After 7 wonderful weeks in my home country Malaysia + 1 week in China during Chinese New year, its time to make the journey back to Wichita where i will be stuck for the foresseable future....
for the ICT-KUL leg trip report, please see:
ICT - KUL Via IAH, DME & SIN - CO & SQ Y - Pics
for the China trip report, please see:
KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~
As with Andy in Toy Story 3, i need to play with my 'toys' before putting them back in the box while i'm away (No, i didn't donate them...)....
My overall collection sitting in a box in Malaysia now... OK, i have no idea where that torn wing comes from, nor have any idea what aircraft it belongs to...
My first collection....it all started on my first plane trip to HKG via PAL in 1990
(the first ever plane ride trip report is here First Plane Trip: Nov 1990 PAL KUL-HKG Rt
A gift from my uncle
my favorite past-time...'playing airport'... btw, the MH's 777 carries the reg N777UA.... strange....
some of my favorites...SQ planes...both of which i had the privillege of flying long-haul... the 772ER ORD-AMS-SIN v.v. and the 345 EWR-SIN & SIN-LAX
OK, back to trip report... after really packing the bags (and i stuffed serious weight into those 2 bags)...the 'dreadful' day finally arrived and after a great dinner at my aunt's, my parents, my brother, ex-sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and cousin all rode in my aunt's van and sent me off on KLIA....
After a 40 minutes uneventful trip, we arrived at KLIA level 5 International Departure around 830pm for my 1035pm departure to SIN. We thought the shuttle to SIN would be checked in from the counters off door 7 (or may be 8...) turned out, all MH's departure check in was in counters G/H (if not mistaken)...luckily, there're hardly anyone at the economy counters (there're a number of them available for check in)...so boarding pass printed only for the MH's flight to SIN..and i had to get SQ's at SIN...oh bummer, i was really worried that i would lose my aisle seat for SQ flight... and as the baggage are weighed, oh boy, my bags were seriously overweight (each like 10kg over...thanks to the coffee mix and herbs...), luckily it was "only" USD25 per bag, so its USD 50...(which i think its a 'bargain" compared to what CO wanted to chrage me on the way out...)
having said that, the agent tore my boarding pass and directed me to another gate to pay the overweight fee and they will print me a new boarding pass.... so, while i'm at the overweight payment counter, a korean/japanese lady was in front of her and the MH's overweight agent patiently telling her that the airline (i was nosy, i saw her flight confirmation e-mail, it was KE ) was charging her RM90 (USD30) per KG !!! and she's like 20KG over and the bill is like RM1800 (like USD600...CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)...the Asian lady nodded and non responsive (presumable language barrier) and seem perturbed that the overweight was sooooo steep, anyway, the MH agent directed her back to KE's counter so they can better explain to her....so, i paid my 'due' and on my way to the McDonald where my family waiting anxiously for me and sadly ....
after some well wishes and almost teary eyes, i reluctantly stepped on the escalator down a level for the passport control around 945pm…
past the passport control, I walked swiftly towards to bus gate since the train to the satellite building is still inoperable… as I’m in the lowest level of KLIA, I looked up at the sign and it stated bus to satellite building Gate C1 – C35…it then dawn on me that my gate is actually G6, so I took the elevator back to the level 4(?) and found the area for G gates (sigh of relief).. .it probably not a big deal IF I went to the satellite building since I have hours to burn…..
anyway, while I’m here, time to explore this part of the KLIA since this is the first time I’m here
the glass shelves with all the model aircraft for airlines that serve KUL.. (I so wanna steal them…he he)
Duty free shopping at the main terminal
Busy late evening bank of KUL..lots of ‘red’ alert too…
I wonder where am i… the G gates used to be A gates, as evident on this map and the gate stand air-side..wonder why they changed it?
A group of Malaysia girls & boy just arrived…looked dazzling in their kebaya but nothing compared to the sharper SQ’s….
The baby Boeing on this trunk route….
Boarding announcement is made at 1030pm and we formed a line and got our bags x-ray again (like SIN, every international gate in KUL are walled off and have to go through another round of x-ray)… a friendly gate agent scanned the boarding pass and I tookt he escalator down 1 level to the sitting area
The roof architecture at the gate
March 6 2011
KUL – SIN
MH 609 (B737-400)
Seat 9C (Gate G6)
Flight time: 45 mins
Schedule departure: 10:35pm
Actual departure: 11:35pm
Actual Arrival: 12:30am (Gate E27 – T2)
After a short while, boarding announcement is made and we made an orderly boarding onto the airplane for the short hop to SIN. No separate row boarding since the load was around 50%.
