Before heading back to the airport, I had my last dose of Vietnamese coffee at Trung Nguyen Legend Café.
Went back to the airport by Grab and reached the airport within 30min. Check-in at the SQ counters was quick as they were rather empty.
Through immigration and security after a short queue, into the sterile looking departure hall with over-priced duty free shops.
Spotted 2 A350s from the Skyteam family, CI and VN (in Skyteam livery).
Proceeded to the gate area about an hour before departure. The gate was still not too crowded.
The aircraft landed at 1840hrs and we were expecting it to taxi to the gate. Now this is when the 'fun' begins. Nearly 30min after the aircraft has landed, the A330 had still not taxied in, and switching on the FR24 app, I noticed that the aircraft, 9V-SSA, was stopped at the taxiway right at the end of Rwy07R. Weird as other aircraft were landing behind it and taxiing back from an earlier taxiway exit. Noted something amiss, and seeing the ground staff gathering around at the boarding gate counter for an internal update, I approached one of the ground staff, and was informed that the captain updated that there was a technical issue. The ground staff had no clues as well on what was the problem, but I suspected that the aircraft had hydraulics problems after landing and could not turn the nose-gear. Apparently, this was a common fault on SQ's A330s, with another aircraft also suffering the same problem after landing in Kolkata just a month back.
Finally nearing the STD, the ground staff announced a delayed departure to 2110hrs due to 'technical issues' and the aircraft requiring further checks. Apparently, the aircraft was then towed to a remote stand after sitting on the taxiway for almost 45min. All departing passengers were also handed leaflets and informed that we would be able to redeem our boarding passes for a USD16 worth of meals at the restaurants on level 3.
Went up to the level 3 restaurants, where there were views of the tarmac. Spotted EY's special-liveried A330 among others.
Delay meal courtesy of SQ.
At 2110hrs, we went back to the new gate, which was a bus gate, only to find that the flight had been further delayed to 2230hrs.
It was after 2200hrs when the station manager came to the gate and announced, to a lot of restless passengers who would be missing their connections, that the engineering team decided that the aircraft could not be fixed that night (ie. AOG-ed) and a rescue aircraft would need to be ferried in from SIN. SIN despatch was arranging for the aircraft and crew to be flown in and the ETA of the rescue flight would be 0240hrs, with STD from SGN at 0340hrs, slightly more than 5hrs from now. The station manager offered to put up passengers at a nearby hotel (or our own hotel arrangements but claimable from SQ) but we would need to be back at 0200hrs for the flight, which most of the passengers found ridiculous as by the time everything is sorted out, it would had been past midnight. Subsequently, some passengers suggested to the station manager to put us up in a lounge, which subsequently the ground staff promised to arrange. Not wanting to put up with the further chaos, queries and wait, some of us passengers decided to head for the Orchid Lounge, accessible using our Priority Passes. Any charges would be claimable from SQ later. Not sure which lounge did SQ offered the rest of the passengers, but it was definitely not the Orchid Lounge.
Orchid Lounge is one of the three lounges in SGN international terminal. It is a standard Priority Pass access lounge offering simple dishes, beverages and rest facilities. Not the best lounge out there but certainly beats waiting in the cold and sterile terminal transit hall.
Some plane spotting could be done from the lounge.
The lounge closes at 0200hrs, and we were 'chased' out by the lounge attendants. Proceeded back to the gate, which changed back to Gate 27, to see the rescue aircraft landing and taxiing in 20min ahead of schedule. 9V-SSH, which was the exact aircraft I flew on to SGN, was operating this rescue flight.
17 June 2018 (delayed till 18 June) Singapore Airlines SQ 185 Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) - Singapore (SIN) A330-300 9V-SSH Economy Class Flight Time: 1H33M
9V-SSH being loaded for the return flight. The incoming crew from the AOG-ed aircraft also boarded the aircraft.
Boarding was soon called. During boarding, we were each handed a delay statement and an apology gift. Ground staff also apologised to each passenger. Onboard, blankets were handed out by the crew proactively. Again, no newspapers were offered at the aerobridge or onboard.
The apology gift was a long travel wallet.
It seemed that some of the passengers were either transferred to other flights or decided not to fly on this flight as there were a number of empty seats around when this flight was supposed to be full. A new set of stand-by crew, interestingly, apart from the IFM and Chief, almost all are leading crew in green ties and kebayas with only one junior blue-tie steward, was called up at the last moment to operate this flight. The outbound crew flew back as passengers. With the more senior crew onboard, service seemed much better, especially from the lady in green in my cabin who very proactively ensured that all passengers were comfortable and needs provided.
Hot towels distributed.
Doors closed, cargo loaded and safety video played. The pilot apologised again for the delay and updated that it was due to hydraulics issues with the earlier aircraft, which was now spotted parked at the remote stand at the domestic terminal.
Taxied out to the runway. It was slightly raining.
Took off from Rwy07R at 0355am SGN time.
Above the Ho Chi Minh city lights.
The flight remained quite turbulent for the entire flight due to shifting winds. Seatbelt signs were not turned off for the entire flight and crew had some difficulty serving the meals at some points and were requested to be seated. However, meal service was completed efficiently as some of the passengers declined the meal due to the late (or very early) hour. Instead of the originally catered dinner from SGN, the aircraft was catered with breakfast/brunch out from SIN instead. This morning, we had a choice of Egg Frittata or Nasi Uduk (coconut rice with side dishes). I went for the Nasi Uduk, which was served with fruits, roll with butter and preserve, and the same ice-cream as the incoming flight. The meal was okay, but at this early hour, all appetite was gone. My friend declined the meal and slept all the way.
Some re-routing required to avoid turbulent weather. Did not partake in the IFE as I was too tired.
Cabin view after meal service and prior to descent.
Arriving during daybreak.
Landing on Rwy20C, almost 8hrs behind schedule.
Taxied to Terminal 2 and parked at the gate.
Southern Airports Services Company Orchid CIP Lounge
Ho Chi Minh City - SGN
Singapore - SIN
It was unfortunate to encounter a lengthy delay on SQ. Though staff did tried to ensure that we were well-taken of during the delay, it was a bit of a mess in the coordination initially. The offer of hotel stay was unrealistic in the first instance, as one passenger put it, he would need to return to the airport after checking into the room and washing his face, and it was upon suggestions by passengers that they decided that lounge entry was a better option. Good points were that meals and apology gifts were provided, and claims could be made subsequently. The seasoned crew on the rescue aircraft were also empathetic and provided good service. It was not a bad experience, but definitely not an experience I would want to go through again soon.
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