This was our second flight during vacations where air travel never seemed to work right:
CDG-MCT-KUL (Oman Air) : reprotected on CDG - KUL (Air France) SIN – PEN (Jetstar) : cancelled, replaced by this flight PEN – SZB (Firefly) : rescheduled KUL – MCT and MCT – CDG (Oman Air) : There is a problem in your itinerary
Jetstar sent me an e-mail one week before our flight confirming that we would soon be in Penang,
… and proposed to buy additional services
The proceeds from these e-mails were probably disappointing, because Jetstar cancelled the flight two days later, offering a 25 SGD voucher that I had not chance to use and to book me on the morning flight, or the day before, or the day after
These flights didn’t fit my travel plans, especially since I discovered that there was space on a Tiger Airways flight, 30 minutes earlier with the same fare as the cancelled flight. Would this demerit for Jetstart translate into a good point for Tiger Airways ? This is the theme of this report which is as long as a FR by Marathon, since this is one.
The first FIDS on my way in Singapore was on the subway platform.
And it confirmed that everything was OK for all travelers ex-SIN that afternoon.
A spectacular escalator reached the Departures level of Terminal 2
… where we were welcomed by mascots which did not seem very local.
Yes, there was a Silk Air flight, five minutes earlier… and double the price
Too bad for the Singapore girls and their little sisters!
For the nostalgic of split flap displays,
… there was one here, but I didn't see it change the display
Tiger Airways’ deadlines. What was not mentioned was that checking in started at STD-2h.
The line was very short
It was even more obvious from the mezzanine which overlooked the check-in counters.
Low right in the picture above, this self serve scale at the end of the check-in counters gave an opportunity to check the weight of your luggage.
My laptop was not all that light, but there was a lot of other stuff in my bag ;)
There were various restaurants on the mezzanine, including this Japanese restaurant
Like many self-respecting Japanese restaurants, it displayed its long menu as very realistic (and costly) plastic models of the dishes.
How about the toilets ? They were clean, and you could comment about them.
Back to our flight’s check in: with its allowance of two pieces of carry on luggage with a total weight of 10 kg, I would not rate Tiger Airways as stingy.
Our checked luggage allowance was 15 kg each (for a few extra SGD, it could have been 20 kg): the first suitcase was 15.4 kg, the second one well below. The check in staff did not demand transferring some items from the heavier suitcase to the other, like they some fussy airlines do (LCCs and Japanese legacies seem to be most prone to that nonsense)
There was no problem for checking-in ; a staff checked when you left that the BP and the passports matched.
I masked the details, so you won’t be able to do the same :)
An Indian lady departing to BOM passed us without any consideration when we reached the line to the immigration, which was slow: 18 minutes to process 10 passengers.
We were then airside, since the security check is at each gate in SIN
We reached this garden decorated with orchids
… surrounding a pool with carps
I wonder how many passengers tried swiming in this pool, or getting supplies for self-made sushi before this sign was installed.
Passengers can give their opinion about the immigration, the cleanliness of the toilets or the beauty of the floral decoration.
A pastel pencil rubbing animation for children.
Self serve computers for internet access.
I could display the corporate home page of the day
After extended orchid spotting pause for my wife, came extended plane spotting pause for me (fair game), on the way to the boarding room. Let’s start with a Tiger Airways A320, a twin of that operating our flight.
One of SQ’s many 777s
The yellow tailed 777 was not completely out of pla there, since Scoot is a low cost subsidiary of SQ.
Another one, or maybe the same one, seen later.
MH 737 (?) climbing out
Let’s call this a relaxation zone, on the way to our boarding gate.
And then a long walk on a carpet which felt less deep than that of the long haul flights terminal, but I did not have a suitcase with wheels for comparing its resistance to motion.
The boarding room was soon to open
There was a free internet access by wifi, but you needed to receive a code by SMS, or at a counter that I did not localize.
A cell phone appears to be close to mandatory these days, because local etiquette does not tolerate any delays.
A SMS later, I had the corporate home page.
There was a reasonable number of power ports in the boarding room as well as in the corridor.
My neighbor was a young Taiwanese who was checking the program of her four nights – five days trip to Singapore and Penang.
The security check opened and gave access to this boarding room where there were power ports too, the same internet access,
… and better for me, windows providing a good view on one of the runways. Arrival of a Silk Air A320.
SQ 777 ready for take-off
… and aloft while the Silk Air A320 was taxiing to the terminal
The same Silk Air A320, with image processing
KLM waiting to depart home
Arrival of a Tiger Airways A320
In case of emergency, the firemen are there
Arrival of a Firefly ATR72, similar to that of our next flight
A private jet ready to go
Air Asia A320 taking off
Our own aircraft was hidden between a windowless jetbridge decorated with the logo of the Jetbridge Bank.
