SQ 61 IAH
22/23/24 January 2012
From previous trip reports to MNL
, I have taken PMCO IAH
and then connected onto CX HKG
. This would be the first time I would take the only Asian airline currently serving IAH
as well as the first non-PMCO
longhaul flight since I took an AF
flight doing CDG
on a CO
codeshare the same day the Concorde briefly returned to the skies since the accident and prior to its retirement. Flying on SQ
and visiting SIN
and Singapore have been part of my bucket list of things to do. This trip would allow me to mark those off the list, but add new ones such as flying on SQ
's A380 as well as try their Business Class.
Our flight to DME
was scheduled at 16:45; we decided to leave my place around 12:45 and get to the airport around 13:15 to check in at least three hours before the flights. It had been years since utilizing any of the Terminal D gates at IAH
. Prior to Terminal E, Terminal D only had one large check in section when you first drive up to the terminal. At the end of the drive way would be passenger pick up for arriving international passengers. Since E and the IAB
have opened, a special corridor connects arriving international passengers and funnels them through to E/IAB
. The previous arrivals hall in D had been turned into additional ticketing counters that look a bit spartan compared to the original counters. Today, those original counters cater to AF
, and TA
; the new counters handle check in for EK
, and SQ
. Thanks to my parents maintaining their Star Gold status, we were able to check in at the J counter. There were no lines at the time, we walked up and asked if we were flying on J or Star Gold, and they allowed us through. Menzies does the groundhandling for SQ
, majority of the employees were native Spanish speakers while there were two Russian speakers and two Asians. The Y counters had a few people in line. Most were headed to Vietnam.
All checked in.
Hello Singapore Girl!!!
Since the arrival facilities in D are no longer used, this allowed the airport to increase the security space D, which included two full body scanners. With AF
, and TA
counters open, security took less than five minutes with all of the removing and disrobing and then putting everything else back on. Granted we arrived rather early to make the whole travel experience less stressful, and enough time to get a quick bite of Tex-Mex before the flight. Once done with security it was off to Terminal E and the Little Pappasitos Cantina as well as a smoothie from Jamba Juice.
flight listed on the old school FIDS seen atop of the escalators after security on departure level.
After a quick bite and some needed provisions, it was time to head back to D and wait for boarding to commence. The waiting area is rather large as it's for gates D10, D11, and D12, the last three gates at D. No one was scheduled out of D10. We would be boarding through D11, while the LH
flight to FRA
would use D12. LH
tends to use D12 and D4/D4A while at IAH
. On a number of occasions, I have seen LH
's 744 at D4/D4A and assumed those gates along with D5 would be used for future A380 use, especially after LH
announced it would introduce the plane to IAH
from August to October. I was surprised to see LH
departing this day out of D12. It made the waiting area rather busy.
flight to SAN
getting ready to depart from D8
The 77W 9V
-SWP that would take us all the way to DME
waiting to head back to LHR
While I noted the majority of passengers checking in were Vietnamese, that number increased at the gate area. The majority were old folks or new families with kids. The ground staff had sectioned of a special area to the side of the gate those needing assistance for pre-boarding. I had counted about fifteen passengers in wheelchairs, and about twenty families with kids. That's the most I have seen on any of my flights to Asia. While it didn't seem ridiculous on the flight to SIN
, it was insane on the return. While my parents were getting situated in the gate area, I continued walking around the terminal. The offerings at D are rather sparse. Other than the central Duty Free Store, which now lets all travelers to purchase select items, and the sundries store, there's minimal options. However, there is plenty of retail space in terminals C and E. Terminal D does have plenty of airline clubs available for such its size. SQ
utilized the Executive Lounge along with EK
does have their own tiny lounge closer to D12 which I believe is reserved for HON Members. BA
also has their own tiny club next door to the LH
one, but has a much nicer one across from D9, the primary BA
have their own lounges with KL
's Crown Lounge has their entry modeled to the Crown Lounge in AMS
did close their tiny President's Club promoting their massive one in Terminal E.
What I always liked about Terminal D was the escalator to go up to departure level after security. I loved watching the FAs as groups ascend from security as groups. From there they head to an empty gate and do their pre-flight meetings with the flight crew. Today, I saw the FA
's of AF
, and LH
sit at neighboring empty gates to do their pre-flight meetings. I then watched the our SQ
crew arrive at the top and wait for the rest of the crew to gather before they all headed down to the gate as a group. I believe SQ
does their on board the plane as they tend to go from check-in, to security, and then to gate to board the plane.
