Review of Singapore Airlines flight Taipei Singapore in Economy

Airline Singapore Airlines
Flight SQ877
Class Economy
Seat 61A
Aircraft Airbus A330-300
Flight time 04:45
Take-off 23 Jan 18, 14:10
Arrival at 23 Jan 18, 18:55
SQ   #5 out of 66 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 630 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 1885
Published on 3rd February 2018
My preceding flight to TPE was continued with a side trip to South-East Asia:

CDG-TPE : BR88 (B777-300ER) there
TPE-SIN : SQ877 (A330-300) you are here
SIN- BKK : SQ982 (B777-200ER) there
BKK-TPE : BR76 (B777-300ER) to be posted later
TPE-CDG : BR87 (B777-300ER)




A word of warning : this FR is LONG, really VERY LONG, with an unreasonable number of pictures of planes in both the flight report and the bonus. If you are not interested by planes, better close this window right away (probably because you did not expect to click into a aviation geek website in the first place).

Now that you have been warned, possibly with a supply of non-Taiwanese coffee to help you reach the end, let’s begin the story.

This is an SQ flight, but it was part of a TPE-BKK round trip on Eva Air, with the way in flown on SQ on a BR ticket quota with a 24h stopover in SIN. This was cheaper than an ordinary triangular trip, but a side effect was that both websites of BR and SQ refused pre-OLCI seat selection: BR because I was going to fly in an SQ aircraft, and SQ because I had a BR ticket.
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There were some leftover seats in the front of the cabin when I checked in on line, but they were overwing. Going through immigration is always fast in SIN: the advantage of being among the first passengers to deplane would be limited and I could just as well choose a seat in the rear of the aircraft, furthest away from the hot air from the reactors which are a nuisance for taking pictures, and with less hindrance caused by the wing. Also, if the flight turned out to not be full, there was more chance to have an empty seat next to me. I chose therefore Seat 61A rather than Seat 46K (a window seat, but overwing and on the wrong side due to the sun’s direction).
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This flight was a good opportunity to fly SQ while I could, because I discovered on the OLCI that there is an age limit: the drop-down menu does not allow a year of birth before 1918.
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I had checked before the OLCI opened what meals would be offered on board. The least that I can writ is that the description was terse.
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On D Day, I arrived at the end station of the subway’s airport line, which is actually closer to Beimen station than to Taipei Central station. I had noted when I had arrived in Taipei that there were in-town check-in facilities, like in Hong-Kong.
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What the signs do not indicate is that the in-town check-in is offered to the passengers of Eva Air (and its subsidiary Uni-Air) flights only. A BR ticket on an SQ flight is a no-go. It’s a far cry from the offering of HK’s Airport Express where some thirty airlines provide in-town check-in services.
So much for the in-town check-in test : that would be for another time.
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This was not a problem for me, because I was leaving immediately to the airport, using a means of transportation which is 100% accessible to handicapped passengers and passengers with a large suitcase alike. The main issue was obtaining a ticket for that line. You can use your Easycard (Taiwan’s multipurpose stored value card), but the credit on mine was not enough and I had planned to recharge it like in any subway station. But this was not “any subway station” and I did not find an Easycard reload machine anywhere.
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No problem, I’ll buy a one way ticket. Yes, but the machine does not give more than 99 TWD of change, and consequently accepts only coins and 100 TWD banknotes. You cannot buy a 160 TWD ticket with such a high denomination bill (500 TWD are worth about 15 EUR), and bad luck, I’m out of 100 TWD bills. (In any subway station, you can reload your Easycard with 500 or 1000 TWD bills…)
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The solution was the manual counter, where not only you cannot pay with a credit card (after one year in Stockholm where I never ever used cash, even for the most insignificant purchase, it felt strange), but I had to wait until the single staff had finished handling of a passenger on the other side. Four minutes waiting time is not a disaster, but it seems much longer in front of an empty counter than in a waiting line which is making progress. I did not have the impression of a VIP service, despite the claims of the cash tray.