Internet access by wifi was free, and there were two free use computers for internet access too.
There was a cold water fountain, but we were to receive a small bottle of water with our prepaid meal on board.
Boarding by row numbers
Going down the jetbridge which had no more windows inside than outside.
A very smiling welcome by this young FA … … who waited patiently here until this passenger showed him his BP
There was a “Relax with more legroom” at the first row: a FA announced an upgrade offer “for a modest fee” which was not specified. It did not seem that passengers bought this option.
The seats were clean, but better not give a detailed look.
There was a leftover plastic wrapping in my wife’s seat pocket
… and a used disposable handkerchief in mine. Cabin cleaning had been sketchy.
The seat width was of course standard, like in any A32x in 3+3 layout.
On the other hand, the seat pitch (measured from the edge of my seat to the seat pocket with its contents) was not generous.
The seat pitch measured another way, with passenger legs
… and without passenger legs, just before deplaning
The seats could recline symbolically
The seatback had advertising for Tiger Airways mobile internet applications.
The safety card both sides
In flight literature, i.e. the in-flight magazine and the duty-free catalogue
Duty free items on sale included inevitably cosmetics.
The in-flight magazine was mostly focused to the BOB, with 12 SGD dishes
… and a selection of drinks
Reactor and winglet before it was completely dark
Safety demonstration the old way, in the absence of any IFE screen
The plane left the gate at 19:03, i.e. on time
The orientation of the runway had just changed: we would take off from Runway 02C, whereas plane spotting had been on Runway 20A. Four thousand meters of runway should do it!
But air traffic control seemed to hesitate about it: we were the first on the waiting line and nothing was happening after several landings.
Ten minutes elapsed – I saw headlights in the distance on the runway – before the captain announced: “You must be wondering what is going on. A plane which just landed hard a bird strike and the airport wants to make sure that there is no problem. As soon as it is OK, we’ll be first to take off.”
An A320 is less vulnerable than a Concorde to debris fallen from an aircraft, and has been demonstrated to land smoothly on water after multiple bird strikes, but I was OK to not try again.
The waiting line had grown behind us in the mean time
These four enormous reactors could only belong to a single type of aircraft : an A380 (SQ)
We took off at 19:22, after the runway had been declared fit to use.
Take-off to the east, which meant that we were quickly above the dark palm oil plantations of Malaysia.
I should have recorded the post take-off announcement which was fast, but the most important piece of information seemed to have been the start of the duty-free sale which was described as the activity that all passengers were yearning for. It ended with an inimitable Happyyyyyy shopping !.
I had some doubts on the efficiency of these bracelets containing negative ions would, quote, ”inspire me toward a healthy lifestyle, unleashing my natural charms and make me look refreshed and energized”, unquote, and I did not invest 84 SGD – more or less the price of my plane ticket on that flight – to find out about it, with a one-year manufacturer warranty which might not extend to the unleashing of my natural charms.
This was our selection of hot meals, ordered together with our tickets. We found them decent, no more. Teriyaki chicken for my wife:
And Nasi Lamk Meal for me. The quantities were not very generous, but this meal saved us the hassle of going to a restaurant after reaching our hotel rather late.
Any dish was served with a hot drink (tea or coffee). We rated the coffee “barely satisfactory”. We received a small bottle of water too.
Did you notice the silverware in the presentation of the BOB in the in-flight magazine ? They were a shameless lie: everything was served with plasticware.
The role of the fourth FA was simple : show the duty free catalogue for those who hadn’t caught the message.
I found the bottle of water interesting because it was labeled Product of Singapore. The center of Singapore has several artificial lakes fed with rain water and guarded by Singapore’s army like any other strategic facility. With them and reverse osmosis desalination plants, Singapore managed to void the water weapon out of the hands of Malaysia by reaching self-sufficiency for this vital supply.
あついのでごちゅういください。(Be careful because it is hot). Good thing that this warning is a language as universal as Japanese. It’s in hiragana phonetic script so that kids who do not master characters can read it too.
For aircraft floor covering specialists (I met one during this trip)
A detail of the carpeting, which was not as showay as that of a US airport.
Detail of the galley’s floor.
This gave me the opportunity for showing the cabin from the rear, where there was ample space: the majority of the passengers had chosen the option for a seat in the front of the aircraft (as part of a bundle like us, or selectively) and we packed 3+3 in the corresponding rows, whereas the penny-pinching passengers had the comfort of having three seats each.
I did well to first take a picture of the galley floor because the FAs had drawn the curtain to isolate themselves when I emerged from the toilets.
The toilets were nondescript
Changing a baby’s diapers is for women only, here too.
