I had to attend a conference in Geneva in late April and chose SQ
1) Addiction to its consistently stellar service.
2) Best Whalejet connections into GVA
3) A refusal to hub via LHR
which is a necessary if I fly with QF
, which is even worse)
As it turned out, this was an excellent decision.
In the days preceding this trip, I was expecting the whole thing to be cancelled because of the Iceland Volcano, but thankfully, only a few days before departure, operations resumed…SQ
was one of the first carriers to resume flights into Europe from Asia. Qantas began their services a day or 2 later because, you know, they are “very concerned about safety” and seem to gloat about being safer than any other airline. (Sorry, as I write this, the whole saga about QF
32 is continuing to play out and I just get sick of the CEO AJ
, reassuring the worried Australian public continuously about safety standards at Qantas, etc and people are just being asked to ignore the constant negative publicity on TV
seeing engines blow up, holes in the sides of QF
jets, etc…my take on it is that I believe that QF
is still safe and they have had ALOT of bad luck lately, not helped by bashing by the media and tall poppy syndrome). Anyway, back to my flight….
I left for the airport at 7am. My wife and our 2 kids were still asleep….very hard for me to leave them.
J cabin lower deck
B744-412 downgraded from A380
Understandably, my flight was downgraded from an A380 because of the extra capacity required to rescue stranded passengers. I wasn’t upset at all as I am very fond of the 744s…they will soon be gone from this part of the world and I really didn’t mind being on the lower deck J cabin for the short hop to Spore, plus, I would be able to fly on the A380 to and from ZRH
. The staff at check in apologised for the equipment change, with a printed apology, and I said it was totally fine.
The flight was full due to the aircraft downgrade. Can’t remember what the rego was but here was our bird.
The new gate area at the end of the concourse at MEL
Boarding commenced in a very orderly fashion and my colleague and I boarded early.
The flight took off on time. The roar of those Pratt and Whitney engines distinctly different from the Rolls Royce ones at Qantas. It was a beautiful day for flying.
The service, as usual was faultless from the moment we boarded. Everything just happens as you expect on SQ
. Addressed by name, drinks, menus and warm friendly smiles.
The 744 is showing its age, but for its age, it was VERY well maintained. Rattles and squeaks, it was strangely nostalgic and even charming.
Lunch was served shortly after take off:
First course: Marinated prawns with tomato cous cous, cucumber and baby lettuce, garnished with mint yoghurt. Very nice and fresh. You could really taste the mint in the yoghurt which went very well with the tomato cous cous.
Garlic bread: I love the garlic bread on SQ
. Somehow, these 2 asian carriers tend to get it right all the time…crisp edges and loads of butter and garlic.
Main Course: Thai style fried snapper fillet served with a papaya salad and fragrant rice. YUM
…this was delicious..the papaya salad was very fresh and the whole sweet and sour Thai thing was very enjoyable.
My colleague had Chinese stir fried pork with ginger and spring onions and fried rice…a bit ‘food court’ for me, but looked good nevertheless (she said it was).
I was amused at her embarrassment of my taking pics of our food…she just didn’t know where to put her face. These Anetters….such weirdos. “ you actually post them online?!!”….I laughed. It’s so hard for civilians to understand our fetish. But I had a job to do…
Dessert was a Honey almond nougat ice cream with raspberry coulis. Just the right thing to finish off a spicy meal.
usually finishes off their premium meals with chocolates, coffee, cheese and fruit which is often a much more lavish affair then on Qantas..where the meals are usually downsized/minimised to 1 or 2 courses without the trimmings. This is probably what most business passengers prefer, but seeing as I am a total PIG, the more food/courses, the better in my opinion!
’s spacebed is getting old, but is perfectly comfortable and adequate for the short hop to Spore. I slept for about 2 hours before watching a movie on old AVOD.
Shortly before landing, we were served a light refreshment
LIGHT…(NOT). Roti Prata with kick arse chicken curry…YUM
, look at all that chilli oil…heart attack in a bowl. I love the local fare that SQ
dishes out…it is designed specifically to keep Singaporeans happy.
