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Part Two(of Two): SIN - MEL on BA17/QF388 in FC

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  • Part Two(of Two): SIN - MEL on BA17/QF388 in FC

    Airline: British Airways
    Flight Number: BA17/QF388
    Aircraft: 747-400 Chatham (??)
    Departure Airport: SIN
    Arrival Airport: MEL
    Departure Gate: C1
    Date: Sunday 20th March, 2005
    Estimated Departure Time: 1915
    Actual Departure Time: 1950
    Estimated Arrival Time: 0525
    Actual Arrival Time: 0539
    Class: First
    Seat: 2A
    Load: 60%

    Having wrapped up work on the Saturday (19/03), I had the majority of Sunday morning and afternoon to do a spot of shopping (one of my favourite past times). Thankfully my hotel was located on Orchard Road, hence skipping distance to all the shopping malls.

    First on my agenda was a quick visit to Tiffany & Co to pick up a pre-ordered ring. There’s simply nothing better than the premium service one receives at T&C. I was seated down in the back room and offered a cappuccino, which I refused and requested for my favourite Starbuck’s Mango Frappacino. Personally, I find nothing worse than a steaming beverage in a tropical country.

    After my sojourn with \Tiffany, I visited Polo to replenish my near finished PRL Silver cologne. Next on the list was to purchase some clothes for Australia’s impending winter. A few sweaters, cardigans (don’t laugh) and casual pants later, I was spent.

    At 1630, I left the hotel and was at Changi Airport in under 25 minutes with my wallet S$12.50 lighter. Dropped off in Terminal 1, infront of the QF general check-in area, I was glad to use the premium SATS combined BA and QF First check-in lounge. Showing my boarding pass to the representative at the entrance, I was escorted to an available attendant. At this point, the service went down hill very quickly. The rep checking me in was incredibly short, rude and tried her best to get me out of her face. During this entire process, she was looking over my shoulder at the Plasma screen, which was airing Troy.

    “So, what’s the load like in the cabin?”
    “Load of what?”
    “Of the first class cabin.”
    “Wait, let me finish one thing before you ask me to do something else.”
    “Don’t worry about it then.”

    She quickly handed my boarding pass, got out of her seat, walked round the desks and placed herself infront of the TVs. Never have I ever been treated to such insincerity.

    Like her ‘royal highness’, I quickly skedaddled out of through immigration and headed towards the Q\BA/QF First lounge. To all those unfamiliar with it’s location, after clearing immigration, turn left and head up the first set of escalators and continue till the end of the hallway. You won’t miss it.

    With only 10 PAX in the lounge, I had free reign to take charge of any seating. Naturally I chose the seats closest to the champagne. Atypical of the lounge, only a very limited spread of food was available. Loading my plate with sandwiches, camembert cheese, crackers and mini-parcels, I very happily returned to continue reading The Age.

    With only an hour before the flight, I quickly popped into shower stall 3 and freshened up. Hmm, one has to be somewhat careful when first starting the showers. My advice, be sure that you have your back turned to the shower heads (plural). Those who have used these facilities (also at LHR), you’ll be well aware of what I am referring to. 

    After smoking half a packet of cigarettes in one of the numerous air-conditioned smoking lounges, I walked the short distance to gate C1. Well aware of Singapore’s strict procedures, I had already removed my jacket and all articles in my pockets to be x-rayed.

    Boarding started at 1845, with the excellent staff calling for First, Business and Oneworld members to board first. Taking the earlier bridge A, I was directed to turn left into the First cabin.

    As this was a connecting flight from LHR, my overhead lockers were already in use. Without direction from any FAs (none available at this stage), I placed my cabin bag and jacket into the cupboard at the front.

    “Can I get you anything to drink before departure, sir?”
    “Champagne, please.”

    Unlike previous flights with BA, I did not receive any canapés, nuts, olives or accompaniments.

    The CSD promptly introduced himself to all in the First cabin. I found him very approachable, making steady eye contact coupled with a firm handshake. Shortly after, I was strangely approached by Priscilla.

    “Good evening, Mr XXX. You’re joining us from Singapore?”
    “Yes, heading home to Melbourne.”
    “Are you from Singapore?”
    “No, was here for work.”
    “Oh, how nice. I just wanted to personally welcome you onboard and thank you for choosing to fly with British Airways. If there is anything that you need, please do not hesitate to ask for me.”

    With that, she turned round and walked out of sight. Without making conversation or contact with anyone else in the cabin, she disappeared into the C cabins. Very strange. Anyone know what that was all about?

    A menu, amenities bag and flight suit was handed out.

