Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight Number: SQ25
Aircraft: Airbus A380-841
Seat: 96K (Business Class)
Distance: 3925 miles
Duration: 6hrs 50mins
From where the wife and I live it isn’t too far of a drive to JFK and we arrived around 6.30pm, enjoying the sight of the BOAC liveried 747 of British Airways parked at Terminal 7, something I’d seen land at LHR when I was there a few weeks before. Terminal 4 can be a bit of a disaster but my father-in-law was able to pull up right outside the door flagged for Singapore Airlines and their portion of the terminal was a little less hectic than the rest appeared to be. A gaggle of wheelchairs stood between us and the agent at the Business Class desk beckoning us over. Much tapping ensued on the agent’s part, which isn’t always a good thing, but then I heard the printer whirr into life and it spat out blue bordered boarding passes all the way to Chiang Mai. When we told the agent we had no checked bags she peered over at our bags and asked to weigh them. She handed over a laminated card and mumbled about the allowance on the weight side which we were a little *cough* over.
With Singapore Airlines participating in TSA PreCheck we got to skip another part of the typical Terminal 4 craziness and were through to the nearby Swiss lounge in a few minutes. The lounge itself is fairly crap, though not surprising for an outstation, but at least the views were good!
With food options limited the wife decamped to Shake Shack, to the confusion of some Geneva bound passengers sat near us who probably didn’t anticipate me understanding their not so hushed French insults!
At around 8pm we got bored and headed down to gate A7 at the very end of the pier. There were lengthy lines already in place for economy and a set of wheelchairs guarding the premium check-in lines. After a brief wait to allow Suites passengers to approach us Business Class peasants were welcomed to board through the beautiful and huge gate area. Although boarding directly onto the Business Class only upper deck we didn’t need to go “upstairs”, the gate area spitting us directly into the side of Kilo Quebec.
It was a long walk back to row 96 although first impressions were excellent, both of the cabin and my seat. As we had only booked a few weeks out the choice of seats was somewhat limited. The wife and I usually pick window seats one in front of the other and 95K and 96K were the only ones that fit that bill. The bonus was that row 96 sits between the last emergency exit and the galley so it feels rather private. Additionally, instead of the foothole of other seats you get a shelf that’s the full width of the 30” seat to enjoy. Let’s say I’ve been in first class seats that felt very much cramped compared to this! The only gripe was the lack of overhead space. Only the middle seats had bins and the one nearest me was out of service so I was quick to change and get both my over the shoulder bag and roller bag above those seats several rows ahead.
As boarding continued the service kicked in, the crew were over quickly with a choice of water or orange juice followed by a (not very) hot towel and then the newspaper and magazine cart. These guys made a superb first impression, really exemplifying Singapore Airlines reputation for excellent service. Almost immediately they approached my wife and say that she was welcome to move to 96F for the flight as it was due to be empty.
Whilst supping on my water I did my detective work, familiarizing myself with all the seat’s features and quirks. The one unusual quirk of sorts for me was the seats smelled absolutely identical to those of a King Air 350 I used to ride as a passenger frequently in the early 2010s.
As boarding continued I was surprised by how empty the back cabin in particular was, although the seatmap was very full that was obviously across the full JFK-SIN journey and not just this segment, not entirely surprising given the recent reboot of the non-stop Newark-Singapore service.
Despite a late start to boarding the doors closed right on time but it was clear from my glance at Flightradar24 that it’d be some time before we’d be in the air. Construction work on JFK’s 31R/13L had begun earlier that week and I’d seen the traffic snaked up on the app on previous nights. Despite leaving from Terminal 4 and with departures using 22R our taxi path took us slowly around Terminals 2, 1, 8 and past 7. By 9.45pm we were just a few places from the threshold and the mass of twinkling lights outside marking the nearby runway’s construction.
The A380 lumbered into the air surprisingly slowly given this short segment and we were out over Jamaica Bay, the moonlight reflecting off the wing and the lights of the Far Rockaway zipping by through 96A’s windows as we banked for our turn east.
My post departure champagne and nuts were out within about fifteen minutes but despite strong smells emanating from the galley just behind it wasn’t another hour until the food started to show up. This was a little longer than I’d hope on a short flight such as this, but with a brief stop on the ground in Frankfurt before another overnight flight I was quite OK with a shorter sleep on this segment and happy to enjoy the novelty of the Singapore Airlines service.
Although I had used the Book the Cook service to pick things out ahead of time I was curious to see how the whole service panned out. It was around this time that my wife noticed someone had moved to “her” 95K. Not a huge deal as she had moved all her things back to 96F but she was mildly concerned about losing it for the FRA-SIN leg too.
