Saturday, September 13, 2014

Singapore Airlines Flight Report: Manila to London

September the 11th 2014 saw me going back to Britain for a few more years.  As far as the flight journey is concerned, we were choosing between Singapore Airlines (SIA), Cathay Pacific (CX), Philippine Airlines (PAL), Emirates and Etihad.  What drew us to Singapore Airlines on this occasion was the flexible conditions attached with the ticket.  It cost us around $900 (£530) one-way for myself, and less than $1700 (£970) return for my mom and we can change the flight schedule if necessary without having to pay a rebooking fee.  CX charges slightly higher for similar conditions and PAL assesses a rebooking fee for all its economy class tickets.  

Choosing SIA on this occasion was also extra special for two other reasons.  One of them was that this will feature the use of Airbus aircrafts for the entire journey.  I generally have a soft spot for Airbus aircrafts not least because they are known to feature a 2-4-2 configuration in economy class (unless of course you are flying PAL or a low cost carrier).  The other reason is that we get to use its new home in Ninoy Aquino International Airport: Terminal 3, and experience how “fully operational” the building actually is.

TICKETING EXPERIENCE

Given the bureaucratic hassle associated with buying international tickets online for flights departing the Philippines, I decided to purchase my ticket by directly visiting SIA’s Makati ticketing office.  The last time I did this was in 2011.  This time, I was served rather quickly by the staff unlike in the past when I had to queue for at least 30 minutes before my number was served.  All of this happened despite having only two or three desks manned: the number of would-be passengers queueing for tickets was also quite small.  I had to wait for the staff for a while before my ticket was processed.  When the ticket itinerary receipt was issued, the staff no longer provided it in those signature ticket jackets bearing SIA’s logo.  Choosing our preferred seats was no longer available at this time, especially for Singapore-London flights but the staff noted our request that we want to be seated in the upper deck.  
SIA Manila Ticket Office
Image by hybridace101
Before I left SIA’s ticketing office, I chanced upon a model of its iconic Boeing 747-400.  The sample interiors were likely from 1989 when SIA received the first of these birds.  


Boeing 747-400 Model in SIA's Manila Ticket Office
Image by hybridace101

A few days later, I was able to grab a seat on the upper deck.  This finally meant that I will be surrounded by a 2-4-2 experience for my entire journey.  Moreover, the economy class section of SIA’s A380 upper deck was small.


JOURNEY TO THE AIRPORT

As excited as I was, to commence my journey, the hours leading up to leaving the house was manic as I had to run last-minute errands.  In fact, I didn’t get to sit for a meal or even drink water.  We left the house at around 2.45 pm, more than four hours before the flight.  It was just as well because the traffic just outside our village was bad.  School children were dismissed from classes and the lorries were putting things to a standstill.  The traffic improved once we reached the flyover.  


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Entrance to SIA's section of the check-in area
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CHECK-IN, SECURITY AND PRE-BOARDING

We reached the airport at 3.50 pm.  I was greeted by new signs with the carriers’ logos shown on the curb.  SIA’s station was #4 and the check-in desks were not far by.  Security at the entrance was relatively quick.  

SIA Check-in Area at NAIA Terminal 3
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Monitors at SIA Check-in Desk
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Monitors at SIA Check-in Desk
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SIA Check-in Area at NAIA Terminal 3
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We were ushered into the appropriate check-in lane by one of the staff.  However, despite performing an internet check-in, the queue took a while: about 15 minutes and they spent 10 minutes on one passenger alone.  When it was our turn, we were directed to the lane normally reserved for Kris Flyer Gold and Star Alliance Gold members.  It also took long, but that was because our my mom wanted to sit next to me.  We discovered that the flight was packed on this occasion.  The staff had to consult with colleagues at another desk for a change in seat so it added more time to the process.  Unfortunately it meant that I won’t get to use the boarding cards I printed at home in two different colours: one for each segment.    

Emirates Check-in Area right across SIA's Check-in Area
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We proceeded to passport control.  Along the way, we spotted a lot of Cebu Pacific ground staff on the lookout for passengers who would unscrupulously sneak-in oversized bags or bags in excess their allowance.  Once at passport control, we found that unlike Terminals 1 and 2, each desk had its own queue.  So it took a minute or so for us to determine which had the shortest waiting time.  Final security check also proceeded smoothly.  