Once setting onto the baby Boeing, we’re subjected to this monstrosity….
Someone must have had TOO MUCH fun with selecting the seat upholstery…
A very friendly male flight attendant standing by the aisle asking us which row and then personally directed us to the row…very nice touch….
I had the whole row….3 seats with 3 different color…across the aisle…
Push-back shortly after…
Safety announcement is then started and the flight attendants demonstrated them manually…I was kinda surprised but considering this is the rather ‘ancient’ 737-400 we’re speaking of, perhaps not surprising that is has no monitor… (may be MH was being cheap too…who knows)… the aforementioned male flight attendant was demonstrating on 2 rows in front of me and he had a very weird expression on his face the whole time, I’m not sure if he’s flirting with the passengers or what….
There wasn’t a whole lot of actions going on at this wee hour…most of the birds are MH’s, including a shinning new 737-800 with new livery sitting on remote stand by the main terminal…
The satellite terminal
Night scene of KUL right after taking off…
In-flight service commenced soon after with drink service and peanuts….instead of pushing a cart, they just tray the drink, selection was OJ, apple juice and water….
The rest of the flight was uneventful and as we’re approaching SIN, we went south of downtown and there’re hundred of ships down below lighting up the ocean…at the same time, the flight attendant made the obligatory announcement about trafficking drug to Singapore carried death penalty and etc…
And before long, it’s a smooth landing and a fairly short taxi to the gate on T2. Most of the SQ’s and MI’s birds are resting comfortably before the next journey….
VERDICT ON MH’S FLIGHT
MH has so much untapped potential. All these cost cutting and the fierce competitions from within (i.e. Air Asia) and abroad (i.e. SQ, TG, CX, EK, etc) caused MH to be severely lagging behind on hardware. Granted this is a short hop on an old(er) generation plane, from the trip reports here, most lament how outdated MH’s products are… hopefully the new 737-800 and newer A330 and A380 can bring MH’s hardware back to pristine level… A saving grace will be their cabin crew. Granted it’s a short hop and light load, at this ungodly hour they still offered great service with warmth and friendly…..
Off the gate and I walked to the transfer counter which is like 5 continents away…. A friendly & cheerful staff helped me check in to my SQ’s flight and even my CO’s! ...she then apologized repeatedly how long it was taking her to get the system to print the boarding passes and complete the check-in cuz she had to wait for the information submitted to USA to verify and etc (yeah, I’m a basket case since I’m not on visa or green card, but travel parole..) and she then went about how much she hate working for flights destination USA… it was a nice conversation and she’s in good spirit despite the ungodly hour…
SIN T-2 shopping area
At the train ‘station’ at T2 connecting T3…the departures in various terminals of SIN…
After a short 2 minutes wait and a short train ride, I arrived at the T3…. A wall deco…
Snapping pic of SQ girls at the T3 duty free area…most of the shops are closed…so no shopping…its past midnight afterall…
SQ promotional stage for their newest destination, Sao Paolo
OK, after a long walk from the train station and I saw this sign stating gate A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 all on the same entrance, and there’re people in the gate holding lounge (so now I know how they hold all those people for A380 in the lounge, by combining 8 gates….), I knew right away an A380 is parked…so, this would be the closest I would be to the SQ A380 since ridding in a inter-terminal bus at LHR (in 2009) in which the bus zip-zap in front of a parked SQ whalejet…
SQ A380 to ZRH…pardon my reflection….one of this day, I will ride you….
At this point, I was dead tired and seems like my gate A14 is still a long way away…luckily, there’s a train connecting to gates A15 and beyond… so, I made my way to the train and once I’m inside, I felt like I’m stepping into SQ’s employee bus as a group of SQ cabin crew and cockpit crew are there as well. I saw some of the SQ girl holding a booklet thing with the seatmap of the aircraft printed and the exit highlighted while talking to one another….must be strategizing…. Anyway, a short ride later, we’re on the train ‘station’ between gates A15 & A14. Turned out all those SQ crew would be working my flight…
After waiting for about 45 minutes, the gate began taking passenger and we made an organized line entering the gate holding area and 3 x-ray machines are used to scan us in, followed by 2 staff checking our visa, green card & paperwork and my oddball travel parole took him a few minutes to figure out….