After the champagne I switched over to the 2015 Chateau Bellevue Merlot for the main service.
Assiette Campagnarde – Platter of black forest ham, salami, pate, Gruyere cheese served with salad and assorted pickles
Pecan crusted veal with red onion marmalade, candied sweet potatoes, buttered asparagus and baby carrot
Tiramisu ice cream
The food did not disappoint! My veal in particular was delicious and the garlic bread that showed up after I’d taken a photo was just divine. Chocolates rounded off the dinner service and having paid attention to the video earlier in flight I was ready to let the crew know how much of a pro I was by making my own bed. Alas, as soon as they saw me stand up they rushed over to do it before I could so much as reach for the release latch!
It was the little touches from the crew that stood out, for example as they saw me getting into bed one flight attendant that was walking by reached over to turn my overhead light off en-route to the galley.
With two large and very comfortable pillows and the seeming acres of space I was quick to fall asleep waking up around 90 minutes before landing thanks to my wife batting me with a pillow from across the aisle. The juxtaposition of that against the delicate and nurturing behaviour of the crew was not lost on me!
BETTE ACK BRADD N197A NICSO NATT 5200N/0300W NATT GISTI SLANY UL9 KONAN UL607 SPI UT180 PESOV T180 UNOKO UNOKO2H
With us over Wales I watched us track across the M4 corridor. Using my free hour of internet I sent a text message to my mother who lives in the area telling her to look for the contrail I could see forming outside my window!
The breakfast service started with a full fruit plate, the usual trifecta of hate…the only thing I could bring myself to eat were the grapes and strawberry! Although I did have a couple of danishes that showed up amongst the pastry basket shortly afterwards.
With the views of northern France below you could feel the initial stages of the shallow descent begin, the scenery becoming a lot more lush and interesting as we approached the Eifel mountains and Rhineland. My wife had napped a bit more so with 150 miles to run I took the opportunity to return the favour and knock her awake with my own pillow.
I took the opportunity to enjoy the view with Frankfurt-Hahn off in the distance, along with the Moselle and eventually the Rhine itself. As is often the case for arrivals into FRA we banked a couple of times, the first around Hohe Wurzel, and its large TV tower, the second at around 4000ft off around 25 miles out. The classical music played during these final phases of flight seemed a very appropriate soundtrack to the scenic views outside.
The final 1000ft or so onto 07R were rather turbulent and let’s be kind and say the landing probably wasn’t the most gentle our Captain had ever executed. Even the flight attendant joked with my wife about how hard and rough it was!
Although a technical stop in Frankfurt we had to take everything with us, but the full disembarkation was quick. We unexpectedly emerged straight into the gate area, I was thinking we would need to reclear security again so this was a boon. Having lost my Star Alliance Gold status a while ago I knew we’d have to make do with the Business Lounge and I followed signs but only saw those for First Class and Senator lounges. Everyone from our flight seemed to be in line for the nearby Senator lounge so I figured I’d join that (thinking maybe there was some exception for our flight) but then when I saw a family directed back to where we’d come from I opted to follow them and then saw the signs for the correct lounge.
The agent checking boarding passes at the bottom of the stairs was pretty funny, trying to cheer up the young kid from the family ahead of us as well as joking with my wife about revalidating her boarding pass to Shanghai instead of Singapore! The lounge itself was rather surprising, at least compared to other low level Lufthansa lounges I’d been to with lots of food and drink options with plenty of seating choices, I just wish the view was a little better.
I nipped to the men’s room and had a slightly odd moment (stick with me here!)…in the very top corner of the door of the cubicle was an old football sticker that was mostly torn off with the exception of one corner. As a Southampton fan I was amazed to spot it was indeed a Southampton player and I recognized the kit worn as being from the late 1990s (as I had the same one as a teenager!). Quite how a 1990s Southampton football sticker ends up being attached to the door of a business class lounge in Frankfurt is a bit bizarre but perhaps shows the cleaners weren’t living up to the perfectionist German stereotype!
After a couple of yoghurts and a drink we opted to head down to the gate, perhaps wondering if some mobile security equipment would have been rolled out. Alas there was none and we waited behind another couple of passengers who were in the Priority lane.
A group of passengers with an elderly gentleman were escorted onboard and the passenger in front told my wife and I rather excitedly that he used to be the President of Singapore. By this time quite a line had grown behind the Priority banner but this didn’t stop some lady who was sat down nonchalantly cutting in front of everyone once Business Class was called. Zero Effs Given there!