Soon, we began our descent into steamy Singapore. Arrived around 20 mins early, into the beautiful surrounds of airport utopia, Changi’s T3
. Despite the serene environment of the terminal, I was assaulted by a Kenny G song piped through the terminal….enough reason for some passengers to refuse disembarkation from their aircraft. My bags were tagged to Spore as I had to unload stuff for my sister in East coast.
I had around 8 hours transit in Spore before my next flight to ZRH
and here is how I spent the time:
Ate a bowl of Mee Pok Tah At Siglap
Shopping at Parkway Parade
Swam 1km at Chinese Swimming club
Dinner at Orchard Rd with family
Then back to Changi for SIIN-ZRH
Quite productive, I thought.
The flight was delayed by about 3 hours because of the late arrival of the aircraft from one of its rescue missions I presume. I really didn’t mind spending time in the Silver Kris lounge..a very pleasant place to wait for one’s flight. The lunge was 75% full, I think quite a few flights to Europe were delayed, most likely due to the ash situation. The crowds thinned out past 1am. Had a shower before boarding.
Finally, our flight was ready for boarding and we moved past security to the A gates departure lounge.
This flight was 100% packed, as you can see from the full gate lounge (this is only a section of it, ALL
the passengers seen here were on the same flight)
Eventually, we boarded and I was greeted enthusiastically at the upper deck forward door and directed to seat 21A.
There are plenty of reports on the A380 SQ
J cabin, so I will just give my impression:
It is huge and seems to go on forever. SQ
’s J seat is a winner in my opinion. There is nothing in the industry like it and the width and privacy it offers is far superior to most other carriers. I prefer it to Qantas’s spacebed, Cathay and Virgin’s narrow and claustrophobic herringbone style seats, BA
’s j class seat is ok, but it’s not enough to make up for their patchy service. Emirates’s looks like a dormitory on their A380s.
The only problem is if you are a tall individual, you are going to feel constrained with the limited forward space for your legs. Fortunately, it suits me just fine.
Despite the excellent service, strangely, no apology at all for the late departure…not even from the captain. (unusual). I think everyone was tired and just eager to get underway as soon as possible.
We took off after a short taxi into the night Singapore sky.
Most passengers just went to sleep, but of course, I opted for supper.
Some chicken thing in a nicoise salad with a honey mustard sauce.
Followed by book the cook Lobster Thermidor…as you can see, the lobster was rather small…there are endless debates on sqtalk.com regarding the differences between F and C BTC lobsters and I have to agree that they do give smaller ones to J class compared with F. nevertheless, it WAS tasty and that creamy sauce went very well with the mountain of saffron rice. I’m a lobster slut. No denial.
I skipped dessert and settled in for the night. The seat converts to a very comfortable bed and again, what I like about this product is the privacy it offers…no interaction whatsoever with your neighbour and you feel cocooned in your own world. I slept soundly for around 6 or 7 hours and woke up over the middle east somewhere here:
Please don’t land anywhere here…
Felling hungry, I ordered a bowl of prawn noodle soup or ‘Har-Mee’. This arrived within a few minutes and I gotta say,,it was delicious!! Virtually as good as my mum’s or any hawker stall in Singapore.
I watched ‘The hurt locker’…excellent film
Soon, it as breakfast time:
Braised noodles with seafood.
My colleague had the mixed cooked breakfast:
I tend to avoid these western style breakfasts as they are so generic..you can find them on every carrier. SQ
do the best Asian breakfasts by far.
We arrived in ZRH
3 hours late and, not surprisingly, missed our connection to GVA
ground staff had already re-booked us onto the next flight departing around 2 hours later, which was fine.
I liked ZRH
. Aesthetically and organisationally, it was much MUCH better than FRA
(at least, T1-4). The LX
lounge was OK
..not fantastic, given this was their home base, but it was fine for the 1 hour we were there:
Our connecting flight on LX
was the shortest flight I have ever been on! 45 mins in total..I’m not even sure how long we spent at cruising altitude…couldn’t have been more than 5 mins. I am not going to spend any more time on it.
A319 to GVA
Final approach GVA
I had a fantastic time in Geneva…a wonderful, compact city. What’s there not to love about Switzerland? Surrounded by gorgeous mountains and scenery. Here are some pics:
Found this amazing Fondue restaurant:
A bowl of heart attack/cheese fondue
, confession time: I bought around 300 Euros worth of swiss chocolate…enough said. (confession 2: when I got home, it only lasted around 2 weeks).
