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Thursday 26 October 2023

Flying the Boeing 737 MAX 8 with Singapore Airlines (Part 1: SIN-PEN)

 Welcome to my trip report on Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8! 

The Boeing 737-8 MAX in Boeing's colours (Photo: Royal S King)


Flying on this route came to my mind when I had to clear my EVA Air Mileage points as it was expiring at the end of August. Checking the aircraft type on this route, most of the flights were operated by 737 MAX 8 and I knew I had to fly on Singapore Airlines' aircraft to compare the difference between the 737-800 and this aircraft model. As I had already flown on the MAX series, thanks to GOL and Copa Airlines, I knew what to expect when flying on this model. The difference is I get to experience one of the top airline's cabin experience as this aircraft is fitted with IFE individual screen and complimentary WiFi (For Krisflyer members). 

Booking through EVA to redeem my miles on SQ's flights was not straight forward as it took me a few calls before I managed to do so. Just a few days before my flight, I had an offer to upgrade one or both of the flights to Business Class. Tempting it was but I can't justify the $320 for the one way upgrade for such a short flight. So after much consideration, I decided to stick to flying on Economy class on both sectors. Besides I had been "SQ-ed" before, meaning aircraft change so I do not want to risk paying for the upgrade only to find out the aircraft on that day was changed to the old business class product (737-800) and that is certainly not worth paying so much for. 


I manage to score the bulkhead row seat, the very first row of the Economy Class section. There are pros and cons about this seat, more information to come in my later part of the trip report. 

My seat selection 

I managed to check in for my return flight as well. Do note that you need to fill in the online SG Arrival form before arrival. (Click here for the webpage) 

SQ's mobile app allows you to do auto check-in which means once you fill in the relevant details, the app will check-in for you and you received an email notification about it. 

On the day of departure 

I did a check on what aircraft I was flying on, and this photo (below) caught my attention! 7M1? Could it be a typo? It certainly cannot be 737-10 as the aircraft till today is still not certified to fly for airlines. Anyone has any idea? 

Later on I did a check on the local website, 9V-MBG was scheduled to operate my flight. I was hoping for 9V-MBL, the 737 MAX 8 painted in the Star Alliance livery. 

I took the train to the airport station. Unfortunately, the escalator to the departure hall of terminal 2 was not working so the only choice was the elevator. 

Checking my flight, it was departing on schedule. My aircraft, 9V-MBG was flying in from Phnom Penh at that time. 

The newly renovated terminal 2 looks refreshed and I was glad to be able to depart from this terminal. 

The departure hall looks spacious and ambiance is quite pleasant. Comparing with the previous interior, there are more automated machines for passengers to do self check-in for the boarding pass and checking in the luggage. 

This is how the previous departure hall of terminal 2 looks like. 

I still prefer checking in at the counter to obtain my boarding pass and the airport staff handles the luggage check-in. 

I am glad there are still non-carpet areas where pushing the trolley or luggages is easier. 

As I was travelling without check-in luggage, I could collect my boarding pass and go straight to the air side. 

I was hoping that no one sits beside me but according to this monitor screen, my hopes was not high. 

Once that is done, I looked forward to flying SQ's 737 MAX 8, my 2nd time riding on this aircraft ! Now that I have flown on both of the airline's 737-800 and 737 MAX 8, I can focus on flying other airlines. 

An overview of the terminal 2 departure hall (land side). 

There are restaurants located at the 2nd level of the departure hall (land side).

This is the arrival hall. 

I had Laksa - one of Singapore's popular local dishes at Wang's Cafe. 

 9V-MBG had just arrived from PNH, this was my ride to Penang. 

There are a few check-in counters which were not used at that time. 

This is the departure hall at the air side. 

There are sitting areas to chill out at the air side. 

This garden has been around for a quite a while. 

I made my way to the gate at concourse E. 

What I don't like about the airport is that most parts of the airside is carpet flooring that means, it is troublesome for those with carry-on luggages. 

The walk from the concourse to the end of the pier takes about 15 minutes. 

Fortunately there are travellators to help reduce the walking time especially with luggages.

Can you spot the plane? 

There are charging ports in this area, a good place to rest before boarding.

