February 1, 2013 BKK-SIN-HKG-SFO: The final chapter, SQJ/R
I left the Conrad a couple of hours before my flight and again cabbed it to BKK airport. The cab driver over-charged me which just reconfirmed that cab drivers are the same everywhere. As I said earlier BKK airport sprawls and that is just the way it is. At the Singapore check-in desk the agent checked me in all the way home to Phoenix and because I was in First/Suites she put me in the first class section of the 777-200 that would be taking me to Singapore. I was excited about this trip and maybe because of that excitement I was underwhelmed by what is supposed to be the world’s most exclusive airline. Anyways I was handed passes for fast-track immigration which allowed me to quickly speed through immigration and security. After that I made a left turn for the long walk down to the Sliver Kris lounge.
The Sliver Kris lounge was nice enough. The lounge was large enough not to feel cramped. It was also bookended by the Thai first lounge and three Thai Royal Orchid lounges. Singapore has five daily departures, so there is only a limited need for a lounge, so for the purpose it served it was good. The thing that bothered me most about the BKK Silver Kris lounge was that there were no restrooms, you had to use the public restrooms just down from the lounge. I was still full from breakfast at the Conrad, so I passed on nibbles until lunch on the plane. The lounge also had free wifi as expected with decent speed, which was not expected when compared to the Thai lounges.
I headed to the aircraft and we boarded on time. This 777-200 was unconverted, there were two rows of F in a 2-2-2 configuration and business was in a 2-3-2 configuration. The first seats I gathered were given out to connecting Suites/First passengers and top tier elites. There was nothing special about the seats, they were recliner seats that had probably been in use as long as the plane had been in use. To be honest with “F” filled 11/12 it felt rather cramped, I would have preferred to be in the business cabin as it was basically empty. Lunch was tasty, I had the spicy pork which was really tasty, to help with that I had SQ’s famous Singapore Sling which was also quite tasty. The one thing I find interesting is that Singapore refuses to serve hot beverages when the seatbelt sign is on. At first that makes sense, but think of all the smooth flights you have been on where the seatbelt sign is also on.
Arrival in Singapore Airport is always interesting you fly over all of the ships waiting to get into Singapore harbor to unload their cargo. Singapore airport was spotlessly clean even in the defacto regional terminal (Terminal one) I arrived in. Singapore is divided into three connected terminals. Terminal 3 serves SQ’s long haul and other airline international flights. Terminal two serves other international flight, and Terminal one serves for lack of a better word Singapore and other airline regional flights (flights around South East Asia). Singapore does security at the gate which gives the entire airport a mall kind of feeling. I wish I had more time to explore it, but as it was I only had a 90 minute connection. I made my way to the Silver Kris lounge in terminal three. Singapore Airlines removed the star gold status from this lounge, so only business, first class, and suites passengers have access to this lounge. I was escorted through the business and first class sections to “The Private Room” the suites and PPS section of the lounge. I was almost instant underwhelmed with the lounge. It was nice, but power plugs were hard to come by, service was slow, and there were no bathroom attendants. While the food was a notch above Thai’s first class lounge offering, the atmosphere took the place down. I had some satay, which was delicious, took a shower, and wandered the terminal for a bit. I changed my remaining Baht into Singapore dollars and bought a mug from Starbucks. It was at this point I had given up all pretense of keeping to two bags. I got a large Starbucks bag and used that as a third carry-on.
I returned to the lounge to collect my stuff and walk to the gate. Walking to the gate I passed the Hard Rock Café Singapore Airport and used my remaining dollars to purchase a shot glass, I ended up twenty cents short, but the clerk gave me a break. I made it to the gate and we boarded on time. I was in suites class it is really first class, the purser was a nice guy. For the Singapore-Hong Kong segment there was only one other person besides myself in Suites, a Chinese woman wearing BA First PJs. I couldn’t decide if wearing PJs from another airline is classy or trashy. You obviously cannot wear previously acquired PJs from the airline you are on. That’s like wearing the shirt of the band you are going to go see, it’s a don’t. I think I am going to say it is ok. We taxied out to the end of the runway, and then turned on to the runway and started taxiing down it. It took me all of two seconds to realize that something was wrong. The First Officer got on the PA and announced there was something wrong in the oxygen system in the cargo hold. We taxied back to the gate. The Chinese woman started freaking out, she was yelling into her phone. As we waited out the two hour delay, she pestered the FA’s so much they hid from her. Eventually it got fixed and we took off.
