Welcome to my latest in series of flights I took to New Zealand and Australia via Singapore in conjunction with SQ and NZ. If you’re joining us on this flight, please feel free to read the other reports of this journey at the links below:
I may be a bit bias, but I claim SQ the best airline in the world, especially in Y! While I have tried EK on a J 5th freedom flight, I just was not wowed by them. When I step on board an SQ plane and see the female FAs in their kebayas, whether robotic or not, I can’t help but not look forward to this flight!
Again, I am still excited that SQ flies to IAH, and the airline geek that I am love this long route to Asia rather than the shorter distance via NRT. We would be earning valuable miles just in time to qualify for Star Gold just before some major changes.
We had just arrive at Singapore Immigration. I am not sure the percentage of passengers from my flight continued on versus those that ended at SIN. We did wait a bit in the transit/shopping area because it was too early go anywhere into town. About an hour later, we went down to immigration from the A gates side of T3. From the many times I have gone through Singapore Immigration, they had no one waiting in line and the agents would briefly smile when handing back my passport. Also, they have a nice collection of Fox’s hard candies waiting for all to take. The whole process truly welcomes everyone; who doesn’t love a good hard candy to suck!
Since we had nothing to declare, the whole process took less than 5min! Upon exiting, we made our way down to the MRT station. I am actually surprised for an airport station, they do not properly sell EZLink cards. Yet, they did start selling reusable paper tickets. The process and service people could at least improve especially at the airport. I expect that type of laissez-faire attitude from outer stations, not at the airport.
Heading down to the MRT station
Our tour around Singapore included a stop to the Sands Marina Bay, Helix Bridge, passed by the Floating Stadium (the main Youth Olympic Stadium), the Singapore Flyer (a must), delicious food at Lau Pa Sat, and then some shopping along Orchard Road at Ion Orchard, and then back to airport.
Marina Bay and the CBD
Gardens by the Bay
An ANZ advert at Vivo City.
Flight listed for check-in from the Airport MRT Station
We could have stayed longer, but we wanted to freshen up after exploring on such a humid day. SQ had a promotion for those transiting through depending from point of origin. For US travelers, they provided a free 20SGD voucher to each passenger that is transiting through SIN on the same day. It noted that those that do not have airline lounge access could use the voucher for entrance into the Ambassador Transit Lounge where they provided shower and a bit of nibble before our evening flight. But first, I wanted to soak up the amazing check-in hall of T3.
GA’s check-in counter at T3.
Hmmm … where should I go?
I just love this ceiling
After walking around, we needed to cool down and freshen up from the action-packed tour around Singapore. First up, passport control. Just like immigration, the officer scans and stamps and wishes us a pleasant flight, all with a smile and offering those yummy Fox’s hard candies. It seems like it just depends on their mood if they want to do an initial scan of hand baggage. Today they did not, despite a scanner was present. Once airside we went to retrieve our hand carry from left baggage and then find the counter to get our 20SGD to use at Ambassador Transit Lounge.
Asian airports tend to be sticker happy, at least from my experience at NRT, TPE, HKG, and today at SIN. It does help trying to identify passengers to get them to where they need to go, especially to get to the correct gate and to get a flight out on time. After we finally found the counter to redeem for our voucher, we set off to find the Ambassador Transit Lounge, located next to the Butterfly Garden in T3. There they would give us stickers to allow us to go in and out, as well as know at what time we should leave as you have a 4hr limit if using the 20SGD voucher.
I thought I had taken pics of and inside the Ambassador Transit Lounge, but I cannot seem to locate them. I know I did not take too many of them because of plenty of passengers taking advantage of the free travel money while transiting at Changi. A bunch of Aussies utilized the lounge and probably a few Kiwis on our trip home. It seemed all had enjoyed their trips to Europe and the British Isles. Coincidentally, the Aussie, Kiwis, and I think South Koreans were among the selected travelers that could avail to the 40SGD voucher when transiting through SIN.
I did take this while waiting at the Ambassador Transit Lounge.
While my dad enjoyed a bit of nibble, which was passable, my mom and I ventured into the neighboring Butterfly Garden. It reminds me of the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The area is heavily screened to prevent any large debris from entering or any butterflies from flying out. Thus, you do get that nice smack of Singaporean humidity. The garden has two levels and just a nice place to visit and relax, granted there are no loud mainland Chinese people yelling or children running amuck!
