A fantastic week of cheap and good food, friendly and extremely civilized people, beautiful scenery and some great shopping deals just flew past with a blink of an eye and it was time to return back to reality. However, in order to minimize the depression of going back to work, we decided to fly back to Singapore on SQ Business Class! It was also a no-brainer since SQ was offering Saver award in Business for only 21,250 miles one-way with S$90+ taxes per person while Economy was only available on Standard and Full awards at 25,500 miles one-way lowest! Only a crazy person will redeem in economy! It would also be my 2nd flight on SQ Business Class this year (and whole life) and experiencing my 1st full dinner service in Business!
And so the photo intensive finale flight….
We reached Taoyuan International Terminal 2 by taxi (decided against taking the airport coach due to the large amount of luggage) slightly more than 2hrs before the 1800hrs flight. Check-in counters were already opened and a queue was forming at the economy class counters. However Business Class counters were empty and we checked in immediately.
Something interesting though, during the booking of our seats, I had initially selected 15A/C, but when I checked my booking using the enhanced SQ website, my selections were gone and I had to re-select my seats, when then I chose 14A/C since 15A/C were apparently taken. After selecting the new seats, my booking suddenly showed 2 seats (14A & 15A/14C & 15C) assigned to each of us. So we are gonna get 2 seats each? However, during online check-in, the system only offered 15A/C to us, which was our original selected seats. And upon check-in, I learnt that the booking system had screwed up and double-assigned us seats, which in the end resulted in seats 14A/C remaining empty for the flight. 2 J class revenue lost because of the screw-up. Wonder how much revenue did SQ lost due to the new website till now as I am quite sure I am not the only one experiencing this problem….
Business Class! Check-in was done by a pleasant China Airlines agent. Apparently SQ has outsourced its check-in to CI as it used to have its own ground staff a few years ago.
After check-in, we cleared immigration/security and immediately proceeded to the Silver Kris Lounge to grab a bite. Lounges were a level above the departure hall.
Entrance of Taipei Silver Kris Lounge.
Was warmly welcomed by the lounge receptionist and we entered the lounge. This lounge was also used by UA Business Class passengers. However we were the only ones in the lounge then. Other passengers only came in much later. There were computer facilities, meal buffet, drinks, toilets and shower facilities in the lounge. Not bad for an outstation lounge and definitely miles better than the one in Manila.
Lounge view towards the entrance.
View towards the buffet area.
Wifi also available in the lounge. With my blue boarding pass, hehe.
Lots of international newspapers and magazines available for your reading pleasure.
Lets take a look at the buffet spread.
Drinks selection, fruits and cheeses.
Coffee machine, finger food, breads and pastries, hot pao and alcohol selection.
Sandwiches, salads, bottled water and tea selection.
I had a soup (soup was good) and a salad,
and a bit of everything from the buffet spread.
Rounded up with a cappuccino and pineapple pastry. Not too much food as a feat still awaits onboard.
After relaxing for a while more, we left the lounge and proceeded to the gate about 40min before departure time. Terminal 2 seemed quite busy for the evening, with lots of PRC nationals. A check on the FIDS showed that most of the flights were heading to mainland China! Since the opening up of the skies between China and Taiwan, airlines are launching flights to every possible city on the mainland.
Shops and restaurants in the terminal.
Hello Kitty themed nursing room and telephone booth!
Our flight would be departing form gate D6 this evening.
05 November 2011 Singapore Airlines SQ 879 Taipei (TPE) - Singapore (SIN) A330-300 9V-STH Business Class
The plane operating our flight today would be 9V-STH, one of SQ's leased A330-300s. It is fitted with the new regional Business Class seats.
Boarding had just commenced when we reached the gate and so we could board immediately. Boarded through door 1 and was greeted by name by the Inflight Supervisor after he glanced at my boarding pass. Welcome back, Mr xxxx. I was also to be addressed by my surname throughout the whole flight, something I am not too used to as on the previous flight in J from Manila, I was never addressed by name. In the cabin were 2 other stewardesses (one of whom is a Taiwanese stewardess) assisting with the boarding. Both were jovial and chatting with passengers as they boarded. Could sense they they were definitely experienced crew. Another leading steward was preparing welcome drinks in the galley. Economy seemed to be very full on this flight but business class was only 17/30.
More than sufficient legroom.
Checking out the seat functions. Seat controls and IFE handset.
Power socket and USB ports.
Personal reading light
Warming up with a glass of Bollinger.
Crew also came down the aisle with hot towels and selections of newspapers and magazines. Soon, boarding was completed and we started our pushback. Flight time was announced to be 4hrs15min. Safety video was played while we pushed back.
China vs China Southern
Air China A320 in a special livery.
Remaining flight time as shown on the handset: 4hrs11min.
Took off from Rwy05R into the evening skies.
Shortly after lift off.
Minutes later, seatbelt signs were switched off and the legendary SQ service started. Due to the light load in Business today, one of the stewardess went down to economy to assist, leaving only the IFS, LS and Taiwanese FSS to serve us 17 passengers. However, I must say that on this flight the service was excellent, in particular the Taiwanese stewardess who was fantastic! She was easily the best crew I have ever encountered on SQ or any other airline. Her attentiveness and personal touch were amazing. Words could not describe how great her service was till you experience it yourself, but there was not a single unhappy passenger in Business today. Overall, the service was miles better than my Business flight from Manila earlier this year when I felt I was just flying economy with a bigger seat and better food,
Firstly, socks and eyeshades were distributed. Other amenities were available in the lavatory.
