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Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 (long)

Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 (long)

Old Jun 30, 04, 4:19 am
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Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 (long)

Index to my trip reports

If you like this report, you may be interested in some of my other trip reports.
  1. AKL-YYZ with NZ/AC in F & C - my first trip report
  2. Europe to Iceland & return on Icelandair (FI) - somewhere different
  3. Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 - 2 long flights back to back
  4. 7 Crazy Days - includes an almost inaugural flight
  5. Champagne and figure eights on ice - Antarctica flightseeing
  6. a Lit.tle sPRinG.Ly JoUrney (BUDding KiwiS Can zig-ZAG around Europe) - mostly central and eastern Europe
  7. Big DO DOs - or a Kiwi Flyer's Month of Madness - lots of flights
  8. Another Manic Month for Kiwi - again lots of flights
  9. Mini Tour of NZ - over 100 domestic flights in New Zealand covering all domestic routes (ongoing)
  10. Across the Globe in 5 Continents - criss-crossing the globe
  11. Auckland to National Park by Train - train in New Zealand's North Island
  12. Across the Globe in 5 Continents Again - criss-crossing the globe, but this time mainly on One World
  13. A Warm Embrace of the Tropics - short trips to the tropical South Pacific
  14. Singapore (SQ) new first and business class, plus a medley of 12 F & C SQ flights - name says it all really
  15. Across the Globe in 4 Continents - around the world on star alliance, including some unusual flights
  16. Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Sampler - a sampling of Qantas flights, domestic and international, in economy and business (ongoing)
  17. Around the World in Under 60 Hours - around the world in a weekend
  18. The Heat is On - another longhaul economy trip in under 60 hours - what a contrast, Asia and Qantas' new first class lounges
  19. Fast on the ground and in the air - it must be Shanghai – a flying visit to Shanghai + Maglev
  20. It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure & Pain: 4 wacky weeks 2 RTW C, inaugural longhaul Y – mostly One World
  21. Back and forth across the Pacific on a variety of airlines in a selection of classes - 16 crossings of the Pacific plus some other related flights
  22. It isn't every day that you witness a hijacking attempt + NZ's forgotten 4th island - a visit to Chatham Islands coincides with New Zealand's first hijacking attempt
  23. There and back - first day Air NZ flies to Coolangatta (Gold Coast)
  24. A Run Around (part of) The Axis of Evil: A Perfect *A RTW in C? - Axis of Evil 0 US Immigration 1
  25. Wellington to Auckland by train - self-explanatory title
  26. A mad couple of days flying, including domestic international flights - a double longhaul inaugural, domestic international shuttle and domestic leg of an international flight
  27. Regional C *A RTW & (hopefully) finishing flying every route (100+) for an airline - featuring new QF First on A380 special flight, "you have to get off now", and 105th different current route with NZ
  28. One World Revolutions - Around Mostly the Southern Hemisphere - mostly Southern Hemisphere and mostly on One World on a mix of products
  29. Cris-cros the Med & the Globe on Emirates, Qantas & Star Alliance in mix of F/C/Y+/Y – starting with EK First on A380 and ending with Qantas economy, with a lot of travel mostly on *A in between
  30. An FTer flies to a Do (or Why take the nonstop when you can fly 10 flights instead?) - combining an FT Do with an aerial tour of northern Queensland
  31. The Ultimate Qantas Flight - short report on the ultimate flight
  32. Premium Flying Across the Ditch (Between New Zealand and Australia) - experiencing the forward cabins on Trans-Tasman flights (ongoing)
  33. 5 Boeings Straight to the Airbus Do - FTer feasts in first, business & economy - my journey to & from the *A / Airbus Mega Do
  34. NZ route oddities & One World turns by night (redeye special) - an odd collection of flight routes & schedules around the world
  35. From my first low cost redeye to a first class trifecta - an insane fortnight - some firsts of all types
  36. G'day, kia orana - it's another inaugural flight in Air New Zealand business class - a day & night tripping around the South Pacific on Air NZ
  37. A Feast of First Class Flying on British Airways, Qantas and Emirates - long distance in style
  38. A Weekend of Old and New - Lufthansa first & business, Air New Zealand business - a quick longhaul trip featuring some old and new products
  39. Star Alliance tres primo, and tres biz - a trio of first and business on Star Alliance
  40. A few flights to end 2011 - a quick trip around the world + more
  41. Five Continents in 3 Days and Some Other Mad Trips in 2012 - a selection of my 2012 travels
  42. Sky Team madness - 14 weeks, 200k miles, 5 continents, CI brand new business – mostly Sky Team
  43. Off to Star megado on Oneworld - mostly business incl brand new AA 787
  44. A Glutton for Punishment: red eye, new world's longest flight & more, in comfort?

