Slightly over a month after my trip to Kathmandu, it was time for another trip, a 12-days whirlwind trip to USA with my partner! It is been a long while since I went for a holiday that stretched for more than a week. For this trip, I covered the cities of New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco, as well as visited the natural wonders of Niagara Falls and Grand Canyon. 4 airlines were flown, namely Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and Jetblue, with flights on both Business and Economy. Tickets were a mixture of redemption and paid. It was quite a task to put the itinerary together and the final result is below.
The first 2 sectors were on a Virgin Atlantic ticket as they offered one of the cheapest one-way ticket to New York and allows 100% Krisflyer/Elite miles accrual too, with the SIN-LHR leg on SQ (VS code-shared) and LHR-JFK leg on VS. Transfer in London was only a short 1hr40min with no terminal transfer needed. However as the first sector was on a Virgin-issued ticket, I was unable to perform seat-selection or online check-in for the SQ flight. Check-in for the SQ flight could only be processed at the airport Terminal 3. Luckily the flight was rather empty today for the leg up to London and we could snatch an entire row of 3-seaters each! Our bags were tagged up to JFK and boarding passes of both SQ and the connecting VS flight were issued. Seats on VS were already prior-selected via VS's website. Cool! VS boarding pass on SQ stock!
This morning, we would be departing from Gate A13.
Due to low loads, a B773ER was scheduled instead of the usual A380. 9V-SWG would be flying us to London.
06 March 2013 Singapore Airlines SQ 308 (Code-shared VS7318) Singapore (SIN) - London Heathrow (LHR) B777-300ER 9V-SWG Economy Class
Boarding was just starting when we cleared security at the gate. Was greeted by name by a very cheerful set of crew (if the flight was so empty, I would be cheerful too!). Good start here. My seat was towards the rear of the mid-economy cabin.
View from my seat.
Boarding in progress.
Boarding was completed rather swiftly and hot towels were distributed. Flight time was estimated to be 13h20m. Doors were closed and we pushed back on time.
We only had a short taxi to Rwy02L.
Taxi to runway.
And takeoff from Rwy02L, bound for London Heathrow.
After seat belt signs were turned off, service started with distribution of headsets and Givenchy amenity kits, followed by menus.
Economy amenity kit with a toothbrush set and a pair of socks.
Stuff in the seat pocket.
Menu, with a rather nice cover.
Lets see what's on offer for breakfast and midflight snacks.
Beverages menu. Looks like SQ have decided to list down all available soft drinks as well as all the various teas. Makes the beverage selection much more impressive.
Selection of juices an water was first offered before the start of the breakfast service. I had an orange juice and started on my first movie, Pitch Perfect.
Flying over city of Kuala Lumpur less than 30min after takeoff.
Spot the Twin Towers!
Another view over Malaysia.
Breakfast was serve starting from the front of the cabin. When reaching my row, the crew were running out of the scrambled egg choice, but we were going to choose local carrot-cake anyway. According to the very engaging, friendly and casual Leading Stewardess (LSS) serving my aisle, the other non-asian passengers were not too adventurous with trying a different cuisine, especially Carrot-cake for breakfast, which sounded more like dessert to them. She also promised us that we would love them and that all the crew were so happy that carrot-cake was one of the breakfast choices!
A very substantial breakfast tray. Other than the main, the tray also consisted of fruits, warm roll with butter and marmalade, muffin and cornflakes. I had an orange juice and tea to go along.
Cut fruits and almond muffin.
Singapore Fried Carrot Cake. True to the LSS's words, it was delicious! One of the better breakfast dishes I had on a plane. However it might not suit the western palette as it was a tad spicy, but definitely a very Singaporean dish.
Rumblers cornflakes with milk. Cornflakes are only available on London flights. On other breakfast flights, one would normally get a yoghurt.
Visit to the lav.
Toothbrush sets and combs were available in the amenity drawer.
View of the rear economy cabin. Quite a number of passengers had a 3-seater row to themselves and were dozing away on their own make-shift beds.
Over the Indian soil.
The really great LSS, on seeing that we were watching movies, handed us a set of snacks each from the galley behind and told us to enjoy the snacks with the movie. I was totally impressed with her service!! The snacks were potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and a Toblerone chocolate bar.