Another thing I don't like about departing from Changi is that with the exception of terminal 4, you need to go through security at the gate and most gates do not have toilets. Once you are inside, you can still come out but you need to go through security again. I prefer airports with security screening done after immigration check, you can still hang around before boarding the gate. That is why even though Changi Airport is one of the most popular airports in the world, it is not my favourite. 

This is where my flight departed from. 

At least there are charging stations. 

The weather at Changi was great! 

The rest of the area was empty as my flight was the only one departing from this area. 

Time to board! 

Here it is, my 2nd time on the 737 MAX 8. This is 9V-MBG, the SQ's 7th 737 MAX 8, inherited from Silkair. 

My ride: 9V-MBG (Photo: Jhang Yao Yun)

Ex-Silk Air aircraft
Boeing 737-8 MAX 
Configuration: C12 Y144 
Engines: 2 X CFM Leap-1B27
Delivered to SQ on Nov 2021
7436th Boeing 737 built
Built in Renton (RNT)
Age: 4+ Years old (August 2023)

Flight route: SIN-PEN 

Miles: 373

My seat: 41K (Photo: Aerolopa.com)

Date of departure: 27 August 2023
Airline: Singapore Airlines 
Flight: SQ142 
Route: SIN-PEN
Terminal: 2 
Gate: E7 
Seat: 41K (Bulkhead row) 
Schedule departure: 1900
Boarding: 1820
Push back: 1852 
Take off: 1908 
Flight Duration: 1 hr 5 mins 
Actual Flight Time: 59 minutes
Schedule arrival: 2029 
Actual arrival: 2007 
Departure runway: 20L
Arrival runway: 04

My in-flight experience 

On board I was greeted by the friendly and experienced crew and walking through the business class cabin, it certainly caught my attention. Singapore Airlines could have just done 2-2 seater for all 3 rows but I think that's a nice idea to have a one-seater for solo travellers. I have to say I am quite impressed with this business class product, I have to try it one day. 

Anyway, I manage to explore the business class quickly before settling down. I had a chat with one of the crew and even told her my preference goes to the A320neo when comparing this aircraft with the Airbus aircraft. Fortunately she didn't "kick" (jokingly) me off the aircraft and even told me I wasn't the only one who told her that and she understand why. 

 I was overjoyed when the cabin door was closed, why? No one turned up at my row that means I had the whole row to myself. The airline could have possibly block out the seats or maybe the other passengers decided to sit elsewhere, but whatever it is, I am glad to be able to have the whole row to myself once again.

 After the push back, it took a while for the engines to start up and get going. Once that was done, we spent about 1/4 of our flight time taxing to runway 20L. The weather that day in Singapore was great and we took off smoothly into the friendly skies. 

Our in-flight snack and a choice of beverage was served not too long after the seat belt sign was turned off. My question to the airline is why curry puff? How about those who don't take spicy food. Perhaps a sandwich would be more suitable or at least give the passengers a choice between a curry puff and something else? I overhead a conversation between a crew and another passenger as the passenger asked whether there was another option instead of the curry puff. The crew was apologetic and couldn't do anything about it, this is completely understandable. 

The captain made a couple of announcements including the welcome and thank you speeches and he also mentioned about some weather along the way. There was quite a bit of turbulence in the middle of the flight but landing in Penang was a smooth affair. Overall I was satisfied with the flight, the cabin crew were nice and the comfortable cabin that comes with individual IFE Screen and complimentary Wifi which the Boeing 737-800 cabin do not have. 

Business Class 

These seats are designed by Factorydesign and are manufactured by Thompson Aero Seating. As the Boeing 737-8 is a single aisle narrow-body aircraft. The configuration  of these are arranged in 2-2 (First row), 1-1 (Second row) and 2-2 (Third row), making it a total of 10 Business Class seats on this aircraft type. These seats has a seat width of 22 inches, comes with 44 inches of legroom space and converts to a flat bed which takes up to 76 inches of space. For the single seat on the 2nd row, it is known as the Throne Seat which is great for single travellers. That seat offers a lot of storage space but what I don't like about it is the seat position is far away from the window seat. Unless you use a Go pro camera that sticks on the window for window shot videos or photos, it is troublesome to take photos or videos manually. 

