Good day all, and welcome to my 5th trip report. (This is the 3rd trip report that I'm posting, but I have already completed 2 more which I've been lazy to post ) This trip report is the first part of 2 where I would fly to Hong Kong and take the final Singapore Airlines B747-400 flight back to Singapore. I usually don’t ‘split’ up reports into parts, but this is such a special and momentous occasion that I decided to do so. Hope you would enjoy reading this, as much as I have enjoyed writing, and experiencing it. Thank you!
The idea of going to Hong Kong began in late December, when my younger cousin who was working as an intern in a travel agency mentioned to me that between February and April, Singapore Airlines was to have a special flight to commemorate the Queen of the Skies- The Boeing 747-400. He said it was a piece of info not to be leaked out to others, and I did not tell anyone as such. However, in order to be sure to make it for the trip since the departure date was unknown, I could not work full time temporarily, so I began looking out for temporarily event jobs, to ensure that I have the cash to pay for the trip, and the time to make it for the trip.
It was around late January or early February this year, when rumours of this commemorative flight spread around. I nearly dropped the idea of going when I was told that an Economy Class ticket could cost nearly SGD 2000 due to goodies and was only available for a short period of time. However, a few days before the Singapore Air Show 2012 (Public Days), I was alerted on Facebook that tickets were available on sale, and the flight was to be held on 6th of April, which happens to be Good Friday. This was 1 day before the details was announced publicly. I checked the price of a 1-way ticket on that day, and it came out to be around SGD 800+ inclusive of tax. I hadn’t thought of buying 2-way tickets at that time though, as I was thinking of going there with a budget carrier and flying the final flight back for some weird reason. It was quite expensive, so I contemplated for a day.
After it was announced in the local media, I went to sq.com to check again. The price actually dropped! A 1-way ticket cost slightly over SGD 700, which was pretty reasonable. I then tried to convince my parents to let me go. I could tell they weren’t really for the idea of me going alone, but they said since it was my money, I should think carefully. I made up my mind (to go), but as I tried using sq.com, there was an error, and I could not even see the flights available! I was quite panicky, and I called the ticketing hotline at around 0150 in the morning, trying to find out the situation, and hoping it wasn’t fully booked. After a few tries, I finally got through, but to my disappointment (at the point of time), I was told that flights originating from Hong Kong (1 way) could only be booked from the HK office or something, and he even said that SQ 748 was FULLY BOOKED. I was so disheartened that I went to sleep immediately.
I woke up the next day to find that the SQ e-booking system was working again, and I could check out flights and availability. I then tried to find 2-way tickets, and to my pleasant surprise, I was quoted SGD 624.30 for a 3 or 4-day trip! I wanted to try a B777-300ER for the first time (and hoping to get 9V-SWI), so I sacrificed the flight timings, and was booked on flight SQ 866 and SQ 748 quite effortlessly. I did not manage to get a window seat though, but at least, I was going to be on the FINAL flight! This would be the first time that I would be travelling alone too, and it was a LOONNNG wait for 3rd of April to arrive. This would be my First Ever solo trip overseas.
I was hoping to get on 9V-SWI, the first Star Alliance plane in SQ’s fleet that has a white tail. However, I had been tracking the flight the day before, and it would be in Narita when the flight was made, so all hope had gone. My flight was to be operated by 9V-SWO, a 4-year old aircraft.
I have long wanted to experience travelling alone, so to add to the experience, I’ve asked my mum to accompany me to the airport taking the public bus instead of her sending me by car. We reached Terminal 3 in just 7 minutes or so. Now, this is my first time checking in at Terminal 3. For the past few years, I’ve been checking in at Terminal 1. I haven’t been on Singapore Airlines since 2001, when I had flown on Business Class (Using my dad’s miles) to Shanghai Hongqiao and back with my family. We proceeded to Check-in Row 3, and there was no queue at all, so I was done in a jiffy.
I had pre-booked my window seat 37K, so no issues there. After a hug (lol), my mum and I parted ways.
I had initially wanted to check-in early to catch that Royal Brunei B762 V8-MHB, but I missed it. I still spent time spotting arrivals for around 45 minutes, and it was time to proceed to gate B9 for boarding.
It was around this time when I received the news that Singapore Airline’s newest A380 (9V-SKQ) was due from TLS soon, and a Dragonair A320 was to be parked near our gate.
There was a queue forming to get inside the holding room, but security was fast, and it was my turn soon. It doesn’t seem as though it would be a full flight, as the waiting area was quite empty as compared to other flights that I’ve been on. Boarding was called, but SQ380 hasn’t arrived yet, so I continued waiting. There were barely a few people left in the area when SKQ finally made her appearance. I then began walking towards the aerobridge on board 9V-SWO, who had just arrived from SFO via HKG as SQ 1.
