Welcome in the first of many guest posts on The Two Roads.
Over the next few weeks, Vishal Patel will be posting with his adventures in Asia.
Vishal is a 30 year old Brit, who moved to the sunny shores of Brisbane, Australia several years ago and like myself is a foodie, wine, whisky and travel lover.
Todays he brings you a Singapore Airlines economy review..
Outbound Itinerary: 22/7/17
BNE to SIN
18:00 – 00:15(+1)
3821 Miles Flown
Singapore Airlines Economy Review
Almost four years ago, I made a big decision to move to the land down under, and what a good decision it was. Since the move, I am travelling more than ever before and am fast becoming an aviation enthusiast. Whereas some dread the thought of the long-haul flight, I embrace it and love the feeling of excitement in the build up to and during the journey.
When my fiancée (RJ), mentioned the possibility of a work trip for her to Shanghai (PVG) and Hon Kong (HKG), I immediately leapt into action researching flights, things to do and most importantly; what to eat!
Being based in Brisbane (BNE), we tend to always have good flight options, and I expect this to continue to increase with the construction of the 2nd runway.
Following my flat-out refusal to fly with one of the mainland Chinese carriers (due to a bad experience), we were left with 3 options:
- Qantas – Outbound leg to Shanghai (PVG) would include an overnight in Sydney and direct return into BNE from HKG
- Cathay Pacific – BNE to PVG via HKG and once again a direct return to BNE from HKG
- Singapore Airlines (SQ)– Outbound and return flights via Singapore Changi (SIN).
With potential travel to India and U.K scheduled over the next 12 months, we also took into consideration Frequent Flyer points and status.
Having flown with SQ last year on a trip to India, I was blown away by their level of service in economy and thus made the decision to stick with SQ for our long-haul travel.Check In
With a late departure from BNE, it allowed me to work in the morning, and we arrived at the airport at 16:00. The journey to BNE is always uneventful and we were at the check-in counter only 20 minutes after leaving home.
Since RJ was travelling for work, she had to process a business visa for China, but having done some prior research, I was eligible for the Transit Without Visa (TWOV). This allows you to spend 24,72 or 144 hours in the Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
This is where things became difficult, as I was technically boarding the flight without a visa, the airline must manually override the system and inform Chinese authorities that I will be applying for TWOV on arrival.
Having done prior research on the TWOV, I ensured that I had details of hotel bookings, visa information and onward travel details to hand.
Full credit to Vanessa at the SQ check-in counter at BNE, who was excellent, despite the process for check-in taking around 45 minutes. She also informed us that it was a relatively light load to SIN this evening and we would have 3 seats between the 2 of us.
Security and immigration are always a breeze at BNE, unlike at Sydney and Melbourne. With 30 minutes until boarding, there was plenty of time for my compulsory pre-departure beverage.
SQ has recently started to withdraw it’s Airbus A330-300 and has replaced them with the much older Boeing 777-200(ER) on this route. From all previous reports, these aircraft are certainly showing their age, and in economy class, seats are reported to be uncomfortable and the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems are poor and lack the full variety of options.
SQ has recently refurbished one of the 772(ER) aircraft and after tracking the inbound flight, much to my disappointment, this was not the aircraft we would be flying on today.
However, much to my surprise, on boarding, this aircraft had undergone the refurbishment too!
We took our seats (43G/K), after a friendly welcome from the cabin crew and as promised at check-in, there was a free seat next to us. Even though these seats are recycled from the 773ER, they were very comfortable and offered good recline. Seat pitch is approximately 32 inches, with a width of 17.5 inches in economy.
Pushback began shortly after 18:00 and we were air bound at 18:12. The captain advised a flight time of just over 7 hours, which would have us landing in SIN ahead of schedule.
Shortly after take-off the cabin crew went to work, and the level of service is where I think SQ excels above all other airlines. Hot towels and menu cards were handed out followed by something I have never experienced in economy class – 2 drink services before dinner!
RJ and I both chose the Asian option for dinner and there were definitely no complaints about the food from us. People always dread airline food, but I generally have no issues with it and from previous experiences enjoyed the offerings from SQ. Post dinner, there was a separate service for dessert and tea/coffee.
The flight was relatively uneventful and with me being one of those people who cannot sleep on planes, the cabin crew ensured that my drink was always topped up. Approximately 90 minutes prior to our arrival into SIN, refreshments were served. RJ chose the Western option and I stuck with the Asian option and again, we were both very happy with the taste and quality of our meals.
Having flown a lot with Qantas and Emirates, this again is where, in my opinion SQ differentiates themselves above the others. In most cases a ‘refreshment’ is always a cold, soggy sandwich. These dishes wouldn’t have been out of place as a main meal.
We commenced our descent into SIN and touchdown was at 23:24, 50 minutes ahead of schedule. I was previously worried about our tight connection at Changi and missing our connecting flight to Shanghai, but no issues now…
Stay tuned for the second part of my flight report from Singapore to Shanghai.
TWOV Link: Transit With Out Visa (China)
Vishal Patel Twitter: Vishal Patel Twitter