I am in love with Singapore Airlines. I have flown a few times to Asia on Japan Airlines (love them) and Cathay Pacific (will avoid if at all possible). I have read all the great reviews about Singapore Airlines, but I have never been on Singapore Airlines until just recently. If you can bear to read my report without pictures please read on.
If not, check out my photos and a few videos of my journey (only airport and airline related are posted). http://sqtravelsoctnov2009.shutterfly.com/
June 2009: My brother informs us and the family he is getting married in Thailand. Great, we are going on a trip soon. He said he was getting married in Central Thailand and realizing it will be exhausting for his family and friends from the US to travel to central Thailand, he moved the wedding to Bangkok. From SFO there are no non stop flights to Bangkok. So a stop in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong or China would be necessary before arriving in Bangkok. Then another flight to central Thailand.
Later in the month, Singapore announces a super deal from SFO to HKG for 573USD including all taxes and fuel charges. WOW! That was a bargain and got me booking/searching right away. I spent weeks and at times all night planning a perfect itinerary. Weeks later, I read here that the A380 will commence daily between Hong Kong and Singapore. OMG, I go even more excited. That is an aircraft I wanted to experience since I saw the bird fly over San Francisco and my home back in 2007. I continued to research other cities that Singapore Airlines flies to and a place we have never been. I thought of adding Hanoi, but the Visa fee to enter Vietnam for a 2 day trip wasn't worth it.
After some arguments with the family (we always argue when it comes to vacation destinations), we decided for our 17 day vacation these five cities: Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Penang, and Macau. Granted, we have been to every city on the list except for Penang so we were quite excited about that place as we heard the food is so good and mom wanted fresh durians to eat (not me). Next, getting the flights in order was very tricky as Singapore Airlines does not fly from Hong Kong to Bangkok non stop. We have to transfer in Singapore making us getting to Bangkok one day later. Also there was the stopover promotion of $1US for Singapore Airlines passengers and that got me thinking to spend a night in Singapore before continuing to Bangkok. Realizing my mom suffered badly on a Cathay Pacific economy seat for 14hrs+, I needed to add rest between flights but looking below our final itinerary there wasn't much rest in the beginning.
Departing: San Francisco(SFO - San Francisco Intl Terminal I) on Tue, 20 Oct 2009, 0105 hrs
Arriving: Hong Kong(HKG - Hong Kong) on Wed, 21 Oct 2009, 0635 hrs
Flight: SQ1 (B777-300ER) Economy Class
Departing: Hong Kong(HKG - Hong Kong Terminal 1) on Wed, 21 Oct 2009, 1600 hrs
Arriving: Singapore(SIN - Changi Intl) on Wed, 21 Oct 2009, 1940 hrs
Flight: SQ861 (A380-800) Economy Class
Departing: Singapore(SIN - Changi Intl Terminal 2) on Thu, 22 Oct 2009, 1530 hrs
Arriving: Bangkok(BKK - Suvarnabhumi Airport) on Thu, 22 Oct 2009, 1655 hrs
Flight: SQ976 (B777-200/200ER) Economy Class
Departing: Singapore(SIN - Changi Intl Terminal 3) on Sun, 01 Nov 2009, 0945 hrs
Arriving: Hong Kong(HKG - Hong Kong) on Sun, 01 Nov 2009, 1330 hrs
Flight: SQ856 (A380-800) Economy Class
Departing: Hong Kong(HKG - Hong Kong Terminal 1) on Fri, 06 Nov 2009, 2245 hrs
Arriving: San Francisco(SFO - San Francisco Intl) on Fri, 06 Nov 2009, 1855 hrs
Flight: SQ2 (B777-300ER) Economy Class
USD2,735.91 for 3 Adults roughly $912 per person. Not a bad deal.
On the side note, my sister and her husband used miles to travel across the Pacific but on Cathay Pacific. So they got to Hong Kong roughly the same time we did and we left together but they were heading to Bangkok directly. Overall they suffered back pain due to the new economy seats - they do not recline and they had an awful experience with the flight crew as there wasn't frequent water service.