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Apr 1, 16 at 4:13 pm Reason: Updated index to my TRs
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Old Jun 30, 04, 4:28 am
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PRELIMINARIES

I am starting this trip report now while hopefully things are fresh in my mind. I dont take notes so apologies in advance for any errors and omissions. I hope this will be to a minimum and may be corrected with some help.

As of now I am still travelling so please bear with me if it takes a while.

I encourage fellow FTers on the flights - CGK, StarG, Sailaway75, Stevetas - to post here too. It is as much their trip report as it is mine.

I hope readers enjoy this report as much as we enjoyed the flights. Read on ...

PS if you want to skip straight to the flights start at post #5.


LINKS

I will post relevant links here so they are easy to find. Apologies for the delay. Hope to post some more links later.

SIN-EWR nonstops to commence July 28
flying inaugural EWR-SIN
SQ21 and full moon
SIN-EWR - what countries does this fly over? and "northern" flight path
new TG lounge in BKK
Straits Times clip and article featuring CGK
Link to radio interview & news thread
SQ SIN-EWR website

=============

BACKGROUND

Some time back Singapore Airlines announced new ultra long haul routes for their A345's - SIN-LAX (Singapore-Los Angeles) and SIN-EWR (Singapore-Newark New York) both nonstop.

SIN-LAX started 3 Feb 04 and at the time was the worlds longest flight (by distance and expected flight time). 8,770 miles. SQ20 SIN-LAX 16 hours, SQ19 LAX-SIN 18 hours 40 minutes.

SIN-EWR was announced to start 28 July 04 and becomes the worlds longest flight - by distance but not expected flight time. 9,534 miles. SQ22 SIN-EWR 18 hours 25 minutes, SQ21 EWR-SIN 18 hours 35 minutes.

Naturally some FTers were interested in flying these historic flights. Eventually the date changed to 28 June 04 (was it just coincidence that Cathay's New York to Hong Kong nonstop starts 1 July 04?).

See links section in first post for some relevant threads.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Apr 1, 16 at 4:13 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 5:06 am
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AKL-SIN - the start of a long but fast journey
27 June - am

I felt fortunate to be able to fly the inaugural, including the rare double inaugural. I didnt have a lot of time so decided to do it all in one run to/from AKL (Auckland). As an FTer I naturally looked into routing options and was happy to see that going via BKK both ways was not only cheaper but also nets me nearly 10,000 additional miles. The good thing was the connections work quite well, unlike some other alternatives.

So my routing was to be AKL-SIN-BKK-SIN-EWR-SIN-BKK-SIN-AKL (all on SQ). Some 33,000 flown miles in just over 4 days (and in the process earning me over 80,000 miles)! The fellow FTers (and another aviation fan we met) doing the trip also had long itineraries - coming from such places as YVR (Vancouver), CGK (Jakarta), PER (Perth), YUL (Montreal) and SIN (do I really need to spell out this one? )

Make no mistake, this trip is no mileage run. For me the chance to be on the historic first flight was reason enough - the miles, PPS sector credits and upgrade vouchers earnt along the way are just the icing on the cake!

