Monday, November 23, 2015

Singapore Airlines First Class on the Boeing 777-300 : SQ238 Melbourne to Singapore


FLIGHT
SQ238
AIRLINE
Singapore Airlines
ROUTE
Melbourne to Singapore
GATE DEPARTURE
11.30 (Scheduled) / 11.39 (Actual)
GATE ARRIVAL
16.10 (Scheduled) / 16.10 (Actual)
FLYING TIME
7 hrs 11 minutes airborne
AIRCRAFT
Boeing 777-300 9V-SYI (Age 11 years)

It's been quite a while since I flew with Singapore Airlines so it was quite exciting to be flying with them again, especially in First Class. I took this flight as part of a series of flights to get to London from Melbourne on a trip I took recently.

This first sector is the late morning service out of Melbourne, SQ238, operated by the older Boeing 777-300's. It is one of 4 daily flights that Singapore Airlines operate to Melbourne and the aircraft today was 9V-SYI, an 11 year old bird and one of 7 of it's type in the SQ fleet. These aircraft have 8 first class seats which are almost the same as those installed on the B777-300ER fleet, as well as 50 regional angled lie flat business class seats and 226 economy class seats. All up the aircraft seats 284 people.

I arrived at the airport around 9.45am and checked in at the first class counter. Since I was continuing on to Hong Kong I was issued two boarding passes. The economy class lines were fairly busy since the service was fully booked in economy, but things went along quickly for those with priority checkin. I was given an express pass and sent on my way. 

Once through passport control and security I headed into the depths of the airport and found the Krisflyer lounge, I was welcomed into the first class side which is off to the left after reception.

First Class Lounge Food and Drinks



The first class lounge is really fairly ordinary to be honest. It is quite small, has comfortable seats and reasonable decor but it is quite dull and the food options were pretty awful.  Very basic sandwiches and pastries with self serve drinks. The champagne was Moet which is ok but doesn't feel particularly first class. Since it is below the departures level and only has internal walls around it, there is no view whatsoever. It's certainly not somewhere I would recommend arriving early for. In fact, arrive as late as you possibly can and just enjoy the onboard service instead.

First Class Lounge Seating

The dark lounge with no views
Just after 11am it was time to board, and there is no need to return upstairs from the lounge as there is direct access to the Gate 11 boarding area from this lower level lounge zone. Although we had been told boarding was under way when leaving the lounge, it in fact was yet to commence. After about a 5 minute wait we were allowed on and I was warmly greeted and escorted to seat 1A. Here are a few views of the cabin:

Looking across at the centre seats from 1A

The very spacious 8 seat cabin

People travelling in pairs may enjoy these seats

Looking back at 2A from 1A

The Krisword System
A short note about the Krisworld entertainment system. The software on the 777-300 is quite old and the screen resolutions is quite low, so don't expect HD movies and a super fast and up to date user interface. There is still an extensive selection of movies, tv shows and music to choose from though.

Stowage areas at your feet



Menu's are provided in folders at every seat, here is today's very extensive lunch and drinks menu:


















As I was seated I was offered a choice of either Dom Perignon or Krug Champagne for my pre takeoff drink, Krug it would be for me!


Salvatore Ferragamo men's amenity kits were handed out, they contained a decent sized bottle of perfume, along with after shave and lip balm.



Separately I was handed socks, eye shades and slippers which are available in various sizes. Singapore Airlines have large ones which fit my size 12 feet, unlike those handed out on Etihad.

Under the arm rest are the seat controls and handset...


The seat is extremely wide, perhaps it is too wide. There is nowhere to really put your other arm if you rest it on the arm rest. To alleviate this a large leather cushion is provided.  The seat does not recline into a bed (the bed flips over instead) - so there is only a limited amount of recline, but I found it fairly comfortable for dining and watching TV.

The inflight supervisor came over to introduce himself and told me there would be just 3 of us flying in first today and to let them know if I needed anything at all. The flight attendant came to ask what I would like to drink after takeoff, I advised that I would keep going with the Krug.

At 11.39am, 9 minutes behind schedule, we pushed back and headed for Runway 16. Soon we were climbing into the clear blue skies and it wasn't long before my champagne and some nuts were served...




