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Sq Sin-pvg-sin

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  • Sq Sin-pvg-sin

    After almost 5 months of being “grounded”, my family decided to for a short holiday again during the weekend. We chose Shanghai in China for our destination as we have heard many great things (cheap stuff and food, great shopping etc) about the city. Being SQ staff, we would be traveling non-revenue. My parents and sis will be using their free tickets while I would be paying the staff discounted fare as I would be using the free ticket to London in June later on. Recently, SQ have reduced the price of its staff fares from the usual 10-15% of full fare to fares that are fixed according to regions. This reduced the fare to Shanghai from the usual S$300+ for a 10% fare to only S$185. However the total taxes costs an “amazing” S$100+.

    SQ 816
    Singapore – Shanghai Pudong
    B777-300 9V-SYB
    STD: 0115 ATD: 0130
    STA: 0630 ATA: 0630
    Flight Time: 5H
    Departure Gate: F42
    Arrival Gate: ???

    Left for the airport at 10:45pm on Thursday night and reached the airport within 15 minutes. Check-in was a breeze at the staff counter as I had earlier done an internet check-in. I had chose seats 57A&C and 58A&C. As this was quite an empty flight, there were plenty of seats available to choose from. I estimate the passenger load to be about only 150 pax, less than half of the capacity of the aircraft (B773 can seat 320 pax).

    Immigration was cleared extremely quickly and we went into the departure lounge to shop around. Some shops were already starting to close around 1130pm. I also went to the sunflower garden to take some photos. Saw lots of SQ and MI aircraft, a Royal Brunei A319 and an Austrian B763ER. As most of the night flights were departing or already departed, the whole terminal quietened down. We proceed to the gate at 0030. The flight started boarding at around 0045, half an hour before departure time. The load for this flight was really very poor!! In fact in the class economy cabin, I counted not more than 30 passengers!! Was welcomed onboard and shown to my seat. At the adjacent gate was another SQ flight to Athens, which will depart 5 minutes before us. The interesting thing was that the flight was operated by a B773 9V-SYC instead of the usual B772ER. Must be having a very good load on the flight as I saw that the boarding gate was fully packed.

    After settling into my seat, I found that this seat, 57A, had a huge legroom, I think around 35”. This is because this seat is where the cabin starts to taper inwards and so the whole row is positioned slightly at an angle, resulting in a huge seat pitch for the A seat. As usual, the same SQ procedures of hot towels, headphones and amenity kits commenced along with the welcome announcements, which was in both English and Mandarin. There were also a few stewardesses of China origin onboard. Pushback was on time after the Athens flight departed before us, with the safety demonstration playing on the screen. This plane did not offer AVOD but just the normal Krisworld system. We made a long taxi to runway 20R as the usual takeoff runway 20C was closed for repairs. Took off at 0130 and we made a left turn, overflying the airport and the eastern part of Singapore. Today, our intended flight path would take us to Mersing, out to the South China Sea towards Hong Kong on the usual Hong Kong flight path, turning towards Guangzhou before proceeding finally directly to Shanghai.

    After the seatbelt signs were turned off, service started with the handing out of menus. Then the refreshment service started with first the handing out of orange juice or water. Following that, the stewardesses came by with baskets of snacks. The offered items are vegetarian buns, ham buns, pineapple cookies, chocolate wafers and apples. We are encouraged to take as many items as we like due to the low passenger load. They even came round three times with the basket of goodies. I had one of each item (greedy me even though I only ate the ham bun and apple, saving the rest for later). I feel that this refreshment service is much better and faster and also offer more choices to passengers. Kudos to SQ on this. After the refreshment service, lights were dimmed to allow us to sleep. As I do not sleep easily on planes, I watched the movie Spanglish, which lasts for more than 2 hours. The crew came around on regular intervals with juices or water. After the movie had ended, we were nearing Hong Kong and I decided to try and take a short nap.

    After napping for half an hour, the lights were switched on and hot towels were given out again in preparation for breakfast. Breakfast was served exactly one and a half hour before arrival. The carts were pushed out to begin the breakfast service. Due to the extremely light load, the crew were able to finish dishing out the meals within 15 minutes!! The breakfast menu is as follows:

    Fruit appetizer
    Stir fried vegetarian noodles with steamed prawn dumplings
    Chive omelette served with ham, gratin potatoes and tomatoes
    Breakfast roll
    Butter-Fruit preserve
    Chinese Tea

    I had the omelette selection and it was quite tasty. Apart from the usual drink selections, there is the addition of soya bean milk in the menu. So, I decided to try the soya bean milk and requested for one. At first, the stewardess was stunned by the request and said that she would see if there is any onboard. After she finished serving the meals, she came to me and said that there were no soya bean milk catered in economy class!! I pointed out to her that the drink was stated in the menu and she apologized and replied that she would see if it is available in other classes. Finally, she brought the soya bean milk from Raffles class, albeit with lots of apologies that they do not have the drink catered in economy. Weird that SQ would put soya bean milk on its menu but not cater it in economy class. Drinks were offered for 2 more times before trays were collected. Then, it was time to relax till arrival. No photos were taken of the meals as I forgot about it. However, I have a photo of the meal on the return flight and as you can see, it is fantastic!!! More on it later…

