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ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 725
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:42 pm

Due to the recent Hong Kong political unrest situation, I had tweaked my original flight to HKG and changed to the neighbouring city of Shenzhen. Was a good choice as there were several demonstrations in Hong Kong over the Christmas holidays.

Shenzhen was once the poor gateway from Hong Kong into China, but with recent rapid developments taking place, this secondary Chinese city has transformed into a very modern city rivaling the mega cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It was almost 15 years since my last trip to Shenzhen and I was very surprised by the progress the city had made over these years.

Started the trip at Changi Terminal 2, where check-in was done at the sole SilkAir Business Class counter at Row 2.

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Felt something was missing, turned to Row 1 where SQ's First and Business check-in row was, and yes indeed, the carpets at the premium check-in counters have been removed.

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Boarding pass was printed on SQ stock.

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First stop was the Silver Kris Lounge at Terminal 2.

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At the entrance of the lounge, boarding passes were checked and we were directed to the Business Class section. Overheard some Star Alliance elites who were flying SilkAir economy being turned away as 'SilkAir is not part of Star Alliance'. Guess this problem would be gone in a year's time when SilkAir is fully integrated into SQ.

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Work area near the entrance.

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Seating area. The lounge is in need of a total revamp, and hopefully revamp will commence after the lounge at T3 is completed.

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Buffet and dining area.

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Decent selection of buffet items were available.

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The single 'live' station was offering a Christmas dish of Roasted chicken with chestnut stuffing.

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My selection from the buffet. Surprisingly, the food were all rather tasty as compared to my previous visits.

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Left the lounge and headed to the gate. With the movement of Scoot to Terminal One, Terminal Two was now much quieter than before.

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Some plane-spotting, with the only interesting aircraft being the LOT Polish Dreamliner.

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The aircraft I would be flying on.

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24 December 2019
SilkAir
MI 968
Singapore (SIN) - Shenzhen (SZX)
B737-800
9V-MGJ
Business Class
Flight Time: 3H45M



Boarding gate at E2.

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The baby Boeing for this evening's flight to Shenzhen.

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Judging by the number of passengers at the gate, the flight seemed rather full. Boarding was called and priority boarding was enforced.

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Stepped onboard and was warmly welcomed by the crew. SilkAir's B737-800s were fitted with recliners in Business Class. Not the best seats out there, but sufficient for this sub-4hrs flight. This could also well be my last SilkAir Business Class experience before the airline is absorbed into SQ by end-2020.

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My seat at 1A. A pillow and blanket was already placed on each seat.

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Mechanical seat controls.

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Radio channels? Wonder if they were even used at all.

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Legroom was sufficient at Row 1.

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Overhead drop-down screens showing how to download SilkAir's wireless IFE app. No need to download for Business Class passengers as IFE devices would be provided later.

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View out the window.

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Inflight magazine, duty free and safety card.

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No menus were available, but a beverage list was provided at every seat.

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During the bustle of boarding on this narrowbody, the crew managed to take our pre-departure drinks orders. Got a glass of coke with ice, as well as an apple juice.

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Scented hot towels given out.

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Doors closed and safety demonstration was played overhead. Business Class cabin was 9/12 this evening, a rather healthy load for the holiday season.

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While awaiting pushback, crew handed out iPads and earphones. The earphones were definitely not Business Class quality, and similar to what is provided on SQ Economy.

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Pushed back.

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Taxiing to the runway, with various aircraft departing.

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Garuda B738 and a couple of Air New Zealand B787s (bound for AKL and CHC).

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We are next in line, with a long queue of aircraft behind.

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Departure from Rwy02C.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbOp2lTY09Y

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For easier viewing of the iPad, you can request for a tablet holder from the crew. Not many passengers knew about this.

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The female purser and a steward would be serving us in Business today. Interestingly, the rest of the crew in economy were all guys as well. We were all handed a pair of slippers.