Comparing Copa Airlines 737 MAX 9's Dream business class product, this product is on another level. From one look, you can see how luxurious, more comfortable the seats are and also the footwell space is better. Copa Airlines could do with a business class product like this since a lot of the regional flights in South America are about 6-7 hours long. Just saying! 

The legroom space is great. 

The 'Throne' seat has a good amount of storage space. 

There is a divider between the business and economy class cabin. 

Each of the business class passengers receives a pillow and blanket even on this short flight. 

What do you think of this business class product? 

Each business class seats offers a 16-inch touchscreen TV, featuring the airline's popular Krisflyer entertainment. The 737 MAX 8 has WiFI installed, using the next-generation system powered by Panasonic. (All Krisflyer members can use this service for free)

 In addition, every seat comes with 2 USB charging ports and full in-seat power, very ideal for some quick work on the laptop. 

I have to say how impressed I am with the product and if I get to fly in this cabin, I would choose the window seat on the 3rd row. 

 I would certainly like to try this product one day.

Economy Class

These are the Collins Aerospace Economy Class seats configured in a 3-3 standard configuration for Economy Clacss. There are 144 seats in this cabin, seat width of 18 inches and the standard legroom space of 30 inches with the exception of the bulkhead row and the 2 emergency rows which offer slightly better legroom space. 

These are the front rows of Y class, for the rear cabin photos, stay tuned for the part 2 of this trip report.

This is my seat, 41K. As you can see there is more legroom space than the standard seat. 

I have to comment that the colour combination of the grey and blue seats looks great. 

For the 737 MAX 8, the seat number goes all the way to row 64 while for the 737-800, the last row is 65. 

Each individual seat comes with an adjustable headrest. 

The window and aisle seats are identified by the aqua colours while the middle seats are in grey upholstery. 

The cabin view of the economy class 

The emergency rows are required to have enough space for passengers to evacuate the aircraft safely in case of emergency, that is why they have more legroom space than the standard seats. 

The Singapore Girls look fabulous in the famous Kebaya uniform, possibly one of the nicest in the aviation industry. 

More photos of the seat 

I appreciate the extra legroom space.

It's great to have the screens attached to the bulkhead wall instead of being stored inside the seat handrest area. 

These screens are 10 inches HD in size with 1 USB power socket. However, there is no Universal power socket in this section.

The foldable tray is stored at the handrest area for bulkhead row seats. 

There is enough space to place your laptop on it. 

It's nice to have 2 windows for myself. 

The view from my seat.

At this point, our plane had reached the gate in Penang. 

I highly recommend this row 41 especially for those with long legs. 

(In a nutshell) 


- For standard seats, you are able to place your bag underneath the legroom space below the seat in front of you or use that space to stretch out your legs but not the bulkhead row seats. 

- Whatever you are watching on your IFE entertainment system, the passengers behind can notice. 

- Taking out or placing back the portable tray may be troublesome for some. 

- Not ideal to charge your electronic devices as the distance between yourself and the screen is quite far. 


- Seat is closer to the front door means you get to disembark just after the business class passengers. 

- More legroom space 

- Extra window to enjoy the view 

- Quieter part of the aircraft 

- Great for those enjoy taking photos of the scenary including the engine and wing view

Overall? I prefer the standard seat. 

Lavatory Check 

Oops, this compartment (below) wasn't able to close properly. 

The narrow basin design is a norm for 737 MAX aircraft. 

Was I satisfied with the flight? My expression gives you the answer. :)

In-Flight Entertainment System 

Krisflyer program never fails to impress as is has a good number of programmes available and I usually stick to watching the latest blockbuster movies especially the ones I missed out. 

The flight map is an important feature as I like to keep track of my flight's progress. 

I find the system to be user-friendly, only thing missing is exterior cameras to enjoy the view outside. 

I thoroughly enjoyed using the wifi to message my friends and check on the latest updates on X and Facebook. 

Use your krisflyer email account and fill up the details (below) and you are good to go. The wifi connection will only be turned on above 10,000 feet.

I was monitoring my flight progress and this app offers more in-depth flight information than the airline's in-flight information. 

I spotted something familar and that is 9V-MGC which flew me from HKT to SIN last year. 

