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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Passenger Farewell Flight (Part 2: HKG-SIN)

Welcome to my return Farewell Flight on Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Part 2! 

I hope you enjoy this report as much as I do. Please feel free to leave any comments.

*Photos are credited to the respective photographers from airliners.net. 

For my part 1: Click here!

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 9V-SPQ

The first flight was fantastic, but was this flight any better? Read on to find out. The turnaround flight was slightly less than 2 hours, I managed to sneak out to meet my friend, Kenny for a short while before heading back to the gate via the dreaded immigration and security. Surprisingly, the whole process was fast and I managed to spend about 20 mins at the gate before boarding. At the boarding gate, I was delighted to meet up with one of my favourite photographers, Sam Chui. His trip reports and photos are top notches!

Met up with some other local spotters that I had not seen for a long time. It was like a reunion gathering and it was strange to see SQ doing a farewell flight on the airline's biggest rival's territory. Anyway, here are some of the photos taken at the check-in counter and also the celebration at SQ's boarding gate.

Singapore girls! This uniform has been used for so many years. 

The Queen of the sky was being prepared and refilled for the return flight. 

Soon, it was time to board. It was an emotional moment as it was going to be our last time boarding SQ's Boeing 747-400 (Queen of the sky). I waited for a while for others to board first before making my way to the aircraft.

The Boeing 747-400 may not be my top aircraft, but it holds a lot of memories for me. Flew many times with SQ's 747-400 when I was younger and I was so bored flying on the same type that I asked my mum whether we could fly on another airline or aircraft type. Thinking about it, I was quite silly back then. SQ's Boeing 747-400 has brought me safely to many destinations and even though I had only flown on First-class once, I felt very lucky to have flown on this beauty regardless of what class I was on. It is not just a popular aircraft with the airline and pilots, it is also popular among the aviation enthusiast. Boeing's 747 product came a long way since the 1970s and the introduction of the Boeing 747-400 in 1989 had only made it even more popular for the 747 families. Singapore Airlines had ordered a sizeable number of Boeing 747-400s ranging from 9V-SMA to 9V-SMZ and 9V-SPA to SPQ. Later on, 9V-SPR was leased from Malaysia Airlines for a brief period of time. Trying counting for yourself how many 747-400 did SQ operate? Now Boeing (July 2014) is still selling the Boeing 747, the -8 version, unfortunately only a few airlines ordered it. The Airbus A380 has dominated the VLA (Very Large Aircraft Market) and with the launch of the Boeing 777-8/-9X, the future of the Boeing 747-8I looks bleak.

Soon after, I made my way to the aircraft.

The aviation icon, Sam Chui was posing for the camera! 

Carrier: Singapore Airlines
Flight number: 748
Date: 6th April 2012
Routing: HKG-SIN (via MNL)
Seat number: 45K
Aircraft type: Boeing 747-412
My 14th ride on this aircraft type and 7th airline to have flown on this aircraft type
3rd onboard 9V-SPQ (including airshow visit)
Engines: 4x PW4056
Line number: 1289
Plane delivered: 31-10-2001
Registration: 9V-SPQ (To become EI-XLO, Transaero)
Flight Duration: 4 hrs 5 mins
Scheduled departure time: 1445
Actual departure time: 1445(pushed back)
Scheduled arrival time: 1930
Actual arrival time: 1900
Load factor: 90%
Departure gate: C25
Arrival gate: B7 (Terminal 3)
Departure runway: 07R
Arrival runway: 20R

This time around, I didn't take too many interior photos. Since I had the window seat, I took window shots and a video of the takeoff and landing. As this flight was full, I sat beside 2 Hong Kong passengers who are from the Hong Kong Media. Anyway, once everyone settled down, the doors were closed and armed and the plane was pushed back and face the direction of runway 25L. I guess most of us were just treasuring every moment of the flight. The personal TV was of no interest to me and I switched it only to the flight map on both flights, to watch its progress. Tears did roll down my cheek as the engines started roaring to life and flaps were configured for taking off. I was having the last hope of a cannon salute but was left disappointed. I saw some ground staff taking photos of our aircraft and soon we started our taxi to the active runway, every minute felt like seconds and before we knew it. The plane was at the runway 25L. We were at the holding point for a few minutes before SQ's 747-400 last take-off took place seconds later.

