Early this year I stumbled upon a trip report by our fellow a.netter VXVXB covering his SYD-BNE-SIN-KUL-SIN-BNE-SYD trip and after watching all those wonderful pictures coupled with my life-long interest in traveling to Asia made me ponder about finally taking the plunge and visit.
After doing a bit of research and consulting with a friend of mine, I settled on visiting Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 1 week spending 3 and a half days in each city just wandering about (not much of a museum geek myself) just to get a taste of the place.
Then the search for a good fare began, as a Miles and More member I would love to fly on one of the alliance airlines, and coincidentally Singapore Airlines offers a daily BCN-SIN flight on one of their super cool 777-300ERs but their fares were ridiculously high (2200 euros in Economy!) Luckily good ole LH came to the rescue and offered me a more reasonably fare of 860 euros for a return flight via Munich.
I booked this flight well in advance (February) and the itinerary now looked like this.
BCN-MUC on Spanair
MUC-SIN on Lufthansa
SIN-KUL on a Aeroline Coach ( I wanted to see some countryside)
KUL-SIN on Singapore airlines (treated myself to a business class seat for 120 euros one way)
SIN-MUC again on Lufthansa
MUC-BCN on Lufthansa.
Boarding passes and maps and stuff.
Then it was time to sit and wait for 6 months until the big day finally arrived.
Friday 4th of July 2008
Flight JK135 BCN-MUC
Airbus A320-200 EC-IIK (with some stickers on the back)
Departure Time 10:25am / Actual time 10:35am
Arrival Time 12:25pm / Actual Arrival 12:20pm
Seat 27A Economy
Photo © Joan Martorell
Photo © Mathias Henig
I arrived at Barcelona’s airport at around 9am and there were already lots and lots of people, being summer I was not really surprised at all.
I walked over to the LH self check-in machines and one of the LH girls told me I should go over to the Spanair desks since my first leg was on JK even tho the whole itinerary was made thru LH.
At the JK counters I was told I could use the JK self check-in machines and then I could just drop my bag on the designated counter, I thought this was fantastic since I was short on time and the qeues were fairly long and moving at a snail’s pace, anyways I walked over to the machines and upon entering my E-ticket number I was issued with my boarding pass and secured a window seat towards the rear of the plane.
I then walked to the baggage drop-off desk and my bag was tagged all the way to SIN, good bye bag! See you in Asia!
With that done, I then proceeded to clear security, at first I thought the lines will be HUGE due to the amount of people at the terminal but luckily there were no lines at all and I cleared security in a matter of minutes.
Once airside I checked the monitors to confirm my departure gate, and then made a quick stop at a news stand to stock on reading material and water for the long journey ahead, as I walked back to my gate area I noticed that boarding has started and also noticed our airplane for today, EC-IIZ with “Club de Vacaciones” stickers.
This was my first time onboard a JK aircraft so I did not know what to expect regarding service, I was a bit worried it would be just another Iberia-ish kind of service (buy on board, rude staff, knee crunching seat pitch, etc)
After a friendly welcome by the crew at the door, I made my way towards the rear of the aircraft where my seat was, once there I stored my stuff on the overhead and made myself comfortable, soon after my seat mates arrived.
Cabin. Well maintained, clean and spotless.
Crew. So far, quite welcoming and nice.
Seatpitch. One word… TIGHT! Really…
While waiting for boarding to be completed the captain came on the PA to introduce himself and welcome us onboard, he told us our routing and flying time and that once the last bags were loaded we will be on our way.
Pushback commenced later one and the engines were started one-by one, I always love hearing the PTU when I fly on the A320 series and today was no exception.
With the tug disconnected and after all the flight controls were checked, we gently started taxiing towards the active runway, the apron was full of activity with visitors from all over the place, I saw a couple of TU154s sitting on remote gates, a CO 757, a DL 767 and the daily SQ773 to SIN via MXP, mentally I decided to have a little race with him, he will still have to stop for 1 hour in MXP while I had a 1:40 minute flight to MUC plus a 40 minutes layover, the results of the race… at the end of the report
A pic of 9V-SWF... the race is on...