My home for the next 25 hours or so
March 7 2011
SIN – DME
SQ 62 (B 777-300ER)
Seat 32D (Gate A14 – T3)
Flight time: 11 hours
Scheduled departure: 2:35am
Schedule Arrival: (Gate 13)
Some 30 minutes later, boarding announcement is made for premium cabins and children but people holding green boarding pass (i.e. Y) started to enter the gate too since the counter was on one end of the holding lounge while the entrance to the plane is on the other end and noone standing there to enforce boarding sequence… At that time, noone bother with the row announcement and everyone just board the plane…
My row at the forward section of Y, the second row of Y… my neighbor’s
Seats 32 A, B, C
Peek-a-boo at the Singapore Girl sorting the compartments in between the Y class & C class..
The load at Y seems like 75% full today and the middle seat next to mine is free. Unfortunately, the other aisle seat on my row is occupied by a Vietnamese older gentleman and his family is sitting in front of us with a baby basinet. I knew that he will be flying to IAH and I may not have the possibility of the luxury of having all 3 seats to myself… (yes, I’m greedy)
As the door closed and the flight attendant seated by the exit, the guy in 32A asked her if its OK to occupy the empty exit seats and she motioned its OK once its at cruising altitude and the seat belt signal is off….
First the standard safety video…funny that they show a A330 at the end instead of the flagship A380…and then the inflight announcement by the lead-stewardess… the way she pronounce the words and the emphasis is REALLY weird…reminded me of Kristin Wiig’s spoofing Suzy Orman on SNL… (hear for yourself)… and I kinda chuckle everytime she’s on the intercom…..
since its REALLY late by now, so not much going on in Changi and we’re off with the hot towel (no more wiping face after my friend’s story bout people wiping armpits and such)..and followed by the distribution of headphones and inflight amenity kits, as well as menu….
I watched the King’s Speech, which is a great movie but not GREAT..i guess the Oscar raised the expectation sky high for me… and then its supper time…
SQ menu SIN-IAH
I picked the chicken, which taste pretty good and it would have been greater if its not like 4am…metal cutlery and all….
Had to try the venerable Singapore Sling…didn’t try that on the eastbound flight since I was in medication….this thing taste great… I don’t think many in the steerage ordered them since she had to come back after the meal-time drink service….
And of course we faced turbulence at Bay of Bengal…
We still got a long way to go…
After meal, I propped the armrest up and sat Z-shape and dozed off like 4 hours, which is pretty long for me on an airplane….
Around 2.5 hours prior to landing, I started watching Burlesque and we are fed once more….i picked the pork noodle….and as always they taste great…though I miss my ice-cream desserts on the east-bound flight
About 30 minutes before the end of the Burlesque, we’re on approach to DME and the KrisWorld is turned off…I guess I have another 12.5 hours to finish watching that movie… as we’re closer to landing, Moscow is experiencing some light snow and I’m curious to see how’s the security in the terminal if there’re changes since the bombing a month or so ago at the arrival concourse….
Arrived at the gate and took some pics while on the hallway to the transfer area…
The hallway at arrival level
Being on the 2nd row of Y, I arrived at the transfer point rather quickly and the same procedures where we lined up, get our boarding pass number sequenced (I’m no. 21 and the older lady that checked us this time seem friendly and smile and said thank you even) and then head to the x-ray machines. I noticed that the Russians just piled the bins in one end and we had to drag the bins to the other end to put our smaller items through the x-ray machine while the security person just watched and yelled laptop out..once we’re through, there’re no room to sit to put the shoe back on and to stuff the things back, while the bins just scattered on the floor….
The departure level of DME
One level above, a restaurant and some lounges
A Transaero B747-400 and some other ‘exotic’ Russian planes at the terminal.. I had to be super discrete while taking the pics mindful of the bombing a month ago…don’t wanna raise suspicion
A green S7…
The gate lounge area where the SQ crew for the IAH bound is gathering… noticed how this gate is glassed and separated from the rest of the gates…
The vending machine for orange juice with real orange in it…
DME – IAH
SQ 62 (B 777-300ER)
Seat 32D (Gate 13)
Flight time: 12 hours 30 mins
Schedule Arrival: (Gate D11)
The ‘gate’ is opened pretty on time but when we’re entering the glass-walled lounge area, we’re greeted by the staff who write down our visa/green card/travel document no. (I guess flying to US has it hassle) and our hand luggage are to be manually search…I don’t know how effective those are actually… I guess either this is for all US bound flight or the aftereffect of the bombing? Anyway…who knows, the S7 flight to LHR didn’t seem to require the added security….
