Singapore Airlines Flight Review: Manila to Singapore (2012)

Throwback Thursday Trip Report: Singapore Airlines (January 20, 2012)

The year 2012 marked the fourth consecutive year that I visited Singapore. Having been to the island-state just eight months earlier, I was desperate to match my number of trips to Singapore with the number of trips I have made to Hong Kong, which already stood at eight. To make the pot sweeter, this was my third consecutive trip to the island state aboard the multi-awarded five-star carrier, Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Image by Juergen Lehle/Wikimedia
I was headed to Singapore to enjoy the Lunar New Year as celebrated in Singapore. This was the first time in recent memory that the Lunar New Year was declared a public holiday in the Philippines, hence giving me additional time-off.

I booked the trip over the phone and over the counter at Singapore Airlines' ticket offices in Makati. I had to do this because I don’t like the added bureaucracy at the airport of having to queue to pay TIEZA tax since it is not included for tickets purchased in the Philippines.

This was my first SIA flight in which I would accrue Kris Flyer miles. However, despite the cost and despite being a five-star carrier, the Kris Flyer program seemed to be quite stingy in regards to mileage-accruable fares. In fact, Kris Flyer Silver members are not even entitled to a priority lane at check-in or priority boarding.

I chose SQ921 because the added sight of a lie flat business class seat on this regional route was also a bonus, even if I would not actually sit there. However, to maximise time on my last day in Singapore, I later changed the return flight to SQ918, which was the last flight of the day.


Choosing to fly on the last outbound flight enabled me to not miss a day of work. After finishing my day of work, I went home for a quick shower and then left the house close to 4 pm in order to arrive at Terminal 1 just past 5 pm.

Realising I had limited time to wrap-up airport formalities, I was grateful for booking my flight through the ticket office asI no longer had to queue to pay the TIEZA tax. It also helped that Singapore Airlines provided a separate desk for those who checked in online. In addition, I had no bags to drop. Passport control and security also went rather quickly.

NAIA Terminal 1 Flight boards
Image by hybridace101
Given the tight time remaining, I did not spend much time in the shopping area. I did not have enough Philippine Pesos on hand and with no cash machines airside, I was unable to grab a bite to eat.  Shortly after security check, I proceeded to the gate.

TIP: Establishments in NAIA, particularly eateries that sell quick bites, are not known to accept debit and credit cards.  Not even foreign currencies are accepted here.  


Flight Number: SQ921
Gate: 4
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Scheduled Departure Time: 18:50 
Seat: 43C

I normally board Singapore Airlines at gate 6.  However, for some reason, we used gate 4 this time.  

Image by hybridace101

Somewhere along the way, I found out that the flight was to be delayed. We waited in the holding area for quite a while. Finally, my row was called and I was on my way to board.

As I entered the aircraft, my hunch was right. SQ921 was using the 777-200ER's normally reserved for long-haul flights. However, it was still a packed flight. Although I was used to sitting in front, row 43 was as close to it as I got. Nonetheless, I still got to sit in an aisle seat.

As we prepared for departure, the flight was further delayed and we ended up departing almost an hour behind schedule.

SIA's IFE interface on 777-200ERs
Image by hybridace101
SIA's IFE controller on-board 777-200ERs, reverse side is a telephone
Image by hybridace101
When the seat belt sign was switched on, I checked the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The first thing I noticed was that the IFE interface of this particular 777 was updated to match the IFE interface found in aircraft delivered in 2006 onwards. Although it generally worked well, I can’t help but notice that it was a bit slow in responding. I have to admit that I was a bit drawn to the children’s selection for a while, especially the music provided.

One complaint I had about the IFE on this particular aircraft was that the moving map or airshow channel was not integrated into the audio playlist we set up for ourselves. Instead, as we viewed the moving map, the audio that was played came from one of the rolling audio channels. Nonetheless I found it useful to view the airshow and enjoyed some of the music in the playlist we set up. I also did not have access to my favourite game in SIA’s IFE system: Super Mario World, which is ironically found on SIA’s older IFE systems along with other Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) titles.

After arriving in Singapore and clearing passport control, I was due to meet a friend at Singapore’s Budget Terminal. However, as the flight was delayed, I had to contact her as soon as possible to notify her of the delay. It gave me a perfect (but expensive) excuse to use the flight’s telephone. Each passenger had access to a telephone, which is on the reverse side of their own IFE controls. I managed to wrap up the call in one minute.

TIP: If you happen to be on one of SIA’s older aircraft, you may be able to make phone calls. They are however expensive as you pay US$6 (£3.60) per minute to any destination in the world and a connection fee close to that amount. However, you can also use this to contact members of your travelling party sitting in a distant seat for no charge.

