This will be my report on flying on Singapore Airlines economy class from Surabaya to Singapore, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia. For the trip from Singapore to Surabaya on SilkAir (Singapore's regional arm), read here.
After getting the almost abysmal experience (by non-premium full service carrier standard) on SilkAir, I was looking forward to having a much improved experience on Singapore and therefore have quite high expectation on them despite the S$170 (US$125) promotional fare for my flight on SilkAir the week before and this flight.
The Singapore to Surabaya route is served by both Singapore and SilkAir daily and almost daily respectively, which also allows me to compare both of them on the same route.
Fun fact: At least 4 people thought I lavishly spent money for the flight when I posted my trip on Instagram while in fact it's much cheaper than my usual flights on Garuda. Singapore Sling, kosher meal, 32" seat pitch, and proper IFE for only S$85 one way? Not too good to be true this time round.
Trip to Surabaya SUB and check-in
Madiun to Surabaya took several hours by car, fortunately we got to use the expressway on some parts of the trip which was still very quiet.
After a day trip in Surabaya I stayed at Best Western Papilio hotel which was not that far from the airport at around S$45 (US$35) after online travel agent discount the room was quite acceptable.
Breakfast was a very Indonesian affair with most options available being Indonesian - they even have jamu (Indonesian herbal drinks)
There was an Indonesian mixed rice section.
The main buffet area features mostly vegetables and chicken.
Indonesian rice cake, soup, and porridge (at the right) live stations were available.
Egg station was present as well, however when I asked for the omelette I was asked to have the ones already cooked before instead of having them freshly cooked.
Bread butter pudding and bakery section.
After I had my breakfast, I then proceeded to the airport, which was only 20 minutes away.
Parts of the canopy at Surabaya SUB was renovated, which means access to the curbside was limited to buses.
Surabaya SUB terminal 2 public curbside area
A bag check was needed to enter the public area inside the terminal.
A view of Surabaya SUB terminal 2 towards the check-in area, which requires a valid ticket for entry.
As Surabaya SUB is in East Java, a display of reog from Ponorogo and karapan sapi from Madura island was shown.
I showed my mobile ticket and boarding pass to enter the check-in area, with the first sight being the unused VAT refund office.
A promotion of the airport hotel in Surabaya SUB.
Garuda's domestic check-in counters and Singapore's check-in counters side by side.
AirAsia's check-in counters among others.
Singapore's check-in counters feature an explosive trace checker machine.
I proceeded to the internet check-in lane and I got my boarding pass in 2 minutes. The staff verified my special meal and seat requests, and afterwards I checked the load for the day, which she mentioned as 224 passengers out of 285 seats available.
The boarding pass was equivalent to SilkAir's in terms of thickness, but at the same time wasn't decorated with the green colour expected at Singapore's proper economy class boarding pass.
At least it's better than Singapore's boarding pass from the self check-in machine.
Garuda's premium check-in lounge
The sole ATM after the check-in area.
Besides a handful of stores, the walkway to security looked sparse.
The domestic security features turnstiles to scan boarding pass.
I proceeded to the international security, which was empty.
Immigration was relatively swift, however as I went for the rightmost counter I was asked to move to another counter to the left as that counter prioritized flight crews (even though it was also available for common passengers) and AirAsia's flight crews were there around the same time. The next immigration officer then also said that it was quite quiet since the morning peak (consisting of flights to Johor Bahru JHB, Kuala Lumpur KUL, and Penang PEN by AirAsia on A320, Singapore SIN by Garuda on B738, Singapore SIN/Taipei TPE by China Airlines on A333, and Hong Kong HKG by Cathay A333) was already over. I was let through in 2 minutes.
Surabaya SUB transit area and departure
The duty free store, which is technically the sole store in the airport was very sparsely stocked.
That also includes the alcohol and cosmetic section.
The new lounge was already opened.
The meal options seemed to be on the smaller side.
The entrance to the lounge, which I skipped this time.
AirAsia's ground staff about to check AirAsia's passengers' carry-on baggages.
The waiting room was very quiet.
Select seats above the curbside were fitted with AC and USB plugs, which surprisingly was not universal. I worked there for around 1 1/2 hours while waiting the boarding.
A newspaper rack was present, although it was empty.
A charging station was also present, which seemed to be poorly maintained.
Indonesians naturally love boarding as early as possible, however I decided to board quite late as my boarding group was the last and that way I could spend more time working and taking photos.
Garuda's A332 bound for Jakarta CGK.
A better view of the plane I was about to take.
Scoot's A320 bound for Singapore on almost the same time as Singapore.
After I took those photos I went past the boarding pass check without much queue, and proceeded to the plane.
