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Wednesday 4 May 2016

Flying Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300 (SGN-SIN)

Welcome to my Trip Report on Singapore Airlines! 

*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net 


After booking my Jetstar flight to Saigon, I wondered which airline should I fly back. Not many options for me as I had already flown the other airlines that fly on SGN-SIN route. So checking my options, Singapore Airlines came in my mind as I noticed the price for the one way dropped to U.S$117 (S$157) which isn't that bad for this star alliance airline. As some of you know, airfares with this airline can be exorbitant so when this opportunity comes along, I decided to book and to fly the airline's Airbus A330 for the 2nd time. With a fleet of more than 20 A330s, my confidence of flying another A330 (Flown 9V-STT on my previous trip, you can check out the report over here) was high.

Airline's website

Nothing fantastic about the airline's website. I still prefer the version before the previous, it is still more user-friendly than the previous and this current version. Many SQ flyers have echoed the same thoughts as me, only the management now can do something to improve the airline's website, making it more pleasant to use. 

At least for this version, it works well. 

I wasn't too happy with the choice of the seat but I knew some seats would open up a few days before departure. For cheap tickets, usually, you be assigned to the not so good seats. 

No issue with the payment as I got it done not long after. 

Mobile app (Web check-in) 

Doing the web check was not an issue, I managed to get it done and one thing good about it is even after checking in, you can still change your assigned seat. 

Changes to the booking are allowed but depending on the condition of your ticket. 

Usually, passengers get the boarding passes at the airport check-in counters especially at foreign airports.

I decided to sit a row in front of my original assigned seat.

Managed to change my seat without the need for cancelling my check-in. 

The rest of the seats were filled up quickly. Glad to have the window seats available. 

Once that was done, I was ready to fly. Do note that you can do your web check-in 48 hours before departure for Singapore Airlines.

About Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300 

Before the arrival of the A330-300 aircraft, the airline was operating many Boeing 777-200 and -300 (Non-ER) aircraft on its regional route and the management realize that some routes are too large for the 777 to fill them in and therefore transfer some of them over to its subsidiary, Silkair. Later on, the airline made the decision for fleet renewal to replace some Boeing 777-200 (regional to medium-haul routes) and -300 with Airbus A330-300 aircraft (temporary 5-6 years lease and can be extended) and Airbus A350-900/Boeing 787-10 (New aircraft in the market) later on. Once the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787-10 enter the fleet, the Airbus A330-300 will be returned to the leasing aircraft. Basically, this aircraft type (A330-300) is a temporary measure. Singapore Airlines managed to get a good deal from Airbus and later on the airline requested from both Airbus and Boeing to produce an ultra long haul aircraft that enable the airline to fly directly to the U.S from Singapore and Airbus won an order for 7 Airbus A350-900 ULR (Ultra long-range) version which the aircraft manufacturer formally launched. 

As for the original order of 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft for SQ, it was transferred to Scoot as the airline found the -9 too small for its network. In the future, the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 will operate on regional routes, the former will also fly on long haul routes making it versatile just like the Boeing 777.

Airbus A330-300 - temporary replacement 

For the Boeing 777-200ER 

The remaining Boeing 777-300 (Non-ER) will be replaced in the near future

Aircraft for the future

Airbus A350-900 (Currently 2 in the fleet, another 65 more to go) - May 2016

Boeing 787-10 (First delivery to take place in 2020)

My trip to Ho Chi Minh City - it was a memorable few days, here are some food photos were taken during my quick getaway trip. 

Japanese tempura with noodles 

Pho noodles (beef combination)

Apple cake 

Fruit Punch

On the day of departure 

For a change, I didn't have to wake up very early for the flight back to Singapore. I picked the first flight - 12.30 pm departure back as I had work in the evening. So I checked out at my regular hotel and made my way to the airport around 0930. Once at the airport, I went to the check-in counters and they were already opened. The counters were vacant so checking in was a quick affair. Once that was done, I made my way to the immigration for passport departure chop and headed for breakfast at the airside. 