Date: 3rd April 2012
Sector: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) – Hong Kong- Chep Lap Kok International (HKG)
Singapore Airlines Flight: SQ 866
Gate: B9 (T3)
Aircraft: 9V-SWO, B777-312ER
Delivered to SQ: 28-03-2008
SDT (ADT): 1330 (1341)
SAT (AAT): 1715 (1723)
Journey: 3hrs 42mins
1st flight on 9V-SWO
1st B777-300ER flight
8th B777 flight
1st time on SQ 77W
7th time on SQ
I was welcome by the purser, who greeted me by surname (after looking at my boarding pass of course). I made my way to my window seat 37K, and there was one guy seating on the aisle seat, but no one was in the middle seat. With my DSLR in hand, I settled down onto my seat. Load today was around 90% in Y, and the seat pitch was very acceptable.
The lunch menu was distributed at 1322, a while before pushback. As with all Singapore Airlines flights, hot towels was served too. Boarding was completed at 1326, and the pilot informed us that weather along the way was expected to be occasionally cloudy. A Vietnam Airlines A321 was parked beside us, but it departed soon and a SriLankan A332 made her way into B8, after arrival from CMB. Finally, at 1341, we were push backed, and the safety video was shown.
We were to depart from Runway 20C today, so it would mean a taxi past the Viewing Mall/Central Apron via North Cross 3. We held short of Echo Papa, as a AirAsia with the ‘Amazing’ special livery sped down the runway for departure. Next in line were us, ahead of a Firefly ATR-72 and a Jetstar A320 who have been waiting for a while. We made a turn into the active, thundered down the runway, and lifted off at 1357 for our expected 3 hours and 20 minutes flying time to Hong Kong.
Drinks service began half an hour into the flight. As usual, my welcome drink was Orange Juice. Packets of peanuts were given out too.
Krisworld Entertainment was turned on, and as with all aviation enthusiasts, I checked out the airshow first, before anything else. Krisworld has a wide selection of movies available on demand, but I’ve watched most of the good ones back in Singapore.
In the end, I settled for War Horse, which I haven’t had the chance to watch it in Singapore, but was recommended by my parents. It is a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, about how Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry, and Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on. It was indeed a great movie, and I certainly wasn’t surprised to see it being nominated for 6 Oscars.
Around an hour after pushback, the flight attendants came around for the meal service. The international selection (Fried fish with vegetables and potatoes) and oriental selection (Hainanese Pork Chop) were available.
I settled for the latter. It turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten up in the air. It was served with fried rice and fries, and it was piping hot, and very tasty. It really tasted like the authentic version. I even gobbled down the appetizer, which was soya chicken with beancurd and peanut salad, something that I don’t usually do.
I accompanied the main course with a cup of Apple juice, and a pineapple cookie, which was a delightful touch. It was an absolutely fantastic meal alongside a fantastic movie. And I hadn’t even mentioned anything about the service yet.
Every single steward and stewardess were smiling throughout the flight, maintaining eye contact, while chatting with the passengers. They were certainly busy, but not once did they let the smile fade off their face. They had many requests, but they accomplished every single one of them cheerfully. I then asked for a pack of playing cards, and in the blink of an eye, the stewardess came back with one for me. The rest of the journey was spent watching the movie while the aircraft was cruising at FL390. We encountered some mild turbulence, but there were nothing else. At 1645, we commenced descent.
Nearing HKG, the sky turned grey, and visibility was severely reduced.
We touched down on Runway 07L at 1723, bringing an end to the flying time of 3 hours and 26 minutes. The aircraft made her way to Gate 26 of a busy HKIA.
For the first time, I waited for most of the passengers to disembark first, before I went around and took some photos of the interior.
I asked a pretty stewardess ‘for permission’ to photograph the Business Class cabin, and she replied cheerfully, ‘Of course sir!’ before she asked, ‘Would you like a photo of yourself too?’ I accepted naturally ☺.
I thanked them for the services, and made my way out. The stewardesses and airport staff were helping some elderly out of the aircraft and on wheelchairs, so I waited awhile for them to be done, and walked into the main terminal, where I did some minor spotting (AI 77L, LX 343), before proceeding to the immigrations.
There was a long queue, and I waited for around 20 minutes before it was my turn. I found my luggage by the time I reached the belt. I bought some snacks and had a mini-dinner at Burger King while waiting for the shuttle bus to Gold Coast (with a lot of the Cathay Pacific flight attendants and pilots).
My first Singapore Airlines experience in 11 years (and 1 that I can remember) is certainly a memorable one. A pleasant booking system (with the exception of that one time that had me scrambling for the phone), a fast and efficient check in, great aircraft with a very nice in-flight product, impressive food, very friendly and courteous flight attendants, it was indeed A GREAT WAY TO FLY. Thank you Singapore Airlines, and well done! You guys are certainly the pride of our small country!
To be continued in Part 2, which is of course, the main event, the FINAL FLIGHT OF SINGAPORE AIRLINES' B747-400!
P.S Will post some photos I took in Hong Kong later on (Mostly spotting though).
Thanks for reading,
Past trip reports
1. Aloha! From SIN To HNL/ITO (and Back) On CI And YV (Jan 10)
2. Flying The Classic 734 To Bali On GA (Apr 10)