Touchdown at 20:20 and deployment of the thrust inverters.
We had arrived in Penang’s International Airport where it was hot and humid: the window was instantly fogged out after touch down. It was 20:27: the last announcement of the crew underlined that the flight had arrived on time, which was no feat when the scheduled duration for a 600 km leg is 1h25’.
The registration number which was invisible in SIN and hard to photograph in PEN due to the reflections.
Passengers of an Air Asia flights ready for boarding at the lower level.
There was very little walking, going through immigration was ultra-fast, and yet our suitcases were already waiting for us at 20:41, i.e. 14 minutes after readching the gate!
This is the end of this FR, and time for a retrospective of our six well spent days in Singapore
Bonus : Click here displayhide
The Singaporeans enjoy sports, including some unknown in Europe. This was an international lacrosse tournament where the locals (in red) were going to crush the Shanghai 上海 team in white.
Qu Yuan (~339-278 BC), poet and virtuous minister in the Chu Chinese kingdom, proposed setting a legal system based on honest and competent people only. He was a victim of the defamation set up by his rivals and exiled by the king. Age 65, on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of Year 278 BC, Qu committed suicide by throwing himself holding a heavy stone in Hunan’s Miluo River, to not witness the defeat of his homeland. At the news of his death, people set to boats, rowing as fast as possible to find his body, to no avail, and throwing rice cooked in bamboo sections (zongzi 粽子) in the water to deter fish from eating it. This is the origin of the Dragon Boat festival, when people eat zongzi and race on dragon boats.
It was not June, but there was nevertheless a dragon boat competition that week-end, with dozens of teams competing on a 220 m sprint – a very short distance due to the lack of straight stretches of calm water there. Each event had four teams race, but one abandoned here after a wrong start.
My wife did not replace me in this race which would have been better for me if I could have entered it. It was too early for the Singapore Marathon which happened on 7th December that year.
We nevertheless did some exercise on the Southern Ridges trail. Despite the urban image of Singapore, it is possible to hike at the canopy level of forests overlooking the city. … using carefully designed bridges, such as the Henderson Waves pedestrian bridge which is much more beautiful in reality than this picture,
… and others which are nearly pedestrian interchanges.
This hike provides views on two very different iconic and award winning housing complexes, one luxurious : Reflections at Keppel Bay
… and the other built by the HDB (=Housing Development Board) : Pinnacle@duxton
It also provides a view on the source of Singapore’s wealth: its harbor facilities which handle over thirty million sea containers in this world freight hub.
The statue of the Merlion – a hybrid of a lion and a mermaid which has become a symbol of the city – is arguably one of the most iconic features of Singapore, much like the luxury Marina Bay Sands hotel is going to become.
Few tourists were strolling there by night, despite the comfortable temperatures and the neat lightings.
Singapore’s Ferris Wheel is taller than the London Eye, but all comments rate it as disappointing.
If you can’t afford a room at the Marina Bay Sands, the observation check is an interesting fallback to have a good view on Singapore (not a very cheap one, though).
The flower in concrete houses temporary exhibits
Gardens by the Bay, behind the Marina Bay hotel also deserve a visit by night for the color light show on the fake trees in the center.
The Christmas decorations were already in place in Orchard road, a very posh avenue where there are no orchards any more since a long time ago.
There is much more to write about Singapore, on its museums like the awesome Museum of Asian Arts..
… its places of worship like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
… and so many other sites like the Chinese shophouses at Clarke Quay. There are so many and diverse that six days were not enough to exhaust their supply (and neither would one more week during another visit another time)
We were also meeting friends in Singapore and had only one evening alone, and we had an amazing choice of meals. We played it safe in this restaurant which modestly claims to be the first in Chinatown (中車水第一家 – – note the use of traditional characters in Singapore which pragmatically uses the simplified characters in use in Mainland China). The meals were to go or to be eaten there on tables shared by all restaurants; the menus and the orders were in Chinese only.
Talking about gastronomy, who has never heard of the durian? It is a wonderful fruit; some do not hesitate posting it, but it is difficult to find an entire one in Singapore.
You can’t find any in the subway either, because they are forbidden there.
No, these are not two halves of a durian, but Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, a performing arts center at Marina Bay.
Thanks for reading this report !
Singapore - SIN
Penang - PEN
The base fare was 86 SGD ; after adding a 16 SGD bundle (15 kg checked luggage, choice of seat in the front of the aircraft, a meal on board), Tiger Airways’ offering was similar to that of its legacy competitors, for half the price. I had no complaint about the staff on the ground and on board.
Tall passengers may object to the limited seat pitch, and airmiles / status collectors moan their absence. Apart from this, and on the basis on this flight only, Tiger Airways is a commendable option for a short haul flight like this one.
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