Departure hall - Burger King is available at both air and landside 

For non-passengers, you can head to the 3rd floor to wait. 

The cafe here is always crowded whenever I am around. 

The interior of the international terminal 

Checking my flight's status 

Nice to see no queues at the check-in counters 

It was pretty quiet at that time

My next flight here will be with this airline once again 

Got my boarding pass 

Did a check on Flightradar24, I was disappointed that 9V-STT was the aircraft picking me up because I had flown this aircraft before. A fleet of 29 Airbus A330-300 and I had to get the same aircraft. What luck! You can check out the trip report over here.

Just took off from Changi Airport

On the way to Ho Chi Minh City 

On approach to SGN airport, it arrived quite early. 

Later on, I discovered a change of crew - I was quite surprised, no wonder the aircraft landed so early. 

I took a look at the food court level, there were lounges and a few shops to explore 

I made my way to the food court and got myself a nice bowl of Vietnamese noodles. 

I got myself a small bowl of chicken and beef noodles and a drink, this was quite expensive - U.S$8 for it. 

My aircraft was being prepared for departure

A number of duty-free shops you can't miss when walking to the departure gate 

When I arrive, my aircraft was parked at gate 19, not 20. Later on, an announcement was made regarding a gate change, from gate 20 to 19. 

The flights assigned to gate 19 for that afternoon. Changes can take place of course. 

Seats at the gate

Looking at the crowd, it looked like a full flight which was the case when I was on board. 

Flight route: SGN-SIN

Miles: 675

My ride: 9V-STT 

Date of departure: 25th April 2016
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight: SQ173
Route: SGN-SIN
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Registration: 9V-STT (leased from AerCap)
Delivered on 8th March 2013
Engines: 2 X Roll Royce Trent 772B-60
MSN: 1382
Seat: 58F
Gate: 20 changed to 19
Load: 90% and above 
Duration: 1 hour 35 mins 
Departure time: 1230
Boarding: 1153
Push back: 1222
Take off: 1228
Arrival time: 1530
Actual arrival time: 1512
Departure runway: 25L
Arrival runway: 20R

Boarding started early and the staff made sure that the priority passengers got to board the aircraft first before the economy class seating at the back to board before the rest do so. It was done in an orderly manner so everything went smoothly. Credits have to go to the staff. 

A selection of newspapers was offered 

The aero-bridge control, the staff has to be experienced and make sure it hits the mark. The last thing the staff wants is to damage any part of the aircraft. 

Another view of my aircraft 

Time to board the aircraft! 

See the small window? That is for the ground staff and cabin crew to communicate (hand signal) to open the door when ready. 

A glimpse of the Business Class cabin before I turned to the opposite direction and made my way to my seat 

Once on board, I was greeted by the Singapore Airlines flight purser and the famous Singapore girl. Not the warmest welcome, but I was shown the direction to my seat with a smile. Passing by some crew along the aisle, I was greeted by them. 

Here are some photos of the cabin

Business Class (2-2-2 configuration)

The business class on the airline's Airbus A330 reminds me of Cathay Pacific. Product is different but should be as comfortable for short-medium haul routes. 

Decent looking J class product 

SQ logo on the headrest would be great

Do note that the business class product is different from the airline's Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER. The newer cabin product is pretty good. 

Business-class (Boeing 777-300ER - 77W)

Among all the business class products out there, this one (below) is one of my favourites. I have yet to experience it, but I will one day.

The recently introduced Premium Economy Class (Airbus A350, A380 below and Boeing 777-300ER only)

Economy Class (2-4-2 seating configuration)

The seat colours of the front and rear Economy Class cabin are different. 

IFE Screen on every seat - that's expected when flying on SQ's aircraft. More information on the IFE system on the later part of the trip report. 

Managed to snap some photos of the cabin before the rest of the passengers appeared. 