After security, I found NAIA's duty free pales in comparison to what you would see elsewhere.  My mom and I were so hungry that we settled for the Great Man Han to have a really late lunch.  I found the Korean Barbecue Chicken meal I ordered rather bland.  WiFi was also poor in this area. 


Duty Free Philippines Store in NAIA Terminal 3
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Great Man Han Restaurant in NAIA Terminal 3
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I spotted the Pacific Traveller’s Lounge.  Although there was a receptionist to screen who was eligible to enter, it was a rather open space.  I could in fact take a photo of it from where I was: everything was visible.  Now I could see why SIA said that it apologised for the inconvenience: passengers there would have to put up with the noise.

Pacific Traveller's Lounge
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When my mom went for a quick massage, I used this time to take even more photos of terminal 3.  to my surprise, establishments were springing up the further down you go.  My suspicions were also confirmed: one of the holding areas were cordoned off with glass from the rest of the terminal.  These actually belonged to KLM and Delta, whose passengers had to undergo further checks.  


KLM Holding Area in NAIA Terminal 3
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Delta Airlines Holding Area in NAIA Terminal 3
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This afternoon was remarkably a busy time of the day for the terminal as passengers headed for the middle east flocked to take a Cebu Pacific and Emirates flight to Dubai.  

Emirates Holding Area
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However, there was somehow better news when it came to the establishments found in the facility.  There were almost a dozen active establishments airside.  In fact, I found two competing brands here: Seattles Best and Bo's Coffee.  One of the cafes serves as a make-shift lounge for All Nippon Airways at certain times of the day.  There are nonetheless plenty of unoccupied space.

Seattle's Best Coffee Stall in NAIA Terminal 3
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Bo's Coffee in NAIA Terminal 3
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Sweet Ideas Cafe, which acts as a make-shift lounge for All Nippon Airways
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National Book Store in NAIA Terminal 3
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Flight Information Display in NAIA Terminal 3
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PART ONE: SQ921 from MANILA to SINGAPORE

Flight Number: SQ921
Gate: 115
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Scheduled Departure Time: 18:50
Aircraft Registration: 9V-STJ

Copyright Image: Singapore Airlines
Holding Area for Singapore Airlines at NAIA Terminal 3
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Flight Information Display in NAIA Terminal 3
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We arrived at the holding area at about 6.15 pm.  Despite the advice on our boarding card, the flight did not board until  6.25.  It worried me because it could increase the risk we could be delayed.  As we were assigned ourselves to the front seats, we were the last to be called.  However, my mom insisted that we board.  But I personally preferred that we board late since we would stand in queue for a long time.  At the aerobridge, a bottleneck ensued.  It took almost 5 minutes after entering the narrow passageway when we actually boarded the aircraft.  

Image by hybridace101

We got settled in our seat rather quickly.  However, some of our hand luggage were stowed in compartments slightly away from us.  I leafed through the KrisWorld catalogue.  Based on the collection of entertainment they boasted about, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.  I had several films and TV shows queued up like the Lego Movie  but I decided to view these selections instead on the longer flight as I won’t be interrupted at that time. 

SIA's A380s, 777-300ERs and A330s now feature more than 1500 audio and video options
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Despite the rather late boarding, we were ready to go at about 6.50 pm.  At 6.55 pm, the plane was push backed away from the gate.  It took us 15 minutes to get from the gate to the runway as the plane was rather slow.  There were a few planes taking off and landing immediately ahead of us.  But what surprised me during this time was that KrisWorld was available.  Picture was crystal clear.  At the moment we were to take off, I was playing music from the World Cup while viewing the live airshow.  

SIA's Economy Class on an A330
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SIA's Economy Class on an A330
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SIA Moving Map or Airshow
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Eight minutes later, the seat belt sign was switched off.  It was time for me to reach for my memory stick and iPhone.  I took more photos and tried whether my personal collection would work and to my delight, they did.  I enquired from the crew if there was a special cable to connect our iPhone to the IFE and unfortunately they told me that they didn’t provide it anymore.  I tried the regular cable of my iPhone later and KrisWorld read it as an iPod.  But I had some trouble setting it up.  Perhaps it was because I used a later version of iOS.  

We were also served with the obligatory hot towels and peanuts.  I also used this time to visit the lavatory and take more photos from the rear.  Along the way, I found an empty block of chairs.  Not bad so that one of the tray tables would be used for me to type parts of this trip report. 