The takeoff was powerful and surprisingly smooth despite the weather is cloudy. I watched quietly with my camera in hand, enjoying every bit of this historic moment. I know I would still fly on the B747-400, but certainly not in SQ colours again. Very glad I managed to get this window seat. I had forgotten to mention this earlier when I was choosing my seats for this flight, there was only this window seat available. (Thank God!) How lucky I was!

Anyway, the same activities that were done on the last flight, were repeated on this flight. There were quite a number of new faces on board the SQ748. Most of them had stayed in HK for at least a couple of nights. The crews were the same though and they do change duties during the flight. Kudos to the SQ staffs on board for working hard throughout the flight, keeping us entertain and well-informed. I was kind of disappointed to hear that the duration was shorter on this route back and also meant no chance of a flyover anywhere.

It was time for everyone to explore the aircraft, I didn't know that J and F class cabins were accessible for everyone until then. I spent more time in both classes to experience both products and did some catching up with some old friends.

J class cabin 

First Class Cabin

It was really fun walking around the business class chatting with Mr Mak and a few others along the way. To make it even better for us, the weather had been extremely kind to us, no bad turbulence at all on both flights which was what I afraid most as every minute and seconds matter to us. Anyway, soon I had to make my way back to my seat as the meals were going to serve at that point. Looking at the manual, I was a bit disappointed to be getting the same choices. Anyway, I took the fish this time and it turned out to be disappointing, the beef was much better.

This was where I sat.

One of the best in-flight meals I had! Absolutely delicious. 

Another thing that I noticed that on both flights was the crews took quite some time to collect the tray, and as you know to an aviation enthusiast on board, time is precious. Once the trays were cleared, I got out of my seat and made my way to the front of the aircraft. It was very happening in the front of the cabin, apparently, most SQtalkers were over there including the famous Isabel.

Waves of laughter were heard throughout the cabin as most of us were in a jovial mood, introducing ourselves and also chatting about Singapore Airlines, the Boeing 747-400 and the future of the company. Great conversation, that's for sure and also not forgetting the photos. It feels great to be in business or first class in-flight and I had fun trying these seats out.

Trying out the F class seat, was it comfortable? Definitely, yes!

Time passed by so fast that when the Captain announced that the aircraft had started descending. Voices of disappointment could be heard and just like them, I wished the flight could go on longer, many rounds around Indonesia Airspace, that would be great! That showed how much all of us had enjoyed the experience so far. Tears starting flowing down my cheek, as our plane started our descend. Looking out of the window, treasuring every second.

This flight has to be one of the most emotional flights, for the last 20 minutes of the flight, I could only stare out of the window in tears. I didn't want the 747 flights to end. Unfortunately, it has to happen.

The flight may be over, but the memory of both flights will remain with us for the rest of our lives. At least I live to tell the younger generation that I was one of the passengers on board SQ747/748 flights.

Once the plane reached the gate, engines were switched off and most passengers got their things and went off. I wanted a cockpit visit, so decided to wait for most passengers to alight. I asked for permission from one of the SQ staff who was very nice enough to take me to the upper deck. A big thank you to the pilots for accommodating us. As there were a number of us, we queue up and waited for our turn. I had taken some shots of the cockpit, but unfortunately, due to someone who kept bumping into me, my shots turned out to be blurry.

I would like to take this chance to say a big thank you to my friend to Singapore Airlines for organising this farewell trip and the wonderful gift bag. It was certainly not an easy event to arrange and I think the airline deserves a round of applause from all of us. Credit also goes to the SQ crews who did a beautiful performance at the boarding gate at both airports, the ground staff and cabin crew who did very well on board and on the ground. The usual similes from the Singapore girls warmed me up definitely. The sight of 9V-SPQ at the gate would probably be my last time seeing in SQ colours, it will definitely serve well for Transaero, that's for sure. 9V-SPQ, you will always be in my heart, no matter where you are and whatever registration you are in. You brought me nothing but wonderful memories on both of these 2 flights and in the Singapore Airshow a few months ago.

Rating for both flights: A

I hope you enjoy my trip report and thank you for reading.

For part 1, click here!

Best Regards,