Seatwise, the seat was ok. The suite concept is cool at first but the more I thought about it I didn’t like. Both the Thai and the Korean air seats had more personal space because it wasn’t taken up with all the silly suite stuff. I would have very much preferred a larger suite. Food wise Singapore to Hong Kong dinner service and Hong Kong to San Francisco has supper service. According to Singapore Dinner service is supposed to be substantial as compared to supper. Supper is more a light dinner thing. I booked the cook and had their famous lobster thermidor. It wasn’t very good. Maybe I am snob maybe I just grew up near Cape Cod and my grandfather was a lobster fisherman but I know what good lobster is supposed to taste like and this was not it. The rest of the meal was filling but unmemorable.
We arrived into Hong Kong late so my goal of jetting down to the UA club to grab a shower was out. I dragged my stuff and myself to the SQ lounge while Singapore attempted a speed turn of an A380. I didn’t eat a thing in the lounge and went to the gate when they called the flight. This time around there was only one empty suite and there were a couple of people in the cabin on the same redemption tickets as I was. I asked the flight attendants if it was possible to pass on supper and go straight to bed. It was. The FA went through the elaborate procedure to convert the seat into the bed. Let me be clear about things that are not clear from other blogs.
It’s not a bed, it’s a cot and it is not a comfortable one. The cot takes about only half the width of the suite so you can have a place to standup inside the suite. While that sounds cool, it reality it is just a waste of space. I slept as much as I could by this point in my travels, but my body clock wasn’t interested. My body clock in fact refused to answer any questions, like what time is it, what day is it, and what is your name. I was still pretty full from dinner so I only had the main course I booked, Lobster Wonton Soup and a dessert. Now that soup was amazing, far better than what came out of Singapore. I mostly just watched TV shows on my way to San Francisco. Scam City seems like a good show, I want to see more of it. Since I sucked it up and went for a third carry-on I purchased the models from the duty free catalog.
Before landing breakfast is served. This is odd as the flight arrives at 7pm, we arrived I think a little after 9pm. I had the Dim Sum offering which was quite tasty.
Finally, we arrived into SFO. I whisked through USCIS on the back of my global entry status and quickly found the bus to the Hilton SFO, which I remembered being nicer the last time I was there. Anyways this ends the report.
1) Korean F needs some work. For a primarily long haul carrier they should have a better premium experience. Asiana is kicking their butt, why anyone would fly Korean F when Asiana F is an option is beyond me.
2) I spend way too much time on a plane.
3) I like the staggered Asiana J more than I thought I would.
4) Singapore and especially their suites product are way overrated. The A380 suite they developed needs a lot of work. Right now it is just a gimmick.
5) The SkyTeam F lounge in LAX is a hole.
So, on this trip I flew LH, TG, KE, and SQ in F time for some rankings.
2) Thai and Korean Air
4) Korean (by a country mile)
Best in-flight food
4) Korean (by a country mile)
Best In-flight service
Best ground service
On a points basis, lower being better
Lufthansa has 8pts (winner)
Thai has 10pts
Singapore has 14pts
Korean has 15pts
So who would I fly? It matches up perfectly with that ranking.
1) Lufthansa, Their new product is excellent, ground service is outstanding, and above all they are consistent.
2) Thai, They have a great product on the ground and in the air, but their lack of consistency especially in regards to service holds them back. Their romantic view doesn’t overcome deficiencies in their lounge and inconsistent service.
3) Singapore, maybe this is a case of the expectations game, but SQ was overrated from start to finish with the sole exception of in-flight service, which was amazing. Also the suite is just plain bad.
4) Korean. Poor Korean, I probably slept the best on their seat and their in-flight service is ok, but everything else needs work. Their lounge would be a domestic united club except for better food selections and there not by much.