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A Singaporean Thanksgiving (SQ ULR J)

A Singaporean Thanksgiving (SQ ULR J)

Old Dec 10, 18, 2:02 am
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A Singaporean Thanksgiving (SQ ULR J)

Welcome to yet another trip where I leave the US for Thanksgiving because it's sure as heck not Thanksgiving in the rest of the world. This trip will feature SQ's relatively new Airbus 350-900ULR in business class, a far cry from my previous Thanksgiving vacation where I flew AC in their 10-across 777 sardine cans to HKG. I seem to have this thing for flying 10-across 777s as I had just flew NZ's to AKL just over two months earlier.

This trip more or less materialized out of nowhere, as I generally had no plans to travel to Singapore or really do anything for Thanksgiving. However in September SQ released their spontaneous escapes for the month, which featured PE awards for the price of Y awards on their EWR/LAX/SFO ULR routes and J awards for the price of PE awards for LAX/SFO ULR routes through the month of November or something close to that. Naturally it got the mind churning, and soon after I was able to book a J award for LAX-SIN-LAX with positioning flights to LAX over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Originally I wasn't planning on turning this trip into a TR, but doing some light reading on SQ 37/38 I found little to no reviews of the relaunch of the route (which still holds true now), which clocks in currently as the fifth longest in the world, so I figured I'd write a bit about the flights. So follow along as I fly SQ's ULR and eat my way through Singapore!




I tend to like to take vacations around holidays, as it minimizes the number of days off I have to take from work, so leaving the Tuesday before Thanksgiving resulted in a very crowded airport. What didn't help that day at SEA was that there was heavy fog all morning into the early afternoon, resulting in almost a total shutdown of the airport. Someone from AS told me that all the SEA-PDX turns had been cancelled that morning, and by the time I arrived for my 4PM scheduled departure...well I'll let the departure board speak for itself:




...yeah. So while you might not be able to make out any of the specifics, at about 3PM half the morning departures probably hadn't left, with plenty of flights showing 5+ hour delays. It was so bad I was turned away at the AMEX Centurion Lounge with a bit of a sad shrug when they said that the waiting list was "...an hour long, maybe more, we don't really have any idea..." To be completely fair no one knew when they were really leaving or if they would be flying out at all. None of those flights showing as on time probably departed anywhere near on time...

There was so much chaos, with announcements coming over the PA system one after another, with constant gate changes (I think a flight to GEG changed gates 3 times in less than 15 minutes), new delays being posted, and even a cancelled flight to FAT being reinstated. Now I haven't flown as much as most of you probably have, but this was the first time I had ever seen a cancelled flight be reinstated. Now unfortunately with all of this chaos, moving around the terminal was difficult, with a corridor about 10 feet wide available for movement. What was even worse was that there was a giant line for Beecher's cheese, and I didn't have the patience to wait it out for their mac and cheese. Looking out over the apron there was some chaos as well with aircraft everywhere waiting on gates and everything else. At one point there was an ex-VX Airbus just parked on the taxiway in front of our gate for about half an hour waiting for other planes in front of it to move.

Now imagine this crowd at every gate through all the concourses all the time



AS2292/QX2292
SEA-LAX
E175
4A

Now is where I tell you I had built in a 4 hour connection at LAX on these separate tickets in the thought that a small delay wouldn't derail my plans here. Naturally I was starting to get a bit nervous since these 3+ hour delays were everywhere, and it didn't help that our flight was joining the gate musical chairs game in the C concourse. I would have even given up my upgrade for a relatively on-time flight. Fortunately our flight was one of the lucky ones and we were able to depart the gate only an hour late, and I didn't have to sacrifice my upgrade to some random aviation god for that to happen.

AS's 175s feature 4 rows of F in a 1-2 configuration, and I was able to select one of the single seats when my upgrade went through. The pitch on these seats seems generous at 42 inches compared to the 37/38 inches on most of the domestic carriers. F was staffed by the fantastic Connie, who didn't let all the chaos get to her and provided a fantastic service throughout the flight.