The rear cabin, prefer this colour combination - gives a very warm feeling 

Seat pitch is 32' inch if I am not wrong. The seat is quite comfortable with decent legroom space, so no problem for medium-haul flights. However, I find the seat width a bit narrow for my liking, perhaps because of the body size my seatmate and myself.

The male purser at the rear assisting a couple of passengers 

Pleasant looking cabin. The Airbus A330 Y class cabin is best fitted with 2-4-2 configuration, not 3-3-3. For that, you can check out my trip report over here with Cebu Pacific.

My window seat, not so much of a worry when flying on Airbus aircraft. 

The overhead storage compartment is pretty small 

Every seat has a pillow on it, I think the blanket is available upon request. For longer duration flights, blankets may be provided. 

A few more photos of the cabin 

For 2-4-2 configuration, there is no middle seat. Great for the passengers but bad for the bean counters at the airline's office. 

Photo view from my seat. Meal service was in progress at this time. 

Making my way out! 

IFE system wasn't shut down at all so passengers could watch their movies from the departure gate to the arrival gate. 

More photos of my seat 

I like the layout. You have everything you need. The AC power socket is located below the seat. (forgot to take the photo). 

Decent legroom space 

Drink holder 

 Overhead panel 

The earpiece was provided at every seat 

I am certainly a big fan of the colour combination 

The tray holder (foldable) which includes a mirror!

Remote control 

Lots of pockets for you to place your personal items in it. Do not forget to take them when you leave the aircraft!

Earpiece - average quality 

It's located at the hand rest (right side) 

While waiting for departure, a hot towel was provided. 

In-Flight Entertainment System 

I have to say I was quite disappointed with the IFE system, guess I am spoilt by the latest ones out there. The touch screen - could move the cursor but cannot open up the application, so I had to use the keypad which I dislike. Often I keyed in the wrong button, ending up where I least expect to be. 

2 languages only - pretty strange 

The flight route map was poor, comparing to the other top airlines. 

Choice of movies was disappointing, most of them were unknown to me. 

Almost home! 

At least the IFE entertainment system was available from the departure gate to the arrival gate. 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

Disposal Bag 

IFE entertainment system magazine 

The new version of SQ's Safety Card 

In-flight Magazine 

KrisShop Magazine (In-flight duty)

In-flight meal 

I had a choice between pork and chicken. I chose the former. 

It was pretty decent for this short flight. I enjoyed every bite of it.

Metal culinary was used! 

The pork should have been cut into smaller pieces. 

The mango pudding - not too bad 

In-flight service experience

Boarding the aircraft was a quick affair, I wasn't particularly impressed with the cabin crew. There was a good mix of the male and female crew but the lack of warmth and smiles from some of them put me off. A couple of crew seemed to be rushing to end their job fast and be gone to somewhere else. I am not sure what to say! 

Anyway, pushed back took place earlier than expected and we were soon on our way to the taxiway. An announcement should have been made to ask passengers to remove their earpiece during the takeoff and landing phrase instead of 'lecturing' them (their loud voice and tone said it all). This particular crew, probably a senior one could have lowered his voice and talk in a much gentlemanly manner instead of having that "lecturing" tone. Other than that, everything else was normal. The crew went around doing the mandatory checks and soon we were at the runway waiting for clearance for taking off.

Looking at the weather, I was expecting some minor bumps but this takes off was probably worse than my previous take-offs from this airport. It was quite bumpy until we were at a higher flight level. Clear Air Turbulence with a bit of up and down drifts, to me it was between light to moderate chops. 

Once we were cleared of the clouds, the flying condition improved and we flew over the South China Sea in smooth weather. The flight captain updated us on the weather and it was raining in Singapore. 

As for the cabin crew, they took a while before serving our meal, I guess they needed some time to heat up the food before serving us. 

Service by the male crew was ok but one particular female crew seemed to be in a hurry. Earlier on before the meal, she was rushing to distribute the immigration forms and then serving the drinks. 