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All that for obtaining this contactless infinitely reusable token, typical of both Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese subway systems. (I am always puzzled that subways are still using single use paper tickets in France and in Japan alike. They are so 20st century…)
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Fare evasion is negligible in Taipei’s urban transport : the turnstiles are consequently of the rather symbolic kind.
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Back view of the in-town check-in counters where the staff is far from being overworked, due to the lack of passengers which can use their services.
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The subway was reasonably full, unlike on the way in which was before typical working hours, but I has no difficulty asking a passenger to please remove his hand luggage from the seat next to him. I was lucky: the express trains run every 15 minutes and this one departed two minutes after I had reached the platform.
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When I was living in Taipei, there were advertising campaigns reminding that taking pictures under the skirts of women was forbidden. Did Taiwanese men go one step further in sexual harassment in public transports?
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This does not mean that relationships between men and women is discouraged : I saw this ad in a corridor to the in-town check-in counters :
Looking at beauty on the internet rather than the real beauty is completely stupid!!
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I did not look at the questionable beauty of my male neighbor in the subway, but to the landscape : the Shin Kong Tower (the second tallest building in Taipei) looks taller in this skyline than the actually considerably taller Taipei 101 tower which is much further away.
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A former branch of the Danshui River has been transformed into parks, and also a floodplain.
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The urban area of Taipei has been separated administratively speaking between Taipei (the center of the city) and New Taipei City which also includes vast areas of undeveloped mountains
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Taipei is disfigured by many overhead expressways and interchanges
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Mount Guanyin in the background, on the left bank of the Danshui River. The summit provides a sweeping view on the river from Taipei to the sea about 20 km downstream
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Taipei used to be regularly devastated by catastrophic floods in case of storms or typhoons in its vast watershed. The city is now protected by hundreds of kilometers of dykes which can be crossed at regular intervals through openings which can be closed by heavy flood-resistant gates. This is one of these dykes, with an expressway on top of it, seen from the river’s side.
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And the same on the city side
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The industrial areas crossed by this new subway line are not very exciting.
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You can’t see it well, but the line climbs steeply from the city center through a small mountain.
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The bus or taxi ride to the airport used to take this expressway which is empty in the middle of the day, but not during the commuting rush hours.
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Arrival in TPE
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The drawback of these inclined travelators is that four-wheeled suitcases have a strong tendency for rolling away.
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No excessive waiting time expected, especially since I checked in on line
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SQ set a 7 kg limit to hand luggage : this is a hard low lost ceiling, only that it is never enforced. I nevertheless have no need to bother taking much on board: SQ also allows 30 kg of checked luggage in Economy: this is a different story from any LCC, or any European legacy airline.
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I’ll stay only 24 hours in Singapore, and I actually have a round trip TPE-BKK ticket, with a stopover in SIN on the way in, so I needed to ensure that my luggage would stop in SIN.
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There was some waiting in SIN and at the immigration, but I was airside in a quarter of an hour.
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I chose to not adhere to the chronological order in the airside chapter, and also to not keep duplicate pictures of aircraft of the same type and livery. Let’s have a look at the facilities first: the two linear terminals are separated landside, but communicate airside, creating a continuous rectangle.