My boarding pass. WAHOO!!!!!
The FAs for our flight to DME
. I love the uniforms of both men and women. I love how you can tell their rank apart based on the color of the kebaya for the women or the color of the necktie for the men. I think the men's uniform is one of the sharpest, yet simplest uniforms. No need to wear a serving jacket such as those donned on at PMCO
As 15:40 approached, the gate area started filling up as the LH
flight would be departing five minutes before our flight. On our boarding passes, it said boarding time would start at 15:45. At 16:05 pre-boarding had not commenced. First and Business class passengers for LH
must have left the Executive Lounge since they started filling in the podium area. It was interesting hearing a mix of German and Vietnamese people speaking. I noticed LH
had their flyers queue up in the respective line and would do a document check before being allowed to get the boarding pass scanned. As 16:10 approached, my parents and I decided to start queuing up to board the flight. We asked one of the Menzies agents where to go for Star Gold and she directed us to the Priority Line for PPS, KrisFlyer Gold, First, Business, and Star Gold flyers. We queued up behind a long line of Business Class passengers who were previously waiting inside the Executive Lounge. I am not sure if there were any First Class passengers, but I do know the entire aft section of the Business Class cabin was 100% full. Unlike PMCO
that requires document checks done at the podium prior to boarding, there were two separate checks. First, there was a document check. After that you were then allowed to proceed to the agent that would scan and tear your boarding pass. i miss the days where Asian boarding passes were among the first to utilize boarding passes with a magnetic strip. Now, all boarding passes utilize a 2D
While we queued, the ground staff first started boarding wheelchair passengers before they did priority boarding. The Menzies staff boarded wheelchair passengers, which took a while since the elevator to go down to the gate could handle at most two wheelchairs and accompanying members. By 16:10, pre-boarding for priority passengers commenced. By 16:15 I was making my way down the corridor of D11 to the jetway.
About to board my very first flight on SQ
, especially here at IAH
when many thought the route would not last more than a year!
Blurred image of the Business Class seat. One day!!!
Entering the Economy cabin.
Walking into 9V
-SWP, we were greeted by a Lead Stewardess and a Lead Steward, based on the color of their kebaya and necktie, respectively. I stepped onto the plane through 2L after touching the plane, and was directed to go through the J galley and walk through the amazing looking Business Class. FAs were throughout the airplane welcoming passengers and providing assistance when needed. I have been accustomed to the dark blue and grey colors of PMCO
and was just amazed at the warm natural colors inside this 77W, especially in the Economy Cabin.
When we reached the Economy Cabin, we were just 3 rows from our seats. As we started putting stuff in the overhead bins, one of the FAs made her way to help us. While I got most of it stowed away, I thanked her for her help and she smiled with a "you're welcome" and then went on to help other passengers starting to fill in the forward Y cabin. During the entire boarding process, I watched all the FAs rush to help passengers get to their seat and place their stuff in overhead bins. The excitement was building because I could not believe I was now finally on an SQ
flight, much less originating from IAH
View of the empty forward Y cabin taken from my seat.
I will have to interject here that there was one FA
who did not quite have that Singapore Girl quality touch. This came prior to departure and landing where she would bark "window shades up" rather than be a bit more polite. Other than that once airborne she acted graciously like her male and female colleagues.
As the plane started to fill up, the only Russian ever spoken was via an automated message, preceeded by an automated message in British English. The announcer sounded like it was Joana Lumley, known for her voiceovers for the Piccadilly Line. “This is the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters!”
There air map and flight info screens were all done in English. With the majority of passengers already seated, the FAs in the Y cabin started with a hot towel service at 16:30 local time. Four minutes later, I presumed the lead female FA
at 2L announced doors had closed and for FAs to secure doors for departure and cross check. Instead of the traditional "standby for on-call", I watched FA
checked the doors and then gave the thumbs up that seemed to start from the back and go all the way to the front. Once verified, the FAs took a seat at their respective positions while they played the inflight safety video at 16:37 local time. I will say it was one of the most boring inflight safety videos that I did not bother to watch. Yet, I was also amazed that the FAs sat down during the whole presentation.
Our flight parked next to the earlier BA
flight to LHR
. Who will head to Europe first?