I had an early start on a cool winters day in AKL, to catch the morning flight to SIN. As usual I didnt get much sleep the night before, having woken up far too early. Wondered how I would cope, but brushed aside all dark thoughts with the prospect of the journey ahead.

Given the itinerary, with multiple short transfers and limited time not on planes or in airports I decided on carry-on only, no checked luggage. I am sure there would have been issues had I checked bags. As *G I could take 2 X 7kg carry-ons plus items of personal nature. I brought 2 bags, one as empty for souvenirs.

Since I had time up my sleeve I took the Airbus to the airport. It went in record time - less than 30 minutes. Since I normally leave on the early side - to minimise stress due to traffic hassles, next bus being a 30 minute wait, etc; I arrived very early indeed. Oh well at least check in is open.

Carry-ons through x-ray and straight to check-in counter, where I am told "sorry the computers are down, it will be 5 minutes before they come back up". Some 30 minutes later the computers are on-line again and so I get checked in. Felt sorry for the check-in agents, particularly for economy where there were now long queues backing up past the xray machine. Pay the departure tax and head for customs & immigration. A fairly average wait and soon enough through to the NZ lounge.

As always the NZ lounge at AKL international is great and this time of day on a weekend isnt over-crowded (although surprisingly full enough). I do the usual things, freshen up, grab some coffees, check email and do a couple of posts to FT. Notice from the history list there was a FTer here either now or recently. I scan for FT tags and likely looking characters but give up none the wiser.

Eventually I looked up at the departure screen and got a shock. The flight was listed as "CLOSED"! I didnt here any boarding announcements, although there was the possibility I was too tired and not listening properly. Was my trip ruined before it even began? Could I talk my way onto the flight even if it is closed? So off I raced down the pier to gate 6. Phew still boarding. ^

Boarding continued for quite some time (so the closed message was obviously an error) and we eventually left about an hour late. The pilot apologised, and explained the overnight flight SIN-AKL was very late.

The 10 hour flight was fairly uneventful other than arriving late. Food quality varied from poor to good, IFE great, seats great, service average (below SQ's par). Routing was over Sydney, Alice Springs, Kimberleys (sorry forgotten the town name), and Indonesia. (A fairly average routing - sometimes due to jetstreams the flight passes north of Brisbane and Darwin, and on other occassions near Melbourne or even Hobart, and Adelaide.)

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jun 30, 04 at 7:48 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 5:09 am
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SIN-BKK-SIN - the short hops on a long trip
27 June pm, 28 June am (SIN timezone)

I had a little time in SQ's Silver Kris F lounge ^ but soon had to leave for Bangkok (BKK). The flight out on 27th and return following morning were short (2 hours 20 minutes each way) and uneventful (I dont count spilling water on myself, twice, as an event!). The food was quite good but I forced myself to not eat all of it. The return flight was my first daylight flight into/out of BKK so I was finally able to see clearly the golf course between the runways.

While waiting for the return flight I sampled a few *G lounges - purely in the name of science you understand, not to over-indulge in free drink you understand See the link to TG BKK lounges in the first post. Lufthansa and SAS *G lounges were both closed, SQ's lounge was fairly small and limited and I didnt have time to check UA lounge. (More on this on the return flight.) The TG F lounges aren't available to *G, but there are several TG biz lounges open to *G and also a specific TG *G lounge (also used by Emirates). My advice (current as at 30 June) is to go to TG biz lounge (not thye *G lounge) near pier 3 and avoid the rest - there is a huge difference in quality.

The flight back was slightly late cutting my connection time to a wafer thin 45 minutes. But if any international airport can cope with such short connections it is SIN. Now which gate? Doh - down the other end of terminal 2, a good 15 minutes walk gate to gate.

However, as we had discovered there was no shower in EWR I was determined to stop by the lounge for a quick shower to freshen up. So I raced off ...

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jun 30, 04 at 7:49 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 5:25 am
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SIN-EWR - the inaugural worlds longest flight, part I
28 June pm (SIN timezone)

.. to the gate. The gate area was packed with dignitaries, press, etc but apparently no passengers. Sure enough I was one of the last to board - a close call!

