Following my Xmas Bali trip, it was not too long before I hopped onto another plane for the wintery weather in Shanghai over the New Year holidays. For this trip, I had booked on SQ's new A380s to experience the New Business Class up and the New Suites back. Shanghai is one of the few destinations served by the 5 new A380s in the new configuration, and there were also plenty of instances when the scheduled new A380s were swapped with the older ones. So fingers crossed that this would not occur for my flights.
Fast forward to the day of departure, check-in was hassle free at the T3 SQ premium counters.
Harry Porter themed winter décor before immigration.
Headed to the Silver Kris Lounge for some breakfast. Being a holiday weekend morning, there were minimal business travellers and hence the lounge was not as crowded as usual.
Buffet station and a 'live' Nasi Lemak kiosk.
The nasi lemak was not bad, and I added a couple of dim sum from the buffet as well.
Some tau suan and fruits to finish.
Headed to the gate B5 where the A380 awaits for the flight to Shanghai. 9V-SKV, would had flown back from ZRH hours earlier, would be operating the flight today.
29 December 2018 Singapore Airlines SQ 830 Singapore (SIN) - Shanghai Pudong (PVG) A380-800 9V-SKV Business Class Flight Time: 4H21M
Boarding has already commenced and we proceeded to board immediately via the upper deck.
Welcomed aboard and stepped into the brand new and beautiful cabin of the New Business Class. The cabin ambience was soothing and modern. Note the very empty cabin and we were actually one of the last to board in Business. The load was probably only a quarter full in Business Class. Guess the holiday season really affects the business travel loads to major business hubs.
My original seat was 92A at the aft cabin, and on the seat was already placed a pillow, socks, eyeshades, slippers and an amenity kit.
Taking a look at a pair of center seats. The divider could be totally lowered if required.
As there was also a family of 4 at the front of the aft cabin, the crew informed that we could shift to any other seats within the aft cabin if we liked as there would be no other passengers! Total pax count in the aft cabin is 6! Hence, I moved to the last row (97A) of the cabin, intending to covert the middle seats at Row 96 to a double bed midflight. The cabin crew happily assisted to shift our stuff to the new seats at the rear.
Wing view from my seat.
Exploring the seat features. IFE controller, mirror, seat controls, table release and a foldable armrest. A flaw in the design is the position of the sensitive seat controls, resulting in me (and I heard from others who had flown on the seat as well) accidentally pressing the attendant call button whenever I leaned towards the window.
USB socket, power socket and NFC card reader.
Reading light, a beautiful seat mood lighting and headphones.
Compartment for reading materials and other storage. A large pillow, blanket and bedsheet were stuffed within the footwell. Amusingly, many of them fell out from the seats' footwell (including mine) during takeoff. The crew just stated in a matter of fact "It happens always" when they stuffed the bedding back into the footwells after takeoff.
The January inflight magazine and IFE guide were already loaded.
Items in the amenity kit.
All boarded and crew preparing for departure.
Due to the very light load, the crew asked for our beverage of choice for pre-takeoff instead of offering pre-poured beverages from a tray. A champagne for me please, thank you. This was poured straight from the bottle at my seat ala First Class style, since the galley was just 3 steps behind.
Doors closed and safety video played. It would be a rather short 4.5hrs flight to Shanghai today.
It was only a short taxi to the departure runway Rwy02L. During the morning peak, both runways were used for departures.
Departure from Rwy02L.
Flight map info
Requested if the SQ teddies were available, and the crew kindly found 2 of the A350ULR female bears for us!
Visit to the lavatory, which was stocked with the usual Business Class amenities. The orchid on the wall has definitely been replaced with a fake. For some reason, the 2 lavatories (went to 2 different ones at mid and aft cabin) visited had a damp and slightly unpleasant odour, though both were clean and dry.
First up was the satay service, which I enjoyed with a Darjeeling. The crew also confirmed our lunch orders, and as the flight was so empty, asked for our preferred dining time. Dine-on-demand just like in First Class! Haha, the perks of a lightly loaded flight.
We were each provided a bottle of water next.
Views of the empty cabin midflight.
Middle seats with the dividers fully up.
My window seat in the lounging and fully-reclined mode. My thoughts on the new seat: It was more functional than the previous generation seats, with all the nooks and crannies well thought out. IFE is definitely superior with touchscreen high resolution monitors. Also, I liked the cosiness of the seat compared to the more open seats on the older A380s. For those who preferred the width of the older seats, the new ones might be a bit of a squeeze. It is either you love it or hate it, and for me, I loved it (though I know people who are not fans of the new seats).
Trying out the pseudo double-bed at Row 96 middle seats. It is not a full double-bed as there is still a divider along 1/3 of the seat length.
Another view of the Business double bed with the SQ teddies. The sleep pillow was plushy but the bed was a tad hard. It would be good if SQ could supply soft mattress a well.
Being at the bulkhead, I could stretch out forward. For the rest of the seats, the legs would need to be angled into the foot well even though the beds could also be joined to be a double. Watched Venom in bed.
At our earlier stipulated time of 1130am for lunch to the crew, the crew asked if we were ready for lunch. Yes, we were, but lets peruse the menu first.
Lunch offering for this SIN-PVG sector.
And for the return SQ833 sector.
Wines and other beverages
Hot beverages. The Mao Feng tea which is supposed to be available on China flights, was not stocked on this flight, and I heard from the crew nor in Suites as well after they rummaged through the galleys. Overlooked by the catering department I guess.