    As we neared Shanghai, we encountered quite severe turbulence and the cabin crew have to be seated for a while. I could see a huge storm brewing outside. The pilot changed our flight path to avoid the storm clouds by veering right towards the east, away from the storm. Then, we had a zig-zagged flight path towards Shanghai as we continue dodging storm clouds. This added 15 minutes of flight time to our initial estimated flight time of 4H45M. Soon we commenced out descent. During the descent, we were continuously buffeted by extremely strong winds. In fact, I could hear the strong winds pounding the plane, something I have not encountered before. However, our plane handled the winds beautifully without too much shakings. Headphones were collected for landing followed by landing preparations. We flew towards the north of the airport before turning back for landing on runway 17R. It was quite hazy and so not much could be seen. Our approach was quite fast and we literally slammed onto the runway, stopping after a burst of thrust reversers. We exited by the second high speed exit, with a Malaysian B772 landing right after we exited the runway. This may explain our high approach speed. Taxied to the gate which only took quite a short while (did not take note of what gate it is). Interestingly, I noticed that all the American planes (United and Northwest) parked on the tarmac had 2 guards guarding the planes each, something not seen on the other planes around.

    Disembarked with “goodbye”s and “see you again” from the crew and proceeded to immigration. As there were no other flights arriving other than the MH plane behind us, immigration was a breeze. In fact, I do not have to queue at all!! Pudong airport looked very sterile with grey colours everywhere, be it walls, ceilings and benches. Another weird thing is that even though with so many empty baggage reclaim belts, they decided to put both the baggage retrieval of our flight and the MH flight behind us on the same belt. Thus the MH passengers have to wait for us SQ passengers to finish claiming our baggage before theirs appear. Tough luck!!

    This concludes the onward flight report. I will post the return flight report soon as a reply to this forum. Photos can also be seen at

    After 4 days in Shanghai and Suzhou, it was time to return home. Shanghai is really a very modern city with beautiful skyscrapers, fantastic shopping and cheap food. In fact, I think the prices are comparable to Bangkok!! We left for the airport at 1100am. Took the airport bus as all of our luggage would definitely not fit into a cab (we had 6 pieces on returning, double that when we first reach there). At first, we had wanted to try the Maglev airport train, which is the fastest train in the world but it is very inconvenient as the train station is at the outskirts of the city. In fact, taking the airport bus may even be faster and much cheaper (only 19RMB per person or less than S$4).

    Reached the airport after about 45 minutes of bus ride. The entrance to the terminal looks very unappealing, with brown brick walls welcoming us. Inside the terminal, it is the usual grayish colour. However on the rooftop, there is some architectural patterns which looked like stalactites. Went to the SQ check-in desks, which were staffed with China Eastern ground agents. There were no queue at all and we were checked in immediately by a polite agent. My request for two window seat rows was adhered to as the agent said that the plane would be very, very empty. Proceeded to immigration after checking in. There was quite a wait as only 3 immigration counters were open at the time of the day.

    SQ 825
    Shanghai Pudong - Singapore
    B777-200 9V-SQD
    STD: 1425 ATD: 1430
    STA: 1945 ATA: 1930
    Flight Time: 5H
    Departure Gate: 19
    Arrival Gate: F58

    After clearing immigration, we proceeded to our gate area. Pudong airport is designed in such a way that there is a whole stretch of shops along one side of the terminal with the gates and seating areas on the other side. However, the shops offer little variety and prices were outrageous (according to China standards). Also, the fancifully designed terminal resulted in no clear view of the tarmac (as can see in the photos). Our plane had not arrived yet and there was a United plane pushing back from the gate towards San Francisco. Planes were taking off from runway 17R and landing on 17L, which is the new runway at the other side of the airport.

    At about 1320, our plane arrived from Singapore. I was disappointed that the plane, 9V-SQD, would again, not offer WISEMAN AVOD. Think its not my day. At this time, I saw the SQ crew heading towards the gate too, having arrived the day before and laying over for only one day. At this time, there were still very few people at the gate. Boarding commenced at 1355 by rows but with the lack of passengers, all the passengers were then welcomed to board. Grab a copy of the day’s Straits Times and was welcomed by chief steward and a Chinese stewardess. Was then again led to my seat by another stewardess. We were initially given seats 40 A/B and 41A/B. Again, the load on this flight was really light, much less than the outgoing flight. I saw that the rear economy cabin was very empty and so decided to move there after the plane took off.