Route: Frankfurt am Main (Rhein-Main AB) – Singapore - Changi
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight Number: SQ25
Aircraft: Airbus A380-841
Seat: 95K (Business Class)
Distance: 6824 miles
Duration: 12hrs 1min
It was back down the same jetbridge to be welcomed by a new crew. After the previous ones were so good I was worried these would naturally end up being a disappointment but then I remembered we were flying Singapore Airlines so I had nothing to worry about!
Thinking this flight would be the full one I rushed back to 96K and changed back into my pajamas to ensure overhead space the same as before although in the rush to do so managed to get the zip from my rollerbag caught up in my rather expensive shirt. Thankfully my wife sorted it!
My wife loved how cool row 96 was compared to the warmth of row 95 that she felt at boarding so I offered to switch with her should the middle seats be occupied again, as the seatmap had suggested they would be. Indeed, a couple with an infant joined us soon after so I traded with the wife, curious to see if my thoughts on the seat would change much as I would now be in a “standard” business class seat.
As was the case on the previous night boarding was wrapped up extremely quickly although if the rest of the plane was as lightly loaded as back where we were then it was of little surprise, my thoughts of a full cabin on the FRA-SIN being wildly incorrect!
Pushback was a few minutes early and we trundled towards the western end of the airport for departure. I had my headphones on listening to music for only about 30 seconds before I was ever so politely told off and asked to remove at least one cup for takeoff so I could hear the evacuation call if there was one. Of more concern for me was that our arrival time was listed as being almost 2hrs late, something that would completely hose our connection to Chiang Mai. It seemed rather unlikely given our on time departure from FRA and I was hoping it was just an IFE glitch.
After a lengthy taxi I was expecting to depart to the east, in line with our arrival but just after turning near the blast fence for runway 18 the engines spooled up pretty hard and we took off to the south instead, our departure a little more spritely than that from JFK. Almost immediately our arrival time updated to something a little less bottom clenching, in fact it was back to being a little early!
By the time Munich showed up to our right hand side we were at 30,000ft, enroute to cruising altitude of 35,000ft, and service was underway with more champagne and the flight attendant suggesting I open my table up.
The signature chicken satay got meal service started and as was the case the previous night it was almost another hour before the first semblance of the full meal service showed. Nevertheless I enjoyed the soundtrack to The Crown as we skipped over the Austrian Alps, some parts of the music almost perfectly syncing up with the scenery as we turned at certain stages…
I switched my drink over to an Alspiritzer, a sparkling mix of vodka shaken with apple juice and 7-Up, one of many delicious suggested cocktails from the menu that I had been keen to try.
Buffalo mozzarella and cured ham- spinach salad and truffle vinaigrette
Honey glazed ducking served with vegetables and Chinese egg noodles
All three dishes were really nice, although I was slightly confused because I was convinced I had booked a Suckling Pig with Beer Sauce dish and what showed up looked like duck. In fact I’m almost certain the flight attendant had confirmed it was suckling pig shortly before service started. Either way I rather like duck and so decided not to quibble it. The ice cream had a nice delicate almost sorbet-esque flavour that was a nice way to round off the meal.
Although I had only been awake a few hours I was starting to tire, probably a combination of the comfortable seat and the lack of a full night previously. Again my attempts to make the bed myself were thwarted by the crew and I was curious if my slightly more confined quarters would have an affect on the quality of sleep. The IFE showed we were over central northern Turkey and there were 9hrs 20mins to roll so I was confident of a full night of sleep. Water bottles were handed out with hot towels as I settled in…
I happened to wake up around the time breakfast was getting going, a surprising 2hrs 15mins from Singapore cruising at FL410 not far from Banda Aceh. As I lifted my eye mask one of the flight attendants was there ready with a hot towel. I wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing there!
Fruit plate number 2 had more orange and apple than the first flight so was a little more to my liking as was the fruit yoghurt. My next choice was a little less orthodox for a straight up breakfast item but hit the spot nonetheless.
Selection of sliced fresh fruits
Braised egg noodles with chicken - Leafy green, mushroom and Oriental sauce
With potential spills out of the way and about an hour to roll I decide to change back into my real clothes, knowing that any turbulence could result in the fashion police arresting me upon arrival if I wasn’t out of my pajamas.
Around 200 miles from Singapore the announcement was made to ready the cabin and so I put everything away including getting my seat in its least comfortable position. Although still very much dark outside a nearby thunderstorm lit up the wing’s silhouette and I continued looking outside as the sun began to rise illuminating some fluffy clouds towering away from us as we descended nearer our destination, my half drunk bottle of Vittel from overnight strangled by the pressure.
The increasing concentration of ships below signified how close we were and the light built as we descended further, a couple more turns lining us up for an arrival on runway 02C touching down in a rather hazy and foggy Singapore at right on 7am. This time around the landing was far smoother!
