Todays flight report will cover SQ 228 in Business Class. Running from Melbourne to Singapore, Singapore Airlines (SQ) pulls out the A380 for this flight. The current business class product for Singapore Airlines is still very much a market leader with the 1-2-1 configuration- but not in a herringbone way giving a large amount of width and personal space. It would be my first time flying in a Business Class product this far advanced, and I was looking forward to seeing how Singapore Airlines would perform on this route. Not wanting to miss any of the action of the flight, I arrived at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport Terminal 2 at about 11:40am.
The old-style FIDS on arrival in the terminal which later advised that gates close 10 minutes before depatepxs (sic). Not always perfect.
I thought check-in would open four hours prior to departure but this wasn’t the case as it was all closed up and empty. I walked the departure hall, arrivals hall and Qantas domestic terminal to kill time.
At 12:15pm, things were finally being setup with SQ signs being assembled and displayed.
(I thought Raffles Class no longer existed?)
The Economy passengers had a side of counters to themselves, with Suites and Business passengers on the other side. The carpets and decorative flowers at the premium check-in desks were setup, while all the staff were having a team pep talk with what appeared to be the station manager.
Finally the check-in agent appeared, a few other J passengers had assembled behind me and I was invited to move forward and start check-in. But there was a problem. There was massive confusion over the actual check-in desks they were meant to use, and I was told to wait. A few phone calls and minutes later and the agent finally began checking me in. But there was another issue- the screens above the check-in counters which indicate which desk is for which class were wrong, and the agent got up and went around to the front of the desk to check for herself. It said I was checking in at the desk for Suites. With all the belts going to the same place behind the desks, does this really matter? I was told to wait a few more minutes and a few phone calls later (with plenty of Y passengers being checked in on the other side) and finally they got the signs working and everyone was happy.
Despite the chaos, the agent was very friendly and I was understanding of their issues. I got my express lane pass for immigration and was directed to the Silver Kris lounge (not really hard to find as all the airline lounges are together).
By 12:40pm I was proceeding through security and immigration. There was no line for the express lane and no pending issues with me crossing the border, so within 6 minutes I had cleared all formalities, power-walked through the mandatory duty-free and was in the main area for departure gates.
I went straight to Gate 11 to see the aircraft I would be on. A QF A380 in VH-OQF was right next door.
And today’s ride to SIN, 9V-SKH
At this point I proceeded to the lounge, and was admitted to the ‘Business’ side on the right as one of the first for SQ228 at 1pm.
I left the lounge just ahead of boarding
The boarding pass said boarding from 14:45, but in true Melbourne style this is always exaggerated. At about 3pm I headed to the gate. Things were still being setup and finalised, then passengers with infants were approached individually and asked to board. An announcement was made saying boarding would start in 10 minutes. In a laid-back fashion one of the staff at the gate nodded and gestured for me to board before any announcement.
Boarding pass scanned and I was headed down the jetway at 3:05pm.
Date: 6th April 2012
Route: MEL (YMML) –SIN (WSSS)
Aircraft: Airbus A380-841
First flight was 10/12/2008. The aircraft is 3.3 years old. It was delivered to Singapore Airlines on 25/08/2009.
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 15:45/15:44 UTC+10
Scheduled /Actual Arrival (gate): 21:45/21:50 UTC+8
Flight Time (gate to gate): 08h06m
A friendly flight steward was waiting at the door, and, upon seeing my boarding pass, greeted me by name. Upon learning that I was in business class, the flight stewardess blocking access to this cabin moved aside and showed me to my seat. I was helped with stowing my luggage and then shown where the safety card, magazines and a bottle of water were located.
My seat, 14A
The view from my seat
Photos I had seen of this cabin made me think it looked cramped, but it was different in real life. First of all, the seat is very wide and feels very spacious laterally. The shells for each seat that I thought made the cabin look camped create a great sense of privacy. I thought the width was perfect- there is a hard leather cushion that gives you somewhere to rest your arm and you can choose where you want to put it. Legroom under the seat is excellent, but the ottoman was a little too close for a taller person like me, and I wonder how it would go as a bed.
Legroom shot of the ottoman
It was a shame to see the seat showing signs of wear and tear, and the seat back storage compartments seemed a little flimsy. This is only minor, as the seat storage was great (especially with the lockers along the side of the aircraft which you get on the upper deck of the 747 as well). The inflight connectivity was also appreciated, as I could charge my iPhone.