After the boarding pass was scanned we were given a Royal Selangor commemorative pewter thingymabob. Wow this is a lot bigger than the one for the SIN-LAX inaugural flight. Of course I just had to open it up to take a look even before I was seated Apologies to all if I contributed to a slightly late departure. Compared with SIN-LAX it was a different design, but with similar features. Hmm - wonder if that 2nd carry-on is going to be big enough? More on this later.

With my experience on SIN-LAX I was expecting biz to be completely full with journalists filling any empty seats. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it was about 80% full (later walking through executive economy I confirmed that was very full). Even better, I had an empty seat beside me so not only did I get a window but also no hassles getting up/down and space to burn ^ We later found out that for SIN-LAX inaugural the journalists ex-SIN were given biz on the way over and executive economy on the way back several days later, whereas for SIN-EWR inaugural this was reversed.

To be continued ... watch this space!!

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jun 30, 04 at 5:38 am
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Old Jun 30, 04, 7:52 am
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Great report so far. I'll be watching!
 
Old Jun 30, 04, 8:53 am
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So will I...I'm doing this flight in a couple of weeks as well...please post the menus if you have them...
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Old Jun 30, 04, 4:42 pm
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Now back in AKL - will post next instalment once I've had a chance to freshen up, clear voicemail and email etc.
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Old Jun 30, 04, 7:50 pm
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Some additions and corrections to previous posts.

post #2
Distance and time added, corrected to state that SIN-EWR does not break record for longest time (that is held by LAX-SIN due to the strong headwinds).

post #3
Added Make no mistake, this trip is no mileage run. For me the chance to be on the historic first flight was reason enough - the miles, PPS sector credits and upgrade vouchers earnt along the way are just the icing on the cake!

post#4
Added flight times.

...

I hope to post the next instalment soon. Thanks for your patience
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Old Jun 30, 04, 8:15 pm
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I am too lazy to post the menu, but I'd be happy to send scanned copies.
Just PM me and indicate which route you want (SIN-EWR or EWR-SIN), and the class (Raffles of Executive Economy), and of course your e-mail address. I will try to scan them ASAP.

Last edited by StarG; Jun 30, 04 at 8:17 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 8:38 pm
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SIN-EWR - the inaugural worlds longest flight, part II
28 June pm (SIN timezone)

Before I get on to the flight - something more on the pre-flight matters (mainly the gate reception which I missed).

All passengers and invited guests were treated to drinks (champagne, orange juice, etc) and nibbles at the gate. There were the inevitable speeches, and on boarding Sinatra's New York, New York was playing.

Throughout the airport visitors were provided with free "big apples". I was pleased to see they were NZ apples ^

Okay now back to the flight. It is time to sit down, buckle up and prepare for take-off (suitably put in the mood by some more pre-take-off champagne of course )

During the latter stages of boarding the TV screens played a short (5 minutes?) segment commissioned by SQ on New York featuring mayor Bloomberg and the Gabbie (?) Cabbie. This video is currently playing on all SQ flights.

After the safety video played we had a short taxi and took off just a few minutes late.

Soon after take-off I met up with StarG, CGK and an english fellow living in the ukraine who we all recognised from the SIN-LAX inaugural. We spent a lot of time talking during the flight - apologies to passengers towards the rear of the front business cabin if we were too noisy. We were joined for a short while by a woman from SQ's ??? department who wanted to meet the passengers who were doing the double inaugural and thank us for our support A journalist spent quite a lot of time talking with us - she had also been on the SIN-LAX inaugural.

It was to be quite some time later before we caught up with the nice non-FTer who was also doing the double inaugural (and did so for SIN-LAX too).