Eva Air is not alone in the co-branding game with Sanryo, the Japanese owner of the “cute” Hellow Kitty character: so does TPE, and the nursing room airside is inescapably decorated in this super-kitsch and 可愛 ( kěài in Mandarin, kawaii in Japanese) style.
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If you are a fan of Hello Kitty, i.e. either a Western girl below 6 or a Taiwanese or Japanese woman below 40, you should not miss Gate C3, the one from which the flights on Eva Air’s Hello Kitty jets usually depart.
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There is of course the corresponding airport shop
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The Chinese New Year was approaching (it is very late in 2018, because there was an additional lunar month in 2017 to resynchronize the calendar), so the ceiling with decorations with the character 春 (« spring », because Chinese New Year is called 春節 = Spring Festival, i.e. the moment when the days start lengthening again , and not spring in the Western acceptance of the word)
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And the character 福 (happiness)
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This decoration is entirely made of different calligraphies of the same character 福
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Not everybody is interested in planes in an airport, and MSI, a Taiwanese maker of graphic boards and similar processing hardware has installed racing car simulators to promote its wares.
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If you are more interested in Aboriginal cultures (and all their trinkets and take away foods), this shop is for you. You have recognized a Tao canoe from Orchid Island in the foreground, and if you did not, I suggest you read (again) ce FR.
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Talking about orchids, the decoration in this booth is regularly renewed
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Come listen to contemporary Taiwanese music at Gate C1
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A sign of present times and of the current Indonesian immigration, this microbus transformed into a sales booth guarantees to its customers that all the products there are halal.
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On the other hand, these prayer and meditation rooms have not changed since the beginning of the Flight Report era.
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The production of electronics has been vastly delocalized from Taiwan to Mainland China, despite what the decoration of Gate B7 implies.
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This staff, center, calls in Mandarin the last passengers for Dōngjīng 東京, ans also in Japanese and English, two languages in which the name of this city is pronounced Tōkyō.
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I do not like this style, but it is Taiwanese.
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The corridor between the two terminals includes this escalator on the way in
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And this iconic diminutive other one on the way back.
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It passes also through two corridors decorated with these calligraphies
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And along this « Airport Experience Zone »
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… that I call a deserted windowless and dark bar.
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An information booth at the intersection between the corridor of Terminal 2 and one of the corridors connecting it with Terminal 1
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I don’t know about you, but these are not the pictograms that I would have selected for th Online Preorder Service Counter. Do they mean that you have time time to have lunch before you retrieve your wares, and that you should pray that they did not get lost ?
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This boarding gate is dedicated to gastronomy: you can seat on mouth watering cushions shaped like thick cream.
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This other boarding room is dedicated to the Hakka culture, with wicker baskets of kakis drying upside down under the ceiling. The Hakka originate from Fujian, the Mainland province facing Taiwan, and are therefore numerous in Taiwan. The Hakka language is the third most used Chinese language in Taiwan, after Mandarin and Taiwanese).
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My flight departed from Gate D7, whose them is that of the Pili puppets which revisit this ancient art with heroic fantasy style clothes and hairdos.
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But before that, I had done some, and even a lot of plane spotting, because TPE is a rather plane-spotter friendly airport if you know where to find the non tinted glass windows (Hint : look for emergency escapes).

Let’s begin with Eva Air with an A321
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A330
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Let’s continue with her rival China Airlines : 737
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A330 in standard livery
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A330 in Skyteam livery
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Arrival at her gate of a 747 in Skyteam livery
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747 freighter parked in the distance
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Tiger Air has created a Taiwanese subsidiary ; this is one of its A320
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These aircraft are Taiwanese, but for how long ? In front of an Orient Thai 747, a Transasia Airways A330 is stored since this airline folded after suffering two fatal crashes of ATR72s
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The A321s of its low-cost subsidiary V Air are also grounded there. They did not fly very long in this livery.
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Now the foreign airlines : KE flies an A380 to TPE.
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All the major Chinese airlines are there: Air China A321
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China Southern A330
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China Eastern 737 in special livery
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737-300 transformed in a freighter version for EMS
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One country, two systems, but this Cathay Pacific A330 is also Chinese
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Like this Hong-Kong Airlines A350, which furthermore belongs to the Hainan Airlines group
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Over one million Japanese tourists per year visiting Taiwan and even more in the revers direction, there were of course Japanese airlines.