Cabin


Obligatory legroom shot

After a relatively short 30-minute taxi and queue we were able to get off the ground to LAX. Of course it wouldn't be appropriate if the chaos ended there, and Connie would soon tell us that we didn't have proper catering aboard the aircraft. Usually SEA-LAX is long enough for a small meal or a snack plate depending on the departure time. Turns out the plane was catered with a snack basket for one of the earlier SEA-PDX turns and, after playing the flight assignment musical chairs, eventually ended up on the mid-afternoon SEA-LAX flight. Connie did her absolute best to try to get us to empty out the snack basket's chips, cookies, granola bars, and fruit to maintain some semblance of sustenance through the flight. We eventually landed in LAX, and I still had over two hours on my connection on SQ, so all's well that ends well.
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Last edited by steveman518; Dec 10, 18 at 4:30 am
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Old Dec 10, 18, 4:04 am
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After landing at LAX Terminal 6, it was time to make my way over to Tom Bradley International Terminal. Now TBIT and Terminals 4-7 are connected airside by a mostly underground passageway, and by the time I reached TBIT I felt like I walked halfway to Santa Monica. I suppose that'll be good practice for Lei-Out in Huntington Beach in January where I feel like I'll be walking halfway to SNA trying to figure out where the fields are. Eventually I made it over to the SQ check-in desks and made my way over to the Star Alliance Lounge. The lounge has been reviewed many times in more depth and detail, so I'm not going to get too deep into it, but overall it's a well appointed lounge with good amenities. I enjoyed a bowl of noodles from the noodle bar before using a shower room to freshen up.

Noodles


Shower





Now naturally at this point I was thinking all is well and that everything else would go relatively smoothly now that I was out of SEA and about to fly SQ. Unfortunately, if anything else I wrote in this TR has put you at ease, this was still not the case. The moment I stepped into the shower room, I was paged over the PA system "Mr. steveman518, if you are in the lounge please see us at the front desk for an important message." Now what could be so important that I needed to go to the front desk? Did the check-in agent note on my reservation that my carry-on bag was 1kg over the 10kg limit and they wanted me to check it? Were they going to kick me out of my blukhead seat because a PPS Solitaire member wanted it? There was no way my parents had sent me an urgent message, since they were already on their own overseas Thanksgiving trip. Maybe the government was taking me for "additional security screening" (again): after all in my limited travels I've somehow ended up in secondary screening in four countries and the EU, included getting stopped by police once on the jet bridge while leaving Brazil. I continued brushing my teeth and took my shower, during which I was paged twice more over the PA system.

In the end it turns out that none of those were true, though someone else wanting my seat came the closest. What had happened was that four of the seats, 11F/K and 12F/K were "wet" and were unavailable. I later came to learn that the carpet on the floor area of these four seats were wet and thus wouldn't be particularly great for passengers. Someone with SQ even commented "this isn't something we've ever had with the Boeings..." At this time the flight was relatively new, having being flown for less than 3 weeks. Unfortunately 11F was my seat and 11F/K were the bulkhead seats on the right aisle of the cabin. Now the bulkhead seats on SQ are important, as folks are very vocal in their opinions over the SQ J seat, most notably over the small foot cubby off to the side that forces you to sleep at an angle. Naturally this feature, or the lack thereof since they have full ottomans, is why bulkhead seats are so popular and seem to be blocked for PPS Club members, though I was able to grab one of them when online check-in opened 2 days out. Fortunately 11D, the other middle bulkhead seat, was still available, as well as the bulkhead seat 19D in the second business cabin, so I had them assign me 11D and block off 19D in case I got on board and 11D was affected as well.

With that sorted out, I spent what little time remaining until the flight relaxing on the outdoor terrace, which was surprisingly empty given all of the late-night departures.

Terrace

SQ37
LAX-SIN
A350-900ULR
11D
Boarding announcements were made in the lounge, and by the time I reached the gate, boarding was well underway. The flight used two jet bridges, one each for J and PE. As some of you may know, SQ's ULR aircraft have 67 business class seats split over two cabins and 94 premium economy seats in the third cabin. Newspapers in multiple languages were available outside the aircraft door, and I grabbed both the LA times and a Singaporean newspaper and settled into 11D. Overall I enjoyed the seat very much, which is generally well thought-out (aside from the footwell complaint). The seat controls were ok, though you had to adjust the overall seat position itself (which would move both the seat back and leg rest) to get the desired position of the seat back before adjusting the leg rest, and I really enjoyed the soft edge lighting (or whatever it's called) under all the panels.

