larger than the one served during dinner service)
Butter/Fruit Preserve and yoghurt
Breakfast, or rather “Before Touch Down” was cleared just as the aircraft started its decent. And it was at this point that the batteries in my camera died. So here’s a photo from the database of the overall view of the new Y class seats looked.
Photo © Nick de Jonge - Jet-A1 Images
SQ325 touched down in rainy Singapore right on schedule after an 11 hr 30min journey from an equally rainy Frankfurt.
The service on this flight was almost impeccable, if not for the Singaporean sounding German announcements made by a particular flight stewardess. What impressed me most was the enhanced spaciousness and comfort level that the Y class seats offered, as well as the new soothing color tones in the cabin. They are miles ahead of what SQ offers on their other 777 fleet and 744s. I believe the new A380 aircrafts will offer the same Y seats, with perhaps even more personal space.
I’m glad I made it on this flight, and having the opportunity to experience a truly GREAT WAY TO FLY. Now, if only I can get myself on the A345 before they disappear…
I hope my report has given you an insight into SQ’s latest inflight product. Comments are welcomed as usual.
[Edited 2007-08-19 21:08:31]
[Edited 2007-08-19 21:10:21]
[Edited 2007-08-19 21:24:51]