Shortly after returning from my Great Asia Trip, I thought I would be on the ground for a good 2 years because I have to enlist for National Service. Therefore, I tried looking at all sorts of LCC’s websites in search of good deals to some regional destinations. Having 13,000 miles in my KrisFlyer account, I thought I could redeem a SIN-DPS J class flight on SQ and returning by GA but that will cost me around S$300 for a daytrip, although I can boast that I have actually flown SQ J class before.
As if by fate, I managed to chance upon Tiger Airways’ website that is offering S$218 return from SIN-SZX all inclusive and I can take the chance to visit my relatives back in China again. That would have been a very great deal but I continued searching in search of better deals and found HX offering SIN-HKG return at S$500. Another alternative I had was MH SIN-KUL-CAN for S$477 but that deal was gone just an hour after I found it. Therefore, I decided to fly SQ SIN-HKG/CAN-SIN, breaking my tradition of having to land and depart at the same airport. I was planning to upgrade to Business Class using my miles for CAN-SIN as it is operated by the new Airbus A330-300.
However, I was doing a dummy booking for SQ 853 for CAN-SIN and found out that it only cost 12,500 miles for a Business Class ticket which I thought it must be a system error at SQ’s end. I jumped up upon finding out that there was actually a 50% mileage redemption for selected flights in both Business and Economy and SQ 853 was one of them. Without a doubt, I decided upon my final itinerary on SIN-SWA on 3K, SWA-CAN on CZ and CAN-SIN on SQ. This would mark my first time flying on the SIN-SWA route, first time on the Boeing 737-300 on SWA-CAN and first time in SQ Business on CAN-SIN. Not a bad record for a simple relative visiting trip!
Direct to Shantou from Singapore
The availability of flights between Singapore and Mainland China are a plenty. From Singapore, you can fly to places like Guangzhou, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guilin, Haikou, Hefei, Dalian and many more. The routes were either operated directly or via a hub or focus city such as Guangzhou or Xiamen. Airlines operating were also a vast variety from the likes of Singaporean airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Silkair for the business and high budget leisure travellers while LCCs like Jetstar Asia and Tiger Airways cater to lower budget travellers. To get more variety, you can also choose to fly one of the Chinese airlines like China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China, Xiamen Airlines and the recent upgraded 5-star Skytrax airline Hainan Airlines. However, despite the large amount of destinations available from Singapore, there was still a gap to be filled – Shantou.
Back in 2010, an airline decided that the Teochew population in Singapore has gone through too much hassle just to go back to their hometown, Shantou, in China to visit their relatives. In the past, travellers had to fly to other cities like Xiamen or Guangzhou to transit to a domestic flight into Shantou to visit their relatives. Therefore, the airline decided to open up a direct route between Singapore and Shantou. This airline adorns the bright orange star recognizable by any aviation enthusiast. It is none other than Jetstar Asia.
Despite being a LCC, the prices between Singapore and Shantou were not cheap, sometimes shooting up to as high as S$660 return. However, this route remains popular owing to the huge Teochew population in Singapore and the number of Teochews heading over to Singapore from their hometown.
The first ever direct flight from Singapore to Shantou happened on 2nd February 2010. It has been operating on a 3 weekly flight basis and loads were healthy. Many Singaporean Teochews and Chinese were elated by this direct link between the 2 cities which should have happened decades ago.
Fellow a.netters, please join me on this journey as I bring you on the direct flight between Singapore and Shantou.
Having a totally sleepless night and booking a flight in the morning has never been in my agenda. However, it happened for me for this trip. After suffering from insomnia for the whole night due to my drinking of a whole pot of Chinese Tea (also another thing that Teochews love to do), I headed to the ATM to deposit my money and headed home to make some last minute confirmations before officially booking my tickets.
I had expected Jetstar to have ridiculous fares for the sector as I am booking only 8 days in advance of my flight. However, I managed to secure a fare of S$309 for SIN-SWA one way which was pretty good. As a norm for my when flying on LCCs, I will get a seat at the exit row. A lesson learnt from my Hong Kong Trip with Jetstar tells me that normal seats on LCCs are lacking the seat pitch I really need since I am of a bigger build.
The usual process is to log on to the ever attractive www.jetstar.com to search for my flight and choose 3K 823 departing on 4th May under the JetSaver fare. Fully expecting myself to pay for the exit row seat, I spared another S$20 to S$30 for my flight. However, when selecting my seat, I noticed I was not charged for the exit row at all. At this time, I was at the peak of my fatigue but I still managed to make a call to the Jetstar call centre and enquired if it was a system error. Several confirmations by the call operator later, I decided to proceed on with the booking and was indeed able to choose my seat without paying any charges. However, being the paranoid me, I still decided to call the Jetstar call centre again and I was served by an operator named Paul (if I remember correctly). He seemed like an Australian and greeted me very cheerfully. (Note: I have not even gotten this kind of treatment on SQ!)
“Good morning! May I know who’s on the line?”
“Good morning, I am Mr. Tay”
“Hello Mr Tay! How was your day?”
“I am fine, you?”
“I am fine too. How may I help you Mr. Tay?”
“I have booked a ticket on the Jetstar website and was not charged for the exit row seat”
“I see. May I have your booking reference please?”
“Sure, it’s ******”
“May I know where is the flight heading to?”
“Singapore to Shantou”
“Yes sir. I see you have seat 13A reserved and confirmed here. There will not be a problem Mr. Tay”
“I was not charged for it at all, will the seat be cancelled?”
“Certainly not Mr. Tay, it has been confirmed and there will not be any problems at the airport.”
“Sure thing, thank you.”
“Is there anything else I can be of assistance?”
“That’s all for now, thanks!”
“Thank you for choosing Jetstar Mr. Tay. Goodbye and have a nice day!”
That has got to be the best tele conversation I ever had with an airline employee and I did not expect it to be on a LCC at all. Thumbs up for Jetstar!