Singapore used two aerobridges, but as I was flying in economy class I went straight instead of turning left that way.
In the economy class aerobridge there were still some queues.
Some views of the plane on the business class section from outside.
Singaporean newspapers were provided, so I naturally reached for The Business Times.
I was greeted by the flight attendant and directed to the second aisle.
View of the business class, featuring angled lie flat seats (even though they are mediocre, they are the best in the route and also equivalent with what China Airlines provided)
The economy class was still quite crowded.
After I settled into my seat, the first thing I checked was the KrisWorld, with an acceptable screen size and also a nifty lamp below. I preferred this kind of IFE screen as it is adjustable, however the screen was not that sensitive to touch and the response was slow.
Legroom was quite acceptable, and the provision of several seat pockets was appreciated although the extra thickness made the legroom look slightly smaller.
The flight attendant offered scented hot towels, typical on Singapore flights.
The towel was typical, although that was a nice gesture.
In the seat pocket was the safety guide and the IFE guide.
In-flight magazine and shopping catalogue was also present, though the airsickness bag was notably absent.
The table could be also fold in half and featured a mirror.
A flight attendant brought my kosher meal, showed it to me, and asked if I would prefer to have the main dish heated. The box, unlike Stogel's, has the main course placed outside, which does not require me to break the seal before it could be heated.
Safety video was then played, which still used the old one. The screen was temporarily stuck and I informed a cabin crew of it, who then checked my screen afterwards not once, but twice, each by different person.
Compare it with the new video about to be launched soon:
Surabaya SUB terminal 2 seen from the plane.
We soon pushed back for departure from runway 10 with Garuda's A333 and Scoot's A320 ahead of us.
After both of them and Lion's B739ER bound for Kuala Lumpur took off, we were still held as we waited for Wings' ATR72 to land.
We then took off and started climbing, which was smooth.
The flight map just after take-off
As the weather was clear throughout the climb, the climb was probably the smoothest one I have ever had with not even minor bumps encountered.
The fasten seatbelt sign was turned off, and the flight attendants started sending special meals by hand, starting from the child meals, then the other special meals.
Following is the meal menu for the kosher meal: Appetizer: Smoked salmon salad with apricot, olives, raisin, lemon wedge, and cold noodle Main course: Stir fried chicken thigh meat in sweet and sour sauce with basmati rice Dessert 1: Apple cake Dessert 2: Fruit cocktail Bread 1: Whole meal bread Bread 2: Plain crackers Snack: Chocolate praline with non-dairy filler Drink (default): Mineral water
The meal was fortunately catered by Hermolis. Notice the main course being outside the plastic box but still double sealed.
The seal of the side dishes.
The seal of the main course.
Notice from the catering, which also promoted their kosher wine.
As the plastic covering was quite cumbersome, it took me some time to take everything out of the plastic tray on to the ordinary tray.
The meal indeed looked better than the one provided by Garuda.
Smoked salmon salad happened to be slightly bitter and didn't taste salty, but otherwise was acceptable. The main course didn't look that good and reminded me of the seafood meal on Garuda's Singapore to Surabaya flight, although it actually tasted fine with the basmati rice being not clumped and the chicken quite flavourful and not too stingy. Apple cake reminded much of apple pie with apple chunks spread, although it lacked the crust needed to be worthy of a pie, while the fruit cocktail was ordinary except that they added a grape which didn't match that well. Both breads were relatively plain, although I preferred the more flavourful crackers rather than the bread as the bread was also quite tough. To end the meal, the chocolate praline's filler looked and felt a bit funny compared to the other chocolates. On overall, the meal was quite acceptable and far better than Garuda's Stogel meal. Besides, the kosher meal was quite much more substantial than the normal meal, which was appreciated.
The apple cake (or rather pie)
Chocolate praline with fillings
The normal meal consisted of: Appetizer: Prawn salad with lettuce Main course: Lamb rendang with rice and stir fried long beans (they happened to mention rendang as curry sauce) or fish (no more details was provided for the fish) Dessert: Chocolate cake Bread: Bread roll
The flight attendant came to my row 10 minutes after my meal was served, and asked for my seatmate's order and our drink requests. There was no menu booklet provided.
The drinks offered on the cart consisted of: Water: Mineral Hot drinks: Coffee, tea Soft drink: Coca Cola, Coca Cola Light, 7-Up Fruit juice: Apple, orange Alcoholic beverages: Beer, red wine, white wine
I asked for the white wine and Singapore Sling. The flight attendant directly provided me with the white wine and also said she would get back later as it wasn't available for order straight from the cart. The white wine was quite ordinary, although it was drinkable.