SIA Economy Class Seats on an A330
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SIA Peanuts
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Approximately an hour into the flight, dinner service began.  Despite moving a few rows to the rear, my choice of chicken was still available.  And guess what?  It was with pasta.  So I was in for a treat after not having early lunch at all, and a not so scrumptious late lunch at the airport.  I took as much time to finish  Moreover, the chocolate cake dessert appealed to my sweet tooth.  That and the two glasses of Sprite though were a reminder for me to take it easy with the sweets.  Whilst enjoying my meal, I continued listing to the playlist assembled from the in-house collection of KrisWorld.  


Braised Chicken in Shallot Sauce with Ratatouille and Pasta
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Fudge Brownie Cake
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Even after most of the passengers were done eating dinner, cabin crew still obliged to serve hot drinks.  Meanwhile, other passengers also enjoyed the endless selection of films.  


Programme shown on SIA's IFE
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Less than 75 minutes into the flight, I switched to the section of the IFE where I could get information on my connecting flight.  I felt pretty unlucky on this count.  When I monitored SQ921 in recent weeks, it docked at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3.  However on this occasion, I was to be treated again to the sight of Terminal 2.  Docking there does not help us especially on a tight connection.

Image by hybridace101


As I set my seat to the reclined position and the lights were dimmed, I briefly watched some in-house videos by SIA.  One of them involved SIA showing us an instruction video of how to set up the business class seat.  After watching it, I found that it was rather complicated to set it up despite the tagline at the start of the video.  As this flight was flown a month after Signapore’s national day, there were some videos about Singapore.  I decided to watch some of them, including a programme that searched for ordinary Singaporeans who were part of news history.  Needless to say, I did not finish the programme (at least not without the audio as headsets were collected).  When the captain announced our initial descent, it was a signal for me to move back to my original seat so that I can disembark at the same time as my mom and help her gather our things.

We landed more or less on time but I was slightly annoyed that we docked at a distant part of terminal 2.  That of course would add unnecessary time to our connection.  As a courtesy, SIA let business class passengers disembarked before us.  As we were on the right side of the cabin asked to exit using the business class door, we were treated to a sight of business class on the way out . 


SIA Economy Class Seat on an A330
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SIA Regional Business Class on an A330
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SIA Regional Business Class on an A330
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RATINGS FOR THE FIRST FLIGHT
These are rated from 1 to 10 with ten being the best score. This covers aspects of the flight experience that SIA and its ground agents are responsible for with a focus on Economy Class.
  • Check-in (8/10): It took a bit longer than usual despite having two desks allocated for internet check-in passengers.  I didn’t see the reason why the staff member had to refer the matter of changing seats to colleagues.     
  • Boarding Process (7/10): I was a bit surprised that for an Aircraft like the A330, which is supposed to have the smallest capacity in SIA’s fleet, it takes quite a while to finish boarding.  A bone I have to pick is that they had to board groups within less than 2 minutes of each other.  
  • Seat Comfort (9/10): Throughout the flight, I didn’t feel that legroom was tight.  In fact, I thought I had more than enough.  With the a block of only two seats, it probably made it a lot easier too.  I felt relaxed when I pushed the recline button of my seat: I felt it actually recline significantly.  Mind you, I didn’t even purchase a preferred economy class seat so we can imagine how much more comfort.  The ergonomics of the seat was more or less standard: couldn’t complain about them.  
  • Food (10/10):  Nothing thrilled me more than to experience chicken marinated in pasta for supper.  I enjoyed every little bit of this meal and wish it didn’t end all too soon..  
  • Cabin Crew (10/10): Crew was very friendly, polite and helpful.  
  • Punctuality (9/10):  We left the gate slightly behind schedule: about five minutes.  I trusted that when the captain said that this is actually a 3-hour flight, time would be made up.  We did arrive almost on the dot.  
  • In-flight Entertainment (10/10): Unlike all previous SIA flights, I can say I felt spoilt for IFE choices on this one.  In fact, I hardly know where to begin.  In theory, the USB seemed to have worked well for iPods and iPhones though I think those with later iOS versions would have trouble.  Selection was wonderful and the screen was crystal clear.  
Although most of SIA’s regional 777s are also good, I would only wish the A330 would make its presence felt in Manila more often, not just on SQ916 and SQ921.  It offers so much in the way of comfort and entertainment.  Without a doubt, I can say that this was the “fastest” Manila-Singapore flight I ever experienced.