I was offered a welcome drink, and again addressed by name which for me makes a big difference towards the feeling of the service onboard. I choose the apple spritzer.
I was then offered a selection of newspapers, then some magazines.
My magazines and newspapers
Beining piped through the cabin was the tones of Cumulus by Kevin Kendle
A comfortable seat, a decent view, some premium magazines, nice music being piped through the cabin, apple spritzer and life doesn’t get much better. Gradually, the forward cabin of 22 seats began to fill, and we were shown a video about all the features of the business class seat (I assume all classes were shown a video relevant to them). Unfortunately about 30 seconds in, the captain came on the P/A drawing the film to an abrupt close. He spoke of the flight time (7h 35m), the fact that a change was coming to Melbourne meaning that the climb out could be bumpy, advice about following the flight on KrisWorld and more.
We pre-ordered drinks for after takeoff, which some airlines don’t do and I decided to go with a scotch and coke. The response was “Is Chivas OK?”. This would probably be more than adequate as a mixer.
We pushed back and the safety video began to play- it went a little bit like this
We taxied down to Runway 34 and without delay lifted off.
I was under the impression that the A380 had a tail camera, but I couldn’t find this on KrisWorld and assume Singapore Airlines has disabled it. At about 5000ft (according to KrisWorld) the cabin staff were released, and at 10,000 feet and at 4:10pm, the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off. Impressions of my first A380 takeoff- the aircraft is very quiet as has been said, but I was still surprised at just how quiet is was. The aircraft was slow to pick up speed but the takeoff roll wasn’t long and it felt we rotated quite slow.
The KrisWorld interactive system was switched on, and I started watching a feature on the end of the Singapore Airlines 747. A sign of wear and tear was that moving the headset in any way resulted in a loud crackling noise through the right side, which was OK as long as I didn’t move. Another point about the seats was that the recline and footrest feature would cut in and out rather than reclining in one smooth motion. Recline was adequate, footrest pointless for someone of my height. The drinks were soon promptly served from a tray.
Scotch and Coke, with an ad for the 747 playing on the TV as part of the feature I was watching
Heading above the clouds
I was then offered some nuts. I notice that they no longer serve the nuts from the yellow foil packets.
A flight attendant came around offering what one may call ‘amenity kits’. But they were really just slippers with an eye shade in a small blue drawstring bag. A nice bag, but a little subpar relative to what I have seen on other airlines.
Levelled out, which means it’s dinner time
It’s strange having dinner at 5pm Australian time or 3pm Singapore time, but I guess there is no other name that works at this time of the day.
My row before dinner
Orders were taken, and now it’s time to refer to the menu.
When my order was taken, the pan fried chicken by Matthew Moran was highly recommended. Having seen his work on TV, and already leaning towards that I said yes to the chicken.
The tray was set at 4:57pm, which is nearly an hour in to the flight. Water was poured, and I was then offered a selection of white or red wine. Preferring red, but not being much of a wine connoisseur, I said red, and was then shown two bottles, the Chateau La Garde 2007 and the Tatachilla 2008. The decision was the Chateau La Garde.
The table was a great size and was height-adjustable. Great feature, but one knock and the table would fall down to sit on your knees anyway.
My table set
First up, served without the trolley, the Middle Eastern Salmon.
The balance of flavours and quality of the cooking made this an excellent dish.
The KrisWorld controller during the meal
The bread basket came around and I had some garlic bread. It was a little dry but still tasty.
Water and wine top-ups were regular, and it was main time.
The chicken was well-cooked, the smoked potato puree was surprisingly full of flavour and, despite me usually disliking mushrooms, these were delicious. Just what one would want in a main meal.
Meanwhile over what seemed to be Lake Eyre…
Finally it was the ‘finale’- I was offered the crème brulee but setted for the coconut ice cream with mango.
Clouds thickening outside
The cheese trolley came around and I had to go with a sample of all the cheese.
Most airlines offer pre-plated cheese, but having the flight attendant carving the cheese in front of you was a nice touch.
Now the real ‘finale’, a nice cup of coffee with a dash of milk, and pralines.
It was already 6:08pm,which meant that we had been flying for two hours…time was really flying. With the meal service over I decided to get up, just as I did the fasten seatbelt sign flicked on with a warning of turbulence, so I sat back and watched the IFE.
The mood lighting was briefly activated, but was only on for about 5 minutes out of the whole flight. Guessing this is meant to be a sunset.