One of the perks of flying in the day: Wonderful views out the window! Here, we are flying over snow-capped mountains in Afghanistan, approximately halfway through the flight.
At this point, the second meal was served, about 7hrs into the flight. First, was full bar service was offered, where I had a Campari soda.
Was given many packets of peanuts by a lovely stewardess as well.
Lunch was then served. The really great LSS is the one at the right.
What's for lunch? 3 choices were offered!
My meal tray, which was again loaded with food. The main was overflowing from the casserole! Had a white wine with the meal.
Seafood penne pasta salad for starter, which was still half frozen.
Pork Piccata Milanese with pasta. The biggest chunk of meat I ever had in economy class! And rather delicious as well.
Another choice of Fish masala wih spiced ladyfinger and basmati rice. Tasted like the authentic Singaporean fish-head curry (minus the fish head). Great main as well! It was been quite a while since I had such good food on SQ in economy! I was so full with the meal that I saved the cheese and crackers for later.
Panna cotta dessert. Not too bad but would have preferred an ice-cream.
This time round, service was conducted from rear to front.
During lunch, we encountered some light turbulence somewhere over Iran. As usual, seat belt signs were turned off and hot beverage service was suspended. However no more of the annoying Please return to your seat announcements, which is a good thing as the pilots on this particular flight were so trigger-happy with the signs, illuminating the seat belt signs at least 6-7 times (excluding takeoff/landing) throughout the entire flight, with barely slight bumps encountered at each time. Because of this, the crew could not serve coffee/tea after the meal service but the LSS took our hot beverage orders during tray collection and promised to return with the drinks after the signs were switched off. Guess they were also annoyed with the signs on for such a long period of time with barely any bumps.
Finally the signs were turned off about 30min after trays were collected and the crew came out with the hot beverages. My requested green tea was delivered promptly.
Cloudy skies below.
Forward economy cabin.
My economy bed, where I took a couple of hours' nap after finishing a second movie. Seat comfort was average, leg room not too fantastic, but with an empty seat beside, it was rather bearable.
Somewhere over Eastern Europe.
Looks cold down there.
2hrs prior to landing, sandwiches were offered with a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian. I had the non-vege option, which was a soft roll with beef pastrami. The vege option was a coleslaw sandwich that I did not try. Throughout the flight, drinks were offered hourly and crew were reactive to call-bells.
Having my sandwich with the villains of Wreck it Ralph.
Just passing Berlin and not too far from destination.
Cloudy skies over Germany to Netherlands.
Crossing the English Channel soon.
We started descending shortly after leaving Netherlands. As usual, headsets are collected and cabin prepared for landing. Approaching the coast of England.
Gloomy skies over London as usual…
Surprisingly, there was no hold for landing and we approached Heathrow from the west. Guess it was not the peak hour for traffic at Heathrow. Very smooth landing on Rwy09L, and you could hear the new announcements that mobile phones can be used after landing!
Passing a fellow B773ER from Air New Zealand while taxiing to Terminal 3.
And another B773ER from TAM Brazil.
Parked at the gate. Chocks on 20min earlier than scheduled.
View of SWG that flew me to LHR. Note that we were parked at an A380 gate. And only one aerobridge was in use.
After disembarkation, we were off to Transfer to board our next flight. As Virgin would be departing from the same Terminal and there were not many transfer passengers at this time of the day (guess we were the only transfer pax on the SQ flight), the line for security was almost non-existent and it made the whole transfer process rather swift. Much easier than what I had feared earlier (hey, it is Heathrow afterall).
Flight information board. Not many departures at this time of the day. The main departure bank would be during the late evening.
Transit at Heathrow was not too bad. Browsed through some shops, had a sandwich and it was soon time for boarding for the next flight. in fact, my itinerary had a slightly shorter transit time and total flight time than flying on the direct SQ26! Also the day flights made the journey much less tiring than usual.
Singapore - SIN
London - LHR
Verdict on the first flight of my trip? This is definitely one of my best, if not the best, experience of flying economy on SQ or any airline! Catering was very substantial and much better than usual (wonder if this is a London high-yield flight thingy), service was good to excellent depending on the crew but the LSS serving my aisle is definitely superb, IFE was acceptable (well, at least better selections than my SQ flight last year) and seats comfortable though the rather empty flight played a big part. A very comfortable flight indeed on SQ!
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