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Old Nov 15, 15, 5:39 am
  #5  
Jermyn
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: London, UK
Programs: Ronin - churn and burn
Posts: 696
Part 4: PVG-SIN SQ F 77W

Part 4: PVG-SIN SQ F 77W


After a few days spent visiting K's family and gorging on amazing Chinese food, it was time to head back home (and directly to work!). We got to the airport around 2 hours before departure and there was hardly anybody around.

SQ Rolling out the Red Carpet for it's F class customers

Check-in was quick and simple and security was a breeze. We were at the lounge within about 10 minutes.


Air China First Class Lounge - Shanghai Pudong Airport


Check-in at the lounge was a bit weird, there were way too many members of staff (as tends to be the case in China) and none of them really seemed to know what they were doing.

It seemed that people were just flashing whatever card or pass they wanted, in their vague direction, and just quickly walking by the dragons without any questioning.

So I guess it says a lot that under this set of admission criteria, the Air China F Lounge was basically empty...

The Air China F lounge is built around a central atrium featuring the bar and buffet area


The first part of the lounge that you pass is an area with lockers and computers. I like being able to store my bag at a lounge without having to deal with an attendant. I like being able to grab a camera, use it for a while, put it away, grab my laptop, put it away, get showered etc. Having to make multiple trips to a manned cloakroom can get tedious pretty quickly


Coffees made to order. These were pretty good. I guess the addition of syrups is a nice touch for people who hate coffee and just want an excuse to drink a hot milkshake


The buffet area had quite a diverse selection of hot and cold options… none of which were particularly great


I didn’t much fancy the idea of desserts for breakfast. The presentation looked nice though


A few cold savoury options


Cereals and toast. There was something quite sad about this section. All the containers looked like they needed replenishing and the fridges were rammed with sellophane wrapped sandwhiches (unlabelled) and unbranded local mineral water. Decidedly un-First Class


Design-wise the lounge was great in some respects and downright weird in others. This shot paints the lounge in quite a good light. Some thought has gone into the design, I quite like the idea of the wooden slatted 'wall', which opens the space up nicely


However, the seating arrangement is absolutely obscure


Why pile so many chairs into an F lounge, especially without placing some dividers in between them? It honestly had more of a feel of a furniture showroom than a relaxing lounge


One redeeming feature of the lounge: natural daylight


This section reminded me of the old Priority Pass lounge in LHR T1 (this is not a good thing)


Nice vase. To be fair, this shot could easily have been taken in the hallway of a Park Hyatt


More cool Chinese vases


K and I initially settled down in the dining area and ordered from the a la carte menu. We supplemented this with some cold starters. My hot and sour soup was markedly worse than my local takeaway in East London. It also ran a grotesque temperature range from tepid to almost frozen. The cold starters were ok though


K’s Laksa was… salvageable. It could be eaten. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about the dining options at the flagship Air China First Class Lounge in Shanghai


After that dining experience I felt quite dirty, so figured I’d have a shower. Surprisingly the shower room was spacious, very clean and had absolutely everything you would need. As a point of comparison, JL's F lounges at HND and NRT don’t have shaving foam or moisturiser and the rooms are very cramped. Conversely BA’s shower rooms at The Concorde Room are spacious but also look like the ideal location to shoot a movie about a haunted and unusually filthy asylum. So in that respect Air China wins


Freshly wrapped towels and slippers are provided


In addition to being clean and spacious the shower had excellent pressure


All in all, the Air China lounge doesn't have a lot going for it. If you're connecting it's worth heading there to use the showers. Otherwise, given the quality of F&B available in the terminal, I'd probably skip this lounge and go in search of some xiao long bao (Shanghai dumplings) in the main terminal area.

After our breakfast I walked K over to her gate, she was flying to HKG to pick up her return flight to LHR as part of our final US Airways F RTW.


Singapore Airlines SQ831
Shanghai Pudong (PVG) - Singapore Changi (SIN)
Duration: 4.5 hours
B777-300ER
Seat 2A


My trusty steed for the PVG-SIN flight


Stepping aboard this 77W it was hard to be anything other than underwhelmed, given that the last flight I'd been on was in Suites. However, the service on this sector was next level.

I was immediately greeted by name, helped with my bags and offered a glass of Krug. That could probably even take the edge off having to sit in Y!

Making small talk the delightful FA asked me whether I was heading home to Singapore. I explained that much though I'd love to call Singapore home, I still had to make it all the way to London. I then went on to explain the purpose of my trip, trying as many of SQ's products as possible in the space of 5 days. Instantly her face lit up, she excused herself, brought over the CSM and gushed to him about what I was doing.