INTERMISSION: CHANGI AIRPORT STOPOVER

Although arriving at our destination on the dot (not early) is normally a good thing, it only meant that we will be subject to a tight connection on this occasion.  We had theoretically 60 minutes to wrap up our affairs.  


Changi Airport Terminal 3 Signs
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Changi Airport Terminal 3
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Having said that, I was reminded not to rely on probabilities because in the end, what mattered was either something would or happen.  And if the unlikely were to happen, a person will have to bear the full brunt of it.  That was manifested on this journey because although SQ921 was used to almost always arriving at Terminal 3, that was not the case this time.  To make matters worse, our arrival gate was on far end of the F gates of Terminal 2, and the gate of the next flight was at the B concourse.  On another note, the arrival at Changi’s Terminal 2 on this occasion also means that I wouldn’t have a perfect streak of entirely using Terminal 3 of the airports involved in this journey (we departed Manila using Terminal 3, would depart Singapore using terminal 3 and will arrive at Heathrow Terminal 3).  

We gathered a trolley and headed for the Skytrain.  The flight monitors were saying that the status for our flight read “gate open”.  We missed the first train so we had to wait for the next one in 5 minutes.  Once we got off, we asked for help on how to sort my mom’s return flight because the second leg was of her return journey still on wait list.  Unfortunately the transfer desk was not able to help us on this occasion.  

Shops at Changi Airport Terminal 3
Image by hybridace101


Despite the tight time remaining, my mom headed for some of the stores to buy something.  I took a few pictures and accessed the WiFi network on my mobile phone.  Too bad none of them included a photo of myself.

Right before proceeding to the gate, we passed by the area where we can play for a chance to become a millionaire.  Unfortunately we were not lucky on this occasion but our entry was carried over to the draw at the end of the month.

More shops at Changi Airport Terminal 3
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More shops at Changi Airport Terminal 3
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Changi Airport has a habit of displaying status messages like “final call” or even “gate closing” as early as 40 minutes left before the scheduled departure time.  This put us under greater but unnecessary pressure than the actual time remaining before the gates were due to close.   

PART TWO: SQ322 from SINGAPORE to LONDON

Photo Credits: Terence Ong/Wikimedia
Flight Number: SQ322
Gate: B4
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Scheduled Departure Time: 23:30
Aircraft Registration: 9V-SKF

We arrived at the gate about 20 minutes before departure.  Security was quick.  I hoped to sit down first and try to upload this trip report from my laptop as I would be without internet access for more than half a day afterwards.  

Despite the harassment of time I described earlier, one thing I looked forward to was that I would be seated on the upper deck.  This is significant because it was configured 2-4-2 rather than the 3-4-3.  Moreover, there were fewer economy class passengers on this section.  

The actual flight path would be different from this as it would avoid Russian Airspace
Image by hybridace101

The aerobridge had the same upper deck entrance for business class and upper deck economy class passengers.  As we entered, I asked the cabin crew if the flight was full, he said it was, 100%.  Business class seemed to be fully occupied.  I also chanced upon some business class passengers already in bedroom clothes.  It was also difficult at first to find storage for our hand luggage and the cabin crew helped us.

Once we settled, we departed the gate more than 15 minutes after our scheduled departure time.  We took off past midnight.  So much for the pressure to haul us into the flight at Changi Airport.  While waiting for take off, I continued to watch the documentary I started watching during the previous flight.  Just as the take off from Manila, I listened to tracks from the World Cup’s sound track at take off from Changi. 

SIA's Economy Class on the Upper Deck of an A380
Image by hybridace101
After the seat belt sign was switched off, the cabin crew came by serving us a choice of beverage (between juice, wine and water) and peanuts.  I asked for two more packs of peanuts and finished them quickly.  They also handed us a basic amenity kit with socks, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Givenchy basic amenity kit for SIA's Economy Class passengers
Image by hybridace101
Image by hybridace101
Not so long from then, we were going to have supper.  I did not realise we had three choices despite reading the menu.  I opted for the chicken supper with steam rice.  Like the meal on the previous flight, I found it really filling.  Crackers with cheese and bread were also provided, which I finished in no time.  