I had pre-selected the Shi Quan Wei Mei cuisine for lunch. First up was the starter course of Golden Melon and Poached Yellow Croaker roll, along with a NZ Sauvignon Blanc. The sliced melon dish was fine but I am not a fan of the Yellow Croaker which was a bit too fishy for me.
Main course was next, which was a Braised Beef Shortribs with Broccoli and rice. This was very tasty, which flavourful and tender ribs. Rice was a bit dry, but I actually preferred dry rice.
For dessert, I was offered both the Western and Asian desserts. The western dessert was an Apricot sorbet, and no, I am not a fan of sourish sorbets. Give me a vanilla or chocolate anytime.
The Asian dessert of Chilled Papaya and Snow Fungus soup was comparatively better.
Cheese and fruit. I passed on the Blue.
Ending with a Guatemala coffee and pralines. It was a satisfactory meal.
My travel partner has pre-ordered from the Book-the-cook menu. The starter was the International selection of Smoked Duck Breast.
The Book-the-cook main of Grilled Chilean Seabass on New England style clam and mussel chowder, served with ciabatta crouton, was very tasty.
Less than 1.5hrs to go after lunch service was wrapped up. Back to the bed to try to grab a short nap.
Soon, we started our descent and cabin was prepped for landing. The pilot also announced that descent would be fast as the ATC had requested for us to expedite the approach, and we would be arriving way ahead of schedule.
Landing on Pudong's Rwy34R about 30min ahead of schedule.
Passing a sister B77W heading back to SIN.
Yes, we are in Shanghai alright.
Parked at the gate.
Disembarking from the still as clean and tidy as before departure Business Class cabin.
Just a short walk to immigration, and foreigners would need to do a self-registration of fingerprints before the immigration counters. As it was not busy, process was fast and immigration did not take too long as well.
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We rode the subway to the city center, where for the first 3 nights, we stayed at the Yangtze Boutique Hotel, just at the exit of People's Square metro station. The art-deco hotel, with history dating back to the 1930s, had very big rooms and comfortable bed, though there is no good view from my room. A very cosy stay.
Dinner was had at XuYe Chilli Fish at a nearby mall. Do not be alarmed by the amount of chilli, it was not as spicy as I though it would be. The fish was delicious and fresh, accompanied by the garlicy and spicy soya sauce, a very satisfying meal.
Night scenes along Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street.
Heading towards the Bund, with beautifully lit-up buildings.
The famous Shanghai night view across the Bund.
The next morning, we tried the famous Xiao Yang fried dumplings at one of the chain stores nearby. The fried dumplings were amazing!! Crispy on the outside and still bursting with juice on the inside.
Visited TianZiFang, which is one of the hippiest place to visit in Shanghai now. It is a touristic arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated traditional residential area in the French Concession area of Shanghai. It is now home to boutique shops, bars and restaurants, and very crowded on the day we went. Not to mention, it started snowing when we were there! Snow in Shanghai? It is certainly a rarity!
Snowfall getting heavier.
Next stop was the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which is also the world's largest Starbucks store.
The tiramisu was heavenly. Other pastries were good too.
View of the roastery at nightfall.
The snow had gotten heavier.
And we had a light dinner at BiFengTang restaurant in a shopping mall.
Starting the eve of New Year with a Starbucks. There are so many Starbucks outlets in Shanghai that I suspect there is an outlet every 200m or less in the city!
The eve of New Year was spent at the happiest place on earth, aka Disneyland Shanghai.
As expected for a national holiday (China declared a long weekend holiday from 30Dec-01Jan), it was rather crowded at Disney and queues for the popular rides were very long.
Tea with the Mad Hatter?
A pretty good lunch of roast meats at a Chinese restaurant in the park.
People people everywhere.
Live performance with audience participation.
The most popular, thrilling and longest queue ride of all, TRON! The 2.5hrs wait for the 1+min unique roller-coaster ride was definitely worth it! According to many, this is also the best ride that Disney offered in all its theme parks!
When evening falls, the lights came on.
The highlight of Disneyland Shanghai is the nightly fireworks show. For Shanghai residents, this is the only place within Shanghai city to watch fireworks as fireworks are banned in Shanghai.
Leaving Disneyland after the finale fireworks.
New Year light-ups. Back to People's Square, which was incredibly crowded with new year revellers. Police and soldiers were all out doing a great job at crowd control.
Last meal of 2018 was supper at Chen Dacheng eatery.
A peaceful countdown into 2019 back at the hotel away from the maddening crowds, and the first meal of 2019 was more fish! For Chinese, this also symbolises prosperity in the new year.
On the last day, we moved to the nearby GuXiang Hotel for a night. Offered a complimentary upgrade to a suite compliments of by Expedia Gold membership. The room was huge and offered a great view of the Nanjing Pedestrian Street. However, the bed was not as comfy as the previous Yangtze hotel.
Nanjing cuisine for dinner at Nanjing Impressions, a popular restaurant. Also just found out they have a branch in Singapore too!
On our final day in Shanghai, we had breakfast at the place with to-die-for dumplings, Jia Jia Soup dumplings. We had given the place a miss on the day before due to very long queues, but on this weekday, the queue was much more reasonable though there was still a wait of about 30min for the piping hot made-on-the-spot xiaolongbaos to be served. Easily one of the best, if the not best, I have ever eaten!
Scenes of a weekday in Shanghai.
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge/Business Class Section Terminal 3
Singapore - SIN
Shanghai - PVG
The flight in the New Business Class seat was excellent (some may prefer the older seats due to the narrower seat width of the new seats), with comfortable seating and First Class-level of personalised service, which undoubtedly was helped by the very empty cabin. With the option of a double bed and a separate seat, it certainly felt more First Class than Business.
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