As I did not get to eat at the airport, I was so looking forward to dinner. As always, I chose the chicken option. It was going to be the first full meal that I had during the entire day. Luckily, it was all worth it and delicious.

Image by hybridace101
As I got around to take photos of the flight, the in-flight supervisor called my attention. He requested that I delete one of the photos that portrayed the flight attendants at work. I told him that I was only taking photos of the seats, not the staff or passengers directly.

SIA Economy Class Seats on board 777-200ER
 Image by hybridace101
SIA Economy Class Seats on board 777-200ER
 Image by hybridace101
The rest of the flight passed by uneventfully.  I used the time to watch some random videos found on the IFE system, even for just a few minutes.  In the last 45 minutes of the flight, the information for connecting flights was displayed. Although SQ921 traditionally lands most frequently at Terminal 3, I found that this particular flight would unluckily disembark at Terminal 2.

TIP: Singapore Airlines does not give a definite arrival terminal for its flights arriving at Changi Airport.  However, you can tell where you are most likely to dock by the type of aircraft: Terminal 2 if you are using a regional 777 or Terminal 3 if you are using an A380, Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 777-300ER and A340-500.  It will be tougher to identify the arrival terminal assignment of an A330 or a reconfigured regional 777-200.

SIA Moving Map/Airshow
Image by hybridace101
The captain made his second announcement as we neared Singapore. It meant that descent was to commence shortly. When the seatbelt sign was switched on, it also meant that Kris World would be shut off entirely, removing access to the moving map.

In 5-10 minutes, we were finally on the ground. It was more or less all too routine. Before I disembarked, I took one or two more photos.

SIA Economy Class Seats on board 777-200ER
Image by hybridace101
SIA Economy Class Seats on board 777-200ER
Image by hybridace101


Unlike the last two trips, I cleared passport control at Terminal 2. I think one reason why I did it here was that there was easier access to the budget terminal. Arrival clearance procedures were uneventful, and the desks were stocked with the usual welcome candies from Fox’s. The terminal also had decorations connected to the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Realising that my friend would by flying to Manila soon, I proceeded to the Budget terminal, which was around 5 minutes away by shuttle bus. It was my first time in the facility. We had a good chat and dinner at McDonald's. Just like Terminal 2, the Budget Terminal also had decorations reminding us of Singapore's upcoming holiday.

When it was time for my friend to board her flight, it was also time for me to return to Terminal 2. Upon my return, I booked my shuttle transport to my accommodation but had to wait almost an hour. It was already past midnight and I noticed that the check in desks upstairs were empty. The lighting was dimmed and I waited at a coffee shop. Fortunately, Wifi was provided to keep me occupied.

TIP: If you are staying at a major hotel/hostel in Singapore, you can save on transport by booking a hotel shuttle.  Although it is a shared ride, it costs approximately S$9 (£4.50) and takes a little over 30 minutes.  

Changi Terminal 2 at late night
Image by hybridace101
Changi Airport Terminal 2 at late night
Image by hybridace101
I later boarded my shuttle and it arrived at my hostel way past 1 am. With that, my seventh trip to Singapore had begun.


These are rated from 1 to 10 with ten being the best score. This covers aspects of the flight experience that Singapore Airlines and its ground agents are responsible for with a focus on Economy Class.
  • Check-in (9/10): It was a good thing those who previously checked in online are still given a separate lane to continue the process. Though I consider it an unnecessary hassle to proceed to this desk since our credit card was already seen by staff at SIA's Makati ticket office.
  • Boarding Process (8/10): It was generally quite orderly. SIA is relatively hierarchical about who is to board first.  Unlike other carriers where special-needs passengers are first to board, premium passengers (i.e. First, Business Class and PPS Club) have absolute first dibs here.
  • Seat Comfort (9/10): As usual, the seat I was in reminded me of a slimmed-down version of the regional business class seat used in other carriers. Recline was pretty standard but comfortable contour nonetheless.   
  • Food (10/10): As always, SIA knows how to provide passengers with a delicious meal.  It certainly didn't disappoint me taking this as my first full meal of the day. 
  • Cabin Crew (8/10):  I did not have much to say about the crew.  Though some of them seemed to take passenger-taken photographs featuring them quite seriously.  
  • Punctuality (5/10): We were simply delayed by nearly an hour from schedule.  In a way, it was a blessing since I came with almost an hour left to the scheduled departure but still a delay on boarding and a delay at the tarmac meant that something had to be done.
  • In-flight Entertainment (6/10): The audio-video on demand technology was worth tinkering. However, the fact that one can't listen to the playlist constructed using the in-house music simultaneously as viewing the airshow made the former feature slightly useless. The collection, whilst adequate for a 3-hour flight could not rival what Cathay Pacific offers on a similar leg.  
Disclaimer: The information in this review was current as of the date of travel. However, many changes may have occurred since.


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