This report covers the return counterpart of my initial Singapore-Paris flight, the details of which can be found here.
D'abord (firstly), I arrived at CDG by TGV at 8.00am on the dot, a comfortable four hours before my flight at 12.00pm. Given I don't actually live in Paris, I have come to find it quite ironic that it is much more pleasant getting from my hometown to CDG than from Paris proper to CDG, given the atrocious state of the latter's public transport system. It’s ironic, but then again, look for irony and you will find it…
The famous curved flight display board in the mid-level concourse of CDG’s TGV station.
Some more impressions of the underground labyrinth connecting the multiple secondary versions of CDG’s Terminal 2.
With CDG being my second home airport after SIN, I’ve come to discover that it does an exceedingly poor job as an airport, to the extent that it almost appears to be something the airport aspires toward as much as SIN aspires to be the world’s best airport. This especially held true for food beyond the sandwich shops, which is how I ended up at McDonalds’ for my last meal before leaving France for the summer. Fortunately, it wasn’t very crowded – I suppose I’d arrived after the usual morning European regional flight rush hour.
I finished my meal around 9am, by which time the check-in counters for my flight would have opened. One CDGVAL train and 20 minutes later, I was in CDG’s prison-like Terminal 1. All Star Alliance airlines flying out of CDG are located here, and Singapore Airlines was no exception.
There were already about 150 people at SQ’s check-in station by the time I arrived. The chaos involved meant I didn’t have time to grab a picture, but the organization was a complete train wreck. People were finding themselves at, and being actively directed toward, the wrong queues, and queues were backed up even more by people with overweight baggage who did not have the space to move somewhere else to reorganize. I discovered that, in particular, the gate agent who was supposed to do dangerous-goods verification for OLCI passengers (such as myself) spoke only French. Even though she did hold laminated pictogram handouts that were supposed to alleviate the communication barrier, those too were written only in French. Since I already spoke French to begin with, it didn’t affect me, but I didn’t suppose the same could have been said for the multiple Australians and fellow Singaporeans on my flight.
Fortunately, when the time came for me to drop off my baggage, I was served by an incredibly friendly and upbeat gate agent who processed my baggage quickly and efficiently. Thanks to her, I was soon on my way airside.
Singapore Airlines SQ335 Airbus A380-800 9V-SKD May 12, 2017
When I finally cleared security around 10am, 9V-SKD was already waiting at Gate 15. Partly as a consequence of the fact that Singapore Airlines was the “First to Fly the A380”, this grand dame is among some of the oldest A380s working the skies, having rolled off as number eight on the production line.
As one of the first eleven A380s in Singapore Airlines’ fleet, she had a small economy section in the upper deck. I was originally booked into seat 82H, which was one of a set of four economy seats right behind the rearmost exit door on that deck. However, just after boarding ended, seeing I had a seatmate, one of the flight attendants invited me to move into the last two seats at the back of the aircraft, seats 83D and G. I considered myself quite lucky, seeing as the flight was approximately 80% full.
Now, there are some qualifications to this. On one hand, you do get the freedom to recline, as well as aisle room that is practically unrivaled in the rest of the aircraft. You are also literally beside the lavatories, which means basically no standing in line.
On the other hand, you being beside the lavatories is also part of the problem: the noise levels do tend to be high, and you are also located right in front of the galley, which doesn’t really help either. Ultimately, whether or not you enjoy these seats really depends on what you value in a flight.
We pushed back on time, and took off at 12.17pm. I took my time getting my stuff set up on the empty seat beside me. During that time, drink service had already commenced, and I commend the flight attendants for being so efficient here, especially given how desiccated I was after spending an hour and half airside with an empty water bottle thanks to the dearth of water coolers in CDG.
By the time the flight attendants started prepping for meal service, we were already over Eastern Europe.
Legroom shot. I don’t know if it was just me, but this time, the legroom appeared better than in some of the other standard seats elsewhere on the aircraft.
Lavatory visit. The general cleanliness was acceptable, but appeared perfunctory. The one thing that is thankfully not visible in this picture was that the rubbish bin was already full. The timing of my visit all but guaranteed that the inward flight was the source. This was even though the aircraft had already had the previous four hours of its layover to be cleaned up. I did, however, see the flight attendants discreetly attempting to pack it down during the flight, which I appreciated.
Amenities were basic but useful: mouthwash (not in the photo), toothbrushes, combs, shaving kits, and hand lotion.
Meal service started soon after. The menu du jour.
I chose the beef bourguignon.
I have commented before on what appears to be the sliding quality of Singapore Airlines’ economy food in the last few years. This is more of an observation than a complaint, since by far they still serve food that not only manages to be edible, but actually palatable (I’m nudging you here, United Airlines). This was particularly the case with this meal, where the soggy appearance of the vegetables belied a surprising deliciousness and richness of flavor. The potatoes and beef were not exceptional, but definitely still rather tasty in their own right, and the macaroon was a nice touch from the catering team at CDG.
We were approaching Istanbul by the time I finished my meal.
I took a nap shortly after, and when I woke up a while later, we had passed Baku not much earlier.
Throughout, midnight snacks and drinks were available in the galley for passengers to take on their own. There was a vegetarian sandwich and a ham-and-cheese, which I chose. Notice the ingredient label written in French: I particularly commend the flight attendant who rushed over to explain the ingredients to me as soon as she saw me reading the labels, even after I explained to her that I understood French and that even though she was being very kind, she needn’t trouble herself.
I went back to sleep, and woke up for good 2 hours and 45 minutes before arrival, awakened by the light of the galley as the flight attendants prepared for breakfast service (another aspect to note if you bag a seat in row 83). By then, we were well on our way across the Bay of Bengal.
Said breakfast service commenced 15 minutes later. Menu:
I chose the onion frittata, which turned out to be quite tasty. The probiotic milk was a nice touch too for me, especially considering this was breakfast and I’ve never been served prepackaged milk together with a flight meal before.
My personal set-up: one seat for me to sit in, and another seat to turn into what admittedly ended up being my personal sty (which I did clean up before the end of the flight):
Quick shot of my former seat behind the emergency row seat.
By the time meal service ended, we were already approaching Malaysia.
Cabin shot during descent.
Prepping for the final approach.
We were headed toward a Runway 20R arrival.
Cabin shot just before landing.
We landed heavily on 20R at 6.33am, ending 12 hours 15 minutes of continuous flying, and pulled up to the gate less than five minutes later.
Bye, 9V-SKD. Thanks for the homecoming ride!
A small impression of Changi’s Terminal 3.
Small end of report bonus: 9V-SKA, the first ever A380 in revenue service.
Paris - CDG
Singapore - SIN
An uniformly excellent flight throughout; in fact, one of my most pleasant flights with Singapore Airlines to date. The flight attendants were particularly attentive and efficient, delivering within seconds whenever I requested a drink (which I did multiple times throughout the flight, in a successful attempt to stave off the sinus allergies I frequently get on flights). The offer for me to move to an empty seat by the flight attendants was also much appreciated, especially given the dirty looks I have gotten from flight attendants on other airlines when I did the same on my own initiative during cruise flight (I'm looking at you, Air France).
This flight was not without downsides, but whatever they were, they were uniformly beyond the control of the flight attendants, in particular the placement of row 83 and the uncleaned lavatory, so I'm still choosing to rate Singapore Airlines highly on this one.
CDG continues to be as unpleasant an airport as it is possible to be for one that serves a highly developed city, but the upside of it is that you get to enjoy your flight more because it means you're no longer in the airport itself.
Overall, a wonderful flight that I found very welcome for my homecoming journey.
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