After they had played the inflight safety video, we still remained parked at the gate for almost 10minutes. By 16:48 we started pushback from D11 and we in the air by 17:04. It was a nice change to be on an airline other than CO
/UA and I was ready for one of the longest travel journeys I have ever taken!
neighbor takes the early lead on its way back to LHR
772Ls waiting for their respective departures to DOH
Our Pilot who had an Australian accent welcomed us on board and gave us flight details of our flight to DME
and that a new set of flight and cabin crew would take the majority of us continuing onto SIN
. After he concluded his welcome, the FAs switched on the KrisWorld Entertainment System. With our flight now underway, the pilot turned off the fasten seat belt sign which gave me a chance to jump up and head to the lavatory.
Flight information for our flight to DME
posted on my PTV.
Taxing to 15R, we pass up an AA
763, probably a diversion from DFW
The best shot I could take of IAH
below after takeoff.
No pics from the lavs because I always worried that I would drop my iPhone in the toilets or sink. I will say the lavs smelled nice and clean, and a neat feature they have that I had not seen esp on a J flight on either EK
, were foot pedals similar to the start/stop mechanisms of the drinks trolley to open the trash bins. Very cool so you do not have to worry about touching the trash with clean hands!
While I was in the lavatory, at around 17:24 local time, the FAs started distributing some inflight goodies, including cute Givenchy amenity kits, headphones, and menus for the flight(s). They had already passed my row, yet FA
Lim handed one to me with a smile to make sure I received one. Then when I got back to my seat, my parents had requested one for me, thus I now had 2 from this flight!
A global view of our flight from IAH
A national view of the flight map.
Texas view of the flight map.
Houston view of the flight map. I could probably see my parents house on this map, but not my place.
When Lim finished distributing the amenity kits for the front Y cabin, she then started to hand out headphones to our side of the cabin at around 17:29. I did not bother taking my headphones out of the plastic bag as I already had my trusty noise-canceling earphones plugged in while I perusing the KrisWorld magazine. Following the headphone distribution, Lead Faisal distributed the menus to all at around 17:34. I got a bit excited because these were nicely made menus that gave us information on not only what would be served on our flight to DME
, but also what would be served to our flight continuing on to SIN
as well. As I was putting these away, I did find a straggler in my seat pocket, the menu from CO
62. The menus were written both in English and Russian.
Because of the mid-cabin galley, we could hear the rumblings of service about to begin starting with a drink service. Because I had to get it, I ordered my very first Singapore Sling. I liked it’s fruity taste without it being laden with too much alcohol. My dad decided to have their hot tea and an orange juice.
My Singapore Sling with the KrisWorld magazine and a package of salted peanuts.
My dad’s hot tea and orange juice. I love how the tea is served on its own little tray.
After my dad received his hot tea, the flight crew turned on the fasten seat belt sign as we experienced some minor turbulence. This was followed by the lead FA
announcing the suspension of hot drink service while the seat belt sign was turned on and experiencing turbulence. All of a sudden, the pilot asked for all service to be stopped and the FAs to return to their positions. FAs returned their trolleys back to the galley all secured and then sat in their seats for about 5minutes before they received a call to resume service while the seat belt sign remained on. It was a bit bumpy, but not quite a roller coaster type that would require the halting of drink service.
Dinner set up. What will I choose tonight?
My mom chose the beef short rib option.
I chose the wok fried chicken option.
By far this was one of the best meals I have ever had on a flight, granted most of those were done on CO
flights. Yet, this Y meal was absolutely delightful compared to the regional CX
flights I did in J. I had saved enough room so I could eat and glad I did! While my parents liked their meals, they were still a bit full after having some Pappasitos before the flight. Thus, I got to try the beef, which was also nice. However, I preferred the wok fried chicken and enjoyed two servings of it.
As I was enjoying the meals, the seat belt sign went off and they announced that hot drinks may now be served again. While Faisal served the food, Lim went back into the mid-galley and retrieved the hot coffee and hot tea and handed them to Faisal. He then finished with the row and then went to earlier rows and asked in anyone liked any hot drinks. My mom and I requested some hot tea while my dad got a top off. After the finished serving food in the sections, they waited about 8-10minutes before they wheeled out dessert. Nothing tops off a meal like a good ice cream, and you have to love SQ
serving a local ice cream favorite!!!
