ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 658
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 pm

Over the recent Hari Raya Muslim New Year holiday weekend, I went on a short trip to Ho Chi Minh City, with the main purpose of some crockery (for the renowned Minh Long porcelains) and paintings shopping. Surprisingly, airfare on SQ, booked just slightly more than a month ahead for the peak holiday season, was priced similarly to VN and the budget carriers, and even cheaper than Scoot! Guess competition does help to keep the fares down. Unfortunately, this trip was also memorable in the wrong way due to the longest ever flight delay I experienced on SQ. More on this later.

On the departure day, we performed self check-in at Terminal 2. The morning peak has subsided and the SQ counters were rather empty.

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After immigration, it was bustling within the transit area. Spotted UA, TR and AI Dreamliners along with many MIs and SQs.

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Departure gate was a rather long walk to F42.

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14 June 2018
Singapore Airlines
SQ 178
Singapore (SIN) - Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)
A330-300
9V-SSH
Economy Class
Flight Time: 1H45M



Shortly after we cleared security at the gate, boarding was announced. Being seated near the rear, we boarded early.

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Not sure if it was cost-cutting or a flight-specific thing, but no newspapers were available on the aerobridge at the door, which is unusual on SQ. Only the usual earbuds for the IFE were placed there for economy passengers to help yourselves to. No newspapers were offered onboard as well, though I also did not see anybody requesting for one. However, according to others, newspapers are still offered on other regional routes such as CGK. So maybe SQ decided that SGN economy pax are not avid news readers....

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Headed to my seat towards the rear of the aircraft. There were no pillows or blankets on the seats. Blankets would have to be requested from the crew.

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View of the seatback.

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Boarding in progress. As expected, it was a very full flight.

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As mentioned earlier, blankets were available upon request. For some reason, the cleaning crew forgot to remove the pillow from the previous flight from my seat, and I guessed I became the only economy passenger with a pillow.

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Inflight magazines.

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View out the window.

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Special meals orders were confirmed and hot towels were distributed.

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Doors closed and safety video was played.

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Taxiing to Rwy20C. It would be a 1h45m flight to SGN. I decided on a Chinese comedy for the IFE on this short flight.

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Holding short of the runway for an arrival Scoot A320.

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Took off from Rwy20C towards the south before making a turn back north.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izr8ImMiqEE

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Climbing to cruise. It was a rather smooth flight for most of the flight duration.

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Shortly after takeoff, brunch service commenced. Special meals were distributed out. My friend ordered an Indian Vegetarian meal and was served first. The meal tray was filled with a whopping selection of food, including cut fruits, yoghurt, main course of dhal with other items, a sour yoghurt like accompaniment, roll with margarine and jam, sweet dessert, cup of water and an ice-cream! An obscene amount of food on a less than 2hrs flight!

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Normal meal service started from the rear of the cabin, and the 2 choices offered were Scrambled eggs with sausages (usual boring choice) or Thai-styled noodles with prawns. The meal tray came with cut fruits, roll with butter and jam, main course, cup of water and ice-cream. I had an apple juice and coffee to go along as well. It was a pretty decent amount of food for the short flight too. I chose the prawns with noodles, which was pretty tasty with fresh plump prawns topped on spicy rice noodles.

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Ice cream on a short flight! Note the coffee stains on the tray table, which was not cleaned during the layover.

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Meal service in progress. Service was efficient and crew, as expected of SQ, were all professional and nice.

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Enjoying my bite-sized chocolate-coated vanilla ice-cream with the movie.

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View of the cabin when I made my may to the rear lavatory.

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Lavatories continued to be well-stocked with amenities.

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Another view of the cabin while meals were cleared.

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Continuing with my movie for the remainder of the flight.

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Soon, we were descending into Saigon.

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Flying over the city center during the descent.

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10min to landing.

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Making some turns during the descent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWKnKtfGmMs

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Approaching and landing into Tan Son Nhat Intl Airport Rwy07R. Ho Chi Minh's new tallest building could be clearly seen during the final approach.

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Video of the approach and landing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZd6gJWPHGc


Waiting on the taxiway as 2 aircraft departed from the adjacent runway.

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Continuing the taxi to the international terminal.

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Parked beside a CX A330.

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Disembarking.

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It was an excellent short flight on SQ to SGN. Despite the full flight, cabin was comfortable, service was good and catering was well above expectations. With the fare paid, I shall overlook the absence of newspapers and pillows. Certainly one of the better short-haul flights I have flew on these days.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 658
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:26 pm

Immigration was another matter, with very long queues which took more than 30min of wait to get through.

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Took the new and air-conditioned airport bus to the city for a mere 20,000Dong each to the hotel. Stayed at Harmony Saigon Hotel on this trip. Was welcomed with a drink and sweet snack. The Club Room at the higher floors was quite big, with a spa tub and decent view.