After a bit of taxiing we finally made it to the active runway (25L) and the captain informed us we were number 4 for takeoff, 5 minutes later it was our turn and our A320 rocketed off into a nice Barcelona summer morning, after takeoff a few turns were made to put us en-route towards Munchen flughafen
Once a safe cruising altitude was reached the seatbelt sign was switched off and the crew offered a snack service, at first I thought it must be BOB but then I noticed it was free! I certainly was not expecting but it was nice! The crew handed us little blue plastic box with a ham and cheese sandwich and then a drink of your choice, I asked for some OJ and a coffee, by then we were skipping along the French Mediterranean coast and Nice and Monaco came into view, the crew then cleared all the rubbish and offered a second round of coffee and another F/A had a basket full of sweets, all in all the service was conducted efficiently and politely and I was very impressed!
Flying over Monaco, you can see my luxury yacht parked on the marina... I wish...
Once we entered Italian Airspace there were quite a bit of clouds around and the aircraft started shaking up a bit, but it did offer a nice view of the Alps, the crew came around offering some Duty Free but not many people were interested.
After 1:30 the captain informed us that we were about to start our descent into MUC, the cabin crew did a quick cabin clean-up and as we got lower and lower we flew thru a rather thick layer of clouds which made the descent quite bumpy.
We flew alongside the airport and then turned back to line up on the active runway, the flaps and landing gear were lowered in a nice symphony of thuds and whirring, and the P.I.C. then made a super smooth touchdown on the runway (08L) and slowed down using a bit of reverse thrust, after exiting the runway we started the long trek back to T2 passing on the way to our gate next to the A340-300 that will take me later on to SIN.
We parked on a gate on one of the far ends of the terminal and since I was sitting basically at the back of the plane I had to wait for everyone to patiently disembark, the time was now 12:25 and boarding for my next flight was due to start at 12:45… I quickly retrieved my stuff from the overhead and left the plane thanking the crew.
I then went to check the monitors for my connecting flight and it showed it was to depart from gate H24, I then ran like my pants were on fire, I had to go up some stairs, then clear passport control and finally reached my gate where I was issued with my boarding passes.
One thing… Munich airport is HUGE!
Friday 4th of July 2008
Flight LH790 MUC-SIN
Airbus A340-300 D-AIGM “Gorlitz”
Departure Time 13:20 / Actual time 13:20
Arrival Time 07:35 +1 / Actual Arrival 07:35! German efficiency at its best!
Seat 27C Economy
Photo © Klaus Ecker
Photo © Rotate
After I got my boarding passes, I noticed that my seat was changed to 27C, (initially I had chosen 39K) but somehow I was moved, not to worry since this seat was located on the small economy section LH has on some of their A343s just behind Business class and separated from the main cabin by the toilets, most people prefer this area as it is a bit more private and since my seat was the last row before the bulkhead it meant I could recline as much as I wanted since there will be no one behind me, the only downside is that since you are near the loos there is always constant activity around the area but to be honest it did not bothered me during the flight.
D-AIGM at the gate.
Boarding started at 12:45 and since I had an E-Tix it meant I could use the Quick Boarding Gates, its just a matter of swiping your E-tix barcode on the little screen and voila! You are in! no queues, no hassle!
Yup, there's me flight!
I entered the aircraft thru the L2 door where a nice cabin crew welcomed me and pointed me in the direction of my seat, on the way of course I had to walk past the business class cabin and give evils to the lucky ones flying on those seats…
On the jetway.
Anyways I made it to my seat and stored my stuff on the overhead and made myself comfortable on what will basically be my living space for the next 12:30 hours…
Cabin. This is LH… lots of gray and yellow… but the cabin was well maintained and very well cleaned, the seats were comfortable and slightly wider than on short haul a/c they also had adjustable headrest with little wings on the sides. Seat configuration is 2-4-2
Crew. Nice and friendly.
Seatpitch. Not bad as well, the only thing I noticed is the little box under the window seat which could be bothersome.
Boarding was done quickly and before we knew it the doors were closed and pushback started, then I said to myself… this is it… I am going to Asia…finally!
With all 4 hairdryers running our fully loaded A340 started taxiing to the active runway, MUC airport at this time of day is not really that busy and we were only number 2 for takeoff, meanwhile the captain welcomed us and informed us about our routing today as well as the flying time.
The route will take us out of MUC towards Romania and the black sea, then over Georgia and Azerbaijan and across the Caspian and Turkmenistan, then Afghanistan (!) Pakistan, India, and across the bay of Bengal making landfall on the coast of Thailand and from there down thru Malaysia and finally Singapore, I heard the captain saying that the flight time was going to be 11 hours but this is a wild guess since I could not hear well.