Back to Singapore Airlines. A few days before our departure to Southeast Asia, we booked online the Singapore Stopover Promotion for $1 USD. Well, I wanted to stay at a luxury hotel but they were sold out. So we ended with the advertisement $1USD at the Excelsior and Peninsula hoel. No where near the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. I read the many bad reviews on Tripadvisor, so I was getting worried. Then again we are going to be there for one night only so it will be fine.
19Oct, I left work and headed to the gym for a final workout. Got everything packed and arrived at SFO roughly 10pm for our 1:05AM flight. There was a lengthly line, but the agent and his collegue who checked us in was very pleasant even though they are not Singapore Airlines employees. We were told they can check our bags in all the way to Bangkok and we were like let's do it. (realizing later we had no change of clothes in Singapore). After check-in, my sister was so hungry that we stop at the food court, but many of the places were about to close and it was 1045pm. So sis ordered a hot dog with fries. My parents and I decided to hold off until we got onto the plane as we know food is served one hour after take off. My sister flying International for the first time didn't believe they serve free food one hour after take off.
20Oct 12am, we walked around for a bit and enjoyed the art displays throughout the International terminal. We wished the SFO Museum was opened as that is something I like to do while if I have extra time. We said good bye to my sister and her husband as they boarded in the International A terminal while we boarded in the International G terminal. By the time we got to the gate, they started boarding with passengers in First/suites, Business, and then economy class starting with the rear cabin. The friendly ground staff was very strict and checked every ticket for passengers who seat wasn't called. Boarded the 777-300ER and I was met by a nice, beautiful flight attendant. She was very professional and her choice of words were pleasant unlike other airlines. Ordinary interior, but the seats -wow they were very spacious. I am not comparing the seat to First Class or business, but for economy the most spacious seats I have ever sat on. Mother noticed the comfy seats and the spaciousness. Dad went to the restroom to check the goodies (dental kit, comb, and that's all - Japan Airlines has Shishedo mini soaps in the restroom - maybe not anymore due to their financial issues). Flight attendants were walking up/down the aisle to check on everyone before the door closes. I asked for a writing kit(stationary paper, pen, and postcards) and it was giving. One attendant was offering newspaper and next the very hot towel service. I am not sure what you do with the hot towel beside wiping your hands. I see a few wiping their face, wiping the PVT and window, and one guy was wiping his bald head. Oh my.
110am, doors still open and FAs started to deliver the head set and menu. Suddenly the Captain spoke we were ready to leave. It was a long taxi ride to the runway 28L. Engines started to roar but not loud at all. We took off to the Northwest and seconds after take off, low clouds covered San Francisco as I was hoping to take a photo of the city. Maybe next time. For the next 20 mins, I noticed I can see lights along the California coast, maybe we are heading north to Alaska. Days prior, flights were going west over the Pacific.
FAs continued to hand out the headset and menu for the flight.
I order a Fruit platter meal which another attendant confirmed with me and placed a special sticker on the top my seat. So for the other, the choice was stewed lamb w Red wine and herbs and veggies or Stir Fried chicken with rice. My parents and I decided to share our meals. I got my fruit platter waited about 30 mins to eat when my parents were served with their meals. Service again very good. After meal service, amenity kit were given --YEAH. Well it wasn't much to write about. Nice bag, but just socks and dental kit. Later I learned you could get an eyeshade from the FA. Flying west of Washington State, we experienced major turbulence and again south of Alaska it got pretty violently but we survived. Breakfast was served again before arrival and got my fruit platter again and my parents got Chicken with Noodles and eggs with Pork. Arrived at the gate at 658AM
21Oct, 7am. waiting to deplane and to passport control. 715am we left the aircraft and walk a few gates and saw my sister and her husband who were just exiting their aircraft. So we arrived about the same time as they did. They complained it was a horrible flight - it was service and the non reclining seat. So they were tired and sleepy that was sure. However, we were not tired and feeling good after the 14hr flight. Due to the Swine flu scare, you are asked to complete a health questionnaire form and hand over to an health inspector before letting through to Passport control. We waited in a long line about 30 mins at Passport control as there were a lot of passengers. So we had 7 hours to spend in Hong Kong before our next flight at 4pm.
