I decided to put both flights into one review since these are short haul flights. 2017 had been pretty hectic on many fronts and I decided that I needed a short getaway. I initially redeemed a pair of return tickets to DPS for 70k miles but unfortunately the Mount Agung situation forced me to make some adjustments. I topped up 10k miles to change my tickets to Hanoi instead (as I have not been to Hanoi before). About one week later, Singapore Airlines came up with their getaway promotion where 30% discount on redemption was given on selected destinations. Guess what, Hanoi was one of them! I still had to play around with my booking to enjoy this 30%. I converted more miles from my DBS account and did 2 separate one way redemptions. I was confirmed on SQ 175 but waitlisted on SQ 176 (while holding on to my original booking). 2 weeks before my flight, my waitlist cleared and I duly cancelled my original booking and got my 80k miles back within 4 days (with penalty of USD 30 per person for the cancellation). This is certainly worth the 24k miles savings!
Singapore Airlines operates 2 flights to Hanoi daily, 1 via SQ and the other via MI. I chose SQ over MI as I prefer SQ bird over the narrow body MI anytime (and also I do not want to reach Singapore too late as I will be working the next morning). Counter check in was pretty fast and everything was done in less than 5 minutes. SQ’s South East Asia flights operate out of Terminal 2, hence you will be accessing the Silverkris Lounge in Terminal 2 which is much smaller than that of Terminal 3. Despite catering only for South East Asia routes, the lounge was fairly crowded in the morning.
As our departure gate is almost at the tail end of Terminal 2 (nearer to Jetquay terminal), we had to walk a fair bit from the lounge. Our flight was fairly empty in both J and Y and J cabin was only 2/3 full. Our flight was operated on a refitted 777-200ER (9V-SVC) which has been refitted with the 2006 cabin (hence a 1-2-1 configuration). Previously, this flight was operated on A330-300 using the regional 2-2-2 angled-flat seats. I have written on the comparisons between the 2013 vs 2006 seats before hence I shall not do any comparisons here. I am more interested to try out the new J and R products launched on 2nd November! For short hauls, these seats are definitely comfortable and I noticed that the seats in 777-200ER has a longer pitch and wider foot well than that of A380 (from seatguru.com, the 777-200ER’s pitch is 76” while those on the 777-300ER and A380 is only 55”).
Service wise, we got the standard pre-departure drink and hot towel upon boarding. Ex-Singapore, we get to select our meals via Book-The-Cook option but SQ has made our choices easier by posting the flight’s menu 1 month before departure (on Manage My Booking option). This makes it easier for one to decide between BTC vs. on board menu. The crew on this flight were efficient but they seemed cold and less friendly (compared to my previous flights). The crew on my return flight were friendlier and looked more approachable.
These are the pictures of the food and menu for SQ 176:
The Baked King Prawn was pretty good but the Classic Lobster Thermidor unfortunately was a miss this round. The Crab salad however was delicious and the dessert wasn’t too bad.
We arrived on time into Noi Bai International Airport on time. As my wife needed Visa-On-Arrival, I paid for the fast track service prior to my trip and I was glad I did that. The time taken from the moment I arrive till I got onto the car was approximately 20 minutes (not more than 30) despite the very long queue at the immigration.
For my return flight, we arrived at the airport about 1.5 hours before departure. Despite an empty check in counter, security check and immigration counter had a long queue. There is a special Sky Priority queue but none for Star Alliance unfortunately. As I was just slightly more than 1 hour away from my departure, the immigration officer allowed me to use the crew line. As I still had some time, I decided to take a quick peek into Vietnam Air’s lounge. As SQ does not maintain a Silverkris lounge in Hanoi, lounge service is catered by Vietnam Air Lotus Lounge. Here are some pictures of the lounge:
The lounge is not big and it was pretty crowded in the morning as it caters for Vietnam Airlines and few other airlines too. Food selection wasn’t great while alcohol is available. There is a room with massage chairs available and a smoking room.
Our flight back was also a refitted 777-200ER (9V-SVG) with the same hard product as what I had on my way here. J cabin was fairly empty (about half full) while Y cabin looks slightly fuller than my flight 2 days ago. The usual pre-departure service was given but the crew on this flight was definitely friendlier. The Kris World selection on this flight is noticeably more anaemic than my flight from Singapore.
As there are no BTC choices ex-Hanoi, we could only select from the on-board menu. As part of the cost cutting measure, the menu (on both legs) consist of only a single leaflet on the food available. As for drinks? If you have been on SQ, you will probably know what to order. As this is a short haul flight, all courses were served simultaneously on a tray (and not on a course by course basis). Both the chicken noodle and the seared salmon which we chose was passable at best (probably we were spoilt by the excellent food we had in Intercontinental Landmark 72 which I shall review later). The salad was good as the scallop was pretty juicy. Dessert was OK. On both legs, I didn’t bother too much about the drinks.
Hanoi is the second furthest one can travel on the Zone 3 redemption (at 20k miles per person per way), with Manila being a tad further. At 14k miles (after 30% discount) on a refitted 777-200ER spotting the Long Haul Business Class is definitely a steal! The efficient SQ service is definitely there but it seems a little short compared to what I have experienced on long haul flights.
One public service announcement from me:
This is not the way how one should be using their pillow 😦