Our A340 made it to the threshold of RWY 08L and we sat there for a little bit, then the pilot put the hairdryer switches on the “MAX” position and the plane sluggishly started rolling forwards gathering up speed, and after a whooping 50 seconds of takeoff roll our A340 gently lifted off the ground (I timed it!)
With the gears retracted we continued gaining speed and altitude and once a safe altitude was reached the seatbelt sign was switched off, the cabin crew then passed around offering a bag of snacks and a soft drink of your choice, Singapore immigration forms were distributed and later on hot towels were also handed out.
About an hour and a bit of flying, a dinner service was offered, we were handed out a little booklet with the menu and the choices today were.
Mixed lettuce with feta and red bell pepper cubes served with tomato and thyme dressing.
Rolls and Butter.
Wok fried chicken with asian vegetables and basmati rice.
Fiorelli with cheese and ricotta tortellini with tomatoes and a duet of pesto.
Scrambled eggs with chives, bell pepper ragout and potato wedges.
I chose the pasta and it was not bad at all, but word of advice, careful when lifting up the lid on the aluminium container, it is REALLY hot! The pasta was lovely, well cooked and not burnt or anything, the salad was fresh and crisp and the cake was moist and delicious.
I washed my meal down with some orange juice, coffee and tea was served later on.
The crew cleared all the trays and offered more coffee and tea and by this time the entertainment system was switched on, first a round of News, followed by some music videos and then a movie (Fools gold) and a Discovery Channel documentary on China (very interesting).
The rest of the flight passed by uneventfully, the crew passed around every 30 mins or so offering water and orange juice while most passengers were sleeping or enjoying the movie, I managed to get some sleep.
1:20 prior to landing the cabin lights were switched on thus awakening me from dream-land, hot towels were again distributed and the breakfast service offered, by then the second movie (definitely maybe) was showing and we were already flying along the coast of Thailand.
Breakfast was OK, the omelette was a bit watery but it was edible, the tray contained a raspberry yogurt, a bread roll with butter and marmalade and a cup of water (I think) and it was all washed down with some much needed coffee.
Once everyone was stuffed the crew collected the trays and cleaned up the cabin a little, more coffee and tea and water and juice was offered, and soon the captain announced we will shortly start our descent towards Singapore, was I excited? You bet!
The view out of the window revealed some clouds around, the captain said the weather in Singapore was 27c with a bit of cloud, as we got lower and lower I could see all the ships waiting to enter the port of Singapore, the cabin crew secured the cabin for the landing and the flaps and gears were lowered (specially the middle main gear that came out with a loud bang and thud) finally after 12 hrs our A340 firmly touched down in Changi’s Rwy 20C, reverse thrust was applied followed by some heavy breaking and I mean heavy! We exited the runway and made our way to our gate in T2.
We parked in a gate next to some SQ777s and the hairdryers were switched off, seatbelt sign went off as well and the usual deplanning chaos began, luckily since I was seated near the front of the aircraft I managed to exit the plane quickly, and here I was…. Finally in Singapore! I could not believe I was walking down the corridors of Changi Airport… I read a lot about the place, saw loads of pictures but being there for real… it was cool!
Inmigration was fast and polite, they even offer you sweets! And then collected my bag from the belt, then it was a matter of getting a map of the city and exchange some Euros into SGD’s I noticed a Ya Kun Kaya stall on the way to the MRT station and of course stopped to enjoy some Kaya toast, hmmmm delicious...
Kaya Toast from Ya Kun Kaya.
MRT station at Changi.
Got myself an EzLink card and took the MRT to Bugis station where my hotel was located, I arrived at my hotel at around 9am but they did not have my room ready yet… great… so I was forced to do some early sightseeing, I left my bags there, changed my clothes and went out exploring… please… don’t get me started on the heat in Singapore… it’s just unbearable, but I did enjoyed my stay in Singapore, absolutely lovely city, expensive yes, but nice, I look forward to visit it again soon.
Few pics from Singapore.
A Chinese temple on Bugis.
Yours truly with the CBD in the background, notice the Merlion.
Sri Mariamman (sp) temple.
Another Chinese temple, apparently this one used to be right next to the riverside, land reclamation means the river is a bit farther now.
The famous Raffles Hotel, just a little bit out of my budget...
So this is it, I hope you enjoyed reading this report and stay tuned for part 2 covering the return part of my journey KUL-SIN onboard SQ Business class and SIN-MUC-BCN on LH cattle class.
Comments good or bad are always welcomed.