For the rest of the flight, it was uneventful and landing in Singapore was a smooth affair despite the angry looking clouds around my aircraft during descending. By the time we were on final approach, the rain had stopped and we landed with water splashing out when our reverse thrust kicked in. 

It was a quick and enjoyable flight with SQ but somehow the service once again isn't what I expected. Better than my previous flight experience. I had a chat with a senior crew at the business class cabin after the flight and I couldn't answer his question when he asked me how did I find the flight service? I just hope for more consistency in service, especially for Economy Class. 

Well, with new Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787-10 entering the fleet in the near future, better in-flight products on the regional routes are expected so if you are flying on the Airbus A330-300, they will be sticking around for a few more years before being replaced.

Window shot photos 

Nice to see one of my favourite airlines at the airport - EVA Air 

Aircraft was about to push back 

I'll be back, Saigon! 

The 2 Roll Royce Trent 700 engines were started and soon we were on our way to the active runway

Passing by the hanger 

Despite the good weather, the air was unstable 

The weather improved after clearing the clouds 

Much better now with the weather and flying over the South China Sea for the next 45 minutes or so 

The cloud formation can be quite a sight 

At this point, we were placed in a holding pattern 

I don't want to fly into those clouds! 

Passing by a Cumulonimbus cloud. 

Flew into one but it wasn't that bad the turbulence. 

Got out of the cloud only to see gloomy weather on approach 

Flying over the Malaysia Peninsula 

 We were assigned to land on runway 20 Right. 

The ride was smooth, hardly any turbulence as we made a few turns before finally given clearance to approach and land. 

On final approach 

Changi Beach insight 

The landing was a smooth affair and we were early too despite being placed on holding pattern for around 10 minutes. 

The familiar sight of Singapore Airlines aircraft was spotted 

Taxiing past 2 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. 

Parked beside fellow company's Boeing 777-300ER, 9V-SWY

This is Singapore Airlines' one of 2 Airbus A380 painted in this special livery to commemorate Singapore's 50th birthday. From what I know, the livery would disappear soon from our skies. 

Taxiing to the gate took around 15 minutes so, by the time we reached there, it was almost 3.30. I would fly with this airline in the near future on this same route, hopefully, I get better in-flight service. It all goes down to your luck when it comes to this. More importantly, I hope to fly on a different Airbus A330, hopefully, the 9V-SS* series. 

My rating:

Airline's website and mobile app: 6/10
SGN Airport Experience: 6/10
Check-in staff: 7/10
In-flight service: 6/10
IFE system: 5/10
Cabin interior: 9/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Seat comfort: 7/10
Punctuality: 10/10
In-flight meal: 7/10
Overall rating: 73/100


The reason why I did only one way with Singapore Airlines because the cheapest airfare for the return ticket was at an exorbitant price of $438 and that is not worth for a short flight. U.S$117 = S$157 for the one-way sector was not that bad. Some times there are offers and if you do encounter one, snap it before they are gone, only thing is you don't earn many miles if you are a member of the airline or the partner's card membership. 

Overall I am satisfied with the flight. I had a decent in-flight meal and on-time arrival which is quite important as I could quickly go home and clean up before heading to work. In-flight service was a bit of a disappointment and so was the IFE system - the selection of movies and the inability to use the touchscreen to navigate the system was a disappointment but I am looking forward to experiencing the airline's Airbus A350 in the near future, it has newer products than the A330 and I would definitely do a trip report on that. Now waiting for the airline to operate at least 5 A350s before I commit myself to fly the airline's A350. The reason is I don't want to experience another last-minute aircraft change if the aircraft goes out of service, especially I have to pay a lot for the air ticket. SIN-HKG route is my target, more flying hours than flying to Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. 

Thanks for reading! 


1 comment:

  1. woww, really nice experience to be share dude. looking nice, do you have a try Garuda Indonesia ??

    Tiket Murah SQ