    Doors were closed on time and the usual SQ procedures began (minus the amenity kit). I guess u guys should be very familiar with it already. Taxied to the runway and held for a China Eastern A320 to take off. However, the time interval between each departure is quite long, resulting in a 5 minutes wait for takeoff. The takeoff run was very short, mainly due to the very light load, I guess. We rotated before the halfway mark of the runway!! Climbed straight out towards the south before, weirdly, making a right turn back north towards the city of Shanghai. We proceeded in this direction for a while before making another left turn to the west towards Suzhou and finally turning left again to the south and making our way towards Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Vietnam and then direct to Singapore. The seatbelts were kept on for quite a long time as we were constantly in the clouds. The cabin crew were only let out of their seats as we neared our cruising altitude of about 11200m. Just to add, the cruising altitude of the flight to Shanghai was about 10700m all the way.

    After the seat belt signs were switched off, the crew immediately came around with menus. Lunch would be served on this flight. I grabbed my stuff and moved towards the rear economy cabin and guess what, there was only 20 pax in the cabin!!!. In fact, everyone had 3 seats of their own and the last few rows of seats were completely empty!! Must be a loss making flight for SQ. I also counted not more than 50 pax in the entire economy cabin!! Thus, I wonder why SQ added so many flights to Shanghai (they recently increased their flights to 4x daily) when the flights are going out empty. Not that I am complaining about the empty seats…

    Peanuts were given out by the crew followed by a full bar service!! Not the usual juice or wine on trays that everyone was complaining about but a full bar service using carts!! The last time I had a full bar service on SQ was 1.5 years ago on my flights to and from Australia. All the other flights uses trays for the bar service. I had a gin fizz, which is basically gin with soda water topped with a slice of lemon. Did not request for soya bean milk this time round J .

    Then, the meal carts started coming around, starting from the front of the economy cabin. We could choose from either the international or oriental selection.
    From the menu:

    International Selection
    Pasta and tuna salad
    Panfried pork with barbeque sauce, corns, carrots and mashed potatoes
    Cheese and crackers
    Cream caramel with coffee sauce
    Roll and butter

    Oriental Selection
    Tomato and cucumber salad
    Singapore chicken rice
    Chinese snack
    Papaya with white fungus and almond curd

    Had the oriental selection as I do not like corns and carrots. I was just expecting a very normal chicken rice dish until I saw the tray. The chicken rice comes in 2 casseroles!! One casserole for the fragrant rice and the other for the chicken. Also, apart from the mentioned tomato and cucumber salad, there is the addition of a lettuce salad!! I was not expecting any ice-cream on this flight as there was already a dessert on the tray and it was also not mentioned on the menu but to my surprise, the crew came around with Cornetto peach flavoured ice-cream cones after serving the meals!! It is the first time on SQ that I had 2 appetizers and 2 desserts with the meal! And the chicken rice tasted very good, just like what u will get in first/raffles if you Book the Cook (minus the fanciful dishes). Was also offered a full can of sprite by the crew, tea and orange juice. You can see how packed the tray is in my photos and I spent some time arranging the tray so as to fit everything in to take the photo. Eventually, I had to place my drinks on the other table as there was absolutely no space to eat. This meal is truly raffles class if not first class! I think it is the best economy meal I ever had on SQ!! Truly amazing!! My sis also commented that the western selection tasted very good. The crew also came around 3 or 4 times with more drinks.

    After the crew cleared the trays, I settled to watch 2 movies, a Chinese movie and “Hide and Seek”. Duty free sales were also conducted. We overflew Shenzhen airport and turned towards Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong was very cloudy so could not see much of it. Then, one flight steward came around with sweets and after which, he offered postcards to those who wants it. Drinks patrols were also frequently made. All too soon, we started our approach into Changi airport. We landed on runway 20R with a “grand slam” again. Full reverse thrust was used, which was unusual on the B777s. We braked very heavily and exited by the first available exit. Then the plane taxied around to terminal 2, crossing the new south cross flyover on the way. As some of you may know, the gate F58 can be reached just by turning left at the first turn after crossing the flyover but I think the pilot overshot. The taxiway was not closed as I can see the green leading lights and the other SQ plane landing behind us had used the turn too. Instead, we taxied pass the turn and had to make a huge detour back to the gate. This increased my suspicion that the pilot is a newbie (full reversers, grand slam landing and wrong taxing). Docked at the gate and disembarked with goodbyes from the crew again. Immigration was very empty and I was through in no time.

    This ends my trip report on SQ to Shanghai. Very empty flights improved the inflight service. Also, the food is amazing on the flights, especially on the return flight. Watch out for my trip to Europe on SQ again in July as well as my virgin flight on a budget carrier, Easyjet. Ta ta.

    Any comments are welcomed.

  • #2
    Nice report. I suppose having an empty flight has its advantages service-wise .
    "The Director also sets the record straight on what would happen if oxygen masks were to drop from the ceiling: The passengers freak out with abandon, instead of continuing to chat amiably, as though lunch were being served, like they do on those in-flight safety videos."

    -- The LA Times, in a review of 'Flightplan'


    • #3
      good report.

      I've noticed a lot of SE and East Asian airlines and some mid east airlines do have very late departures these days. You did not leave SIN until 1am. Jetblue is the only airline I can think of that has departures that late here in the states.


      • #4
        Great Report. KMCH, Continental has some late flights too.
        - The baby will be back -