Yup! Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country
During the meal service and acting like such a glutton, I fired up my KrisWorld entertainment hub and checked out a few of its offerings. From take off to the end of meal service I sat at the window before taking the aisle seat. My control was not working properly where I would have to change channels the long way rather than by screen menu options. The only movie at the time that appealed to me was Puss in Boots
, so I watched that during dinner. My mom then came across one of those Discovery Channel Modern Marvels specials that featured Terminal 3 at SIN
. When my movie ended, I then jumped and watched the Terminal 3 special and probably let it repeat a couple more times as I went in and out of sleep during the flight.
I will say the one annoying thing about watching any program on KrisFlyer was the long promotion of a highly modern residential complex built in Singapore.
Despite being a glutton eating all that food and being sedentary for most of the flight, I got hungry about midway through our flight. Coincidentally, this would be the time the FAs would walk through the cabin offering the Light Bites
. In additions to what was offered on the menu, passengers could request ramen noodles if one desired. In my case I packed just for the occasion, even up an extra set of chopsticks at Panda Express. Instead of wheeling a cart and blocking the aisles, the FAs carried baskets filled with goodies showing what was on offer, while another would go back and forth from the galleys and do drink orders. Since Faisal did not seem to take his break, he was walking along the barely lit aisles and offering any snacks to passengers who were awake or he could sense were awake. FA
Chen followed Faisal and did drink orders with speedy service, including using the tiny trays to serve hot tea or coffee. After I made and finished my selection, I was still famished and dug around in my bag to retrieve my Cup-O-Noodles. I went back to the galley and asked if I could get some hot water. With a smile and a “yes sir”, Chen took my noodles and said that I could return to my seat and would bring them to me. Within a minute she was at my seat with my noodles and a spare pair of chopsticks.
My selection from Light Bites
which included a turkey roll, Biscoff, banana, and Milanos cookies.
Can’t take a flight to Asia without some Cup-O-Noodle
While I was enjoying my light bites and then ramen noodles, I was checking out the Berlitz program, especially since they had a couple Tagalog lessons. While midway through the first lesson, it froze on me. My screen was stuck for a good portion and the only thing I could do was turn it off or turn it back on. While fussing around with it, Chen stopped by my seat, squatted, and then asked if anything was wrong, without me having to ring the FA
call button. I informed her that the system froze on me while I was checking out the Berlitz program. She said it does that often when passengers check it out and said she would reset my system . Within a minute it was reset and I was back to watching the Modern Marvel episode. She came back and squatted and checked if everything was fine. I smiled after giving her a thank you. She then noticed I had finished my meal and asked if I wanted anymore water. I told her to please bring two more as my parents would probably want some in a bit. With a smile she returned to the galley and brought a small tray with three waters. That’s something I would never see on PMCO
especially on a great flight!
After I finished that round of eating, it was back to sleep for me. I will say the legroom on this flight was great! You could easily stretch out and enjoy the footrest provided. A small gripe was that my bum was a bit sore and you could feel it, yet it was bearable. It made me wonder if the seat cushions on SQ
were slightly thinner than the PMCO
ones. I had switched off KrisWorld and enjoyed my iPhone on airplane mode listening to one of my playlists I listen to on any longhaul flight. Since I used up most of the battery to take pictures and edit them, I retrieved my charger and charged my mobile the rest of the flight.
Somewhere over Scandinavian airspace with just a couple of hours left to our arrival into DME
Morning has broken as we approach Stockholm and begin the last meal service for the flight.
From the span of flying over Oslo to Stockholm, the crew prepared the cabin for a light meal/breakfast service prior to arrival into DME
. I was not quite in the mood for airline eggs and instead chose the noodle options, which I could eat many times over, and of course I did since it was a bit spicy for my mom’s liking, even without the peppers.
With an hour and 17minutes left in the flight, breakfast is now served!
I say the meal was absolutely horrible!
Entering Russian airspace around the Estonian and Latvian boarder.
The early morning sun reflecting on the wing over a cloudy Russia.
With 20minutes left in the flight, the FAs began preparing the cabin for arrival into DME
. Trays were collected and passengers were doing long queues for the lavatories. I forgot to mention that while we got eye shades, socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a comb in our inflight comfort kit, the lavatories were constantly stocked with toothbrushes and hair combs, as well as little cups for passengers to use mouthwash. Instead of using one from my kit, I used an unopened toothbrush kit and prepped myself for our arrival into snowy Moscow-DME
. FAs started to collect headphones from passengers who were ending their journey at DME
. They allowed all of us continuing on to SIN
to keep our own for the next flight. I never took my headphones out of its plastic bag and left them there in the seat-back pocket.