Front cabin


Seat


Bulkhead ottoman (mirror behind the sliding door with the handle)


Better view from the end of the flight (non-bulkhead seats will also have a small ledge next to the mirror to hold drinks or whatever)


Middle seats (remember the "double bed" bulkhead J is only on the new A380 seats)


Light, sockets, and storage area on inside (away from the aisle) shoulder. Light is adjustable and has two intensity levels


Lights on outside (closer to the aisle) shoulder. Not adjustable and have two intensity levels


Seat controls on the outside armrest


Tray table on the inside armrest area (push to release tab), and coconut pineapple fresca welcome drink on top of a storage compartment


Settling in for the 16:47 flight time

From the start the flight attendants, lead by inflight manager Seah, were absolutely fantastic. Overall the service was impeccable from start to finish, and I enjoyed that the flight attendants were relatively sociable, and I had a number of conversations with Seah about throughout the flight, even when he was off duty. They were able recognize me and address me by name throughout the entire flight regardless of where I was at the time, which I found to be particularly impressive. The were able to fulfill every request I had, even if it did mean going through a ridiculous number of water bottles throughout the flight (at least 8 or 9).

Soon after take-off the staff got into action preparing the first meal service. Additionally, on these ULR routes SQ is currently offering small amenity kits where they come through with a basket and you build your own kits. I selected the lip balm, hand cream, and crease release (for releasing creases in fabrics), and there is also the option for a laundry bar.

Amenity kit

Due to the 10:40PM departure, the first meal of the flight is a supper service, with a full meal service about half-way through the flight and an a la carte menu available throughout the flight. Additionally for those of you interested the first meal is available for Book The Cook options. The menu for SQ37 is as follows (I do apologize for some of the not so great images-if any of them are unclear let me know and I'll write out the text for that page instead):











2006 Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux (usually an F wine, but on the ULRs in J for a limited time)

Champagne
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

White
2016 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay
2017 Weingut Huls Reisling












You might have noticed the healthier options being highlighted due to SQ's partnership with Canyon Ranch in promoting wellness on the ULR routes.

For the supper service I selected the biryani, which is accompanied with fruit and bread and served on one tray. I found the food to be very good and flavorful, though the biryani was a bit rice heavy. The tray table is also slightly moveable so it can be rotated away a little bit if you need to get out of the seat, and the height is adjustable as well. I also didn't discover that there was an overhead light until later in the flight, so apologies for my shadow in the pics.

Nuts to start-they would later come through before the main came out and refilled the nuts


Halfway through the meal...oops


Jasmine tea to finish

The meal service was complete relatively quickly and most of the cabin immediately went to sleep. However I was planning to stay awake until the second meal service and sleep until arrival, since the flight would be arriving at SIN at about 8AM. I occupied myself with SQ's KrisWorld entertainment system, which has a substantial amount of entertainment. Now I must say I didn't find too much to watch because I tend not to like most of what is on TV and in theaters, so I settled on a few episodes of 30 Rock and a few random movies that were mostly forgetful. For J passengers, SQ also provides 30MB of complimentary wifi, which I took advantage of as well, though I blew through it pretty quickly.

Throughout the flights flight attendants would walk through the cabin to see if anyone wanted anything. They kept on offering me food and water, and who was I to say no?

Apples and chips


Randy's doughnuts

As the second meal service approached, the cabin lights came on and the passengers gradually came to life. For this meal I decided to go with the Canyon Ranch meal to see what the hype was all about. Overall I would say that it was ok, but I had forgotten that I didn't really like beets, so the appetizer kind of fell flat for me, and the short ribs was a bit dry. It's probably something I wouldn't order again though.