In-Flight Snack 

Old Chang Kee is a Singaporean company that offers local snacks such as this. I find it to be quite tasty, not too spicy for my liking. For my beverage, I chose the apple juice. 

It was warm when I was munching on it. 

Window view (Take off to Landing) 

The larger engine (Leap 1B engine) is popular with the airlines and the pilots as they commented how powerful they are compared to the CFM56 (737NG engines).

We started pushing back. 

The taxi to runway 20L seem to take forever. Currently, only 2 runways are in operation and that is runway 20L/02R and 20R/02L. For the other runway, 20C/02C, it is currently closed due to the construction of terminal 5. 

It was nice to watch the sunset at that time. 

Finally we reached the "piano key" and we roared down the runway and took off smoothly into the beautiful skies. 

V1.... rotate, positive climb, gear up! 

You see the empty plot of land? That will be terminal 5 once the construction completed. 

The beautiful view of the city of Singapore with the cargo ships heading in different directions. 

That is why I love flying, you get to enjoy such beautiful view. 

The light was turning dark fast. 

Flying at this point was a bit turbulent as we flew through some unfriendly clouds. 

The skies was dark when we started descending into Penang. 

Here we are, the taxi ride from the runway to the gate took about 10 minutes. 

The local traffic is in sight, Air Asia which I would be flying in December, so stay tuned for the trip report! 

My flight summary 

Welcome to Penang! 

These passengers were waiting to board 9V-MBG as it was being prepared to return to Singapore. 

This would be my 2nd time visiting this popular city in Malaysia. 

Fortunately the immigration queue was not long, about 5 minutes or so, I was at the land side. 

From here I took Grab to my hotel in the popular part of Penang, more on that in my next trip report. 

My rating 

Airline's mobile app/website: 4/5 
Airport Experience (Terminal 2 SIN): 5/5
In-Flight Service: 4/5 
In-Flight Entertainment System: 5/5
Seat Comfort: 3/5 
Cabin Ambiance: 4/5
Cabin condition: 3/5 (Warm cabin - before departure) 
Punctuality: 5/5
In-Flight Snack: 3/5 
Cleanliness: 5/5 
Overall rating: 41/50
Percentage: 82%


My 3rd ride on the Boeing 737 MAX once again demonstrated why it is an improvement over the 737NG. While my preference is with the A320NEO family, I find this aircraft to be enjoyable to fly on and I trust Boeing to have fixed the main issues of the aircraft during the grounding. I know some are still skeptical about flying with this aircraft and you can't blame them after watching the documentary series on Netflix or other platforms. However, with many airlines operating this model and some placing massive orders for the 737 MAX, the confidence level for this aircraft model is surely up there and I believe the airline knows more about the situation of the aircraft more than we do. Since Boeing has fixed the issues with approval by the FAA, there will be interested airlines looking at the the 737 MAX series closely and also the Airbus A320NEO for fleet renewal and possible fleet expansion. 

On another note, it would be nice if Boeing can sort out the quality issues that we have been hearing quite regularly and I hope that a 737 replacement is in the pipeline as the Boeing 737 has to eventually make way for a new narrow-body and perhaps the size and capability of the 757 can also be considered for the larger version of the new plane. 

Anyway about my flight experience, Singapore Airlines has certainly made the 737 MAX 8 a nice ride to fly on especially for the business class passengers. The highest points that I can give for this flight has to be the IFE Entertainment System including the wifi and also the great in-flight service I experienced, it is something that you should get to experience when flying on one of the top rated airlines. However, for the choice of the in-flight snack on my flight, I hope they consider something that passengers of all ages can enjoy. Curry puff is not for everyone, that’s for sure. Perhaps the airline can consider giving the passengers 2 choices and get them to choose online, with a deadline perhaps a few days before the flight and for those who haven't choosen or book the ticket at a last minute, they would be given what is available. What do you all think? 

I will do an overall review on SQ's 737 MAX 8 Economy Class experience in my part 2 of my trip report. Hope you enjoy this report as much as I do. 

Thanks for reading! 

For my previous trip report, (Emirates A380 DXB-SIN), click here.

For my Part 2 of SQ's 737 MAX 8 trip report (PEN-SIN), click here.

Have a great one!


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