Date : 15 November 2014
Flight : SQ807
Class : Business
Seats : 12 A/D/F
Plane : A380-800 (9V-SKA)
Photo taken : iPhone 6+
This is my second trip report after my first which was SQ802 from Singapore to Beijing. SQ807 will be my return trip to Singapore and for this leg, I will be traveling in Business Class instead of Suites. For my SQ802 trip, I was initially booked in First as Singapore Airlines did not release 3 Business Saver Award (as it was operating a 77W until August 2014 when it was changed to an A380). For my return trip however, I managed to snag 3 Business Saver Award tickets (saving me 12,750 miles if I had taken 1 suites + 2 business. This savings will go to my redemption in 2015).
We reached Beijing International Airport Terminal 3 at about 130pm. Business Class check in counter was pretty empty – I managed to drop my luggage and get my boarding passes in less than 5 minutes. Managed to reserve seats 12A, 12 D and 12F (I wanted 11 D and F for the wider foot rest but it was not available online). We proceeded to the departure gate and to get to the airside we had to take a 5 minutes ride on the skytrain. Upon alighting, we reached the immigration counter (no special lane for Business Class/First Class travelers). However, there was a special fast track security clearance lane for Business/First Class passengers (with a guard standing by to inspect the tickets – those with Economy Class tickets get turned away). Took us about 15 minutes to clear both the immigration and security clearance.
As Singapore Airlines does not operate their own lounge in Beijing International Airport, we were directed to the BGS Premium Lounge near gate E19. The other option (which I did) was to use the Air China Business Class Lounge (which was situated opposite BGS Lounge, but not sharing the same escalator up). It wasn’t a good choice as I had trouble getting a table with 3 seats as most of the tables were occupied. Although the lounge was spacious, seats were rather limited. Took me about 10 minutes before I managed to secure a dining table with 4 seats.
Food selection was rather limited – the main hot meal buffet section only had a few options (fried rice, noodle, pasta with some dim sum selection + one beef dish and one chicken dish). Opposite the warm selection counter was a small section for sushi (only 2 types are available) and dessert (comprising cakes). On the other side of the lounge, there is a small bar with liquors and wine. Nearby, a fridge with cold drink selection and coffee/tea.
The chairs / sofa are pretty comfortable and you will get a good view of the tarmac (good for plane spotting). Definitely less cozy and more open than Silverkris lounge back in Changi Airport.
Wifi… the less said the better. I had problems with the Free Airport Wifi on arrival – my luck with the lounge wifi was worse. Took me ages to connect and upon connection, I got disconnected within 2 minutes. Tough luck for those without cellular connection.
Left the lounge at about 1545 and reached the gate E9 for boarding at about 1555. Although boarding was meant to start at 1610, people are being let in even at 1600 as I arrived at the gate. Upon entering, we were led to our seats. The crew went down the aisle offering pre-departure drinks and I duly helped myself to a glass of orange juice. As I had plenty of time, I started snapping more pictures of the cabin and I requested for a glass of Taittinger. However, the stewardess mistook my Taittinger as Darjeeling (how did that even come close?!) and was told that local law prohibits alcohol from being served while the plane is still on ground 😦
The A380 uses the long haul business class product which offered the widest business class seat at 35″ (both my wife and I can fit into one seat!). Few things I noticed for this flight however; gone are the 2 side pillows used as hand rest and the seat belt is no longer leather padded (perhaps these are features introduced only into newer planes? just a guess). The 9V-SKA is even older than the SKB at 8+ years old). The SQ856 which I took back in 2012 had these. Nevertheless. these are small issues which should not affect the comfort of my travel. The seat pitch managed to just accommodate my height and I had to sit diagonally. Other than the bulkhead seats, the rest of the seats have a narrow foot rest.
