Background"It's a brand new day, a brand new story..."
crowed local singer Corrine May for Singapore's National Day in 2010. It's probably one of my favourite songs commissioned for our National Day, and also a rather apt song for the changes happening in my wife's and my life. Part of that change involved us flying to Hanoi on this fateful day. My wife was booked on SQ on a revenue ticket, while I was waitlisted for Business Class on a redemption ticket. Despite several chasers to the SQ call centre, her upgrade, and my ticket was only confirmed (and issued) less than 24 hours prior to the flight itself!!!!
Thank God they cleared our waitlist in the end, otherwise I'm not sure how I would have broken to news to her that I wasn't getting on the aircraft with her...
Having less and less faith in SQ's standard menu on board, especially on short-haul morning Business Class flights, I really wanted to Book the Cook. Unfortunately due to the late confirmation of our flights, this was not possible. Nevertheless, I attempted to work my charm on the SQ call centre lady over the phone who although initially said it was impossible, finally relented and agreed to put in a note on a 'best effort' basis. Well, we shall see if SQ delivered!The Flight
My wife and I arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 2 at a fairly tight but still comfortable time of 8am for our 9.20am flight. At just 1h20min before our scheduled departure, we were greatly banking on Changi's efficiency which had never let us down before! We were dropped off at Row 1, which is where the Business Class and Star Gold/Krisflyer Gold check in counters were located, and found an empty counter immediately. The check-in agent was cordial and efficient and within 7 minutes had our boarding passes ready and we were good to go! Having visited the Terminal 2 Business Class lounge recently and finding it underwhelming, I suggested to my wife that we ate at a nearby café which without doubt served better croissants and coffees. artisan boulangerie co (abc) it was for us!
Situated right next to Row 1, abc offered us just what we needed - a light pastry and good coffee just to curb our hunger, in anticipation of the full meal that would be served on board.An almond croissant for her; a pain au chocolat for me.
Quite quickly, it was soon 8.35am, and we figured it would be good to be airside. At least our gate F54 wasn't too far away. Moreover my wife wanted to buy some snacks from Bengawan Solo too. Immigration, with the automatic gantries, was quick as usual. While my wife shopped, I snapped a few pictures of the terminal.Terminal 2 airsideCarpet design. Now my new WhatsApp background Also, my wife had a go at trying to become a millionaire lol!
By this time at 8.55am, we were running quite late, so we hurried to our gate.F54 is ours! F53 was a bus gate for a firefly flight...
Security was quite and brisk, and I overheard one of the security staff mentioning that there were just 5 passengers including us who had yet to board! Oops... And there was the beauty who would be taking us to Hanoi today!
The lady checking our boarding pass wished us a pleasant flight, and we quickly made our way on board.
9V-SVE, SQ's 6th oldest aircraft at 14.8 years old was originally delivered with the ghastly purple spacebeds, now refurbished to the 2006 long-haul Business Class products. With the advent of the A350s, these 772s fly less and less long-haul routes and are put on some short-hauls to fill the gap in their schedule, which is I think a bonus for passengers like us!
"Welcome back Mr. pokfur. 17F, across and to your right Sir," said the inflight supervisor cheerily. I thanked him and made my way across the galley while my wife made the right turn immediately for her seat 17D. Row 17 was the second last row of the 7-row cabin (the A and K columns have only 6 rows though). By the time our tickets were confirmed, all the pair seats in front of us had been taken. While it was extremely difficult to part with a window seat, there was no other choice but the middle pair on this 1-2-1 configured aircraft in order to sit with my wife. Nevertheless, I was quite sure that many of the window seats weren't taken, judging by the seat map less than 24 hours before departure. View of the still-beautiful cabin from 17F
Despite the age of the aircraft, the cabin was still in great shape, no doubt in part due to the refurbishment of the cabin.Seat 18D behind us.Poor shot of the legroom/legrest
Shortly after settling in, Kelvin, a rather overenthusiastic (but very amusing) blue-tie appeared with a tray of drinks on offer. I chose an Apple Juice to start the flight. Oh dear I'm losing touch with trip reporting; forgot to take a picture of it! Without missing a beat, Joanne in her green kebaya rolled a trolley of newspapers and magazines by my seat.
"Mr. pokfur, any reading materials for you this morning?" she asked with a smile.
I chose TopGear and Men's Health because I like cars and because I was getting fat.