Japan Airlines 737
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Vanilla Air A320, with deployed thrst reversers.
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Arrival of the most important aircraft for me that day : the SQ A330-300 which was going to operate my flight
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There she is at the gate
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The same from further down, because in TPE you pre-board to a room at the lower level
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There it is
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There were only a few power ports, but even less demand for them, so that I could recharge my laptop and look at the traffic through the windows top left.
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A becoming FA who may have reached retirement age since this picture was taken indicates the direction of the Economy cabin.
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Earphones are to be taken just before boarding
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As well as a selection of newspapers on the upper tray
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And on the lower tray too. You probably recognized on the first page of the newspaper in the center the picture of Tsai Ying-wen 菜英文, the president of Taiwan. She lives up to the promises of her first name which means “intelligent and well-read”.
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The plane door with both a male and a female FA welcoming passengers.
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Boarding of the Economy passengers was per zone, starting from the rear of the aircraft, and I was among the first in my zone. These are the last two seats on the rear left of the aircraft.
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And a view of the rear of the cabin which had not filled up yet
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The rear of the seat, below the IFE screen
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I like planes which provide at seat power, here at the tip of the armrests between two seats.
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The seat pitch is decent for a medium range flight in Economy
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The width between armrests is OK too
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The tray table deploys in two parts
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The carpeting was clean – I liked the design.
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Nothing special overhead
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Safety cards tend to become wordless in many airlines (like those of AF), but this one is especially verbose.
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I did not check in detail the in-flight magazine : that would be for the next report
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End of push-back for this Japan Airlines 737
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… which taxies away, saluted by these four strictly aligned ground staff.
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An oshibori was distributed shortly after take-off
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A menu whose cover page is made of a resistant material
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This was the occidental menu
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My frequent readers won’t be surprised that I chose the oriental menu
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The offering of drinks
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Pushback and then came a good surprise : my neighbor self-upgraded himself to an empty set of three central seats, and that upgraded my seat to a double seat.
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The space for my legs was no longer used by my laptop daypack
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… and the width between armrests shot up to sofa size
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This was my private office space during this flight
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Plane spotting resumed from the end of push-back : China AIrlines A330
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Followed by a China Eastern A330
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Miscellaneous stabilizers together with the winglet of our plane
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The China Eastern A330 has reached her gate
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There was a long line of aircraft heading towards the runway behind us (and half a dozen more in front of us too).
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Skyteam vertical stabilizers at Gates D
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Alignment of Eva Air aircraft at Gates C
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With one in special livery
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The planes ahead of us for departure : Vanilla Air A320
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China Airlines A330
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China Airlines 747
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Tiger Air Taiwan A320 (I missed another one before the Vanilla Air A320)
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The maintenance facilities of Evergreen (the owners of Eva Air)
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Southern Air (DHL group) 777
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Eva Air 777 in Hello Kitty livery
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An unexpected Ukraine International777
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The line lengthened behind us, with China Airlines planes
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Take-off run, passing along the line behind us : China Airlines A330
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Tiger Air Taiwan A320
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China Airlines 747 freighter
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Take-off : this is TPE from the sky
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The end of the terminal, with this semi-circular boarding room which is not plane spotter friendly because of the presence of a deplaning corridor.
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The other runway with in the center the parking area for planes of failed airlines waiting for potential buyers.
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Zoom and image enhancement of an Orient Thai Airlines 747, two Transasia Airlines A330 and a V Air A321.
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The business areas beyond the limits of TPE
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Expressway 61 and the tiny Zhuwei harbor
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The cloud cover quickly eliminated any hope for landscapes
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A glass of fruit juice (apple for me) and a pack of 15 grams of dried nuts were distributed after take-off.
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How could it not be suitable for vegetarians?
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Cheers !
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The wing through the glass
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The meal was served like this
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After unwrapping
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Zoom on the hot meal that I found good and spic the way I like it.
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Note the presence of metalware with SQ logos which are welcome in a world where plasticware rules in Economy.
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Bon appétit !
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It was well after I had finished this meal that a 100 gram of Häagen Dazs ice cream was distributed, evidently to serve it as cold as possible.
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Everybody knows that this vaguely Scandinavian name has been made up by an American ice cream maker, but who knows that most of its world wide production is churned from a factory located in