Only 11minutes left in our flight.
Flying over Moscow with our Pilot giving us information of temperature and last minute information prior to landing.
Flying east of center of Moscow and doing a loop prior to landing at DME
Cloudy, snowy haze after descending under the clouds.
Snow covering most of the land.
Cluster of communal living near DME
Making one final turn prior to landing at DME
At 13:45 Moscow time, we touched down at DME
on 14R. We taxied for the next 10 minutes before arriving at one of the gates that had a dual jetbridge. Houston weather was a bit warm; Moscow weather was at -11°C/2°F!!!!!
During our taxi, I noticed a large number of planes sitting idled, most with their engines covered from the elements. It was cool to see a vast array of Russian airplanes and airliners with just a handful of non-Russian airlines sprinkled around.
First sight of Russian airplanes and unknown airlines.
I never knew UN had narrowbody planes.
Snow shovelers ready to clear any snow accumulating on the runways.
VIM Airlines, a new airline for me.
UN, Vim, and UTAir parked on hardstands closer to the terminal. Many of them had engine covers to protect it from the cold elements.
Could this UN plane be a former SQ
More Russian airliners on hardstand at DME
Ural Airlines, with a UN 744 in the distance and construction for possible expansion of DME
After an interesting taxi to Gate 11, we heard the chimes and seat belt sign go off indicating we can collect our stuff and head off the plane. All passengers must deplane at DME
, especially those continuing on to SIN
. This give cleaning crew enough time to clean and refresh the airplane for the second journey of the flight. The FAs closed off the J section to allow those passengers to deplane first. Once cleared they opened up the curtains and thanked us for flying with them. Since we sat on the right side of the plane, we were directed to deplane from 1L, while those on the left side deplaned from 2L.
Upon entering the terminal, SQ
ground staff were handing out “TRANSIT” cards for all those continuing on to SIN
. Each person had to have one, but the ground staff make no effort to hand one out to each one unless you specifically tell them you need one. It was a relatively long walk from Gate 11 all the way up to the safety and document check for transiting passengers. Along the way there seemed to be a handful of people ending their journey at DME
and about two that connected onto flights within Russia. Everyone else seemed to continue on to SIN
, with the majority heading to Vietnam.
Entrance into the security area is verified once you show your Transit Card and original boarding pass stub. They also noticed any Star Gold members and issued lounge privileges. During this stopover we did not head to the Business Class Lounge. Security and document check occurred in this glass pen and did not take long, which was good. Granted we were among the early ones to queue so the wait was long especially when the area only had two scanners and no real room to take everything off and out and put them back on and in. After security was a document check by Russian Border Patrol who would only let you out after you had all the necessary travel documentation. I greeted the officer with “Добрый день“ and he just grunted “Добрый день“. I then asked the Russian officer if he stamps passports and says “NIET” and flashed his key card to let me into the departure floor. I waited only a few seconds after he released my parents from the tiny glass pen.
Direction signs just after security while in transit.
While my parents were given access to the Airport Business Lounge, we decided not to check it out since we were not sure how long are transit was. Also, we were too full to even consider thinking about food. Upon checking the FIDS, I saw our flight to SIN
had been delayed till 15:25. During this time I was not sure if we arrived late causing our continuing flight to be delayed. It did not matter, I can say I was exposed to a large number of Russians since I cannot qualify as saying I had been to Moscow for over an hour to connect to Singapore.
Flight information in Russian.
61 is codeshared with UN.
In terms of shopping, I initially thought the terminal seriously lacked any kind of shops or eating outlets. However, I discovered on our flight back there was an upper level that provided more of a shopper’s gallery. I did see quite a few over-priced Russian trinkets and Russian passengers stocking up on duty free prior to leaving DME
. On the way to the gate I discovered they had a Bosco Sports shop in the terminal. This company serves as the official clothier for the Russian Olympic teams. It was also recently announced that they were also been the main clothing retailer for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. I was hoping to see a few niknaks promoting Sochi 2014, but I guess it is still a bit early. Another interesting thing I discovered, DME
has at least two vending machines selling nothing but alcohol, except beer. In the end I was not in the mood to spend any money since I was just starting my vacation!
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.