We had already climbed to FL380, with FL400 being the final cruising altitude for the flight later on.
With the seatbelt sign off, I went to the stairs for a look. Photos aren’t great but with the A380 being around for years now (it’s all brand new for me) these have been seen.
The bathroom was shaped like the fuselage
The Hollywood-style mirror
Top of the stairs, some airlines, such as Emirates, have bars here.
I used this time to head down to Economy class on the upper deck which didn’t seem too bad.
We headed into IFR conditions outside and the seatbelt sign was back on. Here we are passing through the tail end of it
The was lightening flashing which was stunning but I couldn’t capture it on camera. There was an interesting moment with the darkened cabin, IFR conditions outside (with the sun setting), aircraft shuddering and me listening to the ‘chillout’ music channel, where the music had taken a dramatic turn. Being a pilot, I’m not a nervous flyer but the mood had suddenly turned to foreboding. To change the mood, I put on some light comedy.
Before watching I was warned that the comedy may contain ‘aircraft situations’.
‘Come Fly With Me’- WARNING may contain aircraft situations
The sunset was prolonged due to flying west.
The crew regularly came around taking drink orders, it’s great when the crew don’t retreat the galley but continue providing great service.
About the business class seat, could find a video for Economy or Suites so I guess each class was offered its respective video.
One thing about the IFE was that there were ads in a few places that you had to fast-forward though. Is this appropriate for a business class cabin?
About two hours out, all times given from here on are in Singapore time
At 8:20pm table was set for the refreshment.
It was either more chicken like dinner, or noodles, so I choose the noodles
The pork was tasty, more pork pieces would have been appreciated but overall it was pretty good.
During the meal
More coffee was offered, which I had. One interesting thing was that the handset had a ‘Time to SIN’ feature which was often different to what was shown on the IFE. At one point it was an hour difference, sometimes just a few minutes. At this point, we are 0:29 minutes out for WSSS.
The first officer came on to announce that weather was pleasant for Singpaore, and to thank us for flying Singapore Airlines, a member of Star Alliance. “Cabin crew prepare the cabin for landing”
Packing up- iPhone charging but not for much longer
I turned off the iPhone, and placed some of the collected ‘goodies’ into my cabin bag, stowing it again in the overhead locker. As we were to approach Runway 20, we headed past Changi on the east and turned back. We made a smooth landing on Runway 20R pretty much right on time at 9:45pm. The A380 really decelerates hard which is I guess necessary for all the momentum to stop. It was the end of a great flight.
We taxied to gate B8 at terminal 3.
Packing up on the ground
The coffee machine on the way out
What some may call a ‘feature wall’
A small delay for the door to open, but we were soon on our way
It was 9:56pm, and I had some time to kill until my next flight of SQ970, departing at 7:10am. I had booked a transit hotel in terminal 1, so I headed over there. The Skytrain was right next to the gate.
Before turning in, I couldn’t go past a quick visit to the lounge for a nightcap…just one of the benefits of living at an airport. For a few moments I thought of the movie ‘The Terminal’. I got on the Skytrain and headed over to Terminal 2.
My boarding pass for the next flight (issued in MEL)
Being 10:30pm at night, the lounge was deserted. I like the entry, where the staff are behind a podium and walk towards you as you enter to check your boarding pass. I was directed to the left, which is business class. I also walked past the gold lounge.
All quiet at this hour- but still extensive food and drink available. Stay tuned for a review coming soon to this blog.
IMPRESSIONS OF SQ 228
Check-in: Disorganised but we got there.
Departure: The express lane was great and I was through in minutes. The security staff at MEL were friendly enough.
Lounge: Average but ticked all the boxes.
Onboard: Seat was great, a little worn and some elements flimsy but on the whole the design was perfect and the lateral space much appreciated. Some have critised SQ flight attendants in the past for being too robotic, but I really enjoyed their service. Apart from the SQ logo not facing towards me on the glasses it was perfect.
IFE: Expected a touch screen, KrisWorld could have been a little more responsive and ads not appropriate in Business Class, but otherwise a wide selection of material which meant there was always something to watch. A380 tail cam would have been nice, or if it was there it should be easier to access as I couldn’t find it.
Food and Beverages: The food was pretty good, cheese plate great. Hard to complain about the Chevais Regal and Coke.
Arrival: Landed on-time, and Changi is a really good airport to pass through.
I wouldn’t hesitate to get on this flight in the future and to fly with SQ if the right opportunity presented itself.