For those who havent checked out the various SQ A345 and SIN-LAX threads I will give a brief run-down of seating, IFE, etc. More info and thoughts on seat selection can be found in the threads linked in post 1. One point of difference I noted from SIN-LAX is the front business cabin was much quieter with less traffic between the forward and middle galley. I guess the initial teething problems and logistics have all been worked out over the past 4 months or so ^

There are 2 business cabins, with galleys serving the cabin at the front of each section. The toilets at the second galley have a window ^ and there is also a very small area with snacks and magazines at the second galley.

Business seats are spacebeds. Some FTers have previously posted they are slightly narrower than usual, but even as big as I am I did not notice any difference. There is however a lot more pitch making it much easier to get to the aisle from window seat, although if the aisle passenger is stretched out you still have to step over her/him unless in the bulkhead row. Biz seating is 2-2-2. On the seat in front is the screen, usual pouches to put stuff in, mirror, coat hook, etc. The bulkhead row has screen on the wall and doesnt have as much storage space or mirror or coat hook. Personally I didnt care for those things and so was pleased to get bulkhead on the return.

Executive economy is 2 cabins - the front one being much smaller than the rear. The galleys are at the front and rear of the economy section. The passenger standing area is between the rear of economy and the back galley, and contains several windows, plus snacks and drinks.

Executive economy seats have increased pitch (and width?) over other aircraft, and are layed out 2-3-2. Reportedly very comfortable for economy.

IFE is the extended Wisemen 3000 version. All on demand - 60 movie channels, over 90 tv channels, over 200 audio channels and 56 game channels. There is also an hourly news update with which you can keep in touch of events of the day while in the air.

Towards the end of the flight my IFE and seat functions (movement, light) failed completely, as did those of some other passengers. The engineer/systems guy on board very quickly and efficiently rebooted each passenger affected individually without needing to shut the whole system down.

Food and drink were fairly good and certainly in plentiful supply. I will post the business menu later [edited - or get StarG's scanned menus linked in - he also has economy menus]. One thing I found odd was the timing of the meals was clearly set to SIN time - ie lunch a couple of hours after take off, dinner some 8 odd hours later and a breakfast before landing. The flexi meal option (for middle meal) from the inaugural SIN-LAX was gone. I wonder if that change is just for SIN-EWR (perhaps New York bound passengers are less demanding than Los Angeles bound ones ) or has been made for SIN-LAX too?

The service was fairly good with regular sweeps of the cabin by the crew. For me it was noticeably slower service in some mid-flight portions (when some crew rostered for rest), but more normal(!) passengers who were resting/sleeping may not have noticed.

As you may have guessed I didnt get a lot of sleep as spent too much time talking and was generally too excited. Filled in the rest of the time effortlessly eating, drinking, playing games, watching movies, drinking, etc. Didnt even read the book I'd brought just in case, or the magazines that I'd taken from the shelf.

For those who may be curious as to the routing. SIN-EWR is considered trans-pacific (as it is a crossing between Asia and America). The flight path took us north east past Japan, keeping well clear of the typhoon near Philippines. Then turning more easterly at Kamchatya to pass north of the Aluetian Islands, over central Alaska and northern Canada. On the way back south we passed over Toronto. Nearing EWR, we zig-zagged a bit down the Hudson Valley and eventually straight into landing. No scenic fly-by the city as per the SIN-LAX inaugural - I can understand why.

Naturally I purchased the model A345 (now I have quite a few) to get the signed certificate of flight. By now my carry-ons are both very full and there is still the return flight - oh oh. One thing that did annoy me a little was a rejection of my offer to purchase something else (more expensive) in the SkyShop and get the certificate with that.

Next up, an eventful 4 hours at EWR.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jun 30, 04 at 11:07 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 9:30 pm
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At EWR - an eventful few hours, part I
28 June pm (EWR timezone)

We landed in EWR still on the 28th thanks to gaining a day crossing the international date line. For the taxi to the gate we had a police escort and a water cannon shower from 2 fire-trucks by the entrance to the general gate area. There were lots of people wathcing, both on the apron and also on various roofs/observation decks. We were towed into the last gate - a tight fit.