Tilloy les Mofflaines, a tiny 1,500 inhabitant village in northern France.
(It is written in Chinese that the list of contents applies to Taiwan.)
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Note that this ice cream coud have been sold in Hong-Kong too, because the information below is for the Hong-Kong market. It beats me why the Taiwanese focus on the ingredients and the Hongkongese on the quantity of calories, lipids, etc.
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The Chinese are expected to receive 2000 kcal per day in Nutrient Reference Value.
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The workers in Tilloy les Mofflaines had been kind enough to provide a small plastic spoon (not very good for the environment), and I found it more convenient to use SQ’s metal spoon, which has the added advantage of being 100% reusable and 100% eventually recyclable.
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I finished my meal with a coffee. Quite frankly, a French ice cream with a Taiwanese coffee is not the combination that I would have recommended, because my readers know the poor esteem in which I hold Taiwanese coffee. The best proof is that although you can find ice cream made in Tilloy les Mofflaines in Taiwan, you will have a hard time finding Taiwanese coffee in Tilloy les Mofflaines. Customers know better than airlines.
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SQ’s moving map is like that of BR a non interactive program, but unlike that of BR, the sequence of successive zooms is much more to my liking, and there are no spurious tourist pictures hiding the plane’s position.
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When you self-upgraded to a central triple seat, you get a lie-flat seat. It is somewhat too short, but it is nevertheless lie-flat.
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And on the other hand, the exile of my neighbor to the nearest bed gave me total freedom to move around, in particular to this galley which was empty because the FAs were collecting the meal trays.
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I don’t drink wine, but I was warned by specialist to never try these three bottles of wine photo img_2981a
There is not much space on both sides of the trolley in the aisle
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The rear of the cabin, with the misalignment of the seats due to the narrowing of the fuselage
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For door addicts
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And for jumpseat addicts
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SQ considers that changing a baby’s diapers is a strictly female business
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And believes it is safer to remind Singaporean mothers that throwing the said diapers in the loo is a bad idea.
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The toiletry supplies, removed from their enclosure
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Mouth wash
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I did not have any opportunity for an air to air picture on route, but this is an air to sea one
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A glass of orange juice (or apple juice, or water) before the beginning of the descent
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Tanjung Sedili, on the east cost of the Malay peninsula
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Did the captain just realize that he forgot his duty-free bag in TPE ?
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No, he simply was assigned one penalty lap, before touring south in Indonesia (I had forgotten to set my phone in flight mode and it welcomed me in that country). This is a Flightradar24 screenshot.
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Two dubious attempts at air-to-air picture
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Too little light and too much haze, unfortunately
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The maze of Indonesian islands south of Singapore
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The first three bridges on the Trans Barelang (=Batam – Rempang – Galang Islands ) Road, from Batam Island (bottom)
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The long island is Melintang, with Batam in the foreground
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Small and densely inhabited Buluh Island
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Tanjungkubu Island
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It was getting late and the atmosphere was very hazy : it was very frustrating to barely see the center of Singapore which was in full view during the final descent.
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This is what image processing revealed of the iconic Marina Bay hotel and casino
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The park in Tampines, in the alignment of Runway 02L/20R.
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Construction work near the airport
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Imminent landing Runway 02L
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Rather soft landing, without using the thrust reversers
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I was relieved to see this confirmation that we had landed in Changi
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We did not need them
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Some plan spotting while taxiing to the terminal : Philippines Airlines
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Emirates A380
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Qantas A330
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The same in OneWorld livery
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Air France 777-300ER in Skyteam livery
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China Airlines A330 also in Skyteam livery
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And completing the list of the three major alliances, Singapore Airlines 777 in Star Alliance livery
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Jet Airways 737
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Two LCC : Lion Air 737-900ER
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Silk Air737
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We taxi next to a Singapore Airlines A380
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I had the impression that our A330’s winglet was dangerously close to that of the A380 at the next gate
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… but it was a misleading perspective : the were several meters away from each other.
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I was genuinely relieved to leave the aircraft for one reason : the tiring shopping mall music which was blasted on the PA system from the beginning of the descent. Not only I hated it, but the sound level was way beyond what other sadistic airlines like AF or BR pour on their passengers. I can’t understand why an airline which strives to keep no other ranking than #1 among world airlines ensure that the last impression of a departing passenger is an awful one. I took a couple minutes to tell the FA before the plane door how unpleasant this was.
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We are now airside where there is no separation between incoming and departing passengers, since the security check of departing passengers is done at the entrance of the boarding room.
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Going down towards the immigration counters, where enough are open to make each waiting line a short one.
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Too bad that SQ did not distribute immigration forms on board as usual elsewhere: it would have saved a couple minutes to all passengers.
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Not enough SQ girls in this report ? Wait until the report of the next flight (teaser…), but here is one to kep you waiting.
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Arrival in the luggage delivery room 24 minutes after the plane had reached her final parking spot, and I waited only a few minutes for my luggage before withdrawing some cash from an ATM and taking a taxi.
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Thanks for reading me!