OJ to begin


Canapés: goat cheese with grilled zucchini, pork terrine with toast, duck prosciutto with date)


Roasted beets with burrata
Endive, grapefruit, watercress, hazelnut, and beet reduction


Braised grass fed beef short rib
Turmeric cauliflower mash, oyster mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and parsley Marcona gremolata


Vanilla creme brulee
Garnished with candied orange zest


Fruit and cheese

After the meal there were still probably 7 hours left in the flight, and I went to the lav to change while a flight attendant transformed the seat into a bed. For those of you that aren't familiar, long-haul SQ J seats (except the new A380 seats) don't recline all the way to a bed, but instead the back of the seat is flipped over to create a bed. As this was a bulkhead seat, I was able to sleep facing straight, but even at 5'7" (172cm), my feet were probably only a few inches from the end of the seat. The lavs aren't particularly generous, but there is sufficient space and a bench seat that folds out of the wall. After changing into my pajamas (because SQ only provides them in F) and getting cozy I slept soundly for about 6 hours.

Bed mode

The last hour and a half is where SQ demonstrated to me that they really shine. I had actually requested for a flight attendant to wake me up as late as possible where I could still have a bite to eat before landing, and had warned them that I was a heavy sleeper, so I was a little disoriented when I woke up to someone generously shaking me awake. Throughout the end of the service I had multiple flight attendants jokingly ask me if I was shaken hard enough, so it was evident that everyone seemed to know of passengers' requests. Needless to say in my groggy state I wasn't quite in the mind to order, so instead when Seah came to take my order a minute later he suggested a few items for me that were still available, and it more or less went like this:
Seah: Would you like some fruit first?
Me: *blinks a couple of times trying to wake up*
Seah: How about some wonton noodles as well? We can get that started as well while you change and have some fruit
Me: ...uhhh...sounds fantastic
Seah: How about something to drink? Coffee or tea?
Me: Oolong tea please

After returning to my seat the table was set, and I was presented what I recognized to be an additional fruit course from the supper service re-plated to look nicer, which was still fresh and delicious. While waiting on the noodles I was looking through the menu and couldn't find in on the refreshments page, only to later find that it was one of the leftover mains from the second meal (braised egg noodles with char siew and pork dumplings). Overall it was a satisfying breakfast, with me finishing about 30 minutes before arrival.

Fruits


Wonton noodles (tasted better than it looks)

Arrival into SIN was uneventful, and Seah was handing his card to passengers asking for feedback on the new flight, especially on how the service is timed or other things that can be done to improve the passenger experience. Overall the flight was fantastic and the SQ flight attendants were phenomenal, and I would have say SQ is the best airline I have flown in J (though OZ and UA don't add a lot to the sample size). I would have to say the Canyon Ranch partnership was a miss on their flight aside from the delicious coconut pineapple fresca, which was my drink of choice throughout the flight.

Saying goodbye

Up next: 4 days in Singapore!

Last edited by steveman518; Dec 10, 18 at 5:53 pm
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Old Dec 10, 18, 12:07 pm
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Nothing like a little excitement/stress when a positioning flight is at risk.
Thanks for the entertaining report. Looking forward to more.
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Old Dec 10, 18, 10:57 pm
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a great start to the report"""""
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Old Dec 11, 18, 9:29 am
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Great report steveman518 ^

The stress of weather delays when flying a domestic leg on separate ticket to the international leg is one I sympathise with.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 10:21 am
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great report thanks for posting
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Old Dec 11, 18, 10:58 am
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Love it. Keep it coming please!
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Old Dec 11, 18, 11:20 am
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Awesome TR. Thank you for posting ^
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:35 pm
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After arriving at SIN and clearing immigration I took the MRT over to the Hilton Garden Inn in the Little India neighborhood. Little India is a very colorful neighborhood that tends to be bustling throughout the day.

MRT signs


Little India


Diwali decorations


Colors


Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in front of the hotel


Ye He Eating House

Despite arriving at the hotel around 10AM, the hotel had a room available for me and I was able to check in. The hotel consists of two buildings across the street from each other and are also linked by a crosswalk on the 4th floor. Rooms are decently appointed for a Hilton Garden Inn, though the main issue I had was that the water in the room was either cold, lukewarm, or scalding hot with little control in between. What I found a little odd was that the shower drain was in the far corner of the shower as well.

Room


Bathroom

After freshening up I decided to begin eating. See I didn't really do any planning for this trip other than asking my Singaporean friend what I should be eating, so naturally the first stop was to the Maxwell Food Centre for an early lunch. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the hawker centres and generally took leisurely meals sampling a number of dishes because I love eating. Since it was relatively early on a weekday lines weren't particularly long, including for Tian Tian, the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded hawker stall. While I thought that chicken rice to be good, I found the chicken rice from nearby Ah Tai to be better. In general chicken rice is a boiled chicken, so the stock is what gives the dish its flavor. Additionally the chili sauce used for these dishes is absolutely fantastic.