Main Course for Supper: Wok Fried Chicken and Bamboo Shoots in Sesame Oil
with Chinese Vegetables and Steamed Rice
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As much as I wanted to finish the dessert, the passenger beside me wanted to locate his own power socket.  So I had to give way to the cabin crew to help him locate it.  Unfortunately, while the crew understood each passenger/seat should have one to himself, they found out that on this aircraft, it the socket was shared.  I rather found this bizarre because the seats in front had one power socket per seat.  

The WiFi provider on this flight was OnAir, which is also the same provider for Philippine Airlines (PAL).  However, unlike PAL’s plans which allow for time-based plans, SIA’s plans are by the amount of data consumed.  Putting it in perspective, PAL charges $40 (£23) for an unlimited plan whereas SIA charges almost $30 (£17) for 30MB of data.  That barely allows you to upload or view 10 photos on Instagram.  It seems like the cabin crew were a bit confused because one of them told me they had vouchers but no WiFi service on the A380 whereas the other said that there were no vouchers at all and that we should use our payment card, which I did.  I tried a $6 (£3.50) plan which gave me 5MB.  I had to disable automatic (push) updates for apps though emails still flooded in automatically.

On Air Portal as seen from Laptop
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Taking photographs became challenging after the first meal service.  The cabin lights were gradually dimmed.  Within three hours, lights were turned off.  Perhaps this is one disadvantage of night flights.  The sun would rise in the UK after landing so the only source of light we would be getting would be from the cabin itself.  It also became challenging as passengers on this full flight were sleeping and the glare of flash near their faces would the last thing they want to experience too.

SIA's dimmed Economy Class cabin on the upper deck of its Airbus A380
Image by hybridace101
From time to time I checked on how the lower deck was but didn't go any further than where the crew's jump seats were located.

SIA's Economy Class on the lower deck of its Airbus A380
Image by hybridace101  
During the first half of the flight, I watched two films: The Lego Movie and Veronica Mars.  Between and within each of these films, I took a break and even dozed off.  After the Veronica Mars film, I realised that we were near the halfway mark.  By then, I hardly knew where to proceed.  In fact, the IFE was competing for my attention vis-a-vis other things to do: writing this flight report in real-time, getting some shut eye, walking around.   

Airshow/moving map interface found on SIA's A380 showing aircraft over UAE
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The flight path indicated that we were just above Dubai.  At this point, it became clear that we were to avoid Russian airspace altogether and we know the reasons for this.  However, the tentative flight time was slightly shorter than our previous Singapore-London flight by 5 minutes.  

Lays for midnight snack
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During that time, I opted to take a sort-of midnight snack (it was midnight in Britain anyway).  I chose to have crisps from Lays and figured that I had to take advantage of it as it would be the lat time I would see it.  After that quick bite, I headed over to the toilet, washed up and brushed my teeth.  I knew that I needed to spent 2.5-3 hours doing some shut eye afterwards, I was on and off with quick naps.  

A380 Emergency Exits
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SIA's Economy Class on the lower deck of its Airbus A380
Image by hybridace101  
SIA's Economy Class on the lower deck of its Airbus A380
Image by hybridace101  

Shortly afterwards, I watched another video, Veep starring Julia Lewis-Dreyfus.  I also had a chance to listen to more audio from my own collection as well as come up with a customised playlist using the in-house collection.  

SIA's Economy Class on the upper deck of the A380
Image by hybridace101
Two and a half hours before the landing, the lights were slowly coming back.  It was the sign that breakfast was upon us.  They of course served those with special dietary needs.  Then it was my turn.  I ordered for breakfast the poached egg.  As a bonus, it came with bread rolls, cereals, fruits and a muffin.  I knew I was going to take as much time as possible to finish what I could.  Normally it would be either cereals or a real meal, not both, hence this meal was made extra filling.

Breakfast: Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce, Pork Sausage, Grilled Tomato and Potatoes
Image by hybridace101
While having breakfast, I watched an episode of the award-winning TV series “The Little Nonya”.  I watched a second episode of the same series too when the cabin crew started to collect the headsets.  Fortunately the programme was subtitled into English so I was able to follow the remainder of it.  It was a testament to how much the breadth of SIA’s IFE collection has improved over the last time I flew long-haul with that carrier. 

SIA's Economy Class on upper deck of the A380
Image by hybridace101

I also observed dawn breaking in the final stretch of the flight.  I felt refreshed to see some semblance of daylight after more than 18 hours of flying.  I was also hoping it would symbolise the good start as I will spend the better part of three years in Britain. 