    “Would you like a flight suit, sir?”
    “Absolutely.”
    “I’m afraid that the smallest we have is a medium.”
    “That’s fine, I normally ask for a medium.”
    “Really? You could quite easily fit into small.”
    “I’ll take that as a compliment then. Haha.”
    “Yes you should. Many flying this end of the plane tend to have enjoyed life a little too well and are unable to fit into even our largest sizes.”

    As departure time came and went, the captain came over the PA to announce that the plane was encountering an issue with one of the fire detectors in the FC toilets. During the insecticide spraying, the detector engaged and would not off. Technicians were summoned but were unable to rectify the issue. Due to the time constraints, they decided to disable the alarm till Melbourne. Hmm, perhaps I could nip in there mid-flight for a smoke? Haha.

    The cabin was increasingly getting warmer. Requesting for the cabin temperature to be lowered, I was informed that the aircraft’s air conditioning system was currently experiencing difficulties and a compressor was working overtime at the rear of the craft.

    BA17 finally pushed back, but the cooling system was still not operational. Thankfully, before takeoff, I felt a discernible temperature drop.

    As we hurtled down the runway, all the overhead lockers were rattling stridently, culminating in the front lockers flying open with a scream. I felt somewhat guilty as I uncontrollably released a laugh as the doors hit the passenger in 1A.

    As we reached cruising altitude, the Fas were already busy at work in the galley. I had a glass of “carbonated” water delivered to me (as requested before TO).

    “Have you had time to peruse over the menu?”
    “Yes. I’d like to start with the canapés, followed by the prawn and rocket salad and the salmon with yabby tails for the main.” To all those unfamiliar with yabbies, they are a crustacean not alike a miniature crayfish/craw. I used to go yabbing all the time at a friend’s farm when I was a kid.
    “Any wine with this evening’s meal?”
    “No, thanks. Just a large glass of sparkling water.”
    “Well, we don’t have tall glasses so you’ll have to make do with our smaller ones. And I guess I’ll just have to keep topping it up for you. I can see that you’re going to be trouble tonight.”

    Nothing beats witty BA service.  I was then approached by the CSD who asked, “…whether you’d would be so kind as to fill out this survey. I’ll only take five minutes.” “No, problem at all.”

    Canapes were very quickly dispensed. I have no idea what they were, but one of choices was utterly inedible. A triangle of cheese rubbed in what tasted like dry mild-curry powder. If I didn’t have more decorum I would have spat it out. Sorry, but it was terrible.

    Thankfully, BA redeemed itself with the prawn salad (I’m salivating just thinking of it) and the salmon. Top notch.

    “Any salad for you tonight, sir?”
    “Oh no, I am well and truly spent.”
    “How about coffee or tea?”
    “No thanks, just water will do.”

    With that, I reclined by seat and filled out 80% of the survey. With very little IFE available, I was subjected to watch “Shall We Dance”, starring Richard Gere and J.Lo. Not a bit Jen fan, I was very quietly impressed with the film. Being a seasoned Susan Sarandon fan, I was not disappointed. Definitely a chick-flick, but enjoyed it nonetheless. For the rest of the flight, I watched a mixture of The Incredibles, BBC News and BBC comedy.

    Before I knew it, we were a mere two hours from Melbourne. I quickly took my clothes from the cupboard and got changed. As I exited the toilet, I was approached by a FA for my breakfast choice.

    “Don’t think I’d be able to fathom breakfast at the moment.”
    “We’ll be landing shortly.”
    “OK then, just a very strong coffee. White with two sugars.”
    “Are you sure I can’t tempt you with something a little more substantial?”
    “I’m familiar with your breakfast and none of it is very appetising at the moment.”

    The captain announced our landing procedures and played the Australian customs warning video. He proceeded by apologising for the Fas having to spray the cabins with a ‘harmless” insecticide. Personally, I LOVE the smell of these aerosprays.

    We landed slightly behind schedule at 0538, with an incredibly slow taxi to gate C24 (?). All first class passengers were alighted first, most making a mad dash to beat the hoards. Bah humbug, why rush?

    I casually strolled and purchased a carton of Dunhills from the duty free store.

    “How does my hair look?”
    “It looks great, nothing to worry about.”

    It’s a tradition of mine to ask the girls re: condition of my airplane hair.

    As I neared the immigration counters, the queues had already started building as almost all business class and some economy pax were already waiting. I took the furthest left lane labelled “Air Crew” and waltzed up to the counter unhindered.

    “APEC card please.”
    “Here you go.”
    “Welcome home, Mr XXX.”

    I almost fell over!! Good and friendly service from an Australian immigration officer?

    “I am very glad to be home, thank you.”
    “You marked that you have food stuff to declare.”
    “Yes, I purchased some spices, etc from Singapore plus I’ve purchased more than the allocated 250 cigarettes.”