As the doors were closed I read a little of Men's Health and found out that even breaking your diet for 2-3 days a week would cause you to not have abs. Pfft. I
could tell you that
too. My interesting read was interrupted briefly by Joanne offering a hot towel to freshen up. Not long after, Door 1 was closed as well, the pilot welcomed us on board, the air conditioning died as ground power was disconnected, and we began our pushback.
Joanne popped by at this time with a manifest in her hands and addressed the both of us, "Mr. pokfur can I just confirm that you have booked the soya-flavoured beef, and for Mrs. pokfur the lobster thermidor?"
"Yes we did, thank you!"
I guess SQ’s ‘best efforts’ paid off! Luckily my pan au chocolat was fast fading from my tummy!
At this point in time, priorities in life took over and I bid my wife farewell and moved over to 17K for my beloved window seat The RR Trent 892s coming to life.
It had been a while since I had been on an SQ 772. Once the backbone of SQ's fleet and literally the bane of my life (because I never got to fly anything else), these were becoming a rarity as regional flights are now largely being operated by A330s (which I absolutely adore) while long-haul flights are mainly 77Ws and A380s. So it was quite exciting to be rid of the moo-ing GEs and quiet Trent 700s and see what the 800 series had to offer.Better shot of the legrest thing on seat 17KLooking back towards my own seat 17F
These seats were probably 99% identical to those installed on the older 77Ws except for one jarring exception - the IFE. Of a 2001 vintage, the screen had low resolution, more limited content, and an older system running. Vintage maps.
There has been some talk that as the 77Ws are getting refitted with the latest cabin products, the older product (but still newer than whatever is on this aircraft) have been transferred to the 773s. No news if they will make it to the 772s though.En-route to the runway.
We waited for about 3 aircraft ahead of us to depart before it was our turn to go.
"Cabin crew to your take off stations, please," announced the pilot.
We turned onto the runway and held for a few seconds, before the Trents began to spool up, roaring to life with an uber loud mechanical drone that we don't hear anymore in the latest turbofans. The GE90s spool up with a whir, the Trent 900s on the A380s sound kind of distant, the Trent XWBs literally sound like a huge fan. But this was mighty. This was raw!! And it was noisy.
And, I liked it.Being forced back into our seats as we acceleratedAir India Star Alliance.Bye bye Changi!
For a 777 we had a pretty long takeoff roll... But I must say that it felt a lot more solid than being on an A330. The A330 rattles and squeaks and being over the nose wheel of an A330 is not
a nice place to be during the take off roll (a small price to pay nonetheless for the corresponding cabin class
)Starting to rotate.Lifting off gently with Terminal 4 in the background.
We had a rather gentle climb rate today, again, rather atypical of a 777. Tanah Merah Golf Course. If I ever played golf here I'd be so distracted!! Not that I even play golf...My island home....Banking away to the left to make a wide U-turn.Bright and sunny day for flying.
Eventually it was time to bid my window goodbye and return to my wife's side and continue flipping through my magazines. For quite a while, nothing happened, and I realized that no post take-off drinks orders were taken. How strange. I had thought it was the norm to always serve a post take-off drink but maybe it's not the case anymore with short-hauls. Both my wife and I were a little thirsty so I simply got up and went to the galley.
No doubt I surprised the crew by appearing from behind the curtains to request for 2 bottles of water. Sometimes it's fun to shock them a bit by taking a walk instead of always using the call bell.
A short while later, Joanne went around the cabin handing out sockets and eyeshades (??) and I requested for 2 glasses of champagne for my wife and I. These were poured at our seat and placed very precariously on the floppy flip-down cup holder.This design flaw has been fixed with the new J seats which have fixed cup holders.
My wife and I clinked our glasses and enjoyed the lovely Charles Heidsieck.
With a flight time of approximately 3 hours, it was the perfect flight length to enjoy a movie over a meal without any rush. Both of us put on Alice Through the Looking Glass, reclined our seats a little, sipped our champagne, and enjoyed the low-resolution screen.
Well, life could
Soon, Joanne came by to serve us our meal. Here's a look at what was on offer for today's flight:
The breakfast choices actually looked pretty decent on today's flight. I suppose I might have chosen either the beef or the chicken if Booking the Cook had not been successful. Tray with the prawn starter.
I declined Joanne's offer for a beverage and stuck to my champagne. Unfortunately my wife was allergic to prawns and could not eat the starter, but the Inflight Supervisor was thankfully able to offer her the starter from the vegetarian meal.Cous-cous salad i.e. something I wouldn't eat!
My prawn starter was really good. The prawns were fresh and crunchy while the noodles and sauce were very tasty. Good thing my pain au chocolat from earlier had vanished completely.