Once boarding announcement is called, this time we’re much more organized. And they have 2 separate entries (12A & 13) to the airplane from the lounge. I was among the first of the Y to attempt to board at the 12A site but the scan didn’t go through and the Tranaero gate staff motioned another staff and I was led to yet another bag search, which I wasn’t too happy… they slide a tiny piece of paper around my contents and stick it into a machine to get a reading (for explosive trace?) and I was pat down, well, the reading on the machine apparently not showing/error(?) and she did it again but much more thoroughly… I looked impatiently as most passenger had boarded and I hate to be the last person… and lost all overhead space above my seat (yes, I’m spoiled)…anyway, after a 15 minutes or so commotion, I managed to be ‘released’ and board finally…..
This leg it seems the load is lighter, approx 50%. During the flight, at least 10 people occupied the whole 3 row by him/herself. As for me, my middle seat remained vacant …yey… This time, didn’t notice we had to do deicing for like forever and we took off pretty on time….
Read a trip report on CX (I think) and the author pointed out the irony, turns out, it also appears on SQ plane…if we can’t smoke, then why there’s a cigarette dispenser?
First come the hot towel, headphone, amenity kits, menu and then the drink/peanut service … I always wonder what happened to people allergic to peanut?
Then I ram up the KrisWorld, finishing my Burlesque and fast forward to the climatic scenes of Black Sawn (NO, NOT the lesbian sex scene…), and then watched R.E.D. (the one with Bruce Willis and other older actors including the fabulous Helen Mirren kicking ass) during the first meal service…picked the curry chicken and had some red wine
OK, on this meal, I have some bones to pick, literally…who in the right mind would put raw fish on a salad with million bones in it? The fish in the salad taste awful and one bite with the bones sticking out and I’m done… bad move on SQ in my opinion….otherwise it’s a decent meal.
After finishing the movie, I was dead tired…but the unspeakable horror happened (gosh, i'm so dramatic.. ). The older gentlemen in 32G got up and moved to the 31s and the younger woman in the 31 carried the baby (like 18 months old?) and laid him on the middle seat to sleep instead of the bassinet. The whole time while I’m attempting to sleep, the baby kept moving and bumping into me, and he made quite some fuss a few times and cried and being baby…as a result, even with eye shade and noise-canceling headphone, I can’t sleep for a second… (yes, I’m a huge cry baby too, I guess …)
Approximately 3 hours into IAH, I gave up and went duty-free shopping and watched Tangled. Come meal time and another unthinkable happened, the chicken ran out and I’m stuck with fish…which is cold and bland… I guess even SQ can’t make fish taste good in Y…and even more disappointed that being a lighter load and popular choice like chicken would run out quickly (granted, I’m among the last one the meal cart reached)
Hello Wichita, Kansas about few hundred miles away
We came a long way, baby…. Wonder when I get to do all these mileages again?
We landed on time and the plane docked at D11, the same gate I used approx 7 weeks ago… A
VERDICT ON SQ’S FLIGHT
This flight is pretty much like the east-bound flight i took... the consistensy on the service level is unparalled and being on the same aircraft type, nothing seem all that different. With the HUGE selection of entertainment in KrisWorld and the comfort of the seats, not to mention the great service of SQ flight attendants, no wonder SQ is at the top of the game. The only drawback of this flight is the food from the DME-IAH leg... the first meal was great but the fish in the salad is just bad idea (in my opinion)... the second meal where my chicken choice ran out, i kinda forgive them but wish they had ordered more....