21Oct, 1pm we arrived back at HKG via bus E11. We were already checked in so we went straight to Passport control and headed straight to the Free Wifi and Internet area. Saw the A380 in the distant so decided to bring the family to the gate. WOW, that is a big/fat plane. It is a beauty and cannot believe I will be on it shortly. Like me, there were many people taking pictures of this aircraft. My sister and her husband left and we got to the gate and realize there are not many people boarding this flight. Maybe the flight is not full.
Walking down the ramp, there were signs to upper and lower deck with row numbers.
My seat 77k was on upper deck. I felt special just walking up on the ramp. The flight attendant greeted us very nicely and got to our seats. WOW- it is very nice to be up here. Not that many seats in this economy section so it feels private. I started to snap photos of the upper deck economy section and sat back down. Asked a FA for a writing kit and delivered with also a deck of playing cards. WOW. I am acting like a kid in a candy shop at this point. Slowly everyone is boarding and the lady in front of me started to complain that is is too cold and to turn the heat on. She then and asks the FA for every available amenity SQ offers free of charge- eyeshades, toothbrush, writing kit, water, and toys too. At least she didn't ask for playing cards. On the upper deck, the window seat get access to a private side compartment to store you stuff, but many of us stored the blankets and pillows that were on our seat. Flight left on time and arriving in Singapore in 3hrs and 5mins. The only thing I did not like was the window - it was difficult to take pictures and you cannot lean against it to nap. Arrived in Singapore on time and arrived at terminal 2. Smooth passport and custom control. T2 arrival is under renovation so locating the Singapore Airlines Stopover tour desk was difficult to find. Checked in and waited a few minutes for the shuttle ride to Excelsior and Penisula Hotel. The driver who spoke English and Cantonese gave us a tour of the city since he was not busy. We tipped him good for his service. We got to the hotel lobby and it smelled like curry of sort. The elevator had a bathroom air fresherner dispenser --OMG. The room was old and the pink bathroom gave us nightmares.
22Oct, 12pm shuttle service to Changi Terminal 2 for our flight to Bangkok on Singapore Airlines. Got to the airport earlier and discovered a 24 hour cafe on the upper floor in Terminal 2. We had ample time so we decided to take the tram to Terminal 3. WOW - what a nice terminal and we found more places to eat all at a reasonable cost. Then we discovered more things to eat, see, and shop on the upper level. Wait, we found even more on the lower level with a supermarket. OMG, I am a supermarket freak. Overall, this terminal can operate like a city by itself.
We decided to take note where to eat when we come back next week. Boarding our plane we were greeted with another friendly and professional FA. We sat in the rear and service was similar like the previous flights, good food and excellent service without the aging seats and entertainment system. Arrived at 5pm to BKK and from the outside a very nice looking airport and terminals. Can it beat Singapore Changi terminal 3? Well I walked into the terminal and bamm, the ugliest terminal I have seen since Terminal 1 CDG. I looked and looked for the restroom and found one finally. Waiting for my mom, my dad mentions he was disappointed with this airport because of the design it cold looking and noisy. Passport and Custom were quick and then our bother called me say he will be 2 hours late which eventually he was 3 hours late due to traffic. What to do in this airport? We walked and walked then decided to sit for a few hours in front of the escalators. These escalators do not have steps and yes you are allowed to bring the airport luggage cart. During the two hours, we were entertained by numerous travelers with luggage cart not setting the brake on and crashing into each other. Actually the brakes work except on a sloppy surface like the escalators. There is a 9 second video I took regarding this. http://sqtravelsoctnov2009.shutterfly.com/
It's 3am and I need to sleep. To be continued.