We stayed at the president Wilson hotel right on the waterfront…really nice hotel, if not, a bit expensive, but then again, just about everything in switzerland is.
Another thing that struck me….how many prestige watch shops there are!! Each local citizen must own several and keep buying them every year to keep them in business.
After a wonderful few days, it was time to head home:
We had to catch an 8am flight back to ZRH
for the SQ
whalejet connection at 12 midday.
Again, a short and non-descript flight on LX
. I would love to try this airline’s long haul product one day. I wonder if they are anywhere as good as the old Swissair or has their service excellence been diluted by their owners, Lufthansa.
A nice touch is that every passenger gets this: (and its good chocolate too….like the 300 Euros worth in my bag)
More pics of the terminal at ZRH
..it really is a very EVRY nice place and much better than any European hub I have flown through so far. Our SQ
flights left from the satellite terminal; hence the train ride.
I will say this though: no one seemed to know where we should be going for lounge access, or to obtain our boarding passes for the next leg, which were not given to us at check-in at GVA
. The lunge dragon at the main terminal had no idea (surely SQ
has been flying here for ages with LX
connections?) and finally, we were just told to take the train to the satellite terminal. At the end of the concourse, there was a small counter with the Singapore Airlines logo and a short queue of passengers waiting to get their boarding passes, but it was by no means obvious. We used the LX
lounge above this area, but so much for the ‘seamless’ connections marketed by STAR. I just thought it could have been a lot smoother. Not a big deal though.
A380 to SIN
It was raining and very wet.
Boarded and was shown to my seat, 24K. I really love daytime departures as it gives good opportunity to gaze out the window.
We departed ontime and very shortly after, lunch was served.
As is often the case, whenever I am away from SIN
, I miss my Asian food, hence my selection for the return journey. There is something monocultural about dining in many European cities, and although they have excellent food, the range of cuisine is never as broad and cosmopolitan compared with Australia or the US.
Satay for entrée: Nice, but I would have to agree with Chrisrad that MH
owns this dish. Their satay is much more succulent and generous (although we did leave from ZRH
…not exactly known for it’s Malaysian food). 5/10.
Marinated crayfish salad with walnut and sherry dressing.
Main course: Chicken imperial with chinese herbs and rice wine, red capsicum and fragrant rice. tasted better than it looks
Strawberry ice cream, crushed praline and french vanilla sauce. Fantastic dessert.
Because of the early start, I slept for quite a few hours.
Seafood noodles (again)
I didn’t fill up on cereal and croissants as I wanted to have some bar chor mee in Singapore.
When we landed, I dashed out landside and took the elevator to the hawker centre in the basement of T3
for my hit of Bar Chor Mee….see how desperate living away from Singapore can make you? My colleague (who does not share my Singaporean ethnicity was very amused).
Our connecting flight was SQ
At this stage, I was impatient to get home; missing Mrs and the kids, hence the lack of pics:
Nicoise Salad with salmon
Garlic bread and ice coffee
More seafood noodles….SQ
really does this very VERY well.
Finally, Vanilla panna cotta (note the real vanilla seeds from the pod) and mango coulis…delicious
Our arrival into MEL
was uncomplicated. I like SQ
217 as evenings are a much better time to arrive in MEL
compared to the morning rush hour.
Once again, SQ
did not disappoint. I could not fault their service on any of these 4 long haul sectors at all. Every aspect of their soft product was executed with warmth and efficiency. Watching the SQ
girls do their stuff is always impressive. You really never want for anything and nothing is too much trouble. They are just so well cloned.
There is a dilemma here. Once you experience this kind of service, it’s incredibly addictive. I have often found myself flying on other carriers and being disappointed with so many aspects of their product, compared with SQ
. There are minor things that annoy me: the inflight safety video (new and old) is TERRIBLE. So daggy and amateurish for such a high calibre airline. Those stupid Silversea real estate ads at the start of every frickin movie….and sometimes, just sometimes…the singlish gets a bit much for me. But these are minor gripes for what is the most consistently superior product in the skies today.
Thanks for reading,