A pillow and Givenchy-branded blanket were already on each seat.
After take-off, post takeoff drinks were served. I had ordered a Singapore Sling.
My friend has a pu-er. It was served in a traditional chinese teacup.
Contents in the magazine rack.
Meal orders were also taken at this time. Lets take a look at the menu. Hmmm, though choice…. Finally settled for the cod. They had ran out of the beef, not that I would choose it though as i was not too hungry after all the food in the lounge.
Reclined my seat and settled for the movie Green Lantern.
Not long after, the famous SQ satays were served. Apparently if there is satay service, no nuts would be served. There was 3 sticks of satay (2 chicken/1 lamb) and condiments/peanut sauce were now placed directly on the plate instead of previously in saucers.
Not long after, meal cart was rolled out and trays with appetizer were distributed. Water and wines were also offered.
Crew assisted to lift up my tray table from the arm rest, which was relatively heavy. Linen was then placed on the tray table by the stewardess and meal tray placed on it. I also had a Riesling and water with my meal.
[SIZE=1]Starter[/SIZE] Asian Platter Stuffed squid, smoked duck and marinated eringi mushroom with sweet and sour dressing The starter was delicious! And the Taiwanese stewardess even explained what contents the starter consisted of when serving us!
Following the starter, choices of bread were offered. I chose garlic breas and a crispy pastry.
The wonderful Taiwanese stewardess attending to a passenger. If CI/BR would to have all their stewardesses similar to her, they would give SQ a very tough fight in cabin service.
Main course delivered piping hot from the galley by the IFS. I had chosen: Roast pacific cod with potato gnocchi, broccoli, edamame beans and wild mushroom a la Grecque Exclusively created by Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill, New York It was great too! And not a too heavy course. Presentation was also first class!!
Look how fresh and juicy the cod was!
My friend had the noodles. Tainan style noodle soup Egg noodles in pork broth garnished with minced pork, pork meat balls, prawns and boiled soya flavoured egg Chopsticks, soup spoon and chilli were also presented. Please enjoy a warm bowl of Taiwan's famous dan-dan noodles! quipped the stewardess in mandarin while serving. We just felt like royalty!
Close up of the noodles. I tried some and it was delicious too!
Looking across to the other seats, the 2 other choices seemed not bad too. After having done with the main course, dessert, cheeses and fruits were offered on a cart.
Whole seasonal fruit selection were offered from a basket. I had a dragonfruit and some grapes. Unfortunately, the grapes were not the fantastic types I had in Taiwan. To be frank, I rather that SQ offered a pre-cut fruit plate as it was quite troublesome cutting up and eating a whole fruit without creating a mess.
Friend had the Taiwanese pear and grapes. The pear was not sweet. Also offered in the fruit basket were apples, oranges and water-apples.
Also served was dessert. We tried one of each. Cappuccino ice cream with mango compote The ice-cream satisfied my sweet tooth!
Pistachio creme brulee with berries Still preferred the ice-cream to the creme brulee.
Cheese plate. Cheddar, camembert and smelly blue cheese were offered with walnuts, grapes and crackers.
Pralines offered from a tray. I grabbed 2 of them.
After the heavy and satisfying meal, I visited the lavatory. It was still as cramped as the ones in economy…
..but with better quality amenities.
Business class cabin from the rear. Lights were slightly dimmed.
Another view of the seats.
SQ-branded mineral water was distributed to each passenger. Hmm, can't SQ use a better known brand (KLM does that in economy) then their house-branded water?
Seat at full-reclined mode. There is a slight angle to the ground but the new seats are still very comfortable.
More ice-cream to satisfy my sweet tooth. Haagen daaz from Economy, hehe.
Rounded up with a cup of soothing TWG chamomile tea with honey.
Reality is getting nearer…
Due to heavy air traffic, we circled for a while in the air before landing on Rwy20R a few minutes late.
Initially, it was announced by the pilot that we would by arriving in Terminal 3 Gate B1 but after landing, we taxied to A20 instead at the far-end of the terminal. Parked beside a Garuda B738 that had just arrived before us from Jakarta.
Aerobridge attaching to the aircraft door.
View of the our empty seats 14A/C in front during disembarkation.
Last view of the very comfortable new regional Business Class cabin and seats. Was bade farewell by name again at the door.
Last view of 9V-STH. Noticed the nose-cone of the aircraft is of a slightly different colour?
Taipei - TPE
Singapore - SIN
In one word, this Business Class flight on SQ was WOW! The crew (especially the stewardess who is easily the best), were among the greatest set I have encountered on SQ. Catering from TPE was superb except the fruits where I personally preferred cut fruits to whole fruits (I like more variety than just a single fruit). The new regional Business Class seats are more than comfortable for the mid-haul flight even though I have no qualms traveling on them for long-haul as well. SQ certainly lived up to its standards on this flight but I guess for most airlines, it would be the crew and food that makes/breaks the flight and SQ did not disappoint on this short flight.
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