Once docked, we walked swiftly across the separated hallway to the International Arrival hall by terminal E and there wasn’t a long lines since its pretty empty at that time….also a perk in a front Y cabin…but that didn’t help much cuz the immigration officer asked a bunch of questions and frowned while staring at his monitor and motioned me to stand aside to wait for another officer….eeeck
A few seconds later, I was led into another room and there are 4 other person in there including a SQ pilot...i guess a pilot in there too shouldn’t be THAT bad… while I’m waiting, a female officer looking at my parole document and mentioned I had a nice cheery smile …after a few minutes and more questions, my document is stamped and I’m officially back in the USA..yey…
Got my luggage picked up, declared food but didn’t go through additional screening… and dropped off the bags at the CO transfer site and head for the other gates by going through x-ray screening point. Thought I would have go through the ‘naked’ machine but none of them are operable that day….got into the concourse between terminals D & E. Noticed a flight to ICT departing in 30 minutes (mine are 3 hours later) and took the train to terminal B to try my luck…well, since I have check in bags, they won’t let me standby… oh well…with 3 hours to burn, I decided to go back to terminal D to hand out cuz its less crowded and for old time’s sake…also its more ‘exotic’ there with international flights rather than just CO/UA….boooooring
Along the train ride back to Terminal D
Continental, you will be missed
OK, what’s 2 LH 747-400 doing here? One on remote…
LH 744 at remote and ‘my’ former SQ 77W…
Looked like a very light load for SQ61… when the boarding announcement is made, there’s less than 50-75 people lining up to board….
As I see the SQ loaded up, I was doing some mental calculation of how many hours this plane rack up for this round trip… 25 hours SIN-IAH, 23 hours IAH – SIN including 1.5 hours ‘rest’ at DME both legs and then 2.5 hours ‘rest’ at IAH…for 50.5 hours, it spent 45 hours in the air…. Wow…
Anyway, I’m getting a bit depressed as I see SQ61 loaded up reminding me that it would be a while until I have the chance to see my parents or do long haul trips…and then my bf called and said one of our bunnies’ leg is broken…..sad……
However depressed I am, I still able to pull myself together to spot and snap some pic… AF 777-200ER to CDG
Then caught my attention that both AF pilots are female…thought its cool… (read later here that perhaps they are doing some all female crew for international woman’s day?)
After spending some time wandering terminal D with all the heavies to Europe and Middle-east, I decided I had enough and went back to terminal B via train again…ate some McDonald and went on facebook…
The CO Expressjets at one of the concourse at Terminal B
While at the B60 – B68(?) concourse, that place is a zoo with like a million people there waiting for their flights…seeing my flight would be delayed for 30 minutes didn’t make me too happy (not to mention only getting less than 8 hours of sleep for about 50 hours by then)… 3 flights including mine are delayed because they are waiting for flight attendant (2 are from late arriving plane, 1 just ‘not there’)… by about 610pm, the crowd dissipated and its boarding announcement for us….
IAH – ICT
CO 2376 (Embraer 145)
Seat 10A (Gate B64)
Flight time: 1 hour 45 mins
Schedule departure: 6:00pm
Actual departure: 6:35pm
Actual arrival: 8:13pm
My view at the tarmac…
A CO heavy while taxing….
Sunset over Texan sky….
Peek-a-boo at a city below the cloud… could be Dallas, may be?
Almost dark with moon visible (that white smudge at right)
Nothing really going on this flight, about 75% full and the service was good with water and no snacks …would be nice though even though I hate mini pretzels (THANKS UA cost cutting policy)…and attempt to doze off and kinda heard the flight attendant mentioned something along the line that she volunteered this flight since hers are late arriving and so our flight won’t delay further…if its true, its truly noble of her…
Before long, it’s the familiar night sky of Wichita and we made an uneventful landing… taxi for a few minutes and I’m back to the Air Capitol of the World… surprisingly my bags already waiting for me at the carousel and my friend already there at the exit…kinda mad that both of my locks for my bags are missing (luckily everything accounted for…) a shower and my comfy bed sound very nice by now…
Other stuff from the trip:
SQ SilverKris & amenity kit
MH’s Going Places
GoingPlaces route map…WHAT A RIDICULOUS map… you can barely even see MH’s actual destination…instead, it shows the ‘interline’ destinations of its partners…what a joke… if I called a travel agent in US and fly MH, I have to buy the domestic flight ticket to LAX on a separate ticket instead of interlining …
United Airline’s…Oops, I meant CONTINENTAL Hemisphere… (does UA’s version exactly the same, san the airlines name?????)
My SQ’s mini model (1: 1000)…trust me, these guys ARE TEEEENY… cost me USD 23ish
That’s all… this would be my last ‘fresh’ trip report for a while (no further plane trip)… but I do have several older trips that I could write…IF I find the courage and time, I salute those who can make a really good long one like 3 times a month…i salute you…
hope you’d enjoyed the ride…