Before disembarking we (the double inaugural passengers) were paged and directed to ground staff. Wonder what this is about? There was a welcome committee lining both sides of the airbridge so hard to stop to talk to ground staff. The person I spoke to had no idea about the paging, but an official (airport? or security? I think rather than SQ but I could be wrong) kindly went away to find out. Meanwhile most of the other passengers stream past. By now I am thinking - boy are those queues going to be bad, and what is this all about? The man comes back and directs me to a certain customs & immigration desk. So I still had no idea what the page was about and hope there is no problem.

On entering the customs and immigration hall I see a sea of people but the particular desk I was directed to was one of the roped off ones. Someone (who I was later to find out was the SQ station manager) invited me under the rope. At the desk I was asked for my aircrew pass, and it dawned on me that I had been cleared to use the crew line (okay so I was a little slow on the uptake!). I agreed with the man that I was very lucky to have had this arranged for me.

I could see him thinking I was mad when I answered the 3 standard questions with "I am transitting only", "4 hours", "back to SIN". (The 3 standard questions being "what is the purpose of this visit to the US of A?", "how long are you staying here?", "where is your next destination?")
I dont know what effect SQ pulling strings had, but it was far and away my easiest entry or exit to/from the US I have ever had.

A big ^ to SQ for arranging this. So while doing the short circuit through baggage claim and up to check-in I was feeling quite happy (no tiredness kicking in yet ).

Check-in was reasonably quick. The agent raised my hopes of getting boarding passes for all remaining flights (surely not - I have never got more than the next 24 hours worth of departures before). Doh - get back boarding pass to SIN and on to BKK but nothing else as the subsequent flights indeed do depart more than 24 hours away.

I was invited to the SQ reception downstairs (in a corner of the terminal) and also given a invitation card for the SAS lounge. No mention of the Virgin lounge (before security) which I could also use, perhaps they are worried about passengers getting to the gate too late?
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Old Jun 30, 04, 10:00 pm
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At EWR - an eventful few hours, part II
28 June pm (EWR timezone)

So I head down to the reception - my arms getting longer by the minute due to too much carry-on. There is a party going on with drinks, nibbles etc. Given the time there arent too many passengers (after all it is still well over 3 hours to departure) but seems to be press, dignitaries and other invited guests. I sign the card and then see the nice SQ station manager again who apparently has been trying to find me ever since the customs & immigration hall.

He then gives me my next pleasant surprise - SQ has arranged for a nearby hotel room so we can shower/change/freshen up/etc, due to their being no showers in the terminal. Not only that but they have taken care of checking in and out, and arranged for a car to take us the short trip to the hotel so we dont have to wait for the shuttle. Another big ^ to SQ.

Eventually StarG and CGK make it through with their bags, and we are joined by the non FTer doing the double inaugural - a nice woman from Perth who like me flew to/from SIN with the nearest connecting flights to make one really long trip.

I'll spare you all from details of the hotel rooms but suffice it to say an hour and a half later we were feeling rather refreshed and with the added bonus that we would not be stinking up the plane for EWR-SIN flight.

Although this severely ate into the time available to visit lounge (and meant no chance of using Virgin lounge), I for one was more than happy to have the opportunity to freshen up.

On returning from the hotel, the others finished checking in for the return flight and we headed off for security. I had forgotten I had moved my cellphone from my carry-on into my pocket so was buzzed several times going through as one item after another was removed to see if that was causing the buzz. In case anyone is getting horrible mental images - I wasnt undressing but rather removing shoes, watch, etc. Eventually got to the cellphone - ah no buzz.

While putting everything back in place the security people were having a discussion about one of the carry-ons. Apparently the commemorative pewter thingymabob was showing a strange profile and so out it had to come. Eventually they were satisfied, so with bags repacked it was off to the SAS lounge.