The TV at 15″ is adequate and at a correct angle. However, the distance of the TV for seats 11D and F (and 17D and F) may be a little too far. Again I can’t seem to angulate it (although I vaguely remembered that I was able to do it the last time I was on board the SQ856). The business class cabin had no overhead bins for the middle seats. Overhead bins are available for the window seats. In addition to overhead bins, window seats have an additional side compartment.
The forward cabin has a rather spacious toilet at the front. The Malaysia Airlines A380 had 2 but the Singapore Airlines had only 1 (at the port side. No toilet at the starboard side).
My biggest fear for this flight was delay. A patient of mine told me he was stuck on the same SQ807 for 6 hours before the plane finally took off (this happened in September) but thankfully, my plane flew on time. The forward cabin was only half filled – I wanted to move to Seat 13G initially but decided against it as I wanted to have a nap and Seat 11F would probably be a better choice (it was empty after all!).
Shortly after taking off, the same crew who mistaken my request of Taittinger for Darjeeling brought me the correct drink :). Requested a bowl of warm nuts to go with it but was told that meal service would commence soon. Below are pictures of the Business Class menu for SQ807 on that day:
The meal started with the famous SQ satay. Each passenger were given only 3 sticks of either chicken or lamb (or mixture of both). This is accompanied by condiments (onion and cucumber) and the thick peanut gravy. I have tried both satay from MH and SQ and I personally prefers the SQ satay. One area that can be improved for the satay is MORE GRAVY. Next came the appetizer which was an antipasto platter. I felt that the prawn was not as fresh as that ex-SIN on the SQ802 journey but overall I would say it tasted OK. For the main, I chose the Pan Fried Beef with Red Wine Sauce. Although it was very well presented, the beef however had many shortcomings. It was slightly overcooked and it was extremely dry and tasted bland! the mash potato and roasted vegetables were alright though. My parents opted for the Panfried Cod in Tomato Chive Sauce – had one bite and I think it tasted much better than the beef. The fish was smooth and juicy while the taste was much better than my beef. My parents only complaint? small size. Lastly, I chose the Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream with fresh fruit salad. Ice cream as usual was excellent but it would have been better if they used seedless grape instead. Ended the meal with some cheese and a praline. Some food pictures below:
Not long after meal service ended, the cabin light was dimmed and I moved to Seat 11F and had it converted into a bed. After a short nap, I woke up and decided to watch Transformers on the bed. The business class cabin was equipped with the Phitek noise cancelling headphone (similar to the Bose) but unlike the Bose, the Phitek feels uncomfortable after using it for 1 hour. At the end of the show, my ears ached and felt warm :(. Noise cancellation was good (but nowhere near what the Bose could do). Requested for some chips and an Ice Milo and I got my chips this time! (nachos to be exact).
Shortly after the show completed, announcement was made that the aircraft has begun its descent. Cabin lights were turned on and the crew were busy stowing away the bed. I moved back to my seat and tried to get some rest. The plane landed at about 2240 (more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule! .. not bad for a flight that is constantly delayed no thanks to the restricted corridor for commercial planes in China airspace).
Service provided was good – particularly by Leading Stewardess Marianne Wong who had been helpful and courteous to my parents. I also requested for the SQ teddy bears for my friend (as I had completely forgotten about it on my Sin-Pek leg) and unfortunately they had run out of it. It was nice of them to offer some other kids toys as replacement (which was not suitable for my adult friend. nevertheless the crew insisted that I should take it and so I gladly accepted it for my kids).
Although there is still a gap between First and Business class in terms of the hard product, the difference in soft product is pretty minimal. This does not mean that the services provided in the First Class is only as good as that of the Business Class, it is the other way round. The crew address myself and my parents by our names without fail. I will not hesitate to travel on Singapore Airlines Business Class again (either on revenue or award tickets) but if one can afford the points, one should still aim for the First /Suites.
Damage for this trip:
Miles burnt : 29,750 miles (Business Saver Award) – per pax
Surcharges : RMB 746
That concludes my Sin-Pek-Sin trip report and I hope to get either the SQ26/SQ326+26 Suites tickets for my 2015 travel.