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Shortly after takeoff, we were offered more drinks as well as a selection of bites of chips, pretzels or nuts. Went for SilkAir's signature cocktail 'Joy', which was beautifully prepared, as well as chips and pretzels to enjoy with Dark Phoenix.

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Crew conducting service.

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Meal orders were taken but as we had pre-booked the All-Time Favourites (SilkAir's version of Book-The-Cook), the crew double confirmed our orders while taking orders from other passengers.

Meal trays were delivered, which consisted of a selection of Chinese starters, selection of bakery items and a Christmas dessert.

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Chinese starters consisted of braised peanuts, pickled vegetables and a cold meat.

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Warm garlic bread and onion roll.

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Dessert was some vanilla mousse cake with blueberry compote.

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For the main, I had pre-ordered the Masala Fish Biryani served with Dhal and Egg. When serving the main, the crew remarked that this was the best choice today on the flight! And boy was he right. Not only was the portion huge, but flavours were great too! A very tasty meal onboard a plane.

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Had a glass of champagne to go with my meal.

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My friend had pre-ordered the Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee served with Belachan Chilli, which tasted fairly authentic as well. It was a good choice to have pre-ordered from the All-Time Favourites menu as the onboard choices served to the other passengers looked 'meh'.

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Ending with the delightful cake.

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To round up the meal, I had a mug of hot chocolate while spending the rest of the flight on the movie.

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Visit to the lavatory, which was clean but nothing special, with the same amenities as you would find in a SQ Economy class lavatory. Definitely no branded amenities here.

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Before our descent into Shenzhen, crew came around to offer pralines in individual dishes and any other beverages.

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This was followed by more hot towels and sweets during descent. The service by the SilkAir crew were excellent! It may not be as formal and elaborate as SQ, but you could sense the service was genuine and crew was all out to please even with the very limited hardware.

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Soon, we were approaching Shenzhen and landed in Bao An International Airport Rwy16 slightly ahead of schedule.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn79xqJso8


Lengthy taxi to the terminal and parked at the gate.

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Disembarking and a last look at 1A.

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Our aircraft at Shenzhen.

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Some collectibles from the flight, courtesy of the literature pocket and cabin crew.

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Though SilkAir is the poorer sister of SQ, with inferior hardware and less elaborate service, it was made up by the wonderful, casual and genuine service by its cabin crew. Service was not pretentious nor robotic (as a youtuber recently commented on SQ's service). It was instead more 'fun' where and we were treated more casually like friends, instead of the formal service usually on SQ which can get a bit uncomfortable sometimes. Guess I will miss SilkAir's style of service after it is merged into SQ later this year.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 725
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:48 pm

Immigration and customs were quick as there were no other international arrivals, and we took the airport bus to Luohu, which is the 'older' part of Shenzhen and at the MTR border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Stayed for the 1st 3 nights at Shangri La hotel. This hotel is the 1st international hotel in Shenzhen, and as expected, the interior is a bit aged though well-maintained.

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View from my hotel room the next morning. The hills ahead are actually in Hong Kong territory.

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The next day, we had an excellent buffet dimsum brunch at Shang Palace restaurant within the hotel.

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Some of the dimsum were really cute, such as this mouse-shaped (or issit pig) custard buns.

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Another round of orders.

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Shenzhen has developed quite rapidly, with many modern buildings popping up.

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But there are some conserved areas, like the popular Dongmen Old Street, which has transformed into a shopping street.

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Some light desserts.

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Pop into a supermarket, and saw some interesting and colourful Lays potato chips!

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Next morning, had breakfast at the hotel. The buffet breakfast had a huge selection of choices!

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Chanced upon a fresh seafood market while heading to a dried goods wholesale center.

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Dried goods wholesale center

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A bowl of warming mala soup for lunch.

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Dafen Oil Painting village, a small town with everything art and paintings. You can buy art pieces, get any paintings drawn or join in an oil painting session!

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Dinner was a coconut chicken hotpot. An interesting experience with coconut juice used as the stock of the hotpot. It was a rather popular dish in Shenzhen currently.