The three of us then spoke for a while about SQ and flying in general, as another FA greeted the remaining three F pax.

After the CSM excused himself to greet the others, the FA stayed behind and said to me that she couldn't make the seat bigger but she would do everything in her power to make sure that this was the best of all my SQ flights!

The cabin is starting to show some signs of wear


I like the mounting of the IFE screen though. I feel like nowadays a large, fixed position screen is the norm for 'true' F. TVs on retractable arms always end up getting rickety


Plenty of legroom (is it even worth doing legroom shots in F?)


Only 4/8 today. A couple arrived after I took this pic and sat in 1 C,D. So I decided to move back to 2A, giving us all a bit more private space.


Adjustable height controls for the tray table


Tiny details, the top of the reading light has a rubber pad on it, so you can hang your headphones on it, without them slipping off. Also, the fact that the entire seat is covered in buttery soft, hand-stitched leather is pretty amazing


Top marks for anybody who knows what this orange button does


Universal power, USB and RCA video


Bose noise cancelling headphones


Side storage


Ready. Set. Krug.


After 2 glasses of Krug the crew began their preparations for take-off. PVG always has a very eclectic mix of planes from around the World. Today was no exception.

Not often you see one of these


A multi-coloured parade of planes from around the World


Once we were airborne the FA immediately rushed into action to offer me more Krug and some warm candied nuts


She saw me taking pics with my GoPro and asked if she could pose for a shot with me


Cheese.


I don't usually rock the FDR look but the FA offered me a blanket and seemed so happy at the thought that I'd use it, that I couldn't say no


I eyed through the menu and decided that, as per my original plan, I would go with the Chinese option. This would be my first experience of a non-BTC main on SQ. Whenever I've tried a region specific menu in the past, it tends to be very good and sometimes even better than the regular catering (CX F to TYO comes to mind here)


I was tempted by a lot of the Western options though
<

Spicy beancurd sheet and bamboo shoot salad
Chinese wine marinated chicken
Broccoli with Yunnan ham

These starters were all fairly insipid. There wasn't enough textural or flavour difference between the various ingredients. Disappointing.


Yeah-heah!


Beautiful presentation: silver chopstick holder and silver detailing on the chopsticks themselves. I also love the small detail of the soup spoon holder


The soup itself was absolutely fantastic. I never realised how much I liked soup until I started getting it in F!


The main course:
Stir fried Angus beef fillet with dried chilli and cashew nut
Steamed black cod with spinach sauce
Bok choy with pickled potherb mustard
Shimeji mushroom fired rice

This was excellent. Every element was superb both in isolation and as part of the whole course. The cod fell into beautiful flakes as you touched it, the beef melted in the mouth and the perfectly cooked mushrooms brought a deep umami richness to the rice.

Fantastic.


I tried to skip dessert but much like the blanket, I knew this wasn't a battle worth fighting! The FA needed to see me maximise my experience of this flight and it may well have ruined her year if I didn't at least give this dessert a try

Black rice pudding with vanilla sauce and mango.
I was expecting something more soupy, like the Balinese bubur injin (one of my favourite desserts). This was great nonetheless. Not too sweet or large. The perfect ending to the meal.






Switching it up for my coffee time listening. Since the dawn of social media you just don't get full blown rock stars anymore. A shame really.


The F cabin lights are dimmed after the lunch service


At this stage I asked the FA to make the bed up for me, whilst I went to get changed.

Deep sink and waterfall tap


Ferragamo colognes


The FA prepared the bed with a few extra pillows so that I would sleep comfortably


Time to get some rest. Definitely not in the same league as the bed in Suites though


A little Milo ice to help me sleep


Overall this flight was fantastic. I ate well, drank my fill of Krug, rocked out, slept soundly and got to talk about planes with people who knew what I was talking about

The service was next level. Silly good. I felt unbelievably well looked after. I think that once you fly SQ F, it becomes very difficult to review other carriers' F in isolation. Make no mistake, this is the high water level, the benchmark, the apex of passenger service in the airline industry.We talk a lot on FT about aspirational products, if I ran an airline this would be my aspiration: deliver service as good as SQ - because it is the best, bar none.

It was with a heavy heart that I watched the sun set for the final time on this trip. The lights of hundreds of ships glow in the distance, a fragmented beacon pointing us towards Singapore


Last edited by Jermyn; Dec 20, 15 at 1:01 pm
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