Condensation built on the window so whatever view I had rapidly dwindled to zero. I used the time to pull up the Singapore Airlines app and see which gate In Terminal 2 that our SilkAir flight would go from. By the time I’d figured that out we were on stand at Terminal 3 where it was only a short walk to the Skytrain. One stop and a couple of minutes later we were in Terminal 2 looking for the lounge en-route to the gate. Somewhat confusingly the blue “Lounges” sign was a red herring sending us to a Priority Pass one, and after walking a short distance I saw a new sign with airline logos on it including the Singapore Airlines bird. The lounge entrance was rather grand with Business Class to the left and First Class to the right. As we sat down for what would amount to a quick pitstop I realized that my luggage zippers had defeated me again, this time my over the shoulder bag attaching itself to one of the belt loops on the back of my jeans. Again, the wife was on hand to assist.
The lounge itself was rather elegant but not all that large, dominated by a large food and beverage station with some made to order food and some readymade hot dishes. I was happy to enjoy some water as more food awaited us on SilkAir.
With a security check awaiting us at the gate it seemed prudent to head over to E24. Although the signs indicated another flight to Bengaluru was to depart shortly thereafter all those passengers were given the boot by security staff. It was a pretty straightforward check and we were quickly through to a busy gate area with few free seats and with boarding imminent we opted to hover nearer the gate. Sure enough within about fifteen seconds boarding was announced starting with business class.
Route: Singapore - Changi – Chiang Mai
Flight Number: MI702
Aircraft: Boeing 737-8SA
Seat: 2F (Business Class)
Distance: 1260 miles
Duration: 2hrs 29mins
The friendly crew welcomed us aboard the bright and airy 737-800 with partial Boeing Sky Interior although it was quite the comedown from the A380 and its super expansive seats. The seats would be familiar to those used to US domestic first class, with three rows of brown leather seats in a 2-2 configuration although they also had a legrest and footrest extension.
The crew did a great job with the pre-departure service offering orange juice, water and apple juice from a tray along with steaming hot towels and newspapers are the cabin filled and passengers filed into the rear cabin.
I was using the remainder of the boarding time to fill out my landing card for Thailand but then noticed that someone had left an iPad in the seat pocket in front of me. Alas it wasn’t until I glanced over at my wife that I realized they were supplied by the airline replete with films, TV shows and other information.
By 8.15 boarding was complete with the exception of nine passengers that were connecting from an inbound Munich flight. As SilkAir only fly to Chiang Mai four times weekly it seemed prudent to hold off but at 8.35 with not all nine passengers boarded the door was closed and off we went, heading back towards our arrival runway, 02C, from earlier that morning for a quick rolling takeoff.
The early work into Terminal 5 appeared to be well underway with a huge amount of construction visible on my side as we climbed out over the Straits of Johor. Quickly the haze obscured anything worthy of view and I settled for viewing the iPad contents with the occasional glance from the window.
The curtains dividing the cabins were quickly drawn and seatbelt sign extinguished quickly and it was apparent the meal service was going to be delivered rather quickly. After experiencing what seemed like a 24hr eating contest at the hands of Singapore Airlines I wasn’t feeling desperately hungry but I had pre-ordered the Hainanese chicken from the same Book the Cook service that SilkAir’s parent offer. My dish was perfectly fine but livened up greatly by the sambal that accompanied it.
Within thirty minutes of takeoff I was done with the meal service and reclined the seat a little more, using my nice pillow for a touch of support. With us out over the sea the views hadn’t got any more exciting, at least down below, although as is often the case flying within Southeast Asia the clouds were of more interest…
About 90minutes into the flight land appeared ahead off to our right, which I assumed to be Pattaya given my general knowledge of Thai geography.
This seemed to be confirmed when the coastline extended a little more in our direction and Suvarnabhumi’s distinctive runways and terminal layout appeared a few minutes later.
It was another thirty minutes until we heard from the guys upfront noting we were 170 miles out from CNX and would be in the ground some 25 minutes thereafter. The announcement of 9 miles visibility suggested the burning season that is a real blight to Chiang Mai for the early months of the year was well over.
The service was concluded with small glasses of water being handed out and once again I peered out the window getting my first few glances of the area surrounding Thailand’s second city as our descent continued.
Alas despite the visibility stated at nine miles it still seemed rather hazy right through to the wheels touching down on runway 36 bringing an end to our 12,009 miles of flying.
We docked at the south end of CNX’s small terminal and were down into the quite busy immigration area though it was fifteen minutes or so before we were through the cursory customs check and shook hands with our hotel’s driver.