Final Approach to Heathrow
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We were descending in no time.  Although initially the pilots told us we were to land at 6, they came back with news that we would land at about 5.55, which was more or less or scheduled arrival flight.  We watched the outside from our window as the A380 was on final approach to Heathrow.  

Landing at Heathrow as seen from our vantage point
Image by hybridace101
We landed more or less on time and it took 5 minutes to reach our gate.  However, a few more minutes passed by before passengers actually disembarked.  I could see from my vantage point that this also applied to business class passengers.  When they did, we had to wait as well.  In the meantime, the cabin crew handed back to us our bags which they stowed on their cabinets.  We had a good chat with neighbouring passengers about what brought each of us to Britain on this occasion.   When I brought up that I was from the Philippines, they also pointed out that they knew Filipinos from their side of town.

SIA Economy Class Seats on upper deck of the A380
Image by hybridace101
As we disembarked, we got to chance upon the business class seats used on long haul flights.  SIA's long-haul business class products are known to be some of the widest in the industry.

SIA's Long Haul Business Class aboard A380
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SIA's Long Haul Business Class aboard A380
Image by hybridace101

RATINGS FOR THE SECOND FLIGHT
These are rated from 1 to 10 with ten being the best score. This covers aspects of the flight experience that SIA and its ground agents are responsible for with a focus on Economy Class.
  • Boarding Process (8/10): We boarded rather quickly but I still take issue with the fact Changi Airport likes to pressure us by putting the sign “Gate Closing” as early as 35 minutes before departure.
  • Seat Comfort (9/10): It was a standard economy class seat.  Recline was reasonable and even if it had almost the same attributes as the seat, 
  • Food (10/10): Just as in the first flight, the chicken meal made me want more of it.  Breakfast was equally filling, so much so that I hardly knew where to begin.   
  • Cabin Crew (9/10):  The crew was generally warm, polite and helpful.  However, I felt that some of them were a bit clueless as to how the WiFi and electronics on board the flight worked.
  • Punctuality (9/10): We were slightly delayed upon departure.  We arrived more or less on schedule. 
  • In-flight Entertainment (9/10): Just as in the first flight, we had a fully-stocked IFE collection that I hardly knew which programme to begin.  However I took some issue as parts of the videos playing on screen briefly stuttered every now and then, even the safety video which played to everyone experienced such issues.
The one small complaint I had was the tight transit time of 70 minutes.  Now this is fine if the transit airport is uneventful anyway and   As I said, this amount of time does not do justice to let the passenger experience for himself the wonders of Changi airport.  I wish this A380 flight I was on was timed to depart later to allow us to breathe and “save the best for last”.  

I also realised on this SIA journey one added advantage of flying with a stopover.  That is passengers will get an extra meal.  Although carriers like PAL have three meals (since their Manila-London flight was ultra long-haul anyway), this won’t always be the case in PAL’s Manila-US flights.  By taking another carrier like Cathay, we can get at least three opportunities to be fed on a long journey.  

POST-DISEMBARKATION AT HEATHROW
It took more than 5 minutes for us to get from the gate to passport control.  There was a separate lane for students arriving in the UK.  We spent less than 15 minutes queuing.  Once it was my turn, clearance was rather quick.

It took some time before we got our baggage.  I had difficulty even recognising what our bags were.  After we sorted that, we went to the toilets to freshen up.  This took 10 more minutes.  Customs was also a quick

I was surprised that WiFi wasn’t working where we were.  I was hoping to upload parts of this trip report at the airport but that would have to wait for at least four more hours.  

We headed for the central bus station.  We purchased tickets to Bristol and the next coach was leaving in less than 15 minutes.   The 2-hour ride to Bristol began, and so did spending the better part of three years in the UK.     

One final note.  Manila is not the only city on SIA’s network where SIA is getting a new home this month.  SIA will also be moving to the newly-built Terminal 2 on September 17.  Billed as the “Queen’s Terminal”, the new facility will house most carriers from the Star Alliance network operating in Heathrow.  SIA and Star Alliance boast that it will feature 66 self-service machines designed to streamline the check-in process for economy class.  My mom will experience the convenience of the new facility on September 20, but since I am going to based in the UK for a few more years, my turn will just have to wait.

-HybridAce101