That’s two of them
Feasting on pineapple nectar
After walking around, we returned back into the lounge. With the lounge located near the B gates, we decided to leave and head back towards the A gates where our flight would later depart. Initially it said our flight would leave from A13, they had changed our gate to A4.
M&M’s and Porcupine?
We get to the entrance to the A1-A4 gates and our gate has not quiet opened. We notice security turning people away as none of the flights had opened. Instead, we find some seats near the transfer counters and wait for a couple of minutes for the gates to open.
While waiting, the Trip Report homepage changes again.
At 20:00 the green light for “Gate Open” popped up for both our flight from A4 and the A380 flight to MEL at A2. A4 is among a group of gates that shares 2 scanners with five gates. SIN is one of a few airports that does security screening at the gate. Thus, the queue to get into gates A1-A5 appeared rather lengthy due to 2 full flights. An SQ flight to BNE would depart at A1, but they had not been called into the gate area.
As mentioned, this would be a full flight and the online seating chart when reviewing my reservation as well as during check-in reflected just how packed this flight would be. It seemed many on our flight, the flight to MEL, and to BNE had people all on the same European tour and as each flight called for boarding, they all wished each other a safe flight and to keep in touch.
We just sat and hung out for over 30min while more and more passengers entered the boarding area. The makeup of our flight seemed to be predominantly Kiwis headed home from work abroad or holiday to a much warmer climate. We made up a small contingent of non-Kiwis excited to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud for the very first time.
Around 20:30 they called for pre-boarding for all priority passengers to board on the left side. A couple of fellow Asians tried to board on the right side, but SATS ground turned them away saying they had not started general boarding done by row number. They had a long line of priority passengers waiting to board.
Boarding families with children
After families with children had boarded, the gate agents had called for general boarding, starting with those at the rear of the aircraft and boarding on the right side of the podium. Premium passengers constantly trickled into the queue and did not seem to slow down.
We queue up just before they called up our row to board.
No long lines
Our male ISM and Ms. Red Kebaya welcomed passengers at 2L. Our ISM appeared older than most of the crew and had a different color tie that I had seen on a SIN-MNL flight indicating he had a very high status. He welcomed us on board and directed us down the aisle after showing him our boarding passes. Since he noticed me taking a few pictures, he told me he hope I would enjoy the flight.
Upon entering Y, Ms Blue Kebaya Porikam welcomed us and asked us what seat. She directed us to an older female colleague (aka NoKe) who was professionally dressed but not in a kebaya. Also, I could not determine her name as her jacket lapel hid her name badge. She would be assisting Porikam on our side during service. We placed all our stuff into the overhead bin and just waited to take off into the night sky on our way south to AKL!
MEL flight at the next gate
On this flight, they offered a much different entertainment system than on my IAH-SIN flights. While the shows and movies remained the same, the most noticeable difference was the inflight map.
A much different map
By 21:00 the Captain gave his welcome on board as most of the passengers had already settled in for the flight. He informed us that our flight time down to AKL would be 9h and that we should arrive ahead of schedule. He thanked us for joining him and his crew tonight and to enjoy the award winning SQ service. During the Captain’s welcome, Porikam and another blue kebaya walked down the aisle handing out cloth oshibori. A few minutes later, NoKe and the same blue kebaya returned to pick up used oshibori. At that time, they had announced doors closed while they prepared for pushback.
During pushback, FAs took their seats while they had the flight safety video playing. I love watching these videos. However, I, like my fellow passengers, lost interest watching theirs. I could tell many wanted to go to sleep. Immediately after the video, the FAs did a quick walk up and down the aisles and returned to their jumpseats and we took off into the Singapore night sky. I tried to take a departure video similar to the arrival video from DME, but it was too dark and not much to see.
Rather than on the ground, the FAs handed out the amenity kits and menus once in the air and the captain had initially turned off the fasten seat belt sign. Porikam handed out the amenity kits, while NoKe handed out menus. I made a quick dash to the lavatory just in time for the first drink service. I did notice that only a handful of seats available only in the aft section of Y and 100% full in the forward section.