Shortly after I had finished my starter, Joanne appeared and removed my plate. She returned with my main course and set it down on my tray. I requested for a glass of Bordeaux red.
"Certainly Mr. pokfur", she replied cheerily.
Looking down at my food I had to go "Wow!!" Top marks for presentation and enticing the senses. Couldn't wait to dig into it (but first, let me take a... picture.)Yummy...
Without further ado, I dug into my meal and boy was I glad that I had chosen this option! It has to be hands down one of the best dishes I've had on board and certainly one of the better options from Book the Cook. The beef although well done was tender and juicy while the distinctively Japanese flavor of the sauce and rice went together with the beef perfectly. I gobbled up every bit of it except for the small slice that I grudgingly carved out for my wife to taste
For my wife I had ordered the lobster thermidor, one of SQ's Book the Cook staples. I thought it'd be nice for her to try it since it was her first time.
She let me have a taste and I liked it, but she found it a little too salty. Oh well. Women are difficult to please eh? Heeheehee!
By this time I was pretty stuffed but there was still dessert to go. Joanne cleared my tray, and the dessert was delivered by hand separately.Tofu cheese cake
taste the tofu in the chesse cake but it was certainly of a tofu-like consistency. Quite nice I must say. It wasn't one of those heavy, thick, cheese cakes and was a delicious way to end the meal. I asked for a glass of port, and later on, coffee, to accompany my dessert but promptly forgot to take pictures of those. Sorry.
Well and truly fed, I continued to ooze in my seat to watch the last of my movie, following which, I paid a quick visit to the toilet. On this aircraft there were two toilets at the rear of the cabin side by side in the centre block.
I was actually pleasantly surprised that this plane's toilets looked better and were in better condition than the A330s I had flown on recently!Wooden shelve for amenitiesToilet.
I've certainly never been in an aircraft toilet with a classy metal touch sensitive flush button as seen above.ImmaculateAbout 40 minutes out of Hanoi
At this point in time the duty free trolley rolled by and I informed Joanne that I had pre-ordered some items from Krisshop. She promised to check and come back to me. Within 5 minutes another cabin crew appeared with my loot.Wheee!!!
And for my wife I got her the Hello Kitty dressed in the sarong kebaya.
Whatever makes her happy........
With about half an hour to go and the service completed, the Inflight Supervisor went around checking on his passengers, and I had a nice little chat with him. Apparently the crew had to be at the airport before 7am in the morning for this 9.20am flight! So he was up since 5 in the morning. Morever this was a turnaround flight so he'd be working another 4-5 more hours, including the turnaround time. Well, the least I could do was to thank him for the fabulous service by him and his crew.
Soon, the pilot announced the begin of our descent into Hanoi. And shortly after I again ditched my wife for the window.One more cabin shot.Seat 17K which was actually missing a window but the available one was useful enough for me.Looking a bit grey out there if you ask me.Making some turns along the way down.Slats and flaps down, wheels out!Coming in low..Almost there..Almost... there.....
The pilot flared the 777 nicely and we touched down gently onto the runway.Moment of touchdown: spoilers coming up!We braked gently, passing by the new terminal on the way.Turning off the runway to make a U-turn back to the terminal.A beautiful VN 787 roared by with full reverse thrust.
After a quick 5 minute taxi, we arrived on stand at the terminal.On stand.
The seat belt signs were turned off, and my wife and I along with other passengers got up to retrieve our belongings as we prepared for disembarkation. Very quickly, Door 1 was opened, and Kelvin, Joanne and the Inflight Supervisor were all standing in a row thanking us and bidding us goodbye.
Immigration was only a short walk away.Spotted this China Airlines A330 along the way.Baggage hall with really high ceiling.
Our bags were one of the first on the belt and very quickly we retrieved them and were on our way.Snap of the terminal from our car!Conclusion
Without doubt this was a solid Singapore Airlines Business Class flight. In fact, some might argue that this was just the minimum standard to be expected. Yes, maybe, but that didn't stop me from appreciating the hard work and attention that the crew showered on us passengers. The old 777 was a delight to be on again, and it was nice to see that the interior was kept up to standard, although I have read that some of the other SV- series don't look so good anymore. Perhaps I was lucky? The food was really top notch and I would recommend anyone who is at a lost for choice to certainly order the Soya-flavoured beef from the Book the Cook list. I don't think you'll regret it!
This flight reminded me once again that Singapore Airlines really is a great way to fly.
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