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Verdict

Singapore Airlines

8.8/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering9.0

Taipei - TPE

9.0/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Singapore - SIN

9.4/10
Efficiency9.5
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

A comfortable seat with a comfortable seat pitch, with an IFE delivering a moving map which is not interactive but well designed, a power port, on a two seat set where your neighbor decides to take a rest elsewhere: what more would you want ? Not having to do with a too powerful shopping mall music which defeated my ear plugs from the beginning of the descent to the exit of the aircraft, and I severely reduced the comfort grade of this cabin for this frustrating mistake.

TPE’s accessibility has made a spectacular leap forward with the opening of the airport subway line. Too bad that only Eva Air group flights have access to the in-town check-in, and that the ticket machines have such unexpected limitations.
In SIN, you have a choice between cheap taxis without any waiting time and an even cheaper subway which is admittedly slower, but comfortable.
The fluidity at the immigration in SIN would have been even better if SQ distributed immigration forms like most airlines do around the world.

Information on the route Taipei (TPE) Singapore (SIN)

2 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 430438 by
    Rl 777 809 Comments

    ”this FR is LONG, really VERY LONG”
    Thank you for the viewer discretion.

    “because I discovered on the OLCI that there is an age limit: the drop-down menu does not allow a year of birth before 1918.”
    Over 450 000 people worldwide not being able to be accepted by the system (rough estimate).

    “The urban area of Taipei”
    They definitely made it easy to recognise that park with that large font, at least when overlooking the park from a fair distance.
    “either a Western girl below 6 or a Taiwanese or Japanese woman below 40”
    I can’t be a fan too? :(

    “racing car simulators to promote its wares.”
    I would most definitely be interested in this, used to play loads of racing games at younger ages.

    “but these are not the pictograms that I would have selected for th Online Preorder Service Counter”
    Interesting choice haha.

    Great spotting shots at TPE!

    “my neighbor self-upgraded himself to an empty set of three central seats, and that upgraded my seat to a double seat.”
    Satisfying.

    Nice aerials shots immediately after liftoff.

    “And for jumpseat addicts”
    I appreciate your effort to open up to wider audience.

    Nice aerials prior to landing and nice aerials.

    Thanks for sharing, have a good one!

    • Comment 430767 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9819 Comments

      “Over 450 000 people worldwide not being able to be accepted by the system”
      - By the time I can create the DDDDDDDM (Department for the Deletion of Discrimination by Double Digit Drop Down Menus), there should be over a million potential members. :)

      “They definitely made it easy to recognise that park with that large font, at least when overlooking the park from a fair distance.”
      - The Taiwanese are serious about adapting facilities to the handicapped, including vision impaired people.

      “either a Western girl below 6 or a Taiwanese or Japanese woman below 40.
      I can’t be a fan too?”
      - There is a business opportunity for you to develop the marketing of Hello Kitty to Swedish adults :)

      “I would most definitely be interested in these (racing car simulators), used to play loads of racing games at younger ages.”
      - All you need is booking a round trip to TPE, and travel with hand luggage only so you can be airside as early as possible before a night return flight :)

      “my neighbor self-upgraded himself to an empty set of three central seats, and that upgraded my seat to a double seat.”
      - A good example of win-win decision for both of us

      “And for jumpseat addicts - I appreciate your effort to open up to wider audience.”
      - In a tough competing world, I’ll do anything to increase my audience :)

      Thanks for your comments !

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