Rather than start off enjoying a Singapore Sling, I just decide to go the non-alcoholic route and enjoy an apple spritzer and a water. Porikam starts from the front and then works her way down the aisle. She served these refreshing drinks along with two wrapped packages of peanuts. I saved the peanuts for
Tonight’s ice cream treat, which I cannot enjoy.
By the time the ice cream treat comes around, I start getting groggy after I finish the meal. My mom had nudged me awake when NoKe started to hand them out. I was about to take a bite from my mom, but had started reading and noticed it contained almonds, which I have a nut sensitivity towards. I gave it to my dad to see if he would enjoy it while I took one last drink of my apple spritzer and then crashed. I noticed we had 7h15m left in the flight. A few minutes later, my mom nudged me again so I could pass my tray over and then I waited a bit before the passengers behind me had their trays taken before I reclined my seat and slept for about 4hrs.
I woke up to discover we had just entered Queensland, Australia and flying just north of BNE. We would soon encounter sunlight. I figured I could get probably more more good hour of sleep, just in time for the second meal service, which was something I had been waiting for among these three flights, noodles!
Gradually, the crew had turned on the lights in Y to start the breakfast service prior to our landing at AKL. A new FA in her blue kebaya handed out oshibori working from back to front on our side, while NoKe worked on the right side. Porikam picked up used ones prior to starting a drink service followed by breakfast. Again both Porikam and and Ms. Blue Kebaya worked from the back forward with Porikam starting out with the drinks trolley and then Ms. Blue Kebaya handing out meals. Again, I was a bit excited as I had been wanting some noodles, as well as pickled peppers to spice up the dish. While just a tad bit greasy, they definitely hit the spot and the peppers jump-starting my day.
With just less than an hour prior to landing, the crew started picking up trays and preparing the cabin for arrival into AKL. The sun shown brightly and even made the windows a bit warm to touch. I watched as the sea made way to the rugged terrain of the North Island. The co-pilot gave the good morning message on our approach towards AKL. We would be landing ahead of schedule to nice sunny conditions. At that point I could not believe that I had finally made it to Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.
With 20min left to AKL.
Ms. Blue Kebaya doing one final check prior to landing.
With one final ding, all the cabin crew took their seats during final approach into AKL.
Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand!
We would dock at one of the furthest gates, that it seems would handle non-NZ flights, including EK’s A380 as well as the recent SQ A380.
We landed just before TG’s flight from BKK.
The terminal seems quiet this morning.
Sorry for the blurriness, a wood-carved gate coming from the new gate extension while heading towards NZ CBP.
9V-SWG waiting to head back to AKL.
NZ Immigration took a while as it took a while to process non-Kiwi and non-Aussies who cannot utilize SmartGate. A couple of British passengers were ahead of us before I was called by a female officer of Chinese origin. She initially asked if I was traveling alone and informed her I was traveling with my parents and asked for them to join me. She then asked about our stay and purpose and how we flew down. She mentioned that they get a lot of US visitors, but few from Texas. As I type this trip report now, there would be a bit more once NZ starts IAH-AKL nonstop! After we qualified, we got stamped in and welcomed into the country. Now we made our way to the closet baggage belt to immigration as our bags would be deposited from this belt. We had just arrive when the majority of non-priority bags started to make their way out.
Something interesting happened to us while we started to collect our bags. As we started pulling our bags, one of the customs beagles started sniffing our bags and seemed a bit interested with two of them, one of which was mine, and another my mom’s. The dog’s job was to sniff out drugs and money. These same two bags are ones my dog either likes to sleep in if we leave it open, or just always near him. Also since my mom’s suitcase is black and my dog has white hair, it leaves his scent on it. While a bit annoying I get stopped, we had nothing illegal to bring, and no food from the plane. During the encounter, the agents were very nice and affable and I even allowed him a quick peek, they let us head on over to the final x-ray and wished us a pleasant stay.
On our final way out, I got partially stop because the agent saw I had six small bottles in my hand carry and I could not remember why until we fished it out and I had bought some Tiger Balm from the duty free store. Since it had been sealed, he seemed OK with it and allowed me to go ahead and get my first breath of clean, cool NZ air!
Singapore - SIN
Auckland - AKL
Thank you for your continued support and checking out my flight reports. I hope you continue to stay tuned!
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