The flight attendant serving me was super attentive, my glass was simply NEVER allowed to be empty. I was constantly being checked on to make sure everything was as I wanted. I started watching Mission Impossible but I found the screen quality quite poor. I decided to just watch a series of TV sitcoms instead.

The lunch service commenced with the table being set:


The meal started with a choice between a seared sword fish or the traditional caviar service, I decided to go with the caviar:


I am by no means an expert on caviar, but it did seem to be better than what I have been served on Thai in their first class, but again, I can't be sure that it actually IS better.

Next up it was time for the soup course...


There was again a choice, either a pumpkin or a clear chicken soup. I opted for the chicken and I was not disappointed, it was hot and full of delicious flavour and nice chunks of chicken.


I was drinking the 2012 Kooyong Chardonnay at this point, a nice wine from close to Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. It's a nice wine and one that I have purchased previously from the cellar door, so I knew I liked it. It retails at around $40 (AUD) a bottle, so it's a reasonably high end but probably something I think was more of a business class standard wine.

Next up I had the salad which comes with a choice of dressing:


I should mention that of course my bread supply was constantly available to be topped up, I particularly enjoyed the garlic bread.

For my main course I had the wagyu sirloin along with a glass of the Clonakilla O'Riada Shiraz from Canberra, Australia.


I thought the presentation was quite good and the taste was delicious. It came with some nice sides of red capsicum and braised red cabbage. The meat  was nicely cooked and the herb butter went beautifully with it. The Shiraz was quite nice as well, it also retails at about $40 a bottle, just like the chardonnay I had been enjoying beforehand. To maximise value, stick to the Krug :)

I finished with the panna cotta:


I was of course offered the cheese course as well, but I was simply too full to partake in that. I did have a cup of coffee though. I ordered a cappuccino and it was served with a chocolate, offered from a box. It wasn't the greatest tasting cappuccino, but it was perfectly drinkable.


All in all, a superb meal. The service throughout was outstanding, I was really well looked after and I felt like a superstar. I suppose the fact there was only 3 out of 8 with 3 crew working in First class, so I suppose there is no excuse for poor service in that situation!

The other bonus was that with 2 first class lavatories and only 3 passengers, there was never any need to queue for the toilet! After lunch with a full belly of delicious food and wine, I was naturally quite tired. So I asked the flight attendant to prepare my bed whilst I changed into a pair of the provided pyjamas:


As you can see the bed is nice and wide with a nice big duvet and fluffy pillows.  The bed is made by actually flipping the seat over, making a nice flat surface, then a mattress pad is added on the top. Whilst these seats may not be as private as a 'suite' type arrangement, you do feel reasonably cocooned once in bed mode as there is a wall wrapping around where your head lies, so you don't see the people around you.

I find aircraft cabins hot, particularly when there is no personal air vents, and there is none on this aircraft. So whilst I did sleep, I found it a bit hot and stuffy. After about 2.5 hours I decided to get up and have a walk around the cabin.

Business class was quite full and on this aircraft they are angled lie flat seats, the most recent 'regional' arrangement that was introduced a few years ago.

Business Class Cabin
Economy was fully booked and looked rather crammed when I walked through the first section of the cabin. It's such a different world back there, yet its only a few metres away really:


I kept drinking champagne and decided to have a few glasses of the Dom Perignon while enjoying the refreshment service before landing. I realised pretty quickly that whilst Dom is delicious, I do prefer Krug. Isn't it great though to have a choice of either?

I opted for the Beef Kway Teow soup which came in a beautiful large bowl with a lid:



The soup was really nice with a very generous helping of beef as well. It was just right as a pre landing snack, not too heavy.

Eventually we were drawing close to Singapore and the service started wrapping up. I was loving this flight with amazing hospitality from the wonderful crew, it was sad that it was soon going to end.

Getting Close

Hazy Singapore - the smoke is from the fires in Indonesia

Arrival at T3
We made a smooth landing and headed for Terminal 3, it was time to disembark, but not before one last look at the seat I had just spent almost 8 hours in:


What a great experience it was flying with Singapore Airlines in first class. These may not be the latest and greatest seats, and the aircraft is starting to age a bit, but the service more than makes up for any shortcomings. You are treated like royalty and I was not disappointed. I was excited for the next sector, SQ2 on the new generation first class seat.


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