This report covers a recent regional hop to Bangkok, Thailand, with the much-esteemed Singapore Airlines.
The trip itself starts with an arrival at Changi Airport’s extremely convenient in-house train station. One end brings you to Terminals 1 or 3, and the other brings you to Terminal 2, where I was headed. All of Singapore Airlines’ Southern Asian flights depart from this terminal with the exception of India, and today’s flight was no exception.
Terminal 2’s signature FIDS, displaying my flight near the top. I’ll miss it if they decide to get rid of it someday…
We cleared check-in and immigration quite quickly despite arriving less than an hour before boarding commenced. Airside photos.
Airside FIDS shot.
I had a little time to kill before the flight, so I decided to hop over to Terminal 3 to make some enquiries at one of the airside shops. Skytrain shots:
Bonus Terminal 3 airside sights:
Kilo-Hotel, one of SQ's A380s, resting after a long transcontinental crossing from Paris CDG. That also happened to be the flight I took just before this one, just four days earlier. Same gate, same aircraft type, same view. Déjà vu much?
Some impressions of Changi’s Enchanted Garden. I couldn’t help but make a few mental comparisons to my other home airport: I told myself Paris CDG looked as if someone had converted a prison into an airport, while SIN looked as if someone had converted a garden into an airport.
By the end of my airside tour, boarding was already open, and I headed toward Gate E5.
Singapore Airlines SQ974 Singapore Changi (SIN) – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) Boeing 777-200 9V-SRL May 16, 2017
Our aircraft was technically a 777-200ER by genesis, but rated to the performance of a standard 777-200, and my classifications in this report reflect this treatment. Shot of the gate FIDS just before clearing security, which was quick and painless.
Gate E5 is an A380-capable gate, so there was one unused airbridge, behind which 9V-SRL was hiding. At nearly 15 years old, this bird isn’t particularly old, but compared to the rest of SQ’s fleet, she is basically a flying fossil. Indeed, she is one of only three aircraft remaining in the entire fleet with a 2001 seating configuration. It was part of why I was intrigued when I realized I’d be able to take this flight – it would give me a chance to have a SQ Economy experience I haven’t had in more than ten years.
As expected, I was greeted by blue and purple throughout the cabin as soon as I stepped in. My seat would be in 64A, the leftmost and rearmost passenger seat in the entire cabin. Along with her sister ship 9V-SRJ, this bird is one of only two non-stretched 777s in SQ’s fleet with row counts extending to 60 and beyond.
IFE screen: the classic 4:3 display from the previous century or two.
IFE remote: back to having to press “right” for “enter” instead of the usual “enter” button.
The legroom was surprisingly good – in fact, it actually was the most generous economy legroom I’ve ever seen so far, SQ or otherwise, new seats or otherwise.
Cabin shot halfway through boarding.
Short IFE tour. I found it particularly thoughtful how SQ tried to install a working approximation of their 2006 IFE product on this system.
The movie selection was also up-to-date.
The infamous foot room-hogging IFE box in front of 64C: I’d almost forgotten these existed.
We pushed back almost on time, and headed toward a Runway 20C departure. There was a fair bit of hold short line idling while we waited for a SQ B772 to arrive from Hong Kong…
…and a Firefly ATR72 to arrive from Ipoh.
Turning past the runway threshold.
Building up speed…
Intriguing view of Changi's future terminals: a photo that will, in some years, become part of history. Such is the situation when you take photos of a city as fast-moving as Singapore is.
We flew over the Singapore Strait for a few minutes before finally U-turning toward BKK.
Making temporary landfall over Singapore once again. Spot the runways!
Another overhead view of Singapore.
Passing the island of Pulau Ubin not too far below. Its status as one of the last undeveloped areas of Singapore was especially evident.
We passed Paya Lebar Airport on our way out…
…and Seletar Airport as well.
Crossing Malaysia, with a view of Johor Bahru Senai Airport along the way.
It was after this moment that I took a half-hour catnap, and woke up in time for meal service. Menus were distributed by voice: “duck rice” and “pasta”. I chose the latter, which turned out to be fettuccine with chicken, tomatoes and broccoli. It was extremely tasty – one of the best meals I’ve had on a SQ flight, notwithstanding my recently slightly more tempered expectations of their catering.
The other meal.
By the time we were done with the main course, we were flying past Penang.
Ice cream was handed out, adorned with SQ’s anniversary logo. It was teh tarik flavored, which I found tasty even though I generally think teh tarik works better as a drink than an ice-cream.
Crossing the Gulf of Thailand.
Lavatory visit. Cleanliness was acceptable, but with the yellowish surfaces all around me, it was here that this aircraft really was showing its age.
We went into a long and slow descent, which afforded me some pretty views of Thailand along the way.
U-turning toward Suvarnabhumi, in preparation for an on-time arrival.
Passing Suvarnabhumi’s distinctive terminal building. I was surprised how easily it came to memory, even though I haven’t been to the airport in more than eight years.
We pulled up next to a Vietnam A321. A Lufthansa A340-300 was also on our starboard side.
My seat just before I left.
We also got a set of stairs to the back of the aircraft. Disembarkation was not done through them, but it was a fascinating sight out of my window nonetheless.
Entering Suvarnabhumi. Not much has changed in eight years: still a very CDG-like atmosphere, though probably less gloomy.
Probably as a demonstration of regression to the mean after a wonderful flight with SQ, passport control took nearly 40 minutes. This included the fact that the immigration officers were busy chit-chatting with each other while working.
The baggage information display system was also poorly organized and looked more like a check-in counter display, with about a hundred flights spread out over six screens. This made for a bad case of information overload, especially as the flights appeared to have been arranged by landing time. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I don't suppose the average passenger would bother to remember the exact time he landed, especially after nearly an hour queuing.
Singapore - SIN
Bangkok - BKK
Once again, a wonderful flight with SQ for the second time in less than a week. The brevity of the flight meant I did not have much time for interaction with the cabin crew without disrupting their course of duty – I found this a bit unfortunate, since I have always believed personal interaction with the cabin crew is an important part of acknowledging the people who are there to ensure your safety. They were, however, exceptionally attentive – at one point, my seatmate had literally just placed some trash on the tray table when a passing FA swooped in and took it away – the whole interaction occurred in less than two seconds.
Suvarnabhumi, on the other hand, is much more disorganized than I remembered it to be, for all the reasons I have previously detailed. Going through the airport does not make for an exceptionally miserable experience, but the organizational issues don’t really help either. Probably what did help at the end, though, was the fact that Suvarnabhumi has a direct train link to the city center, which makes transport much more painless.
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