She came back 20 minutes later, apologized for keeping me waiting, and served the Singapore Sling, which tasted quite good but was served in an unbranded plastic glass.
Meanwhile, someone must have stored my meal so cold beforehand even the default mineral water still had some ice in 30 minutes after the meal was served.
A view of the cruise, where we were above the Java sea.
The extra legroom seat at row 48, featuring power plugs on both seats (I only managed to find one on my pair of seats).
I visited the toilet which unlike SilkAir actually had no queue and looked quite clean.
Economy class cabin seen from the rear - notice the seat features on the seatback.
I then decided to have a look at the earphone provided, which looked quite cheap and came in a plastic pack, although unlike headphones was also reusable after the flight. Children receive their own headphones.
A 2-plugs to 3.5 mm adapter was provided.
Their selection was extensive and I settled on Mozart's Requiem.
I wonder if it has become some sort of hobby, but on my last few flights all of them would deploy speedbrakes on descent
About to reach Singapore SIN
Views on short final
The flight landed slightly rough due to the bad weather and we taxied to terminal 3.
Singapore SIN terminal 3.
We were parked beside China Airlines A350 bound for Taipei TPE.
As my seatmate had left, I found that her seat had an airsickness bag available, printed in dark blue.
A last view of my seat with the headrest fully extended - I decided to disembark later.
The economy class.
I bid farewell to the crew and proceeded to the terminal building.
The last view of 9V-STU happened to be a bad one.
On the other hand, China Airlines' 350 could be seen far better.
Arrival at Singapore SIN and post-arrival trip
We walked along the corridor of gates B1 to B4.
9V-STU also happened to be parked on Singapore's A380 on the left side.
A view of the gate.
I then entered the Singapore SIN terminal 3 transit area without arrival security.
Recently there has been a significant increase in the number of vending machines on the airport.
As usual, Singapore SIN terminal 3 transit area was not that crowded.
Immigration was also quite acceptable and I was through in less than a minute.
No visit to the arrival area would be complete without a visit to the store.
Instead of EVA having its own mobile counter, it used a common Star Alliance one.
The waiting area seemed to be quiet.
Priority luggages arrived first, followed by the rest. As my baggage was among the earlier to arrive, I was out in no time.
Porter service was available, although I did not see one available.
I was out to the public area in only 11 minutes since I went out from the plane, which was quite fast.
Needing to rush some work, I decided to take Uber's carpooling service back to my campus, which as usual costed me only S$10 from the airport for the 40 km journey. However, I was sharing with someone going to Choa Chu Kang as well, which made the trip slightly longer.
My first meal after I arrived was chicken rice, which happened to be mediocre.
Surabaya - SUB
Singapore - SIN
My 15 reports on various airlines in the past have been quite critical and I also came with high expectations for the flights, but Singapore managed to deliver its premium services quite well. While flying on the route by Singapore could very well cost around S$300 in normal days, the service better be good, and that is what Singapore's positioning really lies. There were some flaws such as the service being slightly rushed, the headrest being too short, and the IFE being sluggish, however on overall they offered a significantly better product than SilkAir, or even Garuda does after its cost-cutting. I told my flight after I ended the trip to one of my friends who happened to be on an internship with them, and he mentioned that while the group is undergoing cost savings, it does not seem to affect its services.
Surabaya SUB needed to significantly improve its duty-free and other retail offerings, besides offering automated immigration gates and universal power plugs. Singapore SIN was very efficient as usual and quite acceptable as an international airport.
Singapore tends to be on the more expensive end, which means I would need to find reasonable fares (which would be quite hard anyway) to be able to fly with them, though given the chance I would not hesitate flying with them again.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable fare (S$170 (US$125) roundtrip) + Acceptable check-in waiting and processing time + Acceptable security at Surabaya SUB + Acceptable immigration at Surabaya SUB + Reasonably quiet transit area at Surabaya SUB + Proactive and apologetic flight attendant + Acceptable seat pitch and width + Pre-departure hot towel provision + Kosher meal look, size, and taste + Singapore Sling in economy class (most likely a premixed one, but at least there is one) + IFE's wide variety + Clean lavatory + Acceptable immigration at Singapore SIN + Fast baggage claim
Things that can be improved: - Uncoloured boarding pass stock - Lack of automated immigration gates at Surabaya SUB - Lack of duty-free and retail options at Surabaya SUB - Lack of universal power plugs at Surabaya SUB (at least there are USB plugs) - Lack of Indonesian newspapers (a mix of Singaporean and Indonesian ones would be better) - IFE not touch responsive - Slightly rushed flight attendant - Slightly uncomfortable headrest - Flight attendant asking to stow laptop too early
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