    My passport was then handed back and headed towards customs. With no baggage to claim, I headed towards customs. The officer had a quick look at my declaration papers and told me to take lane 3.

    Once again, I was shocked when I received a friendly and personable service from the customs officer.

    “So, what do you have to declare.”
    “Well, I bought these packet sauces in Singapore. I was told that they’re OK to go through customs.”
    With a little smile and giggle, “They all say that, but I’ll be the judge of that. Yes, they’re fine. Anything else?”
    “I bought coffee aswell.”
    “Is there dairy products incorporated into it?”
    “Yes, it has powdered creamer.”

    He had a very detailed review of the packaging and oked it.

    “If this was manufactured in any other SE Asian country, I would have had to confiscate it. However, because it was packaged and manufactured in Singapore, it’s fine. Just go through.”

    With that, I haphazardly placed everything back into my bags and walked out into the refreshing Melbourne morning.

    Lighting a cigarette, I walked towards QF domestic. QF Valet parking is located towards the end of QF domestic arrivals…giving me plenty of time to finish off the very much needed (let me rephrase that, much wanted) cigarette.

    Verdict:
    (0 – Awfully Disgraceful, 5 – Average, 10 – World Class):

    BA/QF First Class Lounge = 7
    Very tastefully furnished lounge. With only a small number of users, the lounge had an airy and spatial sense. A good lounge to relax and unwind, especially to all QF and BA pax during the kangaroo route. IMHO, one of the better QF First lounges.

    BA FC Cabin = 8
    As much as I adore the BA product, I prefer QF’s seat position against the wall. This allows easier viewing. Having said that, BA entitles more privacy which is a bonus. BA also has no middle seating in row 2 (my preferred row). As I stated in the BA survey, I was very disappointed with the lack of noise-cancelling headphones. The poor quality economy grade headphones left a lot to be desired.

    BA FC Cabin Service = 8
    One word…excellent.

    BA FC Catering = 8
    Thoroughly enjoyed the dinner service.

    BA Overall
    Typical BA first class product. Friendly and gracious service from all Fas onboard.

    MEL Arrivals Procedures = 8
    Well, one of the very rare times where Australian customs and immigration officers actually provided a “service with a smile”. With BA17 arriving into MEL at 0538 and express immigration via the APEC lane, I was out at my car within 30 minutes.

    Please find below the requested boarding passes and an image of the APEC card.

    http://image36.webshots.com/36/5/58/...1jsoDyC_ph.jpg
    http://image48.webshots.com/49/5/58/...8hEDJem_ph.jpg
    http://image48.webshots.com/48/5/57/...7HYCkNh_ph.jpg

  • #2
    Entertaining reading highlighted by the dialogues with the wide variety of professionnals encountered. This checking-in attendant more focused in seing Troy than doing her job is somewhat surprising as she looks out of place. Some airports in Africa and Europe could have provided for a better setting than second to none Changi.
    Alain
    Thanks for visiting
    *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *
    *JetPhotos*
    Airliners*Pbase.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Great Report!
      - The baby will be back -

      Comment


      • #4
        This is one of the most entertaining reports I've read- your writing style & the picture it paints is impeccable.
        Click below.

        [http://www.jetphotos.net/showphotos.php?userid=3669]

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks to all for your kind words.

          Yes, I was rather taken back with the lack lustre service I received at SIN check-in. Wasn't expected.

          Comment


          • #6
            Excellent report once again by you. Thanks.

            But as they say of a good film Part 1 was better than Part 2

            Thanks again!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re:

              Good review dude! Too bad the agent at check-in acted like that, I guess all airlines have a few of them.

              Foxtrot

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by uy707
                Entertaining reading highlighted by the dialogues with the wide variety of professionnals encountered.
                I'll second that! fascinating read indeed. Keep these coming!

                Comment


                • #9
                  nice report (espacially the dialoges)
                  Airlines: XT,KL,SN,ACA,DL,AF,TV,SN,OS,LX,WA,NW,FI,US,AW,CO,OH,OO,9W,AA,AE,FL,B6

                  Aircraft:AT4,B763,B734,A321,B743,FRJ,B763ER,B772,A343,B733,F70,MD80,AR8,A319,CRJ,F50,D10,D95,A333,B752,B762,ERD,B764,CR9,B77W,AB6,ATR,B717,E190

                  Airports: ANR,AMS,ATL,BRU,ATH,JFK,LGA,GSP,CDG,FCO,EWR,FAO,VIE,ZRH,MEM,DTW,KEF,PHL,CLT,IAH,MIA,JAX

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