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After 3 nights at the Luohu area, we shifted to the newly developed Futian commercial area with modern office buildings and shopping.

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Checked into Wydham Grand. It was a rather new hotel, with amazing room, bathroom and views.

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Lunch at Tanyu Grilled Fish restaurant at the InTown Shopping mall near the hotel.

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Walking around Futian, you would not feel like you are in China, with all the modern glass façade skyscrapers and luxurious malls. Ping'An International Financial Building, the 4th tallest building in the world, is also located in Futian.

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Futian skyline at dusk.

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Headed to Huaqiangbei in the evening, which is the largest computers and electronics shopping and trading area in China. There were many buildings around the area selling everything electronics, but many were closing in the evening. However, there was a food night market in the area also.

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Headed down to OCT Bay at night, a new shopping, recreational and dining area by a lake.

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DJI has its flagship store here. Interested in buying some drones?

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Next day, we took a day trip up to Guangzhou. But first, have a McDonalds Chinese breakfast, inclusive of soya bean milk and fried dough!

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Took the High-speed rail for the 45min ride up to Guangzhou from Futian train station. Went up in 2nd Class, which was in a 3-2 layout. Seats were comfortable enough for the short and speedy trip up north.

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Guangzhou's shopping street at ShangSiaJiu.

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Hearty cantonese lunch at the renowned Guangzhou Restaurant.

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Delicious double-skinned milk dessert.

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In the evening, we took the High-speed rail back to Shenzhen. Guangzhou South Railway Station is massive!

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China's version of the bullet train.

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Decided to upgrade to Business Class on the short trip back to experience the premium service on the train. The Business Class cabin was fitted with very spacious lie-flat seats, similar to those onboard planes. There was a pillow on each seat.

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There was a single train attendant in the Business Class cabin to attend to us. The train was travelling at more than 300km/h.

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We were provided with a snackbox with assorted snacks, packed towel and a choice of drinks for the 39min ride to Shenzhen North station. It was a very relaxing way to travel on a train!

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Reached Shenzhen North train station.

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Had a late dinner at Haidilao hotpot restaurant.

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On the last day, we had an early lunch, which was Hangzhou cuisine at the popular restaurant chain Grandma's Place.

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 725
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:56 am

Unlike the way up, the flight back to Singapore was via Hong Kong on SQ. SQ offers through check-in from Shenzhen Shekou Port to SIN via HKIA. Shekou port was about 40min cab ride from my hotel at Futian. It was a rather big and new ferry and cruise terminal.

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There were designated check-in counters for the various airlines which offers through check-in from ferry onto the connecting flight at HKG. Baggage were tagged and sent all the way to SIN via HKG. Boarding passes were also issued.

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Cleared departure immigration and security and headed towards the ferry boarding gate. I would be traveling in 'First' class on the ferry. There was a separate waiting area for First class passengers, but the seats were not much different than the rest, just with a leather padding. Also, segregation of the First class area and the others were not enforced.

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Boarding of ferry commenced. First Class was on the upper deck, and it was more of a lounge-style seating. Nothing too fanciful.

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There was an attendant who offered a choice of drinks and snacks.

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My selection, and no, we were not allowed to have more than 1 drink and snack per person.

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If the complimentary snack and drink is insufficient, there are more choices available for purchase.

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It was only a 30min ferry ride to HKIA and very soon we docked at HKIA's Skypier, which was connected to the main terminal via an underground people mover. Went to the SQ desks at Skypier to request for my bags to be priority-tagged (they can't do it in Shekou), and also changed my colourless boarding pass to the signature blue-trimmed Business Class boarding pass. You can also claim the HKG airport tax-refund as technically, you are only transiting in HKG.

After security and a short ride on the people mover, we were at the main terminal building where we did a bit of shopping for local snacks.

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Weather was wet and gloomy today.

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Headed to Silver Kris Lounge before departure.

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Upon entry, there was an attended bar.

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Lounging area.