The lounge seemed typically SAS in my experience (not that I'm an expert) - fairly basic and small but has most of what you need. It was quite crowded. I posted a quick half-way message on FT then back to talking and drinking with the others. Stevetas soon joined us, but there was no sign of Sailaway75. Soon enough time to head to the gate where there were a lot of passengers milling, plus some more journos, tv crews and dignitaries. We heard a page for Sailaway75 and we later found that his flight from YUL (Montreal) had been cancelled so he nearly didnt make it.

While waiting for the ribbon cutting ceremony, the SQ station manager introduced us to some journalists as the 4 nuts (he was far too polite to use that term) who are doing the double inaugural. Lots of questions filled in the time nicely until we were to board. At the last minute I was asked to change seats (as were several others including StarG and CGK). Since the new seat was still bulkhead I was more than happy to move. After the boarding pass check we were given another Royal Selengor commemorative pewter thingymabob. By now my hands were very full, so the SQ station manager kindly carried it aboard for me.

Next - the return flight.
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Old Jun 30, 04, 10:31 pm
  #14  
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Great job so far ^ ^ ^

Links don't work for me.

Last edited by myefre; Jun 30, 04 at 11:27 pm
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Old Jun 30, 04, 11:14 pm
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EWR-SIN - the inaugural worlds longest flight, part I
28 June pm (EWR timezone)

Once again on board. More pre-take-off champagne, another screening of the NY video. Prior to take-off the captain announced there were 3(?) tv crews aboard (one was French but can't remember the others ???) as well as some newspaper, magazine and radio journalists on board. He also mentioned we would pass the North Pole some 7 hours after take-off.

The meals for return were operated slightly differently. A dinner after take-off, then a flexi meal (I didnt partake - too busy talking!) and a breakfast before arrival. The breakfast orders were taken just after take-off so as to allow sleep as long as possible (expect arrival time being around 5:30am means a very early breakfast).

The tv crews were creating a lot of extra work for the FAs and generally getting in the way while trying to film stuff. But I have to say from what I saw the FAs handled it pretty well - no doubt some were pleased to make it on tv! The inflight supervisor was kept busy making sure the filming didnt interfere too much with regular service.

Most of the filming was done in the first few hours before the cabin lights dimmed and passengers go to sleep.

As with the flight over there was a problem with IFE - this one affecting 40% of passengers according to the captain. The system was down for about 20 minutes. On restarting I was offered the option of being forwarded to the same position on the show as when the system was switched off. I declined as I wasnt going to be watching much on this flight.

Before long the now expanded group of 5 FTers (Sailaway75, Stevetas, CGK, StarG and myself) plus the other double inaugural flyer took over the passenger standing area at the rear of the plane and made it our home for the next several hours.

Several journalists also came and spent some time, asking heaps of questions (well duh!). SQ's Chief Pilot also made an appearance and thanked us for our support and said hoped to see us in June 2006 for the first A380 flight. He remembered some of us from the inaugural SIN-LAX flight! Hopefully someone can post their photos.

After a few hours of course we had to stay up to see the North Pole - the flight path taking us within 1 degree of it. We nearly missed it as while we were yakking away we had made some time ahead of schedule. Luckily the cloud cover cleared away and we saw the northern ice shelf - alas no big sign saying "North Pole is here" and no candy-striped pole! Ducking back into the cabin I saw the flight path map - the aircraft symbol was spinning wildly which I took to mean we were pretty close to the North Pole and so the system couldnt work out our heading properly. Later in the flight I noticed the solid red line showing route flown was off course - presumably because by this stage the map didnt include the North Pole.

Eventually quitened down and got some sleep.

The routing on the way back was almost straight north to be just west of northern Greenland, close passed the North Pole and then southward over Siberia. At Mongolia we headed southeast reaching the pacific near Hong Kong and the last run down to SIN.

Again I purchased the model A345 to get the signed certificate of flight. By now not only are my carry-ons are both very full but I also have a couple of SkyShop bags to carry as well.

Of course having re-crossed the international date line, the arrival was very early on June 30th. The arrival was a little anti-climatic - no water cannons, no welcoming committee.
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