Chinatown in the rain


Maxwell Food Centre


Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice


Fuzhou oyster cake


Ah Tai chicken rice


mysterious red sauce chang fen

Now temporarily satiated, I decided to do the touristy Marina Bay area and walk around to see what was around.

Merlion


Having fun with the Merlion


High rises


Over the water

Since I wasn't exactly sure what to do I decided to check out the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands. The mall is basically a giant multi-level mall for all the world's luxury brands and seems to be geared for the tourists. The mall is so extra with some completely ridiculous features.

I mean, look at this Gucci storefront


Indoor courtyard waterfall


Waterfall from a Loewe ad over a Prada ad below

After eventually finding my way out of the mall into the crowded Marina Bay Sands hotel, I made my way over to the Marina Bay Sands Skydeck. This is actually one of the attractions eligible for discount using SQ's Boarding Pass Privileges program. When I made my way up it was still late afternoon, so I hung out there until sunset to try to capture some nice shots. Unfortunately it became pretty cloudy right before dusk, so shots didn't come out too great.

Gardens by the Bay


The Float @ Marina Bay


Closer to dusk


Eh just ok

After leaving the Skydeck I walked over to Gardens by the Bay to see if I could any decent shots of that as well. However since it was still in the early evening it was ridiculously crowded and there really weren't any good opportunities to do long exposure shots while everyone was still around for the light and music shows through the evening. As a result this does mean high ISO shots and a good amount of graininess.

Look at all those people


OCBC Skyway


Color change

After spending only a short time there I got hungry and headed over to Old Airport Road Food Centre as it has a good number of stalls that are open late. I ended up sampling delicious food from three of the stalls that were still open before calling an end to my first day in Singapore.

Oops


Wanton mee from Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wanton Mee


Pan-fried dumplings from Shanghai Xiaolongbao


Coconut buns from Chong Pang back at the hotel after a trip to the grocery store

Last edited by steveman518; Dec 11, 18 at 8:42 pm
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:38 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Billiken View Post
Nothing like a little excitement/stress when a positioning flight is at risk.
Thanks for the entertaining report. Looking forward to more.
Thank you Billiken. This is one of my few experiences with separate tickets, though this was the first time there were potential problems.

Originally Posted by SQTraveller View Post
a great start to the report"""""
Thanks for reading SQTraveller

Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer View Post
Great report steveman518 ^

The stress of weather delays when flying a domestic leg on separate ticket to the international leg is one I sympathise with.
Thank you for the kind words Kiwi Flyer. I'm sure you've had many more uncomfortable experiences with this than I have

Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
great report thanks for posting
Thank you enviroian

Originally Posted by neuro0 View Post
Love it. Keep it coming please!
​​​
Thanks for the kind words neuro0

Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Awesome TR. Thank you for posting ^
Thanks for reading Madone59!
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Old Dec 12, 18, 12:20 am
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Great report so far - the SQ service looks amazing!
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Old Dec 12, 18, 2:57 pm
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Lovely report! Will have to try Ah Tai next time I'm in SIN
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Old Dec 12, 18, 6:56 pm
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Originally Posted by steveman518 View Post

Gardens by the Bay


The Float @ Marina Bay


Closer to dusk


Eh just ok

After leaving the Skydeck I walked over to Gardens by the Bay to see if I could any decent shots of that as well. However since it was still in the early evening it was ridiculously crowded and there really weren't any good opportunities to do long exposure shots while everyone was still around for the light and music shows through the evening. As a result this does mean high ISO shots and a good amount of graininess.

Look at all those people


OCBC Skyway


Color change
Great photos of the Marina Bay area, especially night photo of Gardens by the Bay
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Old Dec 12, 18, 7:09 pm
  #14  
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I love the hilarious public service announcement: "Avoid the bloatedness and lethargy that comes with stuffing yourself!"
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Old Dec 13, 18, 4:35 am
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Great report so far!! - Looking forward to the rest, and amazing photos of Little India - so colourful.
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