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And the dining area.

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The buffet spread was decent.

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Cold beverages in the fridge.

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Hot finger food and dimsum.

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Salads and desserts.

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Selection of hot dishes, including served-to-order wonton noodles and laksa which can be ordered from the lounge staff.

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Interesting soy beancurd station.

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Selection from the buffet. The spread was pretty decent, with the cook-to-order choices a bonus.

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Headed to the gate where our Dreamliner was already prepared for departure. The flight was downgraded from the B773ER due to the reduced premium seat demand over the holiday season, hence offering less premium seats and more economy seats.

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 725
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:56 pm

29 December 2019
Singapore Airlines
SQ 865
Hong Kong (HKG) - Singapore (SIN)
B787-10
9V-SCE
Business Class
Flight Time: 3H33M



Boarding had already commenced. There was only one aerobridge in use. Newspapers and economy earphones were available at the door.

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Welcomed at the door and turned left into the Business Class cabin with the New Regional Business Class seats.

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View of my seat. Pillow and blanket already placed on each seat.

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As there was a family at the last 2 rows and with the Business cabinbeing half empty, I moved forward to row 17.

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Noise-cancelling headphones already placed in the side compartment.

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Inflight literature and menu. The January selection of the IFE and Silver Kris mag were already loaded.

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Starting (and also the last on the flight) with a hot towel.

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Followed by a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee Brut.

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Another cabin view before we pushed back. Load factor was about 50% in Business. Economy seemed rather busy though.

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Pushed back and safety video played, followed by the instructional video for the New Business Class seats.

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It was a lengthy taxi to the runway due to bad weather and a long line of departures.

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Started on my IFE selection in the meantime.

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Finally departed about half hour behind schedule.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sbKtn38jcE

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As the seatbelt signs were turned on due to the bad weather, my requested Mocha could not be served. Hence requested for a non-alcoholic cocktail of Midsummer Breeze, which was served with a pack of mixed nuts.

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Lets take a look at the menu for the flight.

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Selection for the SQ866 SIN-HKG sector.

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And of course the elaborate beverage list.

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After the seatbelt signs were switched off, I visited the lav, which was clean and well-stocked with the usual amenities.

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My mocha was delivered shortly after.

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And dinner serviced commenced.

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Starter was a marinated prawn salad with citrus dressing. The prawns were fresh but I am not a fan of the sourish dressing.

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Assorted bakery items were offered.

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For the main, I chose the Roast Duck soup noodles, which was tasty and warming. The portion of duck meat was substantial as well.

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Strawberry ice-cream for dessert.

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Followed by a selection of cheeses and fruits.

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Meal service in progress.

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My friend has the Shi Quan Wei Mei Chinese cuisine, which started with a selection of Chinese appetisers.

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Main was a delicious Pork Ribs with pumpkin rice.

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Ending with a Roasted Walnut soup, which was weirdly served cold. Normally such Chinese dessert soups are served warm, though the IFM did kindly offer to warm it up if we would want to.

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Ending with a cup of Maofeng tea and praline.

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1.5hrs to go, and spent the rest of the flight surfing the IFE selection.

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Cosy empty cabin.

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We were soon approaching Singapore.

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Landing on Rwy02L.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wD4QL82K_Y


High humidity outside and windows all fogged up as we taxied to Terminal 3.

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Last view of my seat before disembarking.

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At the last B-gate of Terminal 3.

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A standard SQ Business Class affair on this flight. Though the IFM was friendly and more personable, the rest of the more junior 'blues' lacked personality and engagement. Not that the service was not good, just that it was more of a 'touch-and-go' type of service delivery with nothing memorable. Overall, an SQ-average (SQ's average may be higher than other airlines' average) business class experience.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
mdavies06
Posts: 545
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:28 pm

Re: Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:28 am

Thanks for posting this report. Lots of great photos. Its a unique report as there aren't many MI reports here, and probably one of the first for the new SQ regional J class. Both trips looked good.

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