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First meal after arrival was a Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) lunch at An La Ghien restaurant near the hotel.

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Some day and night sights of Saigon city.

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A "touristy" pho dinner at Pho 2000.

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Daily hotel breakfasts were grand affairs, with a nice city view from the restaurant and daily changing great breakfast selections.

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Visit to An Dong Market, a less bustling version of Ben Thanh Market.

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Did some paintings shopping along Tran Phu street, near An Dong Market. This is the street where locals come to purchase paintings, and the entire street is lined with shops selling all sorts of paintings and frames. We spent nearly 3hrs walking down and exploring the various shops!

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Early dinner with delicious Vietnamese cuisine at Den Long Restaurant.

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One of the most common pastime of Vietnamese people, drinking coffee on low stools by the roadside. Experienced this at Café Vy, a popular local coffee house.

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Trying one of the best, if not the best, Bahn Mi in Ho Chi Minh from Banh Mi Huynh Hoa. Even though the queues are long with both locals and tourists, they moved fast. The single-type of bahn mi sold was packed with ingredients and was truly delicious!

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Popular Vietnamese noodle soup place at Quan Bun Moc Thanh Mai.

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A colourful dessert in Ben Thanh Market.

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Another delicious dinner at Bep Me In.

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For the best broken rice stall, go to Com Tam Ba Ghien at the outskirts of town. Portion was gigantic and filling, and the meat dishes were tasty!

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 658
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:45 pm

Before heading back to the airport, I had my last dose of Vietnamese coffee at Trung Nguyen Legend Café.

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Went back to the airport by Grab and reached the airport within 30min. Check-in at the SQ counters was quick as they were rather empty.

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Through immigration and security after a short queue, into the sterile looking departure hall with over-priced duty free shops.

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Spotted 2 A350s from the Skyteam family, CI and VN (in Skyteam livery).

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Proceeded to the gate area about an hour before departure. The gate was still not too crowded.

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The aircraft landed at 1840hrs and we were expecting it to taxi to the gate. Now this is when the 'fun' begins. Nearly 30min after the aircraft has landed, the A330 had still not taxied in, and switching on the FR24 app, I noticed that the aircraft, 9V-SSA, was stopped at the taxiway right at the end of Rwy07R. Weird as other aircraft were landing behind it and taxiing back from an earlier taxiway exit. Noted something amiss, and seeing the ground staff gathering around at the boarding gate counter for an internal update, I approached one of the ground staff, and was informed that the captain updated that there was a technical issue. The ground staff had no clues as well on what was the problem, but I suspected that the aircraft had hydraulics problems after landing and could not turn the nose-gear. Apparently, this was a common fault on SQ's A330s, with another aircraft also suffering the same problem after landing in Kolkata just a month back.

Finally nearing the STD, the ground staff announced a delayed departure to 2110hrs due to 'technical issues' and the aircraft requiring further checks. Apparently, the aircraft was then towed to a remote stand after sitting on the taxiway for almost 45min. All departing passengers were also handed leaflets and informed that we would be able to redeem our boarding passes for a USD16 worth of meals at the restaurants on level 3.

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Went up to the level 3 restaurants, where there were views of the tarmac. Spotted EY's special-liveried A330 among others.

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Delay meal courtesy of SQ.

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At 2110hrs, we went back to the new gate, which was a bus gate, only to find that the flight had been further delayed to 2230hrs.

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It was after 2200hrs when the station manager came to the gate and announced, to a lot of restless passengers who would be missing their connections, that the engineering team decided that the aircraft could not be fixed that night (ie. AOG-ed) and a rescue aircraft would need to be ferried in from SIN. SIN despatch was arranging for the aircraft and crew to be flown in and the ETA of the rescue flight would be 0240hrs, with STD from SGN at 0340hrs, slightly more than 5hrs from now. The station manager offered to put up passengers at a nearby hotel (or our own hotel arrangements but claimable from SQ) but we would need to be back at 0200hrs for the flight, which most of the passengers found ridiculous as by the time everything is sorted out, it would had been past midnight. Subsequently, some passengers suggested to the station manager to put us up in a lounge, which subsequently the ground staff promised to arrange. Not wanting to put up with the further chaos, queries and wait, some of us passengers decided to head for the Orchid Lounge, accessible using our Priority Passes. Any charges would be claimable from SQ later. Not sure which lounge did SQ offered the rest of the passengers, but it was definitely not the Orchid Lounge.

Orchid Lounge is one of the three lounges in SGN international terminal. It is a standard Priority Pass access lounge offering simple dishes, beverages and rest facilities. Not the best lounge out there but certainly beats waiting in the cold and sterile terminal transit hall.

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Some plane spotting could be done from the lounge.

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The lounge closes at 0200hrs, and we were 'chased' out by the lounge attendants. Proceeded back to the gate, which changed back to Gate 27, to see the rescue aircraft landing and taxiing in 20min ahead of schedule. 9V-SSH, which was the exact aircraft I flew on to SGN, was operating this rescue flight.

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17 June 2018 (delayed till 18 June)
Singapore Airlines
SQ 185
Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) - Singapore (SIN)
A330-300
9V-SSH
Economy Class
Flight Time: 1H33M



9V-SSH being loaded for the return flight. The incoming crew from the AOG-ed aircraft also boarded the aircraft.

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Boarding was soon called. During boarding, we were each handed a delay statement and an apology gift. Ground staff also apologised to each passenger. Onboard, blankets were handed out by the crew proactively. Again, no newspapers were offered at the aerobridge or onboard.

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The apology gift was a long travel wallet.

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It seemed that some of the passengers were either transferred to other flights or decided not to fly on this flight as there were a number of empty seats around when this flight was supposed to be full. A new set of stand-by crew, interestingly, apart from the IFM and Chief, almost all are leading crew in green ties and kebayas with only one junior blue-tie steward, was called up at the last moment to operate this flight. The outbound crew flew back as passengers. With the more senior crew onboard, service seemed much better, especially from the lady in green in my cabin who very proactively ensured that all passengers were comfortable and needs provided.

Hot towels distributed.

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Doors closed, cargo loaded and safety video played. The pilot apologised again for the delay and updated that it was due to hydraulics issues with the earlier aircraft, which was now spotted parked at the remote stand at the domestic terminal.

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Taxied out to the runway. It was slightly raining.

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Took off from Rwy07R at 0355am SGN time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpKE2ASWnpg

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Above the Ho Chi Minh city lights.

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The flight remained quite turbulent for the entire flight due to shifting winds. Seatbelt signs were not turned off for the entire flight and crew had some difficulty serving the meals at some points and were requested to be seated. However, meal service was completed efficiently as some of the passengers declined the meal due to the late (or very early) hour. Instead of the originally catered dinner from SGN, the aircraft was catered with breakfast/brunch out from SIN instead. This morning, we had a choice of Egg Frittata or Nasi Uduk (coconut rice with side dishes). I went for the Nasi Uduk, which was served with fruits, roll with butter and preserve, and the same ice-cream as the incoming flight. The meal was okay, but at this early hour, all appetite was gone. My friend declined the meal and slept all the way.

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Some re-routing required to avoid turbulent weather. Did not partake in the IFE as I was too tired.

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Cabin view after meal service and prior to descent.

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Arriving during daybreak.

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Landing on Rwy20C, almost 8hrs behind schedule.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jCqZeQMZjU


Taxied to Terminal 2 and parked at the gate.

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It was unfortunate to encounter a lengthy delay on SQ. Though staff did tried to ensure that we were well-taken of during the delay, it was a bit of a mess in the coordination initially. The offer of hotel stay was unrealistic in the first instance, as one passenger put it, he would need to return to the airport after checking into the room and washing his face, and it was upon suggestions by passengers that they decided that lounge entry was a better option. Good points were that meals and apology gifts were provided, and claims could be made subsequently. The seasoned crew on the rescue aircraft were also empathetic and provided good service. It was not a bad experience, but definitely not an experience I would want to go through again soon.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
User avatar
turk223
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2003 4:16 am

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:12 pm

Great report! You have thoroughly convinced me to visit Vietnam - one day! SQ really does seem to know how to do things "right"...
 
dcajet
Posts: 2773
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:31 am

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:14 pm

All things considered, SQ's comeback from the delay seems more than acceptable, especially at an outstation.

Great report - like all yours!
"Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten"
 
atsiang
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:40 pm

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:08 pm

Despite some of the hiccups, overall it seems that SQ did a good job to take care of their passengers. Quite impressed with service from SQ. Unfortunately I'll never be able to experience this level of service here in the US with any of the US carriers.
 
brucetiki
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:36 am

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:45 pm

An enjoyable TR. As has been mentioned, looks like SQ handled the delay well, even after the initial slightly unrealistic suggestion of hotel rooms. The apology gift was, IMO, quite impressive.

I've never considered Vietnam as a travel destination, but this TR has me interested now. Thanks for a great TR.
 
mdavies06
Posts: 473
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:28 pm

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:43 am

The handling from the outstation staffs looks pretty efficient. Thumbs up to SQ on this one. Probably as much as they could do given the circumstances. I can only imagine it turning to a 24 hours delay had you chosen to fly a LCC.
 
stm1sydney
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:58 am

Re: Trip to Saigon with SQ, and my Longest Ever Flight Delay

Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:02 am

Great to see you sent straight out to dinner